Program Description

The Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics oversees two interdisciplinary, research-driven undergraduate degree programs that prepare students to become leaders in the 21st century.

EDUCATIONAL GOALS. The Center oversees a major and minor in PPE. Both degree programs are genuinely interdisciplinary and research-driven. If you are interested in questions of social, political, and economic justice, market processes, government, institutional structures, environmental sustainability, and more generally topics that entail ethical, political, and economic dimensions at both the national and international levels, then PPE may be a good fit for you.

Our students enjoy close interactions with faculty and peers and receive an education that prepares them for becoming leaders in a fast-changing, complex social world. Our faculty and students come from diverse backgrounds across the globe and bring a variety of different perspectives to the classroom. Our PPE degree programs prepare students to be game-changers that are ready to make a difference. The programs are geared to support the following educational goals. 

Provide students with a comprehensive analysis of some of the most important social, ethical, economic, and political problems that our contemporary societies face

Train students to become independent thinkers with the ability to make decisions that are not only economically sound but also socially, ethically, and politically informed

Provide students with a unique set of skills that arises from actively engaging in the social sciences and related fields combined with philosophical reflection

Offer a highly interdisciplinary learning experience that advances teamwork skills and combines classroom teaching with independent research projects

Offer a balance of foundational skills and applied knowledge that is essential to solve real-world problems comprehensively and sustainably in an interdependent globalized world

COMPLEMENTARY DEGREES. PPE provides an excellent, and often essential, foundation and complement for many other degree offerings, in particular in the fields of philosophy, political science, economics, public and international affairs, business, engineering, geography, agricultural and applied economics, fish and wildlife conservation, and forest resources and environmental conservation. PPE allows students in such fields, and other fields that, in some form, engage with topics and/or analyses that entail social, ethical, political, and economic dimensions, to deepen, expand, and complement their knowledge and skills. 

Student Advising

The Center’s faculty and staff work closely with students to provide a personalized learning experience. For more information about current course offerings, course registration, and advising for the PPE degree programs, please contact the PPE Advisor.

Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely at Public Reception 

Before you speak with the PPE Advisor, please read carefully the PPE Student Handbook that provides a detailed overview of the PPE degree programs and other relevant student information, including information about degree requirements, study abroad, internships, PPE events, careers and placement, and professional opportunities.

PPE Major

The PPE Major allows students to study systematically some of the most important social, ethical, economic, and political problems that our contemporary societies face. It offers a highly interdisciplinary curriculum with distinct learning outcomes centered on an undergraduate research project.

The PPE major is structured around four central integration courses and an optional complementary internship course:

1. The PPE First-Year Experience Course (PPE 1004) introduces students to important classic and contemporary texts in PPE. The course acquaints students with basic principles of research and writing as well as helps students to adjust to university life.

2. The PPE Gateway Course (PPE 2894) integrates the quantitative techniques, conceptual tools, and core principles of philosophy, political science, and economics.

3. Led by a faculty expert, the PPE Topics Course (PPE 3884) allows students to discuss an interdisciplinary topic in PPE in depth.

4. The PPE Capstone Course (PPE 4884) allows students to work on an advanced research project of their choice at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics and its application to the real world.

5. In addition to an undergraduate research project as part of their capstone course, students can take a PPE-relevant internship course (PPE 4964) for credit. In this regard, the PPE major contributes to Virginia Tech’s vision for bridge learning experiences as a central aspect of the undergraduate curriculum.

Here are a (i) general description of the PPE Major, (ii) academic catalog description, (iii) sample plan of study (roadmap), and the (iv) official program requirements of the PPE Major. Here is a VT News story about the PPE Major at Virginia Tech. 

PPE Pathways Minor

The PPE Pathways Minor trains students to apply knowledge in the humanities and social sciences to related fields, and thus to examine the world from multiple perspectives and integrate knowledge across disciplines. 

The PPE Pathways Minor requires 18 credit hours to be obtained from the PPE Gateway Course, the PPE Capstone Course, and four elective courses that include one applied area course. 

In this context, it is worth stressing that Virginia Tech is currently the only top engineering school that integrates engineering courses into its PPE curriculum. The PPE minor allows engineering students to create synergies between their engineering studies and the humanities and social sciences.

Here are (i) the official program requirements of the PPE Pathways Minor, (ii) flyer, (iii) and a more detailed description of the Pathways components of the minor on the website of the Office for General Education

Study Abroad

The Center encourages students to participate in study abroad programs as part of their educational experience. PPE students have recently studied in continental Europe and the U.K., among other places. In general, if coordinated in advance, coursework completed abroad can count towards the PPE major and PPE minor. 

HEINRICH HEINE UNIVERSITY DÜSSELDORF. The Kellogg Center is establishing an international partnership with the PPE Program at the Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf (HHU) in Germany. The partnership allows selected PPE students at Virginia Tech to spend a semester abroad, taking courses in PPE and related departments at HHU while exploring Europe. The courses will contribute to students’ PPE degree programs at Virginia Tech.

PPE at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

HHU is a large, comprehensive public research university centrally located in Germany, with two international airports nearby. In addition to its vibrant cultural scene, Düsseldorf serves as an international hub for business, finance, and fashion, providing students with ample internship and job opportunities. 

The PPE Program at HHU stands out as one of the best undergraduate PPE Programs in Germany. The program is highly competitive, comparable in size to Virginia Tech’s program, and has a similar pedagogical orientation and curriculum. 

