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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 605, 607, 608, or 611; ECON 605 or 611; SOCY 619
  • PUBL 700 Doctoral Research Seminar or PUBL 801 Independent Study

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

Disciplinary foundation courses – 3 courses (9 credits):

  • ECON 600 Policy Consequences of Economic Analysis or ECON 601 Microeconomic Analysis
  • PUBL 601 Political and Social Context of the Policy Process
  • SOCY 606 Social Inequality and Social Policy

Study concentration courses – 5 courses (15 credits). Ph.D. students in all concentrations 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
  • Environmental Policy
  • Emergency Services
  • Evaluation and Analytical Methods
  • Health Policy
  • Policy History
  • Public Management
  • Urban Policy

Learn more about study concentrations.

Specific course requirements for each area of concentration are listed in the Graduate Student Handbook.

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

Ph.D. Examinations
In addition to examinations in particular courses, Ph.D. students must pass a comprehensive exam and a field exam. Students should consult with their advisor before signing up to take the comprehensive or field exam.

Doctoral Dissertation
All Ph.D. candidates must register for a minimum of 18 semester hours of doctoral dissertation research, POSI 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.