Public Policy, PhD

At every level of government, and throughout the private and nonprofit sectors, there is a need for expert policy analysis and implementation. The PhD in Public Policy will prepare you to be a leader in the policy world. The expertise and academic interests of the Schar School faculty is extensive, so you can choose from a wide variety of research topics. The advantage of the Schar School’s interdisciplinary approach to public policy is that there is no defined list of fields from which you must choose. In fact, you can define your own field of research. You can also conduct your research through one of the program’s concentrations.

Fields of Study

  1. Culture and Society
  2. Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Public Policy
  3. Global and International Systems
  4. Organizational and Information Technology
  5. Regional Development and Transportation
  6. Technology, Science, and Innovation
  7. U.S. Governance


Culture and Society

The Culture and Society concentration emphasizes the role that social institutions, social processes, and culture play in the development and implementation of public policy. Study in this concentration is grounded in the understanding that public policy decisions are not made in a vacuum; they are the result of cultural and social forces, from both contemporary and historical perspectives. These forces also provide the context for policy making.In order to analyze public policy, the student will be exposed to a wide range of theoretical and methodological frameworks that offer insight into the policy process both in the United States and internationally. Through exposure to these frameworks and the development of others, the student will be able to analyze how public policy is made and implemented, determine why specific policies are formulated, and evaluate their relative merits and effectiveness. Students in the concentration are expected to focus on both functional areas of public policy as well as attend to their contextual frameworks. These include attention to specific issues and areas in public policy such as education, race and ethnicity, crime, gender, health, the family, corruption, immigration, and the media, among others.

PhD in Public Policy requirements


Entrepreneurship, Growth, and Public Policy

Entrepreneurship is the process of uncovering an opportunity to create value through innovation, and entrepreneurs are rewarded for transforming knowledge into new products and bringing them to the market. This multidisciplinary program examines entrepreneurship policy from the perspective of the agent, business, economy, and society. Relying less on the state for wealth creation, distribution, and ownership, an entrepreneurial society looks to individual initiative to propel the economy and the society. Increasingly, the concept of entrepreneurship is being adjusted and applied to the public and nonprofit sectors. Building on and expanding existing strengths in the Schar School in regional economic development and in science and technology policy, the concentration in entrepreneurship policy prepares students to understand the role of entrepreneurship in society and help create entrepreneurial economies. The concentration encompasses a number of considerations, including:

  • The role of occupational choice in the exploitation of opportunity
  • The process by which new ventures are created in a variety of spheres (economic, governmental, associational) and the direct and indirect economic and social consequences of these ventures
  • The intersection of theories of entrepreneurship and theories of innovation
  • Evaluation of public policies that encourage entrepreneurship and economic development
  • The role of entrepreneurship in economic growth
  • The role of entrepreneurship in the design of new organizations
  • Factors that influence the levels of entrepreneurship in a region, nation, and the global economy
  • The forms and effects of social entrepreneurship within public institutions
  • The use of an entrepreneurship lens to find and implement novel solutions to public problems
  • The role of human and financial resource assembly in entrepreneurship

PhD in Public Policy requirements


Global and International Systems

Students in the Global and International Systems concentration can pursue a wide range of international and comparative policy issues, including those related to economics, development, conflict and security, democracy and governance, and international relations. Technological change and the economic, political, and cultural aspects of international policy are integral parts of the concentration. Also, given the nature of international policy issues, informal or formal links to the other concentrations within the Schar School of Policy and Government are appropriate. The first course in the concentration surveys the field of Global and International Public Policy with a focus on relevant theoretical and methodological approaches and debates, and provides students with tools for analyzing various world problems and policies. The second course in the concentration is more applied and focuses in greater depth on specific problems in international politics and policy, seeking ways to deal with issues of security, conflict processes, inequality, international migration and refugees, democracy, and international governance. Alternately, students in this concentration may study international trade policy, addressing international trade theory, trade policy analysis, regional economic integration, and the institutional arrangements governing world trade.

PhD in Public Policy requirements


Organizational and Information Technology

The Organizational and Information Technology concentration makes use of emerging theories and philosophies to examine the roles and impact of information technology on both public policy and organizational change management. The intention is to give particular emphasis to the interconnections between policy, organizational structures, cross-functional process integration, and knowledge management-based initiatives. For example, IT is used to “connect” public organizations, to make them more efficient or more responsive. Or, enterprise integration tools change the way organizations function (they enable outsourcing for example) but they have an impact in the public sphere through issues such as job creation, security, and privacy. A doctoral thesis in this concentration is expected to focus on one or more of the following areas: enterprise integration, leadership challenges, e-commerce and e-government, reframing public policy. It will be informed by the nexus of policy, organization, process, and information technology issues. It is expected to have a professional orientation, meaning it should contribute to the understanding and development of practices.

PhD in Public Policy requirements


Regional Development and Transportation

Public policy is influenced by location and mobility. This concentration focuses on two policy areas. It looks at the changes in economic structure of sub-national regions, and how policies affect these changes and direct these dynamics. It also considers how movement of goods and people can influence the ways regions and cities develop, and how transportation policy has evolved, not only to afford greater economic efficiency in its own right, but also as part of the spatial development process. While policy makers less commonly discuss the development of sub-national regions than national macroeconomic policy, it affects where people live, train, look for work, and raise families. Transportation and modern communications allow people and institutions within a region to interact and provide the basis of everyday life and, as a result, develop in an internally coherent and externally unique way. The history of regions’ and transport’s legal, economic, industrial, and cultural development leaves a legacy that evolves, but is seldom broken. Hence, the development of social and cultural expressions and values needs to be recognized in the design and execution of regional policy. In addition, there is increasing awareness that regional economies contain the basis for national economic well-being.

PhD in Public Policy requirements


Technology, Science, and Innovation

New technologies present extraordinary opportunities for achieving major public policy objectives, such as economic growth, environmental sustainability, public health, military security, and the advancement of knowledge. Yet, they may also place the very same objectives in jeopardy. Whether the public benefits from technological change depends on how well the processes of innovation and diffusion are governed. The TSI concentration focuses on understanding and improving the institutions that are engaged in governing these processes. Faculty and students in TSI also seek to develop new and deeper understanding of the processes of scientific discovery and of technological change in order to improve the foundation for analysis of related governance challenges.

PhD in Public Policy requirements


U.S. Governance

This concentration is concerned with the nature of governance in the United States, with appropriate comparisons with non-U.S. and international systems. Governance includes the theoretical and practical approaches that societies take to organizing themselves for making decisions about public policy issues. Emphasis is placed upon the values that underpin institutional and policy choices, including the ethical and accountability aspects of policy making. Particular attention is devoted to policy making institutions such as Congress, the presidency, executive branch agencies, and state and local governments as well as to the theories and processes of public policy, including agenda building, the media, instruments of implementation, regulation, interest group activity, intergovernmental relations, budgeting, and tax policy.

PhD in Public Policy requirements

Scroll Top