Brooks School Faculty Advising
The Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy takes a team approach to undergraduate advising. Undergraduate students are assigned a faculty advisor during their first semester. Faculty advisors help students by discussing their progress, academic performance, elective selection, post-graduate studies, research interests, and more.
Students can also find support by consulting the school’s Central Undergraduate Advising Team, which consists of Director of Undergraduate Studies, Sharon Sassler, Lead Health Care Policy Advisor, Brandon Tripp, and Undergraduate Advising Coordinator, Jen Wright. The Central Undergraduate Advising Team is available to answer questions about curriculum requirements, course sequencing, academic policies and procedures, and the honors program. The Central Undergraduate Advising Team can also help with navigating program level, admitting college, and university level requirements and resources.
Students also have access to the school’s Student and Career Development Office, and many other university wide resources. Below are a number of resources to help with your academic planning, along with additional information about how and when to utilize each branch of the PAM advising team
Central Undergraduate Advising
Contacting Central Advising:
Central Advising Staff and Faculty:
Sharon Sassler, Director of Undergraduate Studies and Professor
Students will be assigned a faculty advisor to discuss student progress, academic performance, planning for electives, summer internships, post graduate studies, employment, and so on.
You should plan to meet with your faculty advisor at least once per semester to discuss your academic progress and plans for the future.
You can find your faculty advisor’s name in Student Center. Faculty advisors are available to help you, so feel free to email your faculty advisor to learn when their office hours are or to request an appointment.
To request an advisor change, contact BrooksUGprogram@cornell.edu . If you know who you would like to have as a faculty advisor, check with that person first to make sure they agree, and forward their approval to BrooksUGprogram@cornell.edu.
In the event you have not been assigned a faculty advisor, contact BrooksUGprogram@cornell.edu.
Office of Student and Career Development Counselors and Resources
Students may utilize the academic counselors in the Office of Student and Career Development for questions and guidance. Topics that are most relevant to discuss with the academic counselors include pre-med and pre-law advisement, career planning, interview preparation, minor advisement, leaves of absence, study abroad, academic difficulties, change of major discussion, or personal concerns. More information about how to schedule an appointment with an academic counselor in the Office of Student and Career Development can be found on the college’s advising and counseling website. The office of Student and Career Development also manages the Career Exploration Center, which provides a number of resources to assist students in cover letter and resume development, interview preparation, career selection, and more. To learn more about career support resources, visit the college’s Career Development website.
B.S. Policy Analysis and Management Curriculum
The PAM major curriculum encourages students to draw on skills from multiple disciplines to address multifaceted public policy issues. Throughout the curriculum students have the opportunity to develop: analytic skills to assist in creating solutions to public problems; skills in writing concisely and clearly; the ability to work effectively in group settings; skills in effectively communicating their ideas in public settings; and the ability to consider the ethical implications of their actions. Building on the foundation of core disciplines and strong quantitative skills, the curriculum provides in-depth instruction in three major areas of public policy:
A Background in Social Sciences:
To understand the impact of policy on individuals and society it is essential to understand human behavior, which is at the center of social science disciplines. All PAM majors are required to take the following introductory social science classes:
- Introductory and Intermediate Microeconomics
- Public Sector Economics
A Background in Empirical Analysis:
To measure and assess the impact of new policies and changes to existing policies requires a strong grounding in empirical analysis. A thorough grounding in statistics and regression analysis is crucial. All PAM students are required to take the following empirical analysis courses:
- Introduction to Statistics
- Multiple Regression Analysis
- Population and Public Policy
The tools for analyzing policy can be applied to a wide range of questions. Students are encouraged to apply the foundational skills they learn to study the policies in which they are most interested. All PAM majors are required to take seven elective courses in policy analysis. The following are some examples of PAM electives grouped into our major areas of policy expertise:
Health Policy: covering issues such as health care reform, comparative health care systems, population health, pharmaceutical policy, and the economics of risky health behaviors. Examples of courses include:
- Comparative health care systems
- Contemporary issues in women’s health
- Economics of health behaviors
- Fundamentals of population health
- Global health policy
- Pharmaceutical management and policy
- U.S. healthcare system
Social Policy: including issues such as poverty and social inequality, neighborhoods and urban policy, welfare policy, educational policy, and criminal justice policy. Examples of courses include:
- Economics of crime
- Economics of discrimination
- Economics of social security
- Environmental policy
- Ethnography of poverty and inequality
- Evolving families
- Neighborhoods, housing and urban policy
- Race and public policy
- Technology, policy and the law
- Urban policy
Regulatory Policy: including issues such as consumer law and protection, risk management, information regulation, and government regulations of corporations. Examples of courses include:
- Consumer law and policy
- Corporations, shareholders and policy
- Regulating financial institutions
- Non-profits and public policy
Once all of the program and university requirements are satisfied, PAM majors still have approximately 40 remaining credits of electives. This amount of flexibility is a strength of our major and a tremendous benefit to students hoping to build breadth in their course of study, and those desiring to build minors in, for example, demography, government, business of international relations, etc. PAM students use these electives to take courses from across the university, to complete minors, to study abroad, and to conduct independent research. By strategically selecting from the Brooks School electives, and electives from across the university, PAM students can create a powerful portfolio of courses that satisfy their individual career and personal interests. This flexibility results in PAM majors pursuing a wide range of post-graduate activities: business school, consulting, government, health care, investment banking, law school, management, medical school, Teach-for-America, research, and more.
