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Ph.D. Curriculum and Course Requirements


The Ph.D. program requirements are designed to provide students with a solid, interdisciplinary foundation in public policy research and analysis. Students master a common set of concepts and analytical tools, and complete additional courses in a curriculum based on their intellectual and vocational goals.

The Ph.D curriculum for a student without a relevant master's degree requires 48 hours of coursework and 18 hours of dissertation research. The curriculum is divided into core courses, disciplinary foundation courses and courses in a specific policy area or discipline. Students with a master's degree will have fewer course requirements.

Core courses - 6 courses (18 credits):

  • PUBL 600 Research Methodology
  • PUBL 603 Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis
  • PUBL 604 Statistical Analysis
  • plus two additional research method/quantitative analysis courses appropriate to the student’s track such as: PUBL 605, 607, 608, 611, or 614; ECON 605 or 611; SOCY 619; or another methodological/ analytical course approved by the concentration.
  • PUBL 700 Doctoral Research Seminar

Additionally, 18 credits of PUBL 899 (Doctoral Dissertation Research) are required of all Ph.D. students.

Disciplinary foundation courses - 3 courses (9 credits):

ECON 600 Policy Consequences of Economic Analysis or ECON 601 Microeconomic Analysis
PUBL 601 Political and Social Context of the Policy Process
SOCY 606 Social Inequality and Social Policy

Study concentration courses - 5 courses (15 credits). Ph.D. students in all concentrations except economics and policy history, are required to take a relevant economics course as part of their 5 track courses or 2 electives.

- Economics
- Educational Policy
- Evaluation and Analytical Methods
- Health Policy
- Policy History
- Public Management
- Urban Policy

Learn more about study concentrations.
Specific course requirements for each area of concentration are listed in the Graduate Student Handbook.


Ph.D. students must take 2 additional elective courses (6 credits) that are related to their track or policy interests. These courses should be selected with the advice and approval of the student’s advisor. In addition, students should check with the relevant departments to see if specific skills, the consent of the instructor, or other prerequisites are necessary prior to taking elective courses.

Ph.D. Examinations

In addition to examinations in particular courses, Ph.D. students must pass comprehensive exam and Ph.D. field examinations. Students should consult with their advisor before signing up to take a comprehensive or field examination.

Doctoral Dissertation

All Ph.D. candidates must register for a minimum of 18 semester hours of doctoral dissertation research, POSI 899. Guidelines for writing and defending dissertations are available on the Public Policy Graduate Students Blackboard site. Copies of proposals and dissertations are available for inspection in the Graduate Student Reading Room.

Each candidate will have a dissertation committee composed of a chairperson and 4 readers. All dissertation committees in Public Policy must have representatives from more than 1 discipline and at least 1 member from outside of UMBC.

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