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 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 (45 credit hours) with distinct learning outcomes centered on an undergraduate research project. 

The central integration courses of the degree are the PPE Gateway Course and the PPE Capstone Course. The former integrates the quantitative techniques, conceptual tools, and core principles of philosophy, political science, and economics. The latter 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.

Here is a (i) general description of the PPE Major, (ii) sample plan of study (roadmap), and the (iii) official Checksheet 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 is (i) the official Checksheet 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. 

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

PPE UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH JOURNAL. The Center houses its own undergraduate research journal, The Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Review. The journal publishes original research in PPE and welcomes submissions from current or recent undergraduate students in PPE worldwide. The journal is student-led and provides undergraduate students with valuable experiential learning opportunities.

With the guidance of PPE Core Faculty, selected PPE undergraduate students oversee the entire publication process, starting from internal checks on new submissions to peer-review, acceptance decisions, editing, proof-reading, and production. The journal provides students with the opportunity to work closely with faculty and peers and gain hands-on experience with regard to the publishing process. The University is in the process of recognizing such experiential learning opportunities for credit. Here is a VT News story about the journal.

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.

Internships, Fellowships, and Summer Schools

Internships and related paraprofessional activities can serve as valuable opportunities for students to apply and further engage with the skills and concepts they acquire in the classroom. They also serve as means to gain valuable professional experience, which may be particularly useful to students when pursuing career opportunities or graduate study.

Here is a list of internship and fellowship offers that PPE students at Virginia Tech have received in the past. Here is a database of scholarships, awards, and other funding for study abroad, research, and internships. You may also find this website of the PPE Program at UNC-Chapel Hill helpful that provides a general overview of internship, fellowship, and summer school opportunities that may be of particular interest to PPE students.