Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

The total number of hours will be established by the student’s advisor according to a plan of study that must be presented after the successful completion of 18 hours of coursework.  The Ph.D. Program requires 24 hours of core course credit, at least 6 hours of advanced analysis coursework, 18 hours of dissertation credit (enrollment contingent on admission to candidacy) and a minimum of 15 hours credit for specialty electives.  It is unlikely that students will be able to complete this degree, including mastery of a subject-matter specialty, in 65 hours; 70-75 hours is more likely.  

Students progress through the program in five stages:

  1. Core courses
  2. Qualifying examination
  3. Advanced analysis coursework and policy application courses
  4. Dissertation proposal defense
  5. Dissertation

Grade Requirements

A student must maintain a cumulative average of 3.0 in all course work taken for graduate credit.  An accumulation of three 'C' grades will result in termination of the student's enrollment in the graduate program.  If a student receives a grade of 'U' in any course, enrollment in the program will be terminated.

Qualifying examinations and admission to candidacy

After completion of the following five core courses (Policy Process, Research Design, Quantitative Analysis II, Economic Analysis of Public Policy I, Economic Analysis of Public Policy II, Program Evaluation), the student will be required to write three qualifying exams covering the nature of the field, economic analysis and quantitative methodology/evaluation analysis.  Following successful completion of the core examination students take courses in their specialty area and then proceed to the dissertation proposal preparation and oral defense stage.

Advanced Analysis Coursework

Prior to defending a dissertation proposal, students must complete at least nine (9) credit hours of advanced analysis coursework at the doctoral level.  Students may take additional analysis courses outside of 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.

Dissertation Proposal Defense

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.


The program requires that the student complete 18 hours of dissertation credit. Enrollment in dissertation credit is contingent on admission to candidacy. The dissertation topic may be proposed after the student has passed the qualifying exams.  The doctoral student advances to candidacy after the dissertation proposal has been defended to, and approved by, the student's advisory committee and reported to the Director of the Ph.D. in Public Policy and the Dean of the Graduate School.  The student must complete and defend the dissertation based on a research program approved by the student's dissertation committee that results in a high quality, original, and substantial piece of research.