Building a Better Tomorrow
A degree in Policy and Community Development prepares smart leaders to empower and support healthy communities and smart policies
In the past few years, we've learned to live with a global pandemic and a divisive political environment. We've seen income disparities grow wider and have witnessed social uprisings. All have a profound effect on the financial, physical, and social wellbeing of our communities. How do we leverage this moment to recommit to racial, economic, and environmental justice? How do we make communities work better and be healthier places to live, work, and play? What policies help us get there?
"It's a really nice feeling to know that whatever you do you're making an impact that lasts a long time....I'm going to do something important."
Why Study Policy and Community Development at Michigan Tech?
- Applied learning experience: All students have applied learning experiences by working directly on civic projects in collaboration with community groups, governments, or policy organizations,
- Internships: Work with groups like We the People Michigan and The Nature Conservancy contributing to teams in policy and research, community organizing, or environmental justice,
- Optional concentrations in law, environment, or health allow majors to specialize in a particular area of emphasis that will support your career trajectory.
- Personalized education: Benefit from 1:1 advising and guidance, small classes taught by professors (not TAs) who get to know you, and a flexible curriculum where you can study what interests you,
- Student enrichment: Expand yourself beyond the classroom with study away and abroad programs, foreign languages, sustainability demonstration house, and undergraduate research,
- Interdisciplinary study.
"I fell in love with the campus environment and how the students interacted. The faculty made me feel like this is some place that actually cares about its students."
Customize Your Policy and Community Development Degree With a Concentration
Develop expertise in the foundations of law. Review civil rights and liberties. Learn about the legal process. Critically evaluate laws, policies, and programs and their impact on society, social justice, and environmental justice.
The law concentration prepares you for law school and a career in law or legal aid. You can get pre-law advising in this and any other concentration if you're planning to apply to law school.
Not interested in law school, you’ll gain a solid foundation for your advanced studies in public policy, as well as be prepared for professional careers in political organizations, criminal justice, social justice, or public service.
Choose from 11 different courses to customize your law concentration.
Learn to apply skills in policy and community development to health. Develop foundational knowledge in public health. Focus on improving people’s physical and mental well-being in a specific geographic region. Examine social determinants of health (including health inequalities) and their policy implications. Take a population-health-environment approach to addressing community health needs. Build a course of study that focuses on improving health care, one of the fastest growing sectors of the U.S. and the global economy.
The health concentration prepares you for careers in community health or for a Masters degree in Public Health.
Choose from 14 different courses to customize your health concentration.
Develop expertise in the foundations of environmental policy. The environment concentration prepares you for a Masters degree in Environmental Policy, Sustainable Communities, and other similar programs, as well as professional careers in environmental justice, environmental non-profits, corporate sustainability, and environmental policy.
You’ll study the laws, regulations, and policy apparatus that organizations and governments use to manage environmental issues. You’ll explore how environmental policy balances the protection, conservation, and sustainability of natural resources with affordable energy and economic growth while understanding how human activities impact the environment.
Choose from 19 different courses to customize your environment concentration.
A Masters Degree in Your Plans?
Earn an Accelerated MS degree in Environmental and Energy Policy or Industrial Heritage and Archaeology. You can do it in just one additional year at Michigan Tech with your BS in Policy and Community Development.
What Kind of Jobs Will I Get?
Be prepared to work in a wide range of job fields, including positions in community development, policy development and analysis, public service, corporate social responsibility offices, law, planning, all levels of government and city management, think tanks, nonprofit organizations, advocacy organizations, public health, criminal justice, regulatory agencies, consulting, social justice, diversity/equity/inclusion offices, community outreach, and more.
Students choosing a Law concentration would be well-prepared for Law School and a career in law. Students choosing a Health concentration would be well-prepared for Masters in Public Health programs. The private sector is also expanding employment opportunities in these areas. Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Relations are increasingly central to companies’ missions and a strategic growth area.
There is a growing demand for professionals who understand public policy making and can effectively work with local communities to facilitate effective policy design and implementation.
Table: Annual Salary and Job Growth for Policy and Community Development Degree Holders
Estimated Job Growth
(2020 to 2030)
Estimated New Jobs Created
(2020 to 2030)
|Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021|
|Health Education Specialists/ Community Health Workers||$48,860||17%||21,100|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$74,000||15%||26,400|
|Urban and Regional Planner||$78,500||7%||2,700|
Analyze Data to Help Plan and Build Safer Communities
- How to use data to make smart decisions,
- Data analysis including geographic information science and policy analysis
- Research methods to evaluate social problems, programs and policies and propose evidence-based solutions,
- Build and maintain collaborative relationships of shared responsibility with diverse communities and constituents, working effectively toward common goals, problem-solving, and collective action in fostering a sustainable and democratic society,
- Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an organization through data visualization, oral presentation/argumentation, and written reports,
- Analyze social institutions, social problems, and policies, identifying power structures, sources of inequality, and SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats).
The major is focused on the social sciences, yet draws upon other disciplines involved in policy and community development to give students disciplinary depth and interdisciplinary skills. See a detailed list of courses here.
- Students will take 19 general education credits.
- Students will take 16 introductory credits in the social sciences.
- Students will take at least 16 credits in policy and community development.
- Students will take at least 16 credits in social analytics including GIS and policy analysis which introduces them to a set of applied tools and research skills that are used broadly across the social sciences
- Students will take at least 9 credits in professional communication.
- Students will take at least 6 credits in leadership.
- Students will get between 4-10 credits in practice and experience through classes, research, and internships.
You can choose to concentrate within the degree program, however a concentration is not required. A concentration allows you to focus on specific areas of interest to you. Each concentration requires 11-12 credits, so choosing a concentration would use 12 of your free electives to fulfill the concentration requirement. Concentration choices include: