The Policy Studies curriculum reflects an innovative, integrated approach to the study of contemporary policy issues in local and global contexts. It prepares students for policy-related analyst and leadership careers in public, private and non-profit organizations.

Policy Studies streamlined its curriculum to offer an accelerated pathway, enabling students to obtain their master’s degree in just 12 months. 

It is founded on the belief that students attain their highest levels of understanding and proficiency when combining practice with theory and connecting classroom and real life environments. Through class seminars, small group collaboration, field research, a practicum, and a capstone project, students acquire the depth of knowledge, practical experiences, and professional skills that position them for success in the world of policy.

Policy Studies students enter the program as a cohort in autumn of each year. Core courses are offered as seminars that meet once a week. These seminars are combined with on-line and/or individual and small group discussions, workshops, case studies and analytical projects as well as field experiences, service learning and applied research opportunities. The course of study culminates with a Capstone Project.


12-month program/4 quarter
Total required credits= 48

6 core courses (5 at 5 credits; 1 at 1-2 credit x 4 quarters) = 30 credits
1 research methods course requirement = 5 credits
1 elective course = 5 credits
Capstone requirements = 8 credits

12 Month Program
Quarter Courses
Early Fall BPOLST 510 Statistics Fundamentals for Policy Studies (5)
Autumn BPOLST 511 Policy Process and Analysis (5)
BPOLST 509 Pro-seminar (1)
Policy Elective (5): Sustainability, Social Policy, Leadership etc.
Winter BPOLST 502 Statistics for Policy Studies (5)
BPOLST 513 Practicum (5)
BPOLST 509 Pro-seminar (1)
Spring BPOLST 514 Management and Program Evaluation (5)
Research Methods Requirement (5): BPOLST 594 Research Design, BPOLST 520 Internship, or BPOLST 598 Directed Research in Advanced Quantitative Methods
BPOLST 509 Pro-seminar (1)
Summer BPOLST 515 Capstone Project (8)
BPOLST 509 Pro-seminar (2)


Core Courses

BPOLST 510 Statistics Fundamentals for Policy Studies 

(5 credits, Early Fall)

This two-week intensive course at the end of September prepares students for BPOLST 502 and more advanced statistics in the future, by providing a survey of college-level mathematical and foundational statistical methods. Topics to be covered include statistical notation, population, sampling distribution and standard normal distributions, graphs and tables, inferential statistics, descriptive statistics and correlations. 

BPOLST 511 Policy Process and Analysis

(5 credits, Autumn)

This course focuses on political and institutional aspects of public policy processes. It examines rationales for public policy and the processes in which they are articulated and negotiated; formulation of policies; selection of policy instruments; policy implementation; and policy analysis. The course pays particular attention to methods and approaches commonly used to analyze policy at the formation and implementation stages of policy-making, including cost-benefit analysis, trend analysis, and deliberative approaches.

BPOLST 509 Pro-seminar

(1-2 credits x 4 quarters)

This four-course sequence of quarterly one-credit courses develops students’ professional competence in a number of areas essential to the field of policy work.  Workshops deepen skills in applied policy ethics, conflict resolution, policy writing and public speaking, and oral presentation of policy information. Students also network with alumni, professionals active in the field, and other faculty in the program in order to structure their MAPS experience and explore policy perspectives from multiple points of view. 

BPOLST 502 Statistics for Policy Studies

(5 credits, Winter) 

The primary goal of this class is to help students develop the statistical skills needed to be independent policy researchers. It lays the basic foundation for both academic and practical investigation. This course begins your training by surveying important aspects of the conduct of research into social scientific questions. By the end of the quarter, you will be able to apply appropriate univariate, bivariate, and multivariate statistical techniques to answering research questions; understand the principles and logic behind statistical methods deployed in the course; utilize SPSS to execute a data analysis project and draw statistical inferences; and apply statistical knowledge to understand policy case studies.

BPOLST 513 Practicum

(5 credits, Winter)

Practicum courses provide students with the opportunity to explore particular social and policy issues by connecting with community stakeholders that influence and are affected by those issues. The goal is to build relationships with communities with whom students are interested in working and/or conducting research. This course will advance around the three themes of exploration, connection, and relationship building. Students explore their community and political settings by conducting informal research into these contexts. Students will connect with community stakeholders through direct service, informational interviews, events, and/or other means.  Currently in development and review for 2017-2018.

BPOLST 514 Management and Program Evaluation

(5 credits, Spring)

This course provides an overview of the major literatures in organization theory and management. Assignments focus on developing managerial skills such as: supervising subordinates, building a team, mapping stakeholders, problem-spotting, and evaluating existing programs. Special attention will be devoted to methods and approaches to program evaluation, including logic models, participatory approaches, and rational/quantitative approaches. 

Research Methods Requirement/ BPOLST 594 Research Design

(5 credits, Spring) 

BPOLST 594 Research Design is the default means of satisfying the Research Methods requirement. (You may petition for other options, including BPOLST 520 Internship, or BPOLST 598 Directed Research in Advanced Quantitative Methods). The course’s goal is to develop students’ own research questions and explore appropriate research methods for addressing these questions. Readings and discussion provide grounding in research designs, including experimental, longitudinal, cross-sectional, case-study, and participatory action research. Special attention will be devoted to planning and developing student capstone projects.

BPOLST 515 Capstone Project

(8 credits, Summer)

The Capstone is an independent research project intended to be the culmination of the degree program. Building on the networking and research done in the Practicum as well as the planning and design work from the previous quarter, students will work with a faculty advisor to complete and write up their own research. Depending on the nature of the research question and the kind of partners or collaborators students engage, the capstone manuscript may take different formats. In general, capstone manuscripts will include a description of the policy problem, literature review, description of research methods, review of research findings, and conclusions or implications. 

See a description of current courses being offered.

Elective Credits

There are many options available to students when it comes to choosing electives.  The first place to look is at the BPOLST elective offerings, located for the year on the current courses page. Students can also take graduate level coursework in other degrees, such as Cultural Studies, or 400-level classes that are relevant to their field of study. To find other UWB courses, please refer to the UWB Time Schedule. To find courses on the Seattle campus, please refer to the UWS Time Schedule.

Students wishing to receive elective credit for courses taken in other departments (either at UW Bothell or UW Seattle) must fill out a Petition for Outside Coursework and obtain faculty approval.

Other options