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Ph.D. Curriculum

The first-year core course consists of six credit units dedicated to Theories of Public Policy. Theories of Public Policy is a year‐long course, divided in two parts, exploring the theoretical underpinnings of public policy. The course includes political philosophy concepts and various theoretical approaches to the policymaking process. For each semester in the first year, it is strongly advised and encouraged that students complete two methods courses in conjunction with the core course. These methods are specific to the methods interests of the individual student. They can range from statistics and econometrics to qualitative and historical methods to ethnography and demography to geographic information systems and informatics. A basic understanding of methods used in public policy (statistics through multiple regression and/or basic applied econometrics), or a willingness to gain these skills upon entry, is expected of all students entering the program. The remaining courses for the first year are up to the discretion of the individual student and his or her advisers. They are typically specific to the field of interest of the student, but are sometimes exploratory into other fields. The only requirement of these courses is that they are graduate level courses. Language courses are not typically accepted as credit toward the PhD.

The second year of core courses consists of three credit units dedicated to Advanced Research Methods and three credits units dedicated to Research Design. Advanced Research Methods is a course that addresses a variety of topics in research methods with which all PhD students in public policy are expected to be familiar. In addition to covering rigorous quantitative methods, the course includes discussion of broad controversies in social science methodology as well as specific methods and philosophy of science topics not commonly covered elsewhere in graduate courses. Research Design is a course that provides a structured framework through which students can build on and apply their methods training to a research question to produce a quality research paper in their field of study. The research paper developed in the course can, if the student wishes to format the paper around his or her specific field and research interests, contribute to or act as a base for the eventual dissertation proposal. The remaining courses are up to the individual student and his or her advisers. The only requirement of these courses is that they are graduate level courses. Language courses are not typically accepted as credit toward the PhD.

For each year of the PhD, students participate in the Research Colloquium. The PhD Research Colloquium is a course in which faculty, students, and guests engage in a discussion of current policy research. Topics change weekly based on the interests of the students and the faculty and both students and faculty are highly encouraged to present and to engage in sometimes difficult and always lively debate. The course is delineated as a zero credit course so that tuition fees are not incurred, but it is an integral and required part of the core coursework. All resident students (including those in candidacy) are expected to attend and to participate.

Year 1 - Fall

PA392C - Theories of Public Policy
PA095 - Public Affairs Colloquium

Year 1 - Spring

PA392D - Theory and Philosophy of Public Policy II
PA095 - Public Affairs Colloquium

Year 2 - Fall

PA390C - Advanced Research Methods
PA095 - Public Affairs Colloquium

Year 2 - Spring

PA390E - Research Design
PA095 - Public Affairs Colloquium

Year 1 & 2  Diagram

Year 1

Fall Semester Spring Semester
  1. Theory and Philosophy of Public Policy I
  2. Methods Course 1
  3. Field Course or Elective
  4. PhD Colloquium
  1. Theory and Philosophy of Public Policy II
  2. Methods Course 2
  3. Field Course or Elective
  4. PhD Colloquium

Year 2

Fall Semester Spring Semester
  1. Advanced Research Methods
  2. Field Course or Elective
  3. Elective
  4. PhD Colloquium
  1. Research Design
  2. Elective
  3. Elective
  4. PhD Colloquium