Ph.D. in Public Policy


The Ph.D curriculum for a student without a relevant master’s degree requires 48 hours of coursework and 18 hours of dissertation research. The curriculum is divided into core courses, disciplinary foundation courses and courses in a specific policy area or discipline. Students with a master’s degree will have fewer course requirements.

Core courses – 6 courses (18 credits):

  • PUBL 600 Research Methodology
  • PUBL 603 Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis
  • PUBL 604 Statistical Analysis, plus two additional research method/quantitative analysis courses appropriate to student’s track such as: PUBL 607, 608, or 611; ECON 605 or 611; SOCY 619
  • PUBL 609 Social Sciences Approaches to Policy Analysis

Additionally, Ph.D. students must sign up for 18 credits of PUBL 899 (Doctoral Dissertation Research).

Disciplinary foundation courses – 3 courses (9 credits):

  • PUBL 602: Microeconomics for Public Policy (formerly ECON 600) or ECON 601 Microeconomic Analysis
  • PUBL 601 Political and Social Context of the Policy Process
  • SOCY 606 Social Inequality and Social Policy

Study specialization courses – 5 courses (15 credits). Ph.D. students in all specializations except economics and policy history, are required to take a relevant economics course as part of their 5 track courses or 2 electives.

  • Educational Policy
  • Emergency Services
  • Evaluation and Analytical Methods
  • Health Policy
  • Policy History
  • Public Management
  • Urban Policy

Learn more about study specializations.

Specific course requirements for each area of specialization are listed in the Public Policy Graduate Student Handbook. Course descriptions are in the Graduate Catalog. Course syllabi are on the Public Blackboard site.

Ph.D. students must take 2 additional elective courses (6 credits) that are related to their policy interests.

Doctoral Dissertation
All Ph.D. candidates must register for a minimum of 18 semester hours of doctoral dissertation research, PUBL 899. Guidelines for writing and defending dissertations are available on the Public Policy Graduate Student Group site. Copies of proposals and dissertations are available for inspection in the Graduate Student Reading Room.

Browse a list of completed dissertations from previous students. For a full list of theses and dissertations, visit the database search on UMBC’s Library page (database search requires UMBC login).