The doctoral field in public policy offers students mastery of the interdisciplinary concepts that form the basis of public policy analysis. With a focus on the preparation of students for careers in academic institutions, non-university research settings, government, and other institutional settings where public policy is made and influenced, the policy field promotes an understanding of the empirical, methodological, and theoretical issues that have framed and continue to frame policy analysis and research. Although students may choose to focus on a core area, such as urban poverty or housing, the overall objective is comprehensive exposure to the analytical methods and social science theory and research that frames public policy discourse.
Students in the public policy field must complete the modules in microeconomic analysis and in applied statistics and econometrics. While economics and political science have traditionally anchored the conceptual foundations of the policy process and rational models of policy activity, the field of public policy has witnessed an intellectual revolution among the social sciences that form the basis of research and policy analysis. Sociological, historical and anthropological methods and theories, for example, have begun to expand our conceptual approaches to public policy in different ways, particularly as questions about the role of decision-making, politics, and identity have become important considerations in the evaluation of policy action. Students will become familiar with how analytical methods and theories from these various disciplines and intellectual communities offer competing and/or complementary approaches to the rational model.