Public Affairs and Policy Degree Requirements

General Degree Requirements

Award of the Ph.D. is the culmination of a sequential process of coursework, comprehensive examinations, and the research, writing, and defense of a dissertation. First-year students take a series of courses commonly referred to as “the core”. During their second (and third) years, students complete their field and research methods coursework. A two-part comprehensive examination is administered beginning in the second year of full-time or full-time equivalent enrollment. After the completion and defense of a dissertation proposal, students advance to Ph.D. candidacy. The last remaining requirement is the dissertation. 

In general, students pursuing the PAP degree on a full-time basis would be expected to complete the degree in five years. While core coursework dominates the first-year of study, usually one elective is taken each quarter. In the second and third years, electives and research methods courses dominate. 

In addition to completing the degree requirements, students may also engage in teaching or research not directly related to their doctoral program of study. These are intellectually enriching experiences, but may also extend the length of time it takes to complete the degree. 

Core Courses

In general, two of the following core courses are offered each term (credit hours in parentheses). Some are restricted to PAP students, while others also admit graduate students at the master’s level. 

PAP 611 Normative Foundations of Governance (3) 
PAP 613 Organization Theory and Behavior (3) 
PAP 614 Contemporary Governance (3) 
PAP 616 Policy Process (3) 
PAP 620 American Political Institutions (3) 
PAP 621 Comparative Political Institutions (3)

Research Method Course

Coursework in research methods is normally completed concurrently with field specialization coursework. Approved substitutes for methods coursework will be listed in the PAP Course Planner each year. 

PS 593 Philosophy of the Social Sciences (4)
PAP 690 Research Design for Politics and Policy (4)
PS 595 Research Methods for Political Science (4)
or EC 570 Econometrics (4)§ 

§May substitute another graduate-level course in basic quantitative methods with approval such as PA 551. Students in the Economics and Public Policy track are required to take EC 570. 


The remaining 12 credit hours of required research methods coursework are electives and are chosen in anticipation of the research skills necessary to complete a dissertation in the student’s field of specialization. A variety of courses are offered in the College and in the University that will satisfy this requirement, including courses on qualitative methods, advanced statistical modeling, and operations research.  


Public Administration and Policy Track 

Students focus on the functioning, management, and leadership of organizations in the public sector as well as the analysis of public policy. 

Required Courses

PAP 654 Policy Analysis (3)  
PS 559 Political and Economic Decision-Making (3)  
PAP 615 Administrative Process (3)
or PA 540 Administrative Theory and Behavior (3) 
PA 534 Administrative Law (3) 

Politics and Public Policy Track 

Students focus on the political and economic determinants as well as the analysis of governance and public policy at the local, national, and international levels.

Required Courses

PAP 654 Policy Analysis (3)  
PS 559 Political and Economic Decision-Making (3)  
PAP 656 Advanced Political Economy (3)  
PAP 630 Proseminar in International Relations (4)

Economics and Public Policy Track

Students focus on the understanding and application of economic theory to contemporary public policy and governance challenges, especially economic, fiscal, financial, and commercial issues.  

Required Courses

EC 575 Applied Advanced Econometrics (4)§ 
EC 580 Mathematical Economics (4)§ 
EC 581 Advanced Microeconomics (4) 
EC 584 Applications of Advanced Microeconomic Theory (4)
EC 590 Advanced Macroeconomics (4)
EC 592 Applications of Advanced Macroeconomic Theory (4)

§May be waived as a Track course if used as Research Methods elective. Students must still complete 38 total field credits.