While most course offerings will be in English, we recommend that students consider taking a basic German course at Virginia Tech or HHU before their stay. Knowing some German will allow you to get the most out of everyday life in Düsseldorf and will improve your academic experience as well. If you have never studied German, GER 1105 or GER 1114 will cover one to two semesters-worth of practical German applicable to everyday life. For those who already know some German, GER 2105, GER 2106, or beyond will help you to cement and extend your German knowledge to optimize your time abroad. To learn more, go to the Virginia Tech’s German Program website or contact Dr. Esther Bauer. Please see also here for a program flyer.

For further details, please refer to the program description, including application details, on the Global Education Office website. The application cycle for the spring semester for the following year opens in mid-March. 

Please speak with your PPE advisor when you plan to study abroad and contact the Global Education Office directly with any questions about this program. Also, here is a link to the welcome page for international students at HHU.

OXFORD UNIVERSITY. Here is a brief interview with Katherine Zhou, a PPE major, about her experience preparing for her study abroad in the PPE Program at Oxford University. Questions about the various study abroad programs at Virginia Tech should be directed, in the first instance, to the Global Education Office.

Study Abroad

PRESIDENTIAL GLOBAL SCHOLARS PROGRAM. PPE students have also participated in the Presidential Global Scholars program which offers a collaborative living-learning and research community that provides immersive cultural experiences through a full semester abroad. Students live in the elegant Villa Maderni at Virginia Tech’s Steger Center. Program travel typically includes extended trips to Rome and Naples, as well as frequent visits to Milan. Two of our PPE students, Elle Smith and Jamal Ross, share their experiences with the program here.

Steger Center. Riva San Vitale, Switzerland

Photo by Phil Miskovic for Virginia Tech.

Experiential Learning

INTERNSHIPS, FIELD STUDIES, AND PRACTICUMS FOR CREDIT. Internships, field studies, and practicums are an essential part of preparing for a professional career. By participating in such experiential learning opportunities, for example, in an administrative, research, industry, or government setting, students apply theoretical knowledge learned in the classroom through hands-on experience. While working under the guidance of a faculty member at Virginia Tech or the combined supervision of a faculty member and an experienced professional in the employing agency, students have the unique opportunity to transfer their knowledge and learn about professional standards. The supervision provides guidance and direction that allows students to participate meaningfully in a work experience that helps to bridge the gap between their studies and professional careers. 

INTERNSHIP: PPE 4964. Currently, the Kellogg Center offers PPE students the possibility to receive 3 credit hours for internships, field studies, and practicums in the context of their PPE degree programs (PPE 4964 course). This experiential learning opportunity is open to students who have secured an internship with high PPE relevance, are a PPE major or minor, have completed PPE 2894, are in good academic standing, and have an in-major and overall GPA of 2.5 or better.

Students must first speak with their PPE Advisor, Heath Furrow, to discuss and review eligibility. If eligible, students will work with the internship coordinator, Holly Belcher, to discuss the details of their internship and assessment of this course. Here is a brief factsheet regarding the internship course.

For more information on internships, such as finding internship opportunities and applying for them, please visit the Virginia Tech Career and Professional Development website. If you are interested in finding internships working for Virginia Tech offices (on campus and remotely), please visit the Campus internEXP website.

INTERNSHIP: PPE UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH JOURNAL.  This experiential learning opportunity is offered by the Kellogg Center in the context of its international undergraduate research journal, The Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Review (PPER). The internship allows students to work closely with faculty editors, PPE Core Faculty, authors, and reviewers in preparation of the publication of a volume of the PPER. 

The main tasks of this experiential learning opportunity include: preparing a call for submissions; monitoring, screening, and narrowing down of submissions; preparing editorial board meetings; acceptance decisions; overseeing and participating in the peer-review, editing, and publishing process; writing an editorial forward; assisting with marketing and communications of the journal, and other tasks pertinent to the academic publishing process. 

 A faculty editor of the journal will provide continuous feedback, guidance, and reflection during the process. The internship experience will culminate in the publication of a new volume of the PPER. 

Enrollment Requirements: This internship opportunity is open to students who were selected to serve as student Editor-in-Chief of the PPER. The internship is typically offered in the fall semester and requires enrollment in PPE 4964: FW Internship PPE Journal (3 credit hours, A/F). To enroll in this course, students must be in good academic standing and must have completed PPE 2894. 

WASHINGTON SEMESTER IN GLOBAL ENGAGEMENT. The Center participates in the Washington Semester in Global Engagement. This experiential learning program allows Virginia Tech students to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., while earning 15 credit hours for their degrees and taking a semester-long internship.

Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Washington, D.C.

PPE majors are strongly encouraged to consider this opportunity to jump-start their careers and gain valuable professional and networking experience. If you are admitted to the program, we will substitute two of your higher-level concentration area courses in political science with the courses that you take as part of this program. The internship (9 credit hours) will count as free electives. For more information about the program, application deadlines, and contact details, please visit this website.

Here is a list internships that PPE students at Virginia Tech have received in the past. For further internship opportunities, you may also find this website of the PPE Program at UNC-Chapel Hill helpful. The website provides a general overview of experiential learning opportunities that may be of particular interest to PPE students.

Scholarships, Fellowships, and Summer Schools

Scholarships are financial awards given to students based on criteria such as academics, leadership, athletics, merit, or financial need, which help cover educational expenses and recognize exceptional achievements. Scholarships make higher education more accessible and support students in their academic pursuits.

Students interested in learning more about scholarships, awards, and other funding opportunities are encouraged to visit the Office of University Scholarships and Financial Aid website. To learn more about college level scholarships, please visit the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences scholarship page, or visit the Virginia Tech Student Scholarships and Awards database.