Please do not hesitate to email Sharon Sassler, Brooks Director of Undergraduate Studies.
B.S PAM Course Requirements and Sequencing
To graduate with a B.S. in Policy Analysis and Management students must complete all requirements noted in the Curriculum Sheet for the year that they matriculated in the department.
Suggested Order of Core PAM Classes (Curriculum Sheet Requirement #1)
Freshmen Fall Semester
PAM 1111 Success in PAM and HCP
PAM 2300 – Introduction to Policy Analysis
ECON 1110 – Introduction to Microeconomics
First Year Writing Seminar
Freshmen Spring Semester
PAM 2000 – Intermediate Microeconomics (Prerequisite – ECON 1110)
PAM 2030 – Population and Public Policy
First Year Writing Seminar
Sophomore Fall Semester
PAM 2101 – Introduction to Statistics for PAM Majors
PAM 2040 – Economics of the Public Sector (Prerequisite – PAM 2000)
Sophomore Spring Semester
PAM 3100 – Multiple Regression Analysis (Prerequisite – PAM 2101)
Helpful Advising Tips:
- There is a natural order to economics based PAM courses: ECON 1110, PAM 2000, PAM 2040. It is useful to take these courses in sequential semesters, as noted above. If for some reason (e.g. you transferred into PAM) you are unable to take the core courses as noted above, please connect with Jen Wright for assistance developing an alternate plan.
- First year writing seminars (FWS) MUST be taken in during the first year. Students who do not complete two FWS courses in their first year will be reviewed by the committee on academic status.
- There is a natural order to statistics based PAM courses: PAM 2101, PAM 3100. There are other Introduction to Statistics across the university (notably PAM 2100). However, PAM 2101 is especially designed for PAM majors.
- The PAM major was designed with the idea that students would take a large cross-section of introductory social science courses early in the program. Therefore, in addition to the required PAM and Economics Courses, students should try and take Introduction to Sociology and Introduction to Government during the first two years.
- It would be useful to take the Cornell math course early in the program. A math course will help with the intermediate level core PAM courses.
- After taking the core PAM courses, students will be ready to handle the 3000 and 4000 level PAM electives.
- Students interested in the honors program should take PAM 3120 Research Design, Practice and Policy during their junior year.
B.S. Health Care Policy Course Sequencing
To graduate with a B.S. in Health Care Policy (HCP) students must complete all requirements noted in the Curriculum Sheet for the year that they matriculated in the department. Keep in mind that these samples showcase one way to complete the major. There are many routes to successfully complete the necessary requirements. Pre-health students in the HCP major are strongly encouraged to consult the Office of Student and Career Development for pre-health specific advising each semester.
When planning your course schedule look ahead to see what prerequisites are required for the upper level courses. For example, there is a natural order to the economics based courses (ECON 1110, PAM 2000, PAM 2040) and for the statistics based courses (PAM 2101, PAM 3100). These courses are common prerequisites for many of the upper level Health Policy courses, so it is important to take these in the first two years of the major. You may notice that there are other Introduction to Statistics across the university (notably PAM 2100). However, PAM 2101 is specifically required for HCP majors.
The biology, physics, and chemistry courses also follow a natural sequence. For example, you will need to complete the introductory biology and introductory chemistry requirements before proceeding to complete organic chemistry and finally biochemistry, if you choose to make those part of your major. Consult the Courses of Study to determine the necessary prerequisites for the courses you are considering to use for your major requirements.
IMPORTANT NOTE: First year writing seminars (FWS) MUST be taken during your first year at Cornell. Failure to take both FWS courses in the first year will result in a review by the Committee on Academic Status.
