Accessibility Navigation:

Ph.D. in Public Policy Program

The Ph.D. in Public Policy at UNC Charlotte is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the study of policy development, implementation, and evaluation.  It stresses the development of skills, tools, and specialties, as well as a theoretical understanding of them, that contribute to our understanding of the structure of institutional systems and sub-systems and of how policy should be shaped within political environments.

Mission and Vision

Our mission is to be leaders in public policy scholarship, to achieve excellence in public policy doctoral education and, through both, to advance the design and conduct of public policy application and research in a local, regional, state, national and international context. 

Our vision is that political leaders and engaged citizens will come to Public Policy at UNC Charlotte, the state’s urban research university, for scholars who can provide reliable, innovative, non-partisan policy research, training and evaluation on issues of concern to the local, regional, state, national and international community.


  • Commitment to openness, honesty, forthrightness, and the highest standards of integrity and ethical professional behavior in all that we do.
  • Maintain a professional, collegial, respectful, and inclusive community.
  • Promote communication, cooperation, and collaborations among faculty members and between faculty members and students in this interdisciplinary program.
  • Promote the application of public policy scholarship and methods to the improvement of policy development, evaluation, and research.
  • Support public policy students and faculty in their efforts to study, research, develop, apply, and teach the principles, findings, and methods of public policy scholarship.
  • Value all types of high quality research from various disciplines be it qualitative, quantitative, lab-based, field-based, micro in-orientation, macro in-orientation, very basic, or very applied.
  • Maintain and foster our interdisciplinary foundation.
  • Commitment to thoughtfulness, reflection, flexibility, and the rigorous scrutiny of ideas.


The PPOL Governance Committee was formed in the fall of 2008, with membership selected by the Department Chairs with involvement in the Interdisciplinary Public Policy Program. Nominations were approved by the relevant College Deans. The Governance Committee met regularly and presented ideas on program reforms to the PPOL faculty in the fall of 2009 and worked with an Ad Hoc Committee to develop planning goals for the PPOL program in the spring of 2010. The Governance Committee was also responsible for evaluation of the PPOL Director in 2008, 09 and 10. Given the absence of written procedures, in the fall of 2010 the governance committee developed a set of operating standards and rules.
In accordance with the by-laws of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, every interdisciplinary program is to have a steering committee. The PPOL Governance Committee serves as this steering committee, and “advises the program director on all matters pertaining to the program’s business” (CLAS By-Laws). More specifically, the PPOL Governance Committee helps determine long range goals and objectives for the PPOL program, assists in formulating rules and procedures governing the educational structure of the PPOL program (i.e. core classes, electives, examinations, student admissions, student retention, student advising and mentorship), and assists the PPOL Director in all facets of program development, including resource acquisition and external support.
Members of the PPOL Governance Committee must be full time faculty in the PPOL program. Criteria and expectations for PPOL faculty members have been spelled out in a document approved in the Fall of 2008 titled “Faculty Involvement in the Interdisciplinary PhD program in Public Policy.” Members should have been involved with the PPOL program and familiar with its operations (by teaching courses, assisting with examinations, or Chairing a Dissertation Committee). Membership will reflect those colleges and departments involved in the PPOL program (currently Criminal Justice, Economics, Geography and Earth Sciences, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Health Services Research). Members are nominated by their respective Departmental Chair, and approved by the Dean of that department’s college. The PPOL Director will also nominate either a graduate student, and/or an alumni, to serve on the committee; this member will be approved by the Governance Committee. Membership term is for 3 years, with a possibility of reappointment. Members can serve more than one term, but no more than two consecutive terms (members must sit off the Governance Committee at least 2 years before being re-appointed)1. The Governance Committee shall elect a Chair, who will serve a term of two years. The Chair may serve two consecutive terms. The primary function of the governance committee chair is to spearhead the evaluation of the Public Policy Director and to serve in the Director’s place in the case that the Director can no longer serve (as indicated in the succession memo filed with CLAS).


In addition to the Governance Committee, PPOL has one standing committee, Admissions and Marketing. At the beginning of each academic year, the Program Director and Governance Committee appoints the members of the Standing Committee for that year. The Governance Committee will also establish ad-hoc committees as needed. Sub-committees will consist of a minimum of three members, and a maximum of five members. Membership across all committees should reflect the diversity of programs and faculty involved in the PPOL Ph.D. program.

Committee Charges:
The Admissions committee will review student applications to the Public Policy PhD Program and advise the Director about students to recruit. In addition, the Admissions committee, in reviewing the applicants' records, will further advise the director about noted deficiencies that applicants will need to correct in order to be best positioned for success in the PPOL program. Admissions will also engage in marketing. In the future, a separate committee will develop a strategic plan for marketing PPOL to the larger community of academics for purposes of recruiting and hiring students. Consistent with our Mission, PPOL needs to have greater visibility and identity. Creating this visibility and identity might include developing materials to publicize our program at conferences (there are some funds in the budget to do this), adding content to our web page, creating events that introduce us to various stakeholders. This proposed committee will meet and make recommendations to the director and help implement some of their recommended strategies.
1 The PPOL Governance Committee originally selected to serve are as follows: Criminal Justice: Beth Bjerreguaard, term ended Fall 2010 and replaced by Paul Friday. Economics: Peter Swartz; Geography: Harry Campbell; Philosophy: Rosie Tong; Political Science: Suzanne Leland; Sociology: Teresa Scheid, Elected Chair in 2010.  Health Services Research: James Laditka, term ended Fall 2010 and replaced by Laura Talbot; Alumni Member: Dustin Read.


BLOG with us about PPOL here

Project Mosaic - UNC Charlotte recently launched a new initiative to enhance its social and behavioral science research. Project Mosaic was established to support and spearhead this initiative across disciplinary boundaries. The founding of Project Mosaic will crystallize the formation of collaborative and cross-disciplinary research teams across campus. In support of this mission, Project Mosaic will develop several initiatives and programs that will be announced in the near future. The project’s web page will be an essential mode of information dissemination.


Upcoming Events