Public Policy, P.h.D.

Societal needs—for economic growth, better health care, environmental protection, etc.—and resource limitations challenge policymakers to make difficult public policy choices. The doctoral program in public policy prepares its graduates to conduct original research to help scholars and policymakers understand the trade-offs involved in such choices across a broad range of critical issues. Students can focus on:

  • Policy analysis and program evaluation: How can we predict the consequences of our policy choices? What values should drive those choices? How can we determine which government and nonprofit programs work – producing benefits that exceed their costs?
  • Public budgeting and finance: How can governments raise the funds necessary to provide public services in as equitable a manner as possible without impeding economic growth? How should and do governments decide which services and programs to fund? How can taxes achieve socially desirable goals?
  • Public and nonprofit management: How should functions be divided among the governmental, nonprofit and for-profit sectors? How should managers allocate financial and human resources to meet public needs? How should managers balance equity and efficiency claims?
  • Urban and regional planning and development: How can we assess and evaluate the complex and dynamic context and forces that shape the growth of cities, communities and regions? What strategies can be employed to promote equitable and sustainable development? What roles do systems (for example, transportation, housing) play in creating the environments and communities we desire?

Public Policy, P.h.D.

Andrew Young School of Policy Studies


To earn the Ph.D., a student must satisfactorily complete six general requirements:

  • Core master’s-level curriculum or its equivalent (27 hours)
  • The doctoral core curriculum (24 hours)
  • Seven 3-hour core courses in areas of specialization (21 hours)

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Students admitted to the program are typically offered a graduate assistantship with a minimum $18,000 yearly stipend and full tuition waiver.

The doctoral program prepares its graduates to take positions as college professors or as research-oriented policy analysts in research centers, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. The program assumes that new students have a master’s degree in public policy, public administration, health policy or a related field, but students may also fulfill master’s prerequisite courses after entering the program. The core courses in the doctoral program build on those master’s prerequisites, providing a strong foundation in policy analysis, program evaluation, microeconomics, quantitative methods, and research design and implementation. Students choose two fields of specialization in which to focus their coursework and research.