What Is the Curriculum of a PhD in Public Policy & Administration?

If you would like to pursue an academic or research career in the area of public administration, then you should consider earning a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration. The curriculum is geared towards students who wish to gain an understanding of how and why policy is formed and the benefits or detriments of public policy on society. Read on to learn more about this program's curriculum. Schools offering Public Administration degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Ph.D. Program in Public Policy and Administration

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in public policy and administration are generally designed for students who wish to pursue a career in academia, research or consultation. A bachelor's and master's degree are common prerequisites to gaining admission into one of these doctoral programs.

Doctoral candidates examine and research topics related to public policy and administration. They study policy formation, quantitative and analytical tools for problem-solving and organizational theory in the public sector. Most Ph.D. programs in public policy and administration allow students to choose a focus or a topic of research in a specific public policy area, such as policy management, policy analysis or health policy.

Important Facts About Ph.D. Programs in Public Policy and Administration

PrerequisitesMaster's Degree; Relevant work experience
Online Availability Yes
Concentrations Criminal justice, law & public policy, global leadership
Possible CareersLegislative Aide, Policy Analyst, Research Director
Median Salary (2018)$117,570 (Political Scientists)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)3% (Political Scientists)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)


The curriculum for Ph.D. programs in public policy and administration takes a broad view of the field, allowing students to take into account all the factors that affect the public sector. Core coursework usually centers around analysis of policy, organizational theories, quantitative analysis and economics of the public sector. Aside from this, doctoral candidates choose coursework related to their specific focus or area of interest. Curriculum may include:

  • Research design and methods
  • Public administration
  • Strategic management
  • Economics of public policy
  • Organizational behavior
  • Public finance
  • Policy formation

Research and Dissertation

Research and dissertation are a major component of any doctoral program. The dissertation allows students to demonstrate the knowledge gained in the program and share research data with faculty and other students. Students may select to focus their dissertation on topics in areas such as criminal justice, social work or healthcare administration.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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