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Politics, Policy, and Law (PPL) Scholars


SPA: PPL Scholars
(202) 885-6218

Chris Edelson

SPA: PPL Scholars
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20016
Angeline Rosato and the Albert Eienstein memorial on a very rainy DC night.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the PPL Program?

The Politics, Policy, and Law (PPL) Scholars Program is a rigorous, multidisciplinary three-year BA program that brings together the complementary disciplines of the School of Public Affairs. The PPL program will introduce you to the principles, practices, and institutions of politics and law from quantitative and qualitative, philosophical, and social science perspectives. The PPL program will prepare you for a challenging and successful career in government, law, public administration and policy, criminal justice, media, non-profit advocacy, or similar profession.

The benefits of the Politics, Policy, and Law Scholars Program include:

  • Studying in a cohort of motivated students passionate about politics, law, and public policy.
  • Living with a cohort of PPL students in a Living Learning Community during the first year.
  • Completing original research and writing with top faculty, culminating in the PPL capstone (a complete and original research paper).
  • Participating in year-round enrichment and experiential learning programs to enhance the PPL experience.
  • Working closely with the program director and faculty mentors on academic and career goals.

What majors does the program offer?

You can major in Communications, Legal Institutions, Economics and Government (CLEG) in the Department of Government or Law and Society in the Department of Justice, Law and Criminology.

Will I be taking all of my classes with others in the PPL Scholars program?

No. You will take a total of six classes with you PPL cohort.

What happens over the summers?

During your first summer you will either take classes or study abroad (study abroad is not required but is an option either during your first summer or fall of your 3rd year). During your 2nd summer, you will intern (for credit) and take additional classes. The PPL Director will work with you to secure an internship.

Can I use advanced placement credits in the PPL Program?

AP or IB credits can be used to satisfy some AU requirements. Please check with your academic advisor to find out which credits will count toward your program.

Can I complete the PPL Program in 3 years even if I do not have advanced placement credits?


Can I double major or add a minor while in the PPL Program?

Potentially, yes. This will depend on whether you come in with advanced placement credits and the nature of your anticipated second major or minor. Please consult with your academic advisor. 


How do I apply?

Please see application information to learn more.

I am already enrolled as a full-time AU student. Can I apply to be in the 3-year program? 

No. Students are selected for the 3-year program at the time of admission and can only enter the program in the freshman year.

Financial Aid

How does PPL affect my financial aid or merit scholarship award?

Three-year students complete eight semesters of study, just like a four-year student, two of which are in the summer. Thus, PPL Scholars are eligible for year-round financial aid. Annual merit scholarships cover the eight semesters. Be sure to work closely with the Financial Aid office to ensure that you submit all financial aid materials (including for summer financial aid) on time.

What is the cost of the 3-year program? Is it cheaper than a 4-year degree?

The cost of attendance for the 3-year degree program is similar to the cost of a 4-year program, since students will be attending the same number of semesters (8 total).

Where should I start looking for financial aid?

Please contact the AU Financial Aid Office.

Can I apply for merit awards or scholarships as part of the 3-year program?

Yes. Students in the 3-year PPL program will still have the opportunity to apply for merit awards and scholarships

Living Arrangements

Where will I live during the first year?

Students will live in Letts Hall with other AU three-year scholars during the first year and take part in weekly field learning labs that explore politics, policy, and law using Washington, D.C., as a laboratory. Read more about the Living Learning Community »

Do I have to live with my cohort all three years?

No. After the first two semesters (fall and spring), students are free to live where they choose (and can choose to continue living with other PPL Scholars).

Other Programs at AU

Can I combine PPL with my acceptance to the AU Honors Program?

No. You can apply to both programs, but you will not be accepted to both. Each program is a separate living learning experience that cannot be combined.

If I enroll in PPL, may I participate in the SPA Leadership Program?

Some PPL Scholars choose to combine the PPL three-year BA program with the SPA Leadership Program. Please note that you will apply to PPL when you apply for admission to AU. Admitted students who enroll at AU apply for the Leadership Program during the spring after they have been admitted to AU.

Interested students should consult with both the PPL Director (Chris Edelson) and the Leadership Director before applying.

Can I enroll in both the PPL Program and the University College Program?

No. The UC program is designed to provide a cohort living learning experience for 4-year students. 

To learn more about the Three-Year Politics, Policy, and Law Scholars Program, please email Faculty Director Chris Edelson at or call 202-885-6218.