bachelor of science in public affairs (BSPA)

The BSPA is the public policy advocacy and analysis degree that makes a difference. Students learn to formulate, implement, and evaluate creative solutions to challenging global, national, state, and local problems. The emphasis is on understanding practical ways to help others and to improve public policy.

The BSPA requires 120 credits: a minimum of 30 public affairs credits and another 90 credits from the CUNY Pathways general education curriculum. In the Pathways curriculum, the recommended college option for BSPA students is a liberal arts minor. Minors relevant to public affairs include law, environmental sustainability, information studies, and survey research. BSPA students are not eligible to double major.

Public affairs courses are offered both in-person and on-line. Classes are small with 20-25 students. The professors are accomplished scholars with Ph.D. degrees from major universities or lecturers with current and previous positions as top policy leaders. The curriculum examines how public and nonprofit organizations are involved in the policy process. Civic engagement skills are developed in economic and financial analysis, political negotiations, qualitative and quantitative methods, and rhetoric. Policy areas of interest include the arts, community development, education, the environment, health care, housing, immigration, and social welfare.

BSPA majors may complete multiple internships to gain the real-world experience that attracts the interest of employers. Review Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs internships for more information, or contact Professor Michael Feller, the School's Internship Director.

The IMPACT student club provides opportunities to network with fellow BSPA majors. Students can join the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance and gain the status of Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP).

High-achieving BSPA students are eligible for induction to Pi Alpha Alpha, the national honor society in public affairs and administration.
Eligible undergraduate students must be official BSPA majors, upper-level juniors or seniors, have a GPA of at least 3.5 in at least 5 upper-level PAF courses (3000+), AND a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 at the time of application.

Invitations are sent out every April to those who qualify. There is one Induction ceremony in June of every year. Questions: Please contact us at

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Public service offers many career opportunities for those who graduate with the BSPA degree. Graduates works for governments at all levels, in nonprofit organizations, for public schools and colleges, and in private sector companies that work under contract to governments. Public and nonprofit salaries are comparable to the starting level salaries in business. According to a study by Cornell University, the median salary for employment by government is $51,630 and by the nonprofit sector is $40,000.

Public servants address real-world policy issues and seek to make democracy effective. Democracy requires an educated populace who enjoy discussing shared concerns in the public sphere, speaking confidently to those in authority, and taking responsibility for problems within their reach. The BSPA philosophy is that civic engagement must be informed by knowledge, rooted in ethical values, connected to democratic aspirations, and embodied through practice.

BSPA students with excellent academic records are encouraged to pursue post-baccalaureate studies in a master’s program or law school. According to a 2009-2010 survey report from the U.S. Census Bureau, recipients of master’s degrees make approximately $19,000 more than those with bachelor’s degrees. The BSPA degree provides students with the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful in obtaining an advanced degree. A dedicated Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs staff member helps students to understand graduate school applications, standardized admissions tests, and financial aid opportunities.

For the best in graduate school preparation, BSPA students may apply for the Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute. This program helps undergraduates to prepare for graduate education in public policy and public administration. Students attend a summer session at Princeton University, Carnegie-Mellon University, the University of Michigan, or the University of California at Berkeley. The focus is on economics, statistics, leadership principles, communications, and public policy. Applicants must have completed their junior year by the start of the program with at least one full semester of coursework remaining before graduation. Students receive six credits for PAF 5000 from Baruch College, full tuition at the participating university, travel expenses, a $1,500 stipend, and university housing with a meal plan. The application deadline is in November every year with notifications of acceptance made in February.

To become a student at Baruch College requires an application to the City University of New York (CUNY). There are separate applications for freshman and transfers from community colleges. The deadline for entry in the fall semester is February 1 and for the spring semester it is September 15. Connect to Apply to CUNY for the online application.

A Baruch College education is affordable. As of 2014, in-state students pay $6,030 in tuition per year; out-of-state students pay $16,050 per year. Fees are $971.50 per year. By comparison, the average in-state tuition at private colleges is over $30,000 per year. There is a wide array of financial aid options and programs, including scholarships, grants, and loans to help Baruch College students pay for college.

You may select public affairs as your major when applying to Baruch or after you arrive on campus by submitting a BSPA Major Declaration Form to or in-person to an advisor located at 135 E. 22nd Street, 4th Floor.

To gain more BSPA information, email, visit an advisor from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. weekdays at 135 E. 22nd Street, 4th floor (no appointment necessary), or attend a monthly information session.