Apr 01, 2023  
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Policy Studies, PhD

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Program Description

The goal of the PhD program in Policy Studies is to provide students with the intellectual, methodological, and practical tools they will need to succeed as public policy professionals in academic and non-academic contexts. Students gain substantive, theoretical, and methodological expertise by taking intensive coursework and writing a dissertation that marks a significant contribution to knowledge about public policy. Courses and faculty affiliated with the program are drawn from a range of departments and programs across campus, including political science, public administration, economics, sociology, communication, and many more.

Summary of Degree Requirements

Coursework leading to the PhD in Policy Studies is designed to give students a comprehensive knowledge of the theory and substance of public policy, as well as a mastery of the methods of research. This degree is not awarded solely on the basis of completing routine requirements. Instead, the final basis for granting the degree is a student’s grasp of the subject matter across a broad field of study, competence in planning and conducting research, and the ability to express themselves adequately and professionally both orally and in writing. Ultimately, only the student’s advisory committee can certify that they have earned this degree.


Core Courses

The PhD in Policy Studies requires 24 hours of core course requirements, distributed as shown:

  1. Research Methods for Public Policy (3 hours): POST 8000  
  2. Quantitative Methods (3 hours): Select from COMM 8100 , CRP 8030 , CRP 8040 , ECON 6050 , ECON 6060 , FCS 8130 , HLTH 8090 , HLTH 8290 , HLTH 8310 , HLTH 8320 , MATH 6070 , PADM 7020 , PADM 8410 , PADM 8420 , POSC 8410 , PRTM 6350 , PSYC 8100 , PSYC 8110 , PSYC 8130 , PSYC 8730 , SOC 6710 , STAT 8010 , STAT 8030 , STAT 8050 , or approved alternative course work.
  3. Qualitative Methods (3 hours): Select from ANTH 6030 , COMM 8110 , EDF 9740 , HIST 8010 , HLTH 8220 , PRTM 8130 , SOC 6060 , or approved alternative course work
  4. Public Policy Requirement (6 hours): PADM 8220 , PADM 8770 , POST 8220 , POST 8250 , POST 8310 , POST 8330 , POST 8420 , POST 9040 , or approved alternative course work
  5. Economics Requirement (3 hours): APEC 8220 , ECON 8230 , POSC 6480 , POST 8100 , POST 8260 , or approved alternative course work
  6. Organizational/Managerial Requirement (3 hours): MGT 8090 , PADM 8210 PADM 8270 PADM 8290 , PADM 8630 , POST 8430 , PSYC 8620 , or approved alternative course work
  7. Professional Development (3 hours): POST 9000  (1-hour class repeated at least three times)

Each student, in consultation with the Program Director and the Dissertation Chair, will complete 15 hours of graduate-level coursework comprising a specialized field of concentration chosen to prepare the student for the dissertation project.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination in Policy Studies consists of three separate tests covering (1) the public policy literature; (2) research methods; and (3) the student’s individually chosen concentration. The three tests comprising the comprehensive examination need not be taken during the same semester, but they must be completed within a 12-month period.

If a student receives a grade of “Fail” on any test, they may retake it no sooner than four months after the first attempt. Failure to pass the test on the second attempt results in a failure of the comprehensive exam overall and dismissal from the program.


Writing a dissertation requires the student to develop a worthwhile research question, design and undertake a methodologically sound study addressing the research question, and report on the results of the study in a way that places the author in conversation with previous relevant literature. The final product of this process is either (a) a set of three related, article-length manuscripts or (b) a book-length manuscript. The dissertation must make a novel and substantial contribution to the field of public policy studies. The manuscript should be of sufficient quality to be publishable, although publication is not a requirement of the dissertation process.

Before commencing with the research process, every student must write and defend a formal dissertation proposal. While working on the dissertation, students must complete a total of 18 credit hours of POST 9910 - Doctoral Dissertation Research . When the student’s committee determines that the final dissertation is complete, the dissertation defense is scheduled.

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