Public Policy


We prepare our doctoral candidates for careers in research and teaching. We expect our graduates to be able to perform research that advances the state of knowledge in the area of public policy and to be prepared to teach a wide variety of courses at the university level. Research in the areas of public policy often requires the candidate to acquire a great depth of knowledge in a specific area. Such a depth of knowledge generally requires both a foundation gained from the content of courses and also significant literature review and study beyond the material contained in standard courses. Preparation for teaching requires competency in a breadth of public policy areas.

The comprehensive exam in the field of public policy is designed to test the candidate’s breadth of knowledge and also allow the candidate to demonstrate depth of knowledge in a particular area. It requires the candidate to show a familiarity and understanding of the literature of public policy, and to show an ability to apply appropriate research tools to research questions related to public policy issues. Students are encouraged to consult with faculty advisors for assistance in devising the most appropriate mix of coursework and self-study in their individual case.

It is advisable for candidates to become familiar with the course outlines for each of the courses listed below. Candidates should be familiar with all of the literature assigned for each of these courses. In addition, candidates should become familiar with the most current literature in the field. A good way to do this is to regularly read articles in the journals listed in this field description. (Note that while many of these courses are aimed primarily at MPA students, doctoral students are expected to have a deeper understanding of the issues and greater familiarity with the literature than is typically required of Master’s students on exams.)


Regular attendance at academic seminars is a critical component of doctoral education. Students should work with their advisor to identify a set of seminars to attend each semester.  

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