Specialty Areas

The Policy Field in Economic Policy focuses on the study of policy issues related to market, government, firm, and individual behavior. The specialty allows students to build knowledge regarding economic theory and tools used by economists to consider policy issues. In addition, the specialty offers several courses in which theoretical and statistical tools are applied to specific policy areas, including public economics, urban and regional economics, and health economics.

The Policy Field in Environmental/Infrastructure Policy focuses on environmental issues impacted by energy production and consumption, growth, pollution, and population change. This specialty allows interested students to gain knowledge on the economic factors related to environmental degradation and improvement. It also allows them the opportunity to become familiar with the scientific aspects of urban air, water, and earth systems. Policy making and policy analysis related to these issues will all be covered by courses in this specialty.

The Policy Field in Health Policy focuses on applied research in the organization, delivery and financing of healthcare and population-based issues in health (including mental health). A multidisciplinary faculty in epidemiology, health economics and finance, health policy, medical sociology, bioethics, and health law is ideally suited to prepare quantitative health service researchers and health policy analysts. Qualified students without a relevant Master’s degree can prepare for the Ph.D. by completing coursework in the master in health administration (MHA), the MA in medical sociology, or the Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) while enrolled in the Ph.D. with a field specialty in Health Policy.

The Justice Policy Field provides an interdisciplinary approach to the study of crime and society's response to it. This concentration prepares students to conduct research and policy analysis on local, state, and national policies and policy initiatives and provide information for policy makers. The primary goal of this specialization is to provide students with the tools necessary for critically and objectively assessing policies related to the administration of justice. Toward that end, students gain the appropriate analytical skills, an understanding of the nature of criminal behavior and its impact, and knowledge about the criminal justice system as well as about a variety of issues related to the control of crime. They also become familiar with the process of making and implementing justice policy and with those organizations involved in this process.

The Policy Field in Social Policy prepares scholars, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers to address crucial social issues facing communities and our nation including social welfare, education, poverty, housing and homelessness and the role of public, nonprofit, and private sectors in alleviating and contributing to such problems. In addition to dealing with these topics in their own right, the social policy field focuses on the complex interrelationships among these issues and the manner in which they are influenced by--and in turn influence--prevailing patterns of racial, ethnic, and gender stratification. The social policy specialization provides the theoretical background, methodological training, and substantive knowledge that will allow students to make important contributions to the development, implementation, and evaluation of public policies addressing the most vexing and important social issues of our time.

The Urban & Regional Development Policy Field stresses applied and empirical policy research that is grounded in an interdisciplinary theoretical foundation. Students will be prepared in analytical techniques suitable for research and policy analysis through courses addressing several topics at the neighborhood, city and regional levels, including: Economic Development; Transportation Policy; Infrastructure Provision; Public Service Delivery; Growth Management; Regionalism and Governance.