Policies & FAQs

Please take your time and carefully read the answers to these questions. It will help you to decide if this major is right for you. It will also help you understand the policies of the program. Also, you may want to keep a copy of these to refer to as you move along in the program, since some of these questions are sure to arise for you later!


The Director of the program, Thomas Christiano, and PPEL Core Coordinator Peter Vanderschraaf work together to counsel students through the program once promoted to Advanced Standing.

As a freshman, sophomore or transfer student, your initial contact should be with the PPEL Academic Advisor, Megan Theesfeld.

  1. Please look at the rest of this "FAQs" page, and study the rest of PPEL website.
  2. Contact Megan Theesfeld.

You may declare the PPEL major at any time, including at time of application to UA or at Freshman orientation. You may also change your major to PPEL from a previously declared major, however, be aware of three things:

  1. Changing colleges will change who your college advisor is. You can schedule an appointment with Megan Theesfeld.
  2. Changing from a B.S. degree major to a B.A. degree major will change your General Education requirements slightly. Consult your college advisor for details.
  3. You should be aware that declaring the PPEL major later than the beginning of your sophomore year could potentially result in delaying your progress toward graduation, depending on whether you have or have not already taken any of the foundations courses. The only time students are moved into Advanced Standing (and begin taking the core PPEL courses) is at the beginning of each Fall semester. The core PPEL: courses take four semesters to complete. They cannot be completed in less time.

Study the structure of the PPEL major on degree requirements page

You will be assessed the program fee each semester you are a declared major, beginning with the semester in which you become a junior. The fee is automatically posted in the system when your status changes to Junior. Understand these entailments of that rule:

  • It does not matter whether you have or have not been promoted to Advanced Standing.
  • The fee is automatically posted in the system when your status changes to Junior.
  • It does not matter whether you have or have not begun PPEL core courses.
  • If your status changes to junior because you have transferred credits to the UA during the semester, your account will be retroactively charged with the PPEL fee.
  • If you are promoted to Advanced Standing and begin taking PPEL core courses, but are not yet a junior, you will NOT be assessed a fee until you do become a junior.

Very much so. Our faculty for this program is its strongest asset. Class sizes are small, giving you very intimate contact with fellow students and the professors. One of the big benefits for students is that all of the PPEL core faculty are senior faculty, and thus are a good source for letters of recommendation.

Advanced Standing

Advanced Standing is achieved only by promotion after an application and review process. Not all PPEL majors will be promoted to Advanced Standing, as it is not automatic. Once promoted to Advanced Standing, a student will move through the small core courses reserved only for PPEL majors.

Applications for Advanced Standing are accepted at the beginning of March, prior to Spring Break. Detailed instructions will appear on the PPEL advising website. A student must have completed at least one foundation courses in previous semesters; any remaining foundation courses must be in progress during the Spring Semester in which application is made for Advanced Standing. Applicants will be notified of the selection outcome in time enough to make registration decisions for the following Fall. Only those students promoted to Advanced Standing will be allowed to enroll for PPEL courses.

The PPEL program at the AS level is competitive. Applications are assessed on the basis of performance in foundations courses, a writing assignment, and in some cases an interview.

No. Applications for Advanced Standing will be accepted only in the Spring semester, and newly promoted students to Advanced Standing can only begin core PPEL courses in the Fall.

Yes. Only officially declared PPEL majors may submit Advanced Standing applications.

No. Gen Eds are a graduation requirement for the B.A. degree, but they are apart from the requirements for the major. Always check with your college advisor about Gen Ed requirements.

Missing promotion to Advanced Standing need not be devastating. You have other exciting options that can make use of the foundation courses you have taken, and which focus on some of the very subjects that brought you to the PPEL program. For example, you might consider the Philosophy Ethics major, which allows you to choose among a large menu of ethics courses. Also the traditional philosophy track includes some courses in social and political philosophy similar to the topics taught in some of the PPEL core courses. Alternatively, you may want to look into the Political Science major in the School of Government and Public Policy.

An Interdisciplinary Degree may also be an avenue to investigate. Whatever you decide to do, having taken the foundation courses from the PPEL program, you will be enriched and well-prepared going forward.


No. These are courses open to any student at the University; consequently some of them fill quickly.

No. Only officially declared PPEL majors can enroll in courses with a PPEL prefix.


First, check to make sure there isn't a pre-requisite for the course. If there is, you will need to satisfy that first. If the course is closed because it is full, you will just need to play the game: Contact the instructor; show up the first day and ask to be added, etc. If you cannot get in because the course is restricted to the majors in that department, you will need to contact the advisor for that department and tell them your situation. Some departments are helpful to PPEL majors, and they will manually enroll you. The PPEL Advisor cannot enroll you in courses outside of the philosophy department. The bottom line, however, is that each course is controlled by the department that offers it. Your PPEL advisor cannot do anything about course enrollments outside of philosophy.

You will always find at least one course from each of the three foundation areas offered every Fall and Spring semester. Also, many of them are offered online in summer sessions.

(Caution: You cannot take your last foundation course in the summer after you have applied for Advanced Standing. You must have all four of the foundation courses completed by the end of the Spring semester in which you apply for AS.)

No. The schedule of core courses is designed for each cohort of newly promoted AS students to take in sequence: Junior year, Fall semester: PPEL 401, PPEL 410; Junior year, Spring Semester: PPEL 326, PPEL 440; Senior year, Fall semester: PPEL 418, plus Track courses; Senior year, Spring semester, PPEL 418, plus Track courses, plus PPEL 496 Senior Capstone. (Students may elect to take the capstone in the fall semester of their senior year.) Once promoted to Advanced Standing, we guarantee that you will have courses available to complete the program in four semesters.

