PhD in Public Policy

Program Overview

Doctoral Programs

View profiles of our current PhD students.

The Joint PhD Program in Public Policy is a collaborative effort between the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and the departments of Economics, Political Science and Sociology. The Joint PhD Program follows a discipline plus structure. The "discipline" means that all students complete a Ph.D. in a basic social science, and the "plus" means that they apply social science theory and knowledge to public policy problems. Joint PhD students will be awarded doctoral degrees in Economics and Public Policy, Political Science and Public Policy, and Sociology and Public Policy. These titles reflect a fundamental characteristic of the program: students are simultaneously full members of their disciplinary departments and participants in an inter-disciplinary public policy community.

The program is designed to appeal to students who want to pursue research careers in a traditional social science discipline but who see themselves as deeply committed to the study of public policy. Our goal is for joint PhD students to bring the most rigorous tools of social science to bear on fundamental public policy questions.

Distinctive Program Features

The joint doctoral program is distinctive in these ways:

Disciplinary Orientation – Students spend most of their first two years in a department, taking the same sequence of theory and methods courses that are taken by departmental students. In addition, students have a departmental faculty advisor to help them become integrated into the department and to help ensure that they receive a thorough grounding in the theory and methods of the discipline.

Empirical Methods – We expect students in the program to develop sophisticated analytical skills including statistics, economic analysis, benefit-cost analysis, evaluation methods, and qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection and analysis.

Research Training Opportunities – Active engagement in research is a key component of the program and our students have an array of research opportunities. All students have the opportunity to spend at least a year as a research assistant to a faculty member. In addition, during their first and second years, all students attend a bi-weekly research seminar and complete a research internship. Faculty advisors provide careful guidance for the independent research paper that is part of the third year.

Interdisciplinary Policy Analysis – A key goal of the program is to facilitate multidisciplinary training and research. We've organized coursework so that early in their studies students are given extensive exposure to different perspectives and approaches and have the opportunity to compare them. Similarly, our faculty, many of whom hold joint appointments, are engaged in multidisciplinary research and can assist students in bringing the ideas of different disciplines to bear in addressing policy issues.

Contact Information

For more information about the PhD program, please contact:

Joint Doctoral Program in Public Policy and Social Science
Ford School of Public Policy
Phone: (734) 764-0453