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PhD in Public Policy


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Does anyone know about PhD programs in Public Policy? I noticed that the major schools like HKS, WWS and Harris have it but it seems very very competitive. Any ideas about some less competitive programs? I am interested in urban and environmental policy but the major schools seem quite a stretch with my background.

Also does one need a masters to apply?

Any observations on this will be very helpful.

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There are a ton of public policy Ph.D programs out there, though environmental politics might be a subfield that a relative handful of programs specialize in. I know Colorado State's poli sci program revolves around environmental politics. Might also want to look at Michigan, Duke, and Maryland, though those are just a few off the top of my head.

Edited by flyers29
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Thanks folks!

What do you intend to focus on? I know you said environmental policy, but a lot of policy programs have different approaches to different things. For example, some schools may be well suited for students looking to do research in specific policies, while others are better at helping research that researches the methods used towards policies. That may seem like an academic distinction, but it can be significant. Whether you are looking at political processes and how they affect environmental legislation (a more politically-oriented, DC school might be best), or on challenging prevailing analytical methods for measuring environmental impact (could be a policy analysis school like Rand or Carnegie Mellon) will have an effect on what kind of place fits.

As far as specific schools, you should definitely look into Indiana University, which has a very good reputation in environmental studies and a top notch public policy reputation overall. I don't know many other schools with great environmental policy programs, but I would imagine the UC schools, USC, and Washington are all very good in that area.

More generally, strong 'second tier' schools to consider are places like Pitt's GSPIA, UMD-CP, UNC-CH, UWashington, GWU (Trachtenberg), and George Mason (particularly if interested in a public choice econ-related topic).

I'm actually (casually) looking into policy phd programs myself, so if you want to PM me for a more in-depth discussion, feel free.

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CMU Heinz school has a very well respected PhD program in public policy.


They also have an Engineering and Public Policy PhD that is mainly aimed for those interested in energy policy.

UMD -College Park is another great policy PhD program, as is UNC.

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