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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Welcome to PAM

Welcome first-year Policy Analysis and Management students!

We look forward to meeting you in August.  Here  are some ideas and guidelines to help you think about your fall classes. 

First, we ask that you promptly activate your NetID and get in the habit of regularly checking your official Cornell email account. Important messages regarding orientation and course enroll will be sent to your official Cornell email.


In the Fall Semester Policy Analysis and Management Freshmen Must Take: 

PAM 1111 – Success in PAM and HCP (1 Credit)

This course will help students develop goals for their time as a Cornell Undergraduate, including introducing them to resources and strategies for success at Cornell. The registrar’s office will automatically enroll you in this course.

ECON 1110 – Introductory Microeconomics (3 Credits)

Introductory Microeconomics is a required class for all PAM majors. PAM courses in general rely quite heavily on microeconomics. Completing this class early on will ensure you remain on track to take other courses later (as it is a prerequisite class for many). In order to move through the program, it is necessary to begin the economics sequence as early as possible. Professor Sanders, a PAM faculty member, teaches the ECON 1110 course that meets on MW. If possible, you should try and enroll in his section of the course. You need to enroll yourself in ECON 1110.

First Year Writing Seminar (FWS) (3 Credits)

All Brooks School  students are required to take a First Year Writing Seminar during their first two semesters at Cornell. Although you can take any FWS across campus, PAM majors may find PAM 1500 Reading and Writing in Public Policy of particular interest.  FWS courses are small classes, so you are encouraged to select a few different options in case your first choice fills.  If you do not take the seminar this fall you will receive a warning letter and you will be put on academic probation. More information about freshman writing seminars is available on the Knight Institute Webpage. You need to enroll yourself in an FWS. 

At least one 3-4 credit PAM course:

All first semester Brooks students must take at least one PAM course in the school to begin exploring public policy issues and topics.  The registrar’s office will automatically enroll you in one 2000 level PAM course.  If you would like to explore alternate PAM course options, please contact or call 607-255-1199.


Additional Coursework Suggestions: 

The above required coursework totals 7 credits. We recommend that you take somewhere between 14-16 credits this semester. To graduate on time you will need to take an average of 15 credits per semester.  To maintain full-time status, students must enroll in at least 12 academic credits per semester. The maximum credits Brooks School students can enroll in per semester is 18 credits.  Below are some additional course options to consider, which meet the requirements on the PAM Curriculum Sheet:

PAM 2300 – Introduction to Policy Analysis
OR PAM 2301 – Introduction to Public Policy (4 Credits)

One of these courses must be completed during your first year in the Brooks School. PAM 2300 Introduction to Policy Analysis will be offered this fall and  the new PAM 2301 Introduction to Public Policy course will be offered next spring.  Although PAM 2300 is listed as the only option listed on the curriculum sheet, starting this year PAM majors are welcome to take either PAM 2300 Introduction to Policy Analysis or the new PAM 2301 Introduction to Public Policy course to complete our introductory policy requirement.   Below are the descriptions for each course, to help you select which course is the best fit for your personal academic interests. 

Introduction to Policy Analysis

Policy analysis is an interdisciplinary field that uses theories, concepts, and methods from disciplines such as economics, sociology, and political science to address substantive issues in the public policy arena. Students are introduced to the functions of and interactions between the major institutions (public and private) at the national, state, and local level involved in the policy making process. The course focuses on public policy analysis in the social welfare, health, and education areas and also includes an introduction to the technical skills required to undertake policy analysis.

Introduction to Public Policy

The pressing societal issues of our time—from climate change to national security, from immigration to policing, from global economic development to domestic tax reform—are deeply intertwined with public policy decisions made by governments. In this course, we consider how societal conditions come to be defined as problems for governments to solve, the role of public and private actors in influencing policy outcomes, and how we know whether policies achieve their goals. Course readings, lectures, discussions, and experiential learning assignments provide opportunities for students to critically analyze public policy processes and outcomes from multiple disciplinary perspectives, including economics, political science, and sociology. The course also introduces students to key areas of public policy including technology policy; environmental and sustainability policy; health policy; international security; inequality and social policy; international development; and race, racism, and public policy.

Math Coursework (3-4 credits) 

PAM majors are required to complete at least one MATH department course.  (Note: MATH 1101, MATH 1710, and academic support courses do not meet this requirement). 

Natural Science Coursework (3-4 Credits)

PAM majors are required to take two natural science courses. One of these courses must come from either introductory biology, chemistry, or physics. BIOG 1140 is a popular course for PAM majors. If you are interested in pre-med, then taking CHEM 2070 this fall is important. 


GOVT 1111 – Introduction to American Government and Politics (4 Credits)

Introduction to Government is a required course for all PAM majors and is only offered in the fall semester. 

An Elective Course

As a Brooks School student you are required to take 9 credits of DEA, FSAD, HD, or NS  coursework through your admitting College of Human Ecology. You may wish to get started on these CHE electives.  Also, PAM majors are permitted to take approximately 40 elective credits from anywhere across the university.  If desired, you could use this elective to begin working towards a minor.

Other Notes: 


The Brooks School has developed a team approach to academic advising and student support. This approach is designed to give you the best support possible as you make your way through the PAM major.  

During orientation you will be assigned a Brooks faculty advisor.  Our faculty advisors are experts in their field who know their way around Cornell and can give you valuable insight as you select your electives, consider research opportunities, navigate challenging coursework, and think about your academic goals.  

The faculty advisors work closely with the Brooks School’s Office of Enrollment and Student Services.This office provides personal and academic counseling, and is available to help you understand academic policies and requirements and think through course sequencing,  while encouraging a healthy school-life balance.

The Brooks Office of Enrollment and Student Services partners with a shared Office of Student and Career Development that offers both Brooks School and College of Human Ecology students support in career planning and navigating off-campus opportunities.  This office includes the career exploration center, which offers services like mock interviews, resume review, and internship guides.   

If you have any advising questions throughout the summer, please do not hesitate to contact the Brooks Office of Enrollment and Student Services at


AP/IB Credit: 

It is possible for you to waive certain PAM and Cornell requirements if you have taken appropriate AP/IB courses. There is more information available on the Brooks/CHE registrar’s website. If you receive AP/IB credit in place of one of above required courses, you do not need to repeat the course. You may instead select an alternate course from the requirements on the PAM curriculum sheet. 


Transfer Students: 

Each transfer student is on a unique path.  As a general guideline, you should enroll in the core requirements, and the required courses that you have not yet completed. The registrar’s office sent you a list of transfer equivalencies. Compare these to the curriculum sheet to see what requirements remain. Jen Wright, Undergraduate Advising Coordinator will also be available during the summer for phone or zoom appointments, if you would like to discuss your schedule.

We are sure that there remain many questions. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly at or at 607-255-1199. We look forward to meeting you soon! 


Sharon Sassler
Brooks Director of Undergraduate Studies

Christie Avgar
Brooks Director of Enrollment and Student Services 

Jennifer Wright
Brooks Undergraduate Advising Coordinator