Program Structure

Admission to Candidacy Requirements
After completing the core courses, students will be required to write a qualifying examination covering the nature of the field, methodology, and economic analysis skills.  After completing the qualifying examination, students take their policy field courses and then, with the guidance of their advisor, develop a topic paper that outlines the policy area on which their dissertation will focus. Successful completion of core courses and the qualifying examinations allows students to proceed to the dissertation proposal preparation and defense stage. The dissertation proposal defense includes an oral presentation and written proposal.  During the oral component of the defense, the student addresses not only the specific research topic about which they will write but situates that topic in the larger body of  relevant policy literatures. Procedures for establishing the dissertation committee are addressed in the Student Handbook and in the Public Policy Seminar course.
Core Courses
The Ph.D. program requires 24 hours of core course credit.
The Nature of the Field
PPOL 8600  Policy Process I
PPOL 8602  Research Design
PPOL 8635  Ethics of Public Policy 
PPOL 8690  Seminar in Public Policy*
Methods of Analysis
GRAD 8100 Quantitative Analysis II
GRAD 8101 Quantitative Analysis III
PPOL 8630  Advanced Program Evaluation

Students whose performance in PPOL 8050 indicates inadequate quantitative preparation will not be allowed to begin the CORE sequence (GRAD 8100, GRAD 8101) but will enroll in GRAD 6100: Quantitative Methods I: Basic Statistics and Probability.

Economic Analysis
PPOL 8640  Economic Analysis I
PPOL 8641  Economic Analysis II 
*PPOL 8690 is a one credit hour course. Students must enroll in it three separate times.  As an Economics prep reference, Mathematics for Economics by Schaum is suggested. 
Advanced Analysis Coursework
Prior to defending a dissertation proposal, students must complete at least three (3) additional credit hours of advanced analysis coursework at the doctoral level.  These credits may be taken outside the PPOL program with the approval of the Program Director.  Students are encouraged to choose courses that cover the types of analysis that are prevalent in the student’s policy area of interest.
Policy Application
After students have completed the 24 core course hours and the 9 advanced analysis course hours, they are prepared to select a substantive application for their dissertation research.  Students, in consultation with their advisor, will take a minimum of 5 courses (15 hours) in a substantive area on which their dissertation will focus.  While the core courses prepare students to develop, implement and evaluate policy, the dissertation research provides the opportunity to put those tools into a substantive context.  Public Policy at UNC Charlotte is in Charlotte's Urban Research University and our program is particularly strong in studying the various aspects of urban policy including issues of economics, social inequality, education, health, development, criminal justice and other aspects of urban life locally and globally.  Thus, students should, in consultation with their advisor, develop a set of research questions and substantive interest on which their dissertation will focus.
Time Limits for Completion
The student must achieve admission to candidacy within six years after admission to the program. All requirements for the degree must be completed within eight years after first registration as a doctoral student. These time limits are maximums; full-time students will typically complete the degree requirements in five years.
While the Program Director serves as the de facto advisor for each student for the first year, the Program Director will work with the students and faculty to help the student work with a suitable advisor. Once the student is matched with the advisor, they will work closely with that advisor on suggested schedules of classes, research options, and other issues important to success.  After approximately one year in the program, each student is expected to have identified the faculty member with whom they would like to mentor, with the expectation that this mentor would ultimately serve on the student’s committee.  Following completion of the policy field courses, students establish their dissertation advisor and form a dissertation committee.  The procedures for establishing these committees are in the Student Handbook and are addressed in the Public Policy seminar.
Transfer Credit
The Program will accept up to two courses in the core curriculum as transfer credit from other regionally accredited doctoral institutions, providing that the Admissions Committee determines that these courses are equivalent to those offered in the core or one of the specialty areas. The acceptance of transfer credit is subject to the approval of the Graduate School. The grade in these transfer credits must have been A or B. All of the dissertation work must be completed at UNC Charlotte.
Residency Requirement
Students must satisfy the residency requirement for the program by completing 21 hours of continuous enrollment, either as coursework or dissertation credits. Residence is considered continuous if the student is enrolled in one or more courses in successive semesters until 21 hours are earned. All 18 hours of dissertation credit must be earned at UNC Charlotte.
Language Requirement
There is no foreign language requirement.
Other Requirements
PPOL 8690 Public Policy Seminar Series.  Students in the Program will develop their appreciation of the varied nature of policy applications and improve their communication skills by participating in at least three seminar series throughout the course of their program.  This seminar also serves as a clearinghouse, introducing students to the varied faculty in the program. Each term, a series of guest speakers will prepare monthly seminars reflecting a range of policy issues and challenges.  Students engage in activities aimed at professional development for both practitioners and for those interested in pursuing careers in academia. 
Application for Degree
Each student should make application for his/her degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar.  After successful defense of the dissertation, a student will be conferred with the doctoral degree.
Research Opportunities
The Ph.D. Program in Public Policy has an extensive pool of professors to enhance the research opportunities and experiences for the students. Each program of study could be individually tailored for the research of the student with the possibility of individual studies under the supervision of an advisor.