Public Service

In 1819, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia to question convention, expand understanding, and harness the "useful sciences" as a means to better society. In the nearly two centuries since, UVA has become one of the nation's premier academic institutions. Combining outstanding coursework, world-class faculty and cross-disciplinary collaboration, we are dedicated to advancing knowledge for the common good. 

Our students who pursue careers in public service come from a variety of experiences and have unique skills they can offer as an employee for your organization. 

Jump ahead to: 

Student Demographics

Undergraduate Enrollment by Major (Fall 2016) 

  • Foreign Affairs- 413
  • Government- 232
  • History- 318
  • Commerce- 693
  • Public Policy and Leadership- 159

Students graduating by Major (2015-16)

  • Foreign Affairs- 206
  • Government- 95
  • History- 131
  • Commerce- 340
  • Public Policy and Leadership- 69

Rankings and Data Points

The University of Virginia prides itself for being among the nation's most elite colleges and universities. Both the university and its schools are nationally ranked, and students in our schools related to the tecnology and innovation industries achieve 3.0 GPAs or higher. 

U.S. News and World Report Rankings

  • No. 2 public university in the country
  • No. 24 among the 310 "national universities"
  • No. 5 public university best value
  • No. 1 among public universities in first-year retention and 2015 graduation rate 

School Rankings

  • The McIntire School of Commerce ranks No. 3 among public institutions and No. 6 overall
  • The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy is now ranked No. 31 out of nearly 300 schools of public policy, public administration and public affairs programs 

Average GPA by School (Spring 2016)

  • Arts and Sciences- 3.3
  • Commerce- 3.6
  • Leadership and Public Policy- 3.5


Foreign Affairs

The foreign affairs major emphasizes comparative politics and international relations. It requires that students distribute their courses across four different fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory. Students must also take six credits which specialize in one are of the world, choosing from Latin America, Western Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Africa or Eastern Europe and Russia. In addition to the 30 credits required in the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, 12 credits of courses in closely related disciplines such as history, philosophy, the social sciences, and in appropriate cases, in other related subjects, are required. 

Some highlighted courses from the curriculum include: 

  • Minority Group Politics
  • The Politics of Advanced Industrialized Countries
  • The Politics of Developing Areas
  • Philosophy of International Relations
  • International Organizations


The government major emphasizes American politics and political theory. Like the Foreign Affairs Major, it requires that students distribute their courses across four different fields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations and Political Theory. They must also take 12 credits of courses in closely related disciplines such as history, philosophy, or the social sciences. 

Some highlighted courses from the curriculum include: 

  • Ideas, Institutions and Public Policy
  • Introduction to Public Administration
  • Political Analysis
  • Intergovernmental Relations 
  • Organization Theory and Administrative Behavior


The history program informs students about the past while stimulating thoughtful reading, provoking clear thinking, enlivening critical capacities and promoting good writing. Historical study provides an outstanding preparation for informed citizenship in an increasingly complex and interdependent world and a firm foundation for many career objectives. The major program is structured flexibly to achieve breadth while permitting students to specialize in an area that is of particular interest. 

Some highlighted courses from the curriculum include: 

  • Reasoning from History
  • American Economic History
  • People, Politics, Power
  • American Business
  • The Individual in History
  • Global Environmental History


McIntire’s Integrated Core Experience, the curriculum required of all third-year students, is designed to offer a comprehensive skill-set that will enable them to meet the challenges of the business world. The two-semester program is composed of 12 credit hours in the fall and nine credit hours in the spring. In addition, McIntire offers five concentrations—functional or specialized areas of study—to its undergraduate students. Students must complete one concentration to fulfill degree requirements, but may complete two. These concentrations Include: 

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Information Technology
  • Management
  • Marketing 

Students may also pursue one of six tracks that help prepare them to address the complex, multidisciplinary issues businesses face today. As opposed to concentrations, tracks allow students to focus on topics that cross and integrate disciplines, augmenting their concentration coursework.The tracks are: 

  • Advertising and Digital Media
  • Business Analytics
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Global Commerce
  • Quantitative Finance
  • Real Estate

Additionally, some highlighted courses from the curriculum include: 

  • Managing and Leading 
  • Business, Politics and Culture in the European Union 
  • Public Speaking and Persuasion 
  • Introduction to Civic Leadership

Public Policy and Leadership

A unique Bachelor of Arts program that is physically housed in a professional school, the Batten School’s BA in Public Policy and Leadership prepares graduates for a variety of jobs in the government, education, nonprofit and private sectors. 

Students learn to analyze the economics, political implications and history of public policy choices. They explore the psychological and cultural aspects of public policy. Faculty lead students through an examination of domestic and international policy issues. Students explore how traditional distinctions between “domestic” and “international” policy issues are crumbling in an increasingly global environment.

Batten also opeartes its unique Global Policy Center. It supports international activities in scholarship, curriculum development, service and student engagement. The Center seeks to infuse a global dimension in the public policy discourse and contribute to public debate and deliberation on the pressing international policy issues of our time. In addition, the Center aims to provide Batten students with the best of tools to thrive as public policy leaders in an increasingly diverse and globalized world.

Some highlighted courses from the curriculum include:

  • International Public Policy
  • International Development Policy
  • Global Humanitarian Crises: Dilemmas, Leadership, and Action
  • Social Entrepreneurship: Global Field Experience

Top Employers

After graduation, our students across these academic disciplines go into a wide variety of careers within the public service realm. Some begin their careers with NGOs and nonprofits. Others begin their careers in think tanks or with leading bilateral or multilateral organizations. Other students successfully enroll in graduate school, and still others initially work in traditional business fields like consulting, hoping to apply their new corporate skills in the private sector. 

