Doctoral students may declare a major in Public Administration & Policy or a minor in Public Policy. In either case, learning the field will require successful completion of a number of substantive courses as well as significant additional reading outside of these courses. Under ordinary circumstances, students pursuing either the major or the minor should complete the required coursework during their first four semesters. Students will then sit for their Qualifying Exam in Public Policy in the August following their second year in the program. As described below, students majoring in PA&P also need to complete a second exam administered by the PAIA Department. Deviations from this schedule require the approval of the Graduate Director.

Course Work

For the major field, students must take PSC 602 (Public Policy Analysis) and two required PhD- level courses in the Public Administration department: PAI 801 (Advanced Seminar: Intellectual History of Public Administration) and PAI 805 (Advanced Seminar: Foundations of Policy Analysis and Management). These courses can be taken in any order. The fourth course for the subfield is an elective appropriate for the student's Program of Study, such as:

  • PSC 612: Development of the American Administrative State
  • PSC 705: Science and Public Policy
  • PSC 706: United States National Security: Defense and Foreign Policy
  • PSC 707: National Planning and Capacity to Govern
  • PSC 755: Politics and Governance in the Information Age
  • PAI 665: Applied Global Health Practice & Policy
  • PAI 730: The U.S. Federal Budget: Budget and Entitlement Program Reform
  • PAI 730: Political Economy of Policy Reform in Developing Countries
  • PAI 756: Policy and Administration in Developing Countries
  • PAI 772: Science, Technology, and Public Policy
  • PAI 781: Social Welfare Policy
  • PAI 783: Changing American Health Care System
  • PAI 784: Education Policy
  • PAI 786: Urban Policy
  • PAI 787: Child & Family Policy
  • PPA 709: Public Organization and Management
  • PPA 745: Intergovernmental Relations
  • PPA 775: Energy, Environment, and Resources Policy

No course may be double counted for the Public Policy minor and for an additional field. Students should select specific courses in close consultation with their advisors and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Qualifying Examinations

Two faculty members in each field coordinate the written examination by contributing questions themselves and soliciting questions from other faculty. Faculty in other departments may be asked for questions if a student has listed their course(s) as relevant to either of their major or minor field concentrations. All relevant faculty will receive a copy of students’ answers and are encouraged to submit written comments. Students take the written exams over two days in one week. The exams are taken in a department-specified computer lab and is closed note/book (no books, computer files, internet, etc.) except for one note sheet.

For the Public Administration and Policy major , major students must take the PAIA field exam at the end of the first year and the PSC exam prior to the third year. The written exam is administered through the Public Administration department at the end of May or the beginning of June; there is no oral exam. Students must contact the graduate director in PAIA to schedule their exam and to learn the details of its administration.

For the PSC exam (for majors and minors), students must answer one question from each section. Students will use the syllabus for PSC 602 as the starting point for the exam (there is not a separate reading list).

Following the written exam, is the oral exam – which includes field coordinators from students’ major and minor fields as well as a student-selected chair. Oral exams are generally scheduled within 30 days of students’ completion of both written exams and typically last 2 hours. Upon completion of the oral exam, the advisor will notify the Graduate Director in writing that the student has passed with distinction, passed, or failed. In the latter case, the student may retake the exam during the following semester. This option may only be exercised once. Students attain ABD (All But Dissertation) status after passing their qualifying exams, completing all coursework, and defending their dissertation proposal.

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