Brooks Peer-Mentoring Program
The Brooks School Peer-Mentorship program was developed by policy students for policy students with the aim to help build a supportive and inclusive community. Student leaders guide the program under direction of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, Sharon Sassler, and Undergraduate Advising Coordinator, Jen Wright.
Selected mentors are expected to commit to the following activities and expectations over the course of the academic year:
Attend an introductory orientation/training workshop
Attend at least TWO gatherings with mentee’s
Be compassionate, available, accessible, and approachable to mentees
Be proactive in supporting mentees
Bring any challenges or concerns to the attention of the Central Undergraduate Advising Team members for the purpose of continuing to strengthen your own mentoring practices and to provide the best support to undergraduate mentees.
Applicants must meet the following criteria to be eligible for consideration as an undergraduate mentor:
Currently-enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student in the Brooks School
Must have completed at least one year in the Brooks School
If you are interested in becoming a mentor please fill out this online application.
Please contact BrooksUGProgram@cornell.edu with any questions or for more information about the mentor application process.
Each September a message will be sent to new students inviting them to sign up with a mentor. If you would like a mentor and missed the announcement, please contact BrooksUGProgram@cornell.edu.
Adding or Dropping Classes
You are permitted to add standard classes during the first 15 calendar days of the semester.
You are permitted to drop classes during the first 57 calendar days of the semester without anything showing up on your transcript.
You are permitted to drop classes after the deadline; however, a grade of W will be recorded on your transcript. W has no effect on your GPA.
There is a manual Add/Drop form that can override the electronic system. It must be signed by the instructor in the class you are trying to enroll in or drop.
You should see the College Registrar’s website for the most up to date information on semester Add/Drop dates.
AP Credit Procedures
The Brooks School Registrar records, maintains, and handles the details for Advanced Placement (AP) credit.
You should search under the Requirements and Policies section of the Registrar’s website for information on AP credits.
You are permitted to use a total of 15 AP and in absentia credit towards your graduation requirements. You will have to self-report your AP credits. Please see the Brooks School registrar’s website for more details.
Career Placement Services
Brooks School students are encouraged to use the Brooks School Career Exploration Center in Martha Van Rensselaer Hall At the Career Exploration Center you can develop life-long skills for choosing careers and managing effective job and internship searches, participate in On-Campus Recruiting Program via Cornell Handshake, and meet with a professional counselor.
You should make contact with the Career Exploration Center early in your Cornell tenure to find out about all of the programs and services.
The Brooks Student Bulletin, a student newsletter for Brooks School Undergraduate Students has information on some internship and employment opportunities that might be of interest to Brooks students.
Students are encouraged to explore the multitude of careers open to Brooks School graduates through our 1 credit PAM 1050 Career Explorations elective. This course offers students the opportunity to network with alumni working in a broad range of policy related fields including but not limited to: consulting, finance, education, health care administration, non-profits, real estate research, and more. Students also practice cover letter and resume writing skills and hear from staff and student assistants in the Career Explorations Center.
Core Course Substitution
Required courses for the PAM and HCP majors are outlined in the relevant curriculum sheets. However, in very exceptional circumstances (such as junior transfer, medical leave, and so on), it may be extremely inconvenient to take exactly the required core classes. In these circumstances it may be possible to find alternative courses at Cornell that cover similar material to the PAM or HCP core classes. Please contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies or attend their office hours to discuss your options.
Suggested Courses Depending on Career Interests
- Applied Demographic Analysis
- Education Policy
- Family and Social Welfare Policy
- Health Care Policy/ Management
- Law and Regulation
- Law School
- Medical School
- PhD Economics
- PhD/Masters Public Policy
- Policy Analysis/Economics
Check out the suggested courses depending on career interest at the end of the current curriculum sheet.
Changing Curriculum Sheets
There is a new curriculum sheet for every new matriculating freshmen class. Though changes to each year’s curriculum sheet are typically small, there may be some advantage to switching.
You are permitted to change to a newer curriculum sheet (you are not permitted to switch to an older curriculum sheet).
Simply let Lori Asperschlager (law32), the Assistant Registrar, know that you want to change.
NOTE: Once you switch to a newer curriculum sheet, you are NOT permitted to switch back. Be sure before you make a change.
Brooks Honors Program
Both PAM majors and HCP majors are welcome to participate in the Brooks honors program. For more information please view the Brooks Honors Program webpage.
In Absentia Credit
In absentia credit are credits that students earn at other institutions that they can use towards the 120 credit Cornell graduation requirements.
A maximum of 15 credits of in absentia and advanced placement (AP) credits in total may be used towards Cornell graduation requirements.
