Required Courses

Highland Capital Management Tower Scholars are required to enroll in the 15 credit-hour minor in Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA).

  • Principles of Public Policy (PLSC 3320) 
    • Offered through political science and is open to all students
    • Subject to course offering, ideally taken fall of second year or spring of first year
  • Gateway to Global Policymaking (PPIA 2380)
    Study the interaction of policy problems, policy tools, and organizational structures at the local, national, and international levels
    • Taken spring of the second year
  • Junior Year Policy Seminar I: Theoretical Public Policy (PPIA 3301)
    Students develop critical skills in policy analysis, writing and presentation
    • Taken fall of the third year
  • Junior Year Policy Seminar II: Public Policy in Professional Practice (PPIA 3302)
    Students are tasked with a real-world policy problem, work on solving that problem, and finally report back to the client
    • Taken spring of the third year
  • Directed Research Project (PPIA 4306)
    Students are placed with a Dallas-based client to carry out research and solidify the practical experience gained in the two-semester junior year policy seminar
    • Students may apply to have this course as an Engaged Learning credit
    • Taken fall of the fourth year

Organizations that students have been placed with include:

  • AT&T
  • City of Dallas
  • Department of Family & Protective Services
  • Emergent Risk International
  • George W. Bush Institute
  • Highland Capital Management
  • Hunt Mexico
  • Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute 
  • Pointe Bello
  • Texas 2036
  • Texas Central Partners
  • Unlocking DOORS

Examples of policy projects include:

  • Evaluating the success of a current policy-initiative and determining policy recommendations moving forward.
  • Evaluating the implementation of a new initiative – What are the local/state challenges and policies that come in to play? How do you educate the community? Who is (or needs to be) involved in the process?
  • Evaluating a national/local policy and its implications for the company/organization.
  • Determining the feasibility of a private-public partnership for a new initiative and identifying relevant actors at the local, state, and federal levels.


Students must also plan to take prior to their third year at SMU the required economics and quantitative co-requisite courses:

  • One Economics Pre-Requisite (or co-requisite)

    • ECO 1311 or ECO 1312; or,
    • AP Macroeconomics: 4 or better; or,
    • AP Microeconomics: 4 or better.
  • One Quantitative Pre-Requisite (or co-requisite)
    • MATH 1309 or MATH 1337; or
    • SOCI 3311 or SOCI 3312; or
    • STAT 2301, STAT 2331 or STAT 4340; or
    • AP Statistics: 4 or better.


To apply, go HERE.


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