Some employers of our alums include:

  • Fund for the Public Interest 
  • Republican Study Committee
  • Compass Youth and Family Services 
  • Teach for America 
  • Department of Justice
  • National Park Service
  • International Justice Mission 
  • AmeriCorps

Student Experiences

Contracted Independent Organizations (CIOs) 

  • Pre-Law Phi Alpha Delta- The purpose of this Fraternity is to form a strong bond uniting students and teachers of the law with members of the Bench and Bar in a fraternal fellowship designed to advance the ideals of liberty and equal justice under law; to stimulate excellence in scholarship; to inspire the virtues of compassion and courage; to foster integrity and professional competence; to promote the welfare of its members; and to encourage their moral, intellectual, and cultural advancement; so that each member may enjoy a lifetime of honorable professional and public service.
  • Madison House- Madison House serves as the student volunteer center at the University of Virginia. It coordinates volunteers, develops leaders, builds community partnerships and promotes lifelong volunteer service. Madison House organizes service programs to address the needs of the community as well as the educational and personal growth objectives of students.
  • Girl Up- Girl Up aims to empower individuals on UVa's campus to become involved through education, advocacy, public service, and fundraising to allow local, national, and international adolescent girls to reach their full potential.
  • Public Interest Law Association- PILA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of public interest law at the University of Virginia School of Law.
  • Public Service Advisory Board- Students, faculty and staff working together to support public service and civic engagement at the University of Virginia.

Student Research

  • Wallerstein Scholarship- The Wallerstein Scholarship was established in 1973 at the University of Virginia to foster interest and research in Virginia local government. It provides support to an exceptional individual for a period of one year for the purpose of undertaking research as a graduate student or fourth-year undergraduate student. 
  • Jefferson Public Citizens Program- The Jefferson Public Citizen (JPC) program is a comprehensive academic public service program that integrates students’ academic, service and research experiences throughout their time at the University. It seeks to inspire students to act as engaged citizens through active community partnerships, research service projects, and scholarly reflection. JPC projects require students to address a documented community need or social problem. JPC groups establish a hypothesis, study best practices, collect data, propose solutions, and, when appropriate, implement them. A JPC project is conducted in collaboration with a community partner(s) and can be done locally, nationally, or internationally. JPC students present their project findings in the new student journal Public, published in collaboration with the Virginia Policy Review, and at the annual U.Va. Public Service conference.
  • Public Policy and International Affiars Junior Summer Institute- JSI is an intensive seven-week summer program that focuses on preparing students for graduate programs in public and international affairs and careers as policy professionals, public administrators and other leadership roles in public service. The JSI curriculum includes economics, statistics, domestic/international policy issues and leadership topics, all designed to sharpen the students' quantitative, analytic and communication skills.
  • Public Policy and Leadership Conference- The Public Policy and Leadership Conference (PPLC) is designed to inform students about careers in the public sector. The conference encourages students who possess a commitment to public service to prepare for graduate study in public policy and international affairs, as well as provides information on financial support through various fellowship programs. The conference aims to attract students from groups under-represented in public policy and international affairs in an effort to increase the diversity of students receiving these professional degrees. The conference will help prepare future leaders for study in public policy, particularly those from historically under-served communities and people of color.

Capabilities and Skills


Students who are Foreign Affairs or Government majors are able to  approach life after college with a critical eye, an analytic edge and sensitivity to the concerns of people all over the world. The two Politics majors stress the acquisition of analytical and critical thinking skills, and teach students to construct arguments of their own about our political world.


Students who complete the history program are qualified for careers involving the making, communication and implementation of sound decisions in many professions. Whatever geographical focus or disciplinary emphasis students choose, they learn to form clearly and to defend articulately interpretations grounded solidly in fact and theory. These are precisely the skills demanded by employers in government, law, business, and teaching.


The McIntire School of Commerce provides students with the leadership skills they need to make a positive and significant difference to society. Students build their identities as leaders, transform their thinking, and develop the capability to expand the thinking of others.

Public Policy and Leadership

Both scholarly and skills-based, the program offers students an opportunity to explore policy interests through research with faculty. Students develop marketable skills:

  • Quantitative and financial skills — how to use statistics and develop and manage budgets
  • Research skills — learn how to use data and find meaningful results
  • Interpersonal skills — developed and honed through group work and team-based projects
  • Communication skills — both through exposure to professional writing and public speaking

How to Recruit

Our signature event is the Government and Nonprofit Career Fair that connects students with employers from government and nonprofit organizations. This is the information for this year's event.

Additionally, our UVA Job and Internship Fair occurs every semester. One of our largest fairs, this event is the perfect place to meet hundreds of students of all years and majors looking for full-time and internship positions. Information from this year's fair can be found here. 

Engagement is not limited to these events, however. Organizations are encouraged to post their jobs and internships year round through our Handshake job portal. 

Handshake is UVA's online recruiting portal that allows you to:

  • Post jobs or internships
  • Register for Career Fairs
  • Manage your On-Grounds Interviewing
  • Advertise your presentations
  • and more!

Log in or register for Handshake here.

More to Explore

David Lapinski, Director of Employer Relations and Experiential Education

UVA offers a wide variety of large career events to meet the needs of organizations recruiting UVA students. 

Handshake is UVA's online recruiting portal. Post jobs or internships, register for Career Fairs, manage your On-Grounds Interviewing, and more!