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Solving the world's problems, all as a mere undergraduate

The Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs — known to students as "Woody Woo" — provides research opportunities for juniors and seniors in domestic and foreign policy. Alumni include two secretaries of state, a secretary of defense, a chair of the Federal Reserve Board, several senators, ambassadors and many other influential politicians.

The school admitted 90 students last year — 10 more students than it accepted previously. Students apply in their sophomore spring after having completed recommended courses in public affairs, politics, economics, history, sociology and psychology.


"I had an overriding interest in a multi-disciplinary approach to studying public policy," Mara Zusman '01 said regarding why she entered the Wilson School. "You get to look at a problem from all its angles."

During their junior years, Wilson School students work on policy task forces — small groups of students who meet regularly with faculty members to analyze major social and political problems and offer policy recommendations.

"You go from ground zero to knowing everything about something," Emilie Fisher '01 said of the task forces. "They don't have books on the subject. You have to go out and talk to experts in the field and become an expert yourself."

Students focus on a particular policy issue — such as urban education or international trade — in a specific geographical region or nation. Departmental work has allowed students to pursue independent research in Africa, Europe, India, Latin America and the Middle East.