Students need to fill out the In-Absentia petition form and to be reviewed by the Assistant Registrar.
NOTE: Credits earned at Cornell approved study abroad programs, Cornell-in-Washington, and Capital Semester all count as Cornell credits.
If students fail to complete all of the requirements for a course by the end of a semester, there is the option to record a temporary grade of Incomplete, and then finish the course work in the near future. The option of taking a grade of Incomplete is completely at the discretion of the course instructor. It is typically used for situations where a significant health or personal issue prevents the student from completing a component of the course requirements.
The student will be e-mailed a copy of an incomplete form submitted by the instructor. The form will present a detailed record of what work the student must complete, and the deadline. The required work must be completed within 12 months of the end of the semester, but shorter periods are encouraged. After the work has been completed, the instructor must complete a Change of Grade form to change the grade from an INC. Please note that once an incomplete grade is changed to the final grade an asterisk(*) will remain next to the grade to indicate the prior incomplete.
Internal and External Transfer Planning
Transferring within the College of Human Ecology is simply a matter of completing a Change Of Major form.
Transferring between colleges at Cornell is more involved. You must formally apply for admission into each college directly with the college you are interested in attending. You should arrange to apply to other colleges directly with each respective admissions office.
If you are interested in transferring into the Brooks School , you should set up a meeting with the Undergraduate Advising and Course Coordinator to plan an appropriate schedule. Please e-mail BrooksUGProgram@cornell.edu to schedule an appointment.
Leave of Absence
Cornell students are permitted to take up to two semesters for a leave of absence during their course of study.; You may want to discuss a leave of absence with your faculty adviser. When you have made a decision, you must arrange the details and take care of paperwork with; an adviser in the student development office.
Students must earn a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 (C) or better to graduate.
Students who fall below 2.0 cumulatively or during a semester are subject to academic action.
There are no minimum grade requirements for any single PAM or HCP course (other than passing) as long as you satisfy the cumulative GPA requirements.
In order to graduate you must earn 2 PE credits. You can take these 2 credits in any semester.
NOTE: PE credits don’t count towards the minimum 12 credits that you must enroll in each semester to be considered a full time student.
NOTE: PE credits don’t count towards the 120 credits you need to graduate.
Petition to take more than 18 credits
Students in the Brooks School are permitted to enroll in 18 credit hours per term. Students with 2 terms of study at Cornell, a minimum GPA of 3.60, and that are in Good Standing may petition to take up to 22 credits per semester. Petitions to take more then 18 credits are accepted only during the Add/Drop period in the term in which the additional credits will be taken. No petition to take more then 18 credits will be accepted during the pre-enrollment period.
Special Studies Credits (4000, 4010, 4020, 4030)
Special studies credits are typically used for work you do that is not a standard didactic course. For example, if you complete a directed reading course with a professor, work as a teaching assistant, or work as a research assistant you can apply for special studies credits.
A maximum of 12 special studies credits total, from any college, can be applied towards graduation requirements. PAM special studies credits cannot apply toward the 3000/4000 level PAM electives (requirement #2 for the PAM major). However, PAM 4000, 4010, or 4020 can apply toward the additional PAM electives (requirement #3 for the PAM major and HCP major).
Students may register for between 1 and 3 credits per semester of PAM 4000 or 4010, or 1 credit per semester of PAM 4020. Registration for PAM 4030 may not exceed 5 credit hours per semester. A minimum of 3 hours per week of work are required for each earned credit. Consult your special studies instructor to determine the learning objective, activities, and product of the Special Studies. To enroll in PAM 4000, 4010, or 4020 complete the online Special Studies Form, to be reviewed by the faculty member, the DUS, and the Registrar. Or, to enroll in PAM 4030 complete the paper HE 4030 TA Form, and obtain appropriate signatures.
PAM 4000: Directed Readings
For study that predominately involves library research and independent readings. The student and faculty instructor should agree on the scope of the work, and plan on the direction of the readings. The student and faculty should meet bi-weekly to discuss the student’s progress and direction for the following weeks. At a minimum the student is expected to produce both a midterm and final written research paper detailing the readings and findings. However, the faculty instructor has the flexibility to require more frequent written reports if so desired.
PAM 4010: Empirical Research
For study that predominately involves data collection and analysis. The student and faculty instructor should agree on the scope of the work, and the plan for the empirical research. The student and faculty should meet bi-weekly to discuss the student’s progress and direction for the following weeks. At a minimum the student is expected to produce both a midterm and final written research paper detailing the readings and findings. However, the faculty instructor has the flexibility to require more frequent written reports if so desired.
