About the Program

How is public policy made? What incentives and structures enable public policy to work as designed? How do economics, politics and social networks work together when it comes to populations served by public policy? How does social and economic inequality affect how policies operate? These are some of the multitude of questions our interdisciplinary program at UNC Charlotte can help students answer. We specialize in analyzing policy questions that most affect urban areas, often using the Charlotte area as our research laboratory. Our Ph.D. students specialize in urban policy, social policy, economic policy, education policy, and environmental policy, just to name a few.

Our program stresses the acquisition of skills necessary to design and conduct policy-relevant research and allows students to develop individualized and innovative programs of study tailored to the policy field of their career interest. Students have the opportunity to work with Public Policy faculty and affiliates in three colleges and eight departments at UNC Charlotte who represent a wide range of research expertise.

Our program also offers a strong core curriculum emphasizing research design, varieties of analytic techniques, economic analysis, evaluation research, policy ethics and an overall focus on policy development and implementation.  Students completing their core curriculum may then focus their studies on a policy area of their choosing. Strengths of our faculty include economic policy, environmental/infrastructural policy, health policy, justice policy, social policy and urban and regional development policy, among others.

Another strength of our program is the diversity of the students and faculty. In the burgeoning science of team science, considerable research that interrogates the attributes of creative and innovative teams and research repeatedly demonstrates that “diversity” in teams promotes innovation and creativity. I think of our program as having many of the attributes of a research team that is focused on accomplishing our mission of being leaders in public policy scholarship, achieving excellence in education and advancing the design and conduct of public policy application and research. Thus, besides the normative commitment to being an inclusive and diverse program, that diversity is a core component of our excellence. Our students come from around the world, have diverse intellectual and disciplinary backgrounds, and vary in ethnicity, age, educational and work experience. Our faculty mirrors much of this diversity as well.

Our students get interesting jobs: our alumni have academic and applied careers at organizations like the Society for Public Health Education in Washington, DC (Director of Health Policy), the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta (VP of Educator Effectiveness). Our former students also earn jobs as professors at universities like Virginia Tech and Eastern Carolina University.

We provide competitive funding for students: In exchange for work for professors, we provide a competitive assistantship that covers your tuition and pays a living stipend.

We support graduate student travel: we understand the importance of networking at professional conferences and provide travel support for attendance.

Faculty work closely and personally with students: we mentor students and conduct research with them. Most faculty members co-author research articles with students and former students.

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, policy actors, 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.

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 pagewill be an essential mode of information dissemination.

Explore this site, and our ongoing blog for further information about the program. Please contact Dr. Martha Kropf (mekropf@uncc.edu) if you would like more information.