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Core Curriculum

Coursework in the Public Policy Ph.D. program is directed toward two goals: to provide a strong foundation in the theory and methodology that are central to public policy scholarship; and to develop expertise in an area of concentration. To this end, the full-time curriculum encompasses the following areas:

Courses Credits
Advanced Theory: PPOL 613 & PPOL 614 (plus 3 credits of theory electives, e.g., SOC 513) 11
Advanced Methods: PPOL 621 & PPOL 628 (plus 8 credits of methods electives, e.g., PPOL 622) 14
Area of Concentration 16
Responsible Conduct of Research 1
Dissertation Research 36
Discretionary* 42
   
TOTAL CREDITS REQUIRED 120
   
*Discretionary credits may include:  
MPP or Equivalent Degree Up to 15
Professional Practicum / Internship Up to 12
Electives (additional theory, methods, or area of concentration) Variable
Additional Dissertation Research Variable

 Most students will complete the required coursework by the end of year two.

Required Courses

Required components of the course of study include:

Advanced Theory

At least 11 credits of advanced theory courses are required for the program. The objective of these courses is to provide a body of theoretical knowledge that informs research and analysis in public policy. Two core courses, required of all Ph.D. students, will draw from important theoretical frameworks within the three disciplines of the School, to be divided into the following two general categories: economic theory for public policy and social/political theory for public policy. These courses are:

  • Advanced Theory I (PPOL 613; 4 credits)
  • Advanced Theory II (PPOL 614; 4 credits)

An additional 3 credits of advanced theory coursework are required. Students may choose which course(s) to take, but they must be drawn from a list of pre-approved courses or approved by the student’s dissertation committee chair. MPP core and slash (i.e., 4xx/5xx) courses will not count toward fulfilling this requirement.

Advanced Methods

At least 14 credits of advanced methods courses are required for the program. Two required courses, totaling eight credits, and required of all Ph.D. students, will draw from qualitative and quantitative methodologies, as practiced in modern policy scholarship. These courses are:

  • Advanced Qualitative Research Design and Methodology (PPOL 628; 4 credits)
  • Advanced Quantitative Research Design and Methodology (PPOL 621; 4 credits)

The purpose of Advanced Qualitative Research Design and Methodology is to provide a body of knowledge on qualitative approaches to policy research.  Upon completion of this course, students will have an understanding of leading qualitative data collection and analysis methods, including their relative strengths and limitations when applied to policy research. The course will allow students to interpret and critically review published qualitative scholarship in the social sciences.  

The purpose of Advanced Quantitative Research Design and Methodology is to teach students the uses and limitations of quantitative analysis in policy research. Upon completion of this course, students will understand quantitative data structures and the methods for their collection, as well as their advantages and limitations in addressing policy questions. They will be familiar with leading techniques to estimate and infer causal effects of policies and other factors on outcomes of interest.

Six additional credits of methods training are required. Students may choose which courses, to take, but these courses must be drawn from a list of pre-approved courses, or approved by the student’s dissertation committee chair. MPP core and slash (i.e., 4xx/5xx) courses will not count toward fulfilling this requirement.

Area of Concentration

  • A minimum of 16 credits in a single area of concentration. The areas of concentration include: Energy Policy; Environmental Policy; International Policy; Law, Crime, and Policy; Rural Policy; Science and Technology Policy; and Social Policy. Courses must be drawn from a list of pre-approved courses, or approved by petition to the student’s dissertation committee chair.

Responsible Conduct of Research

  • IST 520 (Responsible Conduct of Research) or equivalent (1 credit)

Dissertation Research

  • Students are required to take at least 36 credits of dissertation research, but more dissertation research credits can be applied to the degree.