Student and Academic Life

UK’s Martin School of Public Policy and Administration Welcomes Historic 1st Undergraduate Class

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 1, 2020) — History was made on the opening day of classes Aug. 17 when University of Kentucky’s Martin School of Public Policy and Administration welcomed its first group of students to its new undergraduate program.  

Previously, the Martin School had offered only post-graduate master’s, certificate and Ph.D. programs in public policy and administration. This fall, the Martin School is offering its first two undergraduate courses in public policy — enrolling over 70 students. These courses offer evidence-based perspectives and analytical tools for a greater understanding of public policies. 

“The introduction of our new undergraduate program could not be more timely,” said Ron Zimmer, director of the Martin School. “Public policy issues today — and the resulting actions and decisions — influence every aspect of our lives. Our goal is to help prepare students to better understand the many facets of these complex issues and hopefully inspire them to pursue careers in public service.”

Former Kentucky Lt. Gov. Crit Luallen, a member of the Martin School’s Board of Visitors, called the program “exciting news.”

“With its new undergraduate program, the Martin School will play a vital role in providing a pipeline of young people well prepared to enter public service,” she said. “Public policy is at the root of every major aspect of a democratic society, and having more students bringing critical skills to careers in the public arena will be critical to the Commonwealth and the nation.”

Zimmer said the program curriculum will focus on understanding how public leadership is exercised, how public policy decisions are made and how public policies affect society. In addition, he said the program fills a need that had forced Kentucky students interested in public policy studies to enroll in out-of-state schools that offered undergraduate majors.

“The new undergraduate major is unique in that it offers course content not available elsewhere on campus,” Zimmer explained. “The courses focus on public policy issues and leadership strategies within an economic and political framework and deal with unique aspects of public policy not covered in other programs.”

To service the new undergraduate program, the Martin School has 11 full-time faculty with a range of expertise in public policy, budgeting, education, tax policy, social policies, housing, nonprofit and public management, and the role of the media and social media play in developing policy agendas.  

The new program went through a three-step approval process last year, first by the University Senate, then the Board of Trustees and last by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. With the new undergraduate program, the Martin School’s hope is to attract passionate students to the program and teach the practical skills necessary to lead across a variety of career paths. Applications are now being accepted for Fall 2021

For more information on the program, please contact the undergraduate recruiter/advisor, Brooke Kuerzi at

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