This is similar to a graduate seminar on a topic in philosophy, politics, economics, or law chosen by the faculty member, but the aim of all the seminars will be to bring the student's PPEL skills to bear on a problem or issue.

Foundation or track courses may be retaken under the Grade Replacement Option (GRO) or the 'course repeat' options according to the UA policy.

Core PPEL courses are subject to the following program policy: A core PPEL course in which the grade received is 'E' MUST be repeated the next time the course is offered. A core PPEL course in which the grade received is 'D' or 'C' MAY be repeated the next time the course is offered, subject to the availability of seats. Given this restriction due to availability, there is no guarantee that a core PPEL course can be repeated to improve a grade of 'D' or 'C'. 

Transfer Credit

There are some courses taught at other universities and community colleges that automatically transfer to UA as ECON 200, PHIL 205, POL 203 and POL 206. These are the only foundation courses with transfer credit substitutions. There are NO transfer courses that can substitute for any of the core courses. Rarely, an upper division transfer course may be approved as a Track course. You will need to provide a complete syllabus of the course to apply for approval from the PPEL Advisor.

Only the few listed above, in the previous question.

Minor / Double Major

No. There is no minor in this program.

No. The PPEL major is larger than most (45 units), so a minor is not required. However, you may declare one or more minors if you choose.

Yes, as long as the second major is also within a B.A. program, and not a B.S. program.

If your second major is under a degree of a different type, such as a B.S., B.F.A., B.A.S., etc., you are considered a dual-degree student and not a double-major. Dual degree students have special requirements that double-majors do not have, and it is especially important that you talk to your academic advisor at the college level.



Yes. You may use up to 6 units of your thesis toward the 12 units required for the track.

You should check with your Honor's College advisor to make sure you are satisfying your Honors requirements. But for the PPEL track requirement, the process is as follows:

  1. Visit the Advanced Standing PPEL Coordinator (Peter Vanderschraaf, pvanderschraaf@arizona.edu) for approval of your topic idea
  2. Before visiting a professor, think more about your topic. It is always best to have something a bit more specific in mind before you talk to a professor, even if it is not completely developed.
  3. Approach the professor with your idea and ask if he or she would be willing to supervise you.
  4. Fill out the Independent Study Form and get the professor's signature.
  5. Take the form back to your Advanced Standing PPEL advisor who will enroll you for the units.

Outside the Classroom

 Not exactly. If an internship is granted for credit, it will go toward the TRACK requirement ONLY, and you must find the internship yourself. If you find one you would like to do (for your Track only), you may submit a written proposal by email to the PPEL Advisor. In the proposal, explain how the work that you will do in the internship will be related to the PPEL program topics and your track, specifically.

The PPEL Director and Advisor will review the proposal, and if approved, you will be assigned readings and a term paper to be completed along with the internship. (The internship alone will not be sufficient to earn credits in the PPEL program.) To register, fill out the Independent Study Form, and take it to the PPEL Advisor, who will enroll you for the units. A maximum of 3 units earned from an internship is allowed. Only one internship toward the track is allowed. Internship credit is not allowed if a student has already earned study abroad credit toward the track.

The PPEL Advisor will notify PPEL majors of any internship opportunities that may arise, but students interested in doing an internship must seek it out on their own. Typically, doing an internship is a lot more work than taking a class. An internship should be done because the work is something you are passionate about. Don't do it in order to avoid taking a course. The School of Government and Public Policy lists internship opportunities on their website.

Possibly. First, submit a written proposal by email to the PPEL Advisor, which gives a sketch of the work you would like to do, the professor you would like to be your supervisor, and how the work relates to the PPEL program topics and your track, specifically. The PPEL Director and Advisor will review the proposal, and if approved, you must then approach the professor with whom you want to do the work. Take these steps:

  • Think about your topic in more detail. It is always best to have something specific in mind before you talk to a professor, even if it is not completely developed.
  • Approach the professor with your idea and ask if he or she would be willing to supervise you.
  • Fill out the Independent Study Form, and get the professor's signature.
  • Take the form to the advisor or administrator in the department where that professor works. If you will be working with a philosophy department professor, take the completed form to the PPEL advisor, who will enroll you for the units.

Possibly. If a study abroad course is granted for credit, it will go toward the TRACK requirement ONLY. A maximum of three units earned in a study abroad course is allowed. Only ONE study abroad course is allowed toward the track. A study abroad course is not allowed if a student has already earned internship credit toward the track. It is the student's responsibility to make sure that the study abroad course will be accepted by the University first. The PPEL program cannot accept credits that the UA has not accepted and posted as transfer credits. Check with the study abroad office if you have any questions. Once you have the details about the course, including the course description and syllabus, submit a proposal with that information to the PPEL Advisor, along with a brief explanation of how this course relates to the PPEL program topics and your track, specifically. Bring the enrollment form supplied by the study abroad office. Be advised that leaving the PPEL core program in the Fall or Spring semester will most likely delay your graduation, and in some instances may not be approved.


Many students do. This major is excellent preparation for law school. We have had other students pursue graduate work in economics and philosophy, as well. Because of the stellar faculty, students do very well in post graduate pursuits.

The interest among our majors is diverse. Some are interested in private/government liaison work; others have an eye toward employment in non-profit organizations, for example, as a director in fundraising. Many are interested in the politics of government, either as candidates themselves or as support staff for national candidates. Some have aspirations to serve in government security agencies; some students will go on to do work in international relations and foreign research. Some are interested in the politics of lobbying, such as for environmental groups.