PAM 4020: Supervised Fieldwork
For study that predominantly involves both responsible participation in a community setting and reflection on that experience through discussion, reading, and writing. Academic credit is awarded for this integration of theory and practice. Students may register for 1 credit of PAM 4020 with their faculty advisor during the semester after they have completed an internship. Internships are an invaluable learning experience, and in many instances are useful to gain career skills. However, in order to earn PAM credit there must be distinct policy analysis academic content to the work. The academic content should involve the evaluation of public policy. Additionally, in order to earn credit, students must write and submit a report to their faculty advisor that formally presents the completed filed work, and the policy analysis conclusions.
PAM 4030: Teaching Apprenticeship
For study that predominantly involves leading discussion sections or demonstrations, preparing items for course exams, grading, or participating in critiques of student work. Any grading or critiques of student work completed by the TA must be done under close supervision of the course instructor. Teaching assistants must have at least 1 to 2 hours of weekly group or individual meetings with course instructor. Students must have received a B+ or higher in the course prior to applying to be the course TA. To participate in Teaching Apprenticeship, students must have at least a 3.0 GPA at Cornell, junior or senior status, and have completed PAM 2300. Students cannot TA the same course for credit more than once. PAM 4030 credits may not be used toward the additional PAM electives requirement. PAM 4030 may apply as an elective toward the 120 credits needed to graduate.
Study Abroad Credits
Students who complete study abroad are permitted to count 15 credits towards their graduation requirements. These credits are all counted as elective credits. If you take a class while abroad you think could meet other requirements, you should complete a Curriculum Waiver form.
NOTE: You will not get PAM course credits for any course you take while abroad.
S/U Grading Option
Some classes use a grading system of S/U (S – Satisfactory; U-Unsatisfactory) rather than the standard letter grades.
Students may have the option in some classes to select either the standard letter grading or S/U. There is no GPA impact from using S/U. If you achieve an S you will get the full credits from the class, but if you receive a U you receive no credits.
An S will be given for grades that would have been C- or above.
You must decide within the first 57 calendar days of the semester which grading option you are using (note that some classes may not have an option). The deadline for changing the course grading option is the same as the deadline for dropping a class.
Note: You are NOT permitted to select the S/U option for any required courses in: Requirements 1-13 for the PAM 2017-2018 curriculum sheet and later or Requirements 1-14 for the HCP 2018-2019 curriculum sheet and later.
NOTE: S/Us MAY only be used for the 9 HE Credits outside the major and for electives. Students may apply no more than 12 credits of S/U towards graduation requirements. If a required course is only offered S/U, it will not count towards this limit. Students may take more S/Us if they choose, but the additional credit will not be applied towards graduation.
BEWARE: A temptation for students is to take a class as S/U, but then not put forth full effort. Every spring semester there is at least one graduating senior who takes a course S/U, ends up with a U because they didn’t try hard enough, and doesn’t graduate.
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Brooks School undergraduates are encouraged to participate in research if they are interested.
There is no central clearinghouse or placement services for research. You will have to use your initiative to find opportunities. Here are some tips for starting your research journey:
- Research is about discovering something new. It is difficult…and exhilarating. You should take the same approach necessary for success in research to discover research opportunities. Faculty are just as interested in finding good research assistants as you are in finding opportunities: a good match benefits both the faculty and student. Be proactive in your search, and exhibit the traits that faculty will find valuable.
- Read about faculty research on their web pages and make a list of faculty members whose work interests you. Think about the types of projects that match your interests and skills.
- Discuss your interests with your faculty advisor or instructor of relevant courses.
- Meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies to see if they know about any research opportunities in the department.
- Email professors whose research interests you and ask to meet with them. Do not send mass e-mails to professors. Send individual messages to faculty members and mention the work that they do and explain how it matches your interests. They need to know that you have done your homework about their program.
- Contact faculty members well in advance. Try to connect with faculty members the semester before you wish to start. Make a good impression on your faculty instructors and inquire about research opportunities they know about.
- Prepare a research resume with your local contact information to give to the professor for later reference. List relevant courses and grades, your career goals, and any other experiences you have had.
- Be familiar with the professor’s research prior to meeting with them. Read one or more of their papers so that you are familiar with the general types of research approaches and methods that are used.
- Be sure you are seriously interested in getting involved in research. Faculty want students with a strong work ethic, who are organized and willing to work both independently and as a team member. They will need you to stay involved throughout the whole semester, so time management and commitment are key for being accepted into a research program.
- Take the courses that will enhance your credentials to join a research program.
- There are two different ways that you can be compensated for research: credit and pay. Typically undergraduate students do research for credit.