The multidisciplinary coordinate Major in Social Policy & Practice introduces students to problems, policies, and methods in the social policy and welfare field through three core courses and additional elective coursework in the social and behavioral sciences. The major is designed to encourage students to explore social policy interests prior to employment or graduate education. It also serves as an excellent pre-professional major for social work, the social sciences, education, law, public health, public policy, and related fields.

The program in Social Policy & Practice is designed to grant students a considerable degree of freedom in the choice of electives and to offer ample avenues for students interested in pursuing independent research and/or internship experiences. The program is particularly interested in encouraging the study of social problems related to living in an urban environment such as issues related to race, class, poverty, gender, social justice and the intersections among them.

Social Policy & Practice graduates often find that they have many career options because of their broad academic backgrounds and well-developed writing, critical thinking, and interpersonal skills that are highly valued by employers in a wide variety of settings. Students in the major are well prepared for entering the fields of social work, education, public policy, public health, law, medicine, business, and any other field that values a solid liberal arts education.


Michele Adams, Sociology

Faculty Associates

Requirements for the Social Policy & Practice Coordinate Major

All SPP coordinate majors must major in one of the three majors: Sociology, Political Science, or Economics.

There are three specific courses (9 hours) that SPP Majors are required to complete. These are:

  • SOWK 2000 Introduction to Social Policy and Practice (Fred Buttell)
  • POLA 3240-10. Public Policy (Celeste Lay)
  • SOWK 4000 Community Organizing for Social Change: Theories and Methods

Elective Courses (21 hours):

In addition to these three required courses, all SPP students are required to take 7 elective courses (21 hours) to satisfy the requirements for the coordinate major (30 hours total). To count as an SPP elective, a course must have a clear policy focus and/or practice component. Students can only take three courses below 4000-level for elective credit. The remaining four elective courses must be at 4000-level or above.

While SPP coordinate majors must declare their primary major in sociology, political science or economics, any course offered within Newcomb-Tulane College that has a clear policy focus and/or practice component may count as an SPP elective. Students may petition for a course not listed below, but offered through Newcomb-Tulane College to count as an SPP elective. This includes courses offered through the School of Liberal Arts, School of Architecture, A.B. Freeman School of Business, School of Public Heath and Tropical Medicine, and the School of Science and Engineering. For a course not listed below to count as SPP credit, the director of SPP will need to examine the course syllabus. For those courses that are approved, students will need to complete a Degree Audit Substitution Form (available at the Academic Advising Center), and get it signed by the SPP director. Students are also encouraged to explore the Program for Africana Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and other SLA programs for potential course options.

Please note that all students must have at least 18 separate courses in the primary major and the Social Policy and Practice coordinate major. That is, if you make a list of all the courses that are used to complete your primary major requirements, and another list of all the courses used to complete the Social Policy and Practice coordinate major requirements, and then count each course once, even if it appears on both lists, there should be at least 18 courses. If a third major is added, there must be a total of 27 separate courses for the three majors; for 4 majors, there must be at least 36 separate courses, etc.

Below is a list of courses in economics, political science and sociology that will count towards the Social Policy and Practice coordinate major. Some of these are offered on a regular basis, others are offered less frequently.

List of Economics electives for the SPP major

  • ECON 1010: Introduction to Microeconomics Principles
  • ECON 3330: Environment and Natural Resources
  • ECON 3340: Government in the Economy
  • ECON 3320: Urban Economics
  • ECON 3810: Labor Economics
  • ECON 3830: The Economics of Gender
  • ECON 3420: Economic History of the United States
  • ECON 4500 Health Economics & Policy
  • ECON 4600 Inequality and Poverty in Latin America

List of Political Science electives for SPP major

  • POLI 3040: Politics of Immigration
  • POLA 3200: Congress
  • POLA 3270: Court and Politics
  • POLA 4250: Power & Poverty in America
  • POLA 4260: Race, Sex, and Power
  • POLA 4270: Constitutional Law
  • POLC 4392 Controversies in Global Public Health
  • POLC 4030: Comparative Political Economy of the Welfare State
  • POLC 6100: Politics & Health
  • POLC 6120: Comparative Social Policy
  • POLI 4620: International Environmental Politics

List of Sociology electives for the SPP major

  • SOCI 1030: Sociology of Family
  • SOCI 1050: Introduction to Education & Society
  • SOCI 1060: Urban Sociology
  • SOCI 1080 Gender and Society
  • SOCI 1090: Social Problems
  • SOCI 1300 Criminology
  • SOCI 2180: Wealth, Power, and Inequality
  • SOCI 2600 Environmental Sociology
  • SOCI 6010 Global Political Economy and Environment
  • SOCI 6012 Race, Crime and Control
  • SOCI 6060 Issues in Gender and Sociology
  • SOCI 6200: Issues in Sociology of Family
  • SOCI 6260: Gender, Work, & Family
  • SOCI 6300: Urban Policy and Planning
  • SOCI 6330: Sociology of Education
  • SOCI 6890: Sociology of Organizations
  • SOCI 6930: Social Movements in Latin America
  • SOCI 6950: Political Sociology of Latin America

All the departments have approved their courses for listing as SPP electives. The above courses are offered on a regular and frequent basis at Tulane by regular faculty members. Others are offered less frequently. Please note that some of these courses have prerequisites. Students should consult the course catalog prior to registering to ensure that they have met any department-specific prerequisites.

NOTE: An independent study with a clear and integrated policy and/or practice component may qualify for one of your electives over the 4000 level. Students will need to produce a clear plan of study and the final product to the SPP director to be approved for SPP credit. Students are strongly advised to seek approval from the SPP director as they construct their study. Students seeking SPP credit for an independent study after its completion might not receive it.

Likewise, an internship may also count as one of your SPP electives at the 4000 level. Students should enroll in the Center for Public Service internship course or the Social Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship internship course (SISE 4560). They will need to cater at least some of their assignments towards policy related issues. Again, students are strongly advised to consult the SPP director before signing up for an internship should they want it to count as SPP credit. Students seeking SPP credit after completing an internship are not likely to receive it.

Finally, students taking courses abroad may petition for a course to count towards their SPP coordinate major. They will need to present the SPP director with a course syllabus. Course number systems at Tulane University often differ from institutions abroad. Upper-level courses will need to include some combination of the reading of original research (articles and books rather than textbooks), involved and well-developed research projects, and address clear policy issues.