Dissertations

A successful Public Policy PhD dissertation must constitute a significant contribution to policy-relevant knowledge, either through innovative application of social science methods to policy problems, or by innovation in theory or methods appropriate for addressing public policy problems.

Students are expected to develop and defend a PhD prospectus before a dissertation committee composed of four members of the Public Policy PhD Program faculty, chaired by a faculty member with the rank of assistant, associate or full professor who holds a primary or secondary appointment in Public Policy, and including at least one member with a primary appointment in the student’s disciplinary concentration.

Students are generally expected to have defended a dissertation proposal by the end of their third year. Normally, in years four and five, students work on their dissertations, defending their dissertations by the end of the fifth year.

The PhD Committee

The PhD Committee is composed of four members of the Public Policy PhD Program faculty, chaired by a faculty member with the rank of assistant, associate or full professor who holds a primary or secondary appointment in Public Policy, and including at least one member with a primary appointment in the student’s disciplinary concentration.  It will be appointed by the Director of Graduate Studies, in consultation with the student, early enough to advise in the formulation of the student's program and in defining the research topic for the dissertation. For more information please see the PhD Student Handbook.

The Dissertation Proposal and The Preliminary Examination

In their third year, students take a yearlong (two course) seminar on Research Methods for Public Policy, a team-taught seminar exploring the nature of public policy research and the history of the field of public policy. This course provides each student with an opportunity to develop a dissertation proposal.  All students are required to prepare a dissertation proposal. The proposal should describe a research project in detail sufficient to permit an evaluation of both its merit and feasibility.  The PhD program expects that this dissertation proposal will include a thorough literature review, an evaluation of current knowledge in the field, and a statement of how the dissertation will add to that body of knowledge.  The proposal should reflect a thorough understanding of the disciplinary research methods that will be used in the dissertation.

A student is not accepted as a candidate for the PhD degree until the preliminary exam has been passed.  The student is required to submit his or her dissertation proposal to all members of the PhD Committee at least two weeks before the preliminary exam.  The preliminary exam includes an oral defense of the dissertation proposal and an oral exam evaluating the depth of dissertation area knowledge and the research methodologies to be used in the dissertation.  For more information please see the PhD Student Handbook.

Fleishman Commons Sanford Building

Fleishman Commons Sanford Building