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Indiana University Bloomington

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Joint PhD Program

The Joint Ph.D. Program in Public Policy is a collaborative endeavor of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Department of Political Science.

Its emphasis is on the broad field of public policy, concerning the environment of public policy; the processes of policy formation, management, and implementation; and the analysis and evaluation of policy outputs and results. The institutional setting and design of the program offer a unique educational opportunity. Students in the program receive rigorous social science training and gain knowledge of government decision-making processes, problem-solving capabilities, and an understanding of the substantive aspects of public problems and their effects on public institutions.


All applicants to the public policy program are subject to approval by a SPEA–Department of Political Science joint admissions committee. Applicants for admission and for financial assistance are required to submit a statement of career goals, official results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work, and a minimum of three letters of recommendation. Students whose native language is not English also must submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The Joint Program Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid examines each application closely to determine suitability for the program. The committee looks beyond the formal academic record, at the applicant’s demonstrated ability to pursue independent study, language and research skill training, and maturity and experience.

Advisory Committee

The advisory committee must include at least two faculty members from SPEA and two from the Department of Political Science. Members of the committee who hold joint appointments are considered representatives of their primary unit.

The chairperson of the committee serves as the student’s principal advisor. Early in the student’s program—no later than the third semester—the committee provides the student with a formal review of the progress made toward the degree.

Degree Requirements--Fields of Study

Public policy must be the student’s major field of preparation and specialization. In addition, each student must select one of the following fields of concentration in Political Science: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory and methodology; and one of the following fields of concentration in Public and Environmental Affairs: environmental policy, public finance, public management, or urban affairs.

Course Requirements

All first-year students must take POLS Y570 Introduction to the Study of Politics; a research skill course such as POLS Y575/Y576 Political Data Analysis; and SPEA V690 Seminar in the Public Policy Process. Students are also required to take SPEA V691 Workshop in Public Policy for six semesters. Due to the unique and sensitive issues surrounding professional ethics and public teaching, all doctoral students are required to complete a seminar in the professional ethics and teaching of public affairs. This seminar is usually a two-semester sequence. All course work in Public Policy and the two concentration fields (one each in Political Science and SPEA) must be approved by the advisory committee (or the program director if a committee has not been appointed). Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B). For specific courses acceptable for this degree, consult the public policy doctoral advisor.

Language and Research Skill Requirements

First-year students are required to take a basic research skill sequence in statistics (such as POLS Y575/Y576, SOC S554/S650, or the equivalent) approved by the major advisor and the dean of the University Graduate School. Students also are required to either demonstrate Proficiency-in-Depth in a foreign language or to take two advanced research skill courses. Students are not permitted to take qualifying examinations until these requirements are satisfied.

Qualifying Examinations

Qualifying examinations have both written and oral components. The examinations cover the primary field of public policy and the two concentration fields.


Following successful completion of the qualifying examinations, the student shall form a dissertation committee subject to the approval of the program director. The committee shall consist of a chairperson, who shall serve as the student’s principal advisor; at least two members from the Department of Political Science; and at least two members from SPEA. The responsibilities of the dissertation committee include granting formal approval of the student’s research proposal, guiding the student’s research to completion, and conducting the formal defense of the dissertation. Following the satisfactory defense of the dissertation, the committee recommends to the University Graduate School that the candidate be awarded the degree Doctor of Philosophy.