Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Political Economy  


Professors: Sheila Amin Gutiérrez De Piñeres, Kurt J. Beron, Brian J. L. Berry (Dean), Ronald Briggs, Alexander L. Clark (emeritus), Lloyd J. Dumas, Euel Elliott, Donald A. Hicks, Irving J. Hoch (emeritus), Paul Jargowsky, Murray J. Leaf, Lawrence J. Redlinger, Todd J. Sandler, Richard K. Scotch, Paul Tracy,
Associate Professors: Bobby C. Alexander, Jennifer Smith Holmes, Marie Isabelle Chevrier, Simon Fass, Susan McElroy
Assistant Professors  Melinda D. Kane, Sheryl Skaggs
Clinical Assistant Professor Wenhua Di

Mission Statement

The mission of the Ph.D. program in Public Policy and Political Economy is to prepare our students for professional positions in research, teaching, and practice in fields related to public policy and political economy, and in both academic and nonacademic settings. We prepare students through instruction in social science and public policy concepts, advanced methodological knowledge and applied social research techniques, and professional communication.


·         Students will demonstrate the ability to apply social science and public policy theories and concepts.

·         Students will develop competency in advanced methods of social science and public policy research and analysis.

·         Students will develop basic skills in professional communication appropriate to the public policy and political economy research and analysis.


Students have access to the computing faculties in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and University’s Computing Center. The School has two computing laboratories which have over 50 computers that are network linked and equipped with major social science software packages, including E-Views, R, Rats, SPSS and STATA. A computerized geographic information system, the Lexis Nexis Database and WestLaw are also available for student use. The University’s Computing Center provides personal computers and UNIX Workstations. Many important data and reference materials are also available online via the library’s and school’s memberships in numerous organizations.

Admission Requirements

The University’s general admission requirements are discussed here.

The PhD. in Public Policy and Political Economy seeks applications from students with a baccalaureate degree from an accredited university or college. An undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.2, and a combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of 1200, or equivalent score on the GMAT, are desirable for direct admission. An analytical writing score of at least 4.5 in the GRE is considered desirable. Students may also wish to consider submitting their score from the writing component of the GRE test as additional evidence of their writing skills. Standardized test scores are only one of the factors taken into account in determining admission. For example, a student also may be admitted to the Ph.D. program after being accepted by a master’s program and achieving at least a 3.3 grade point average in several core courses. Students should also submit all transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a one-page essay outlining the applicant’s background, education and professional objectives.


While there are no specific course prerequisites, entering students will benefit from  exposure to undergraduate courses in the Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, college algebra, and research design.

Degree Requirements

The University’s general degree requirements are discussed here.

The PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy requires a minimum of 90 post-baccalaureate graduate credit hours. Students must maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in order to graduate. A student is required to complete six program components:

The requirements are outlined in further detail below:

I. Core Requirements (33 hours)

Students complete a core sequence of courses as follows:

1. Six hours of coursework in Government and Public Policy:

POEC 5303 Public Policymaking and Institutions
POEC 5308 Ethics, Culture and Responsibility

2. Six hours of Theories of Political Economy

POEC 5307 Economics for Public Policy
POEC 6312 Social Economic Theories

3. Fifteen hours of Empirical Methods

POEC 5313 Descriptive and Inferential Statistics
POEC 5316 Advanced Regression Analysis for the Economic, Political and Policy Sciences

Students will also take at least three additional courses from a set approved by the relevant graduate program committee. Students may obtain a list of those courses from the program office.

4. Six hours of POEC 5310 Research Design I and POEC 6342 Research Design II

II. Field Courses (12 hours)

Students take a two course introductory sequence in two of the following five fields.  The fields and required courses are as follows:

Business and Public Policy

POEC 7323 Economic Regulation of Business
POEC 7321 Seminar in Business and Government


POEC 6311 Crime and Justice Policy
POEC 6305 Law and Social Control


POEC 6354 Theories and Issues of Development (Required), and:

Select one of the following:

POEC 6364 Development Economics
POEC 6360 World Political Economy
POEC 6362 Political Development
POEC 6318 Population and Development

International Political Economy (Select two of the following):

POEC 6360 World Political Economy
PSCI 5301 Proseminar in Democratization, Globalization and International Relations
PSCI 6309 International Political Economy and Organization

Social Policy

SOC 6350 Social Stratification
POEC 7340 Domestic Social Policy

Students may request that alternative courses be substituted in a particular field with the approval of the program director.

III. Qualifying Exams and Matriculation to the Dissertation Phase

To advance to the dissertation stage of the program, students are evaluated by the Program Committee based on (1) a Qualifying Examination in Methodology and (2) a portfolio consisting of papers written in core and field courses:

1) A qualifying examination in methods:

This examination will evaluate the students’ methodological skills in areas covering probability, statistics, regression analysis and research design. The exam will be graded by the Methods Examination Committee as Unsatisfactory, Satisfactory or Excellent. The exam will be administered at the end of a full time student’s second year, or the equivalent point in a part time student’s career. A student receiving a grade of unsatisfactory may take the exam for a second time prior to the start of the fall semester of the third year.

2) A portfolio consisting of  papers written in core and field courses that include the following elements:

a) Literature reviews written in the field survey courses;
b) Empirical and/or methodological papers written in the core methods courses; and
c) Research design projects

The program committee will review the portfolios annually, and advise students of any deficiencies or potential problems. Upon completing the core courses and achieving a grade of Satisfactory or Excellent on the Qualifying Examination, the program committee will make a final evaluation of the student’s total portfolio. The committee will assess whether the candidate’s portfolio demonstrates the student has the skills and knowledge necessary to attempt to write a dissertation. If all of the items in the portfolio are satisfactory, the student is designated as doctoral level. Alternatively, the committee could recommend remedial or additional work in a specific area and specify a time frame for the completion of such work.  A detailed discussion of the portfolio requirements can be found in the PPPE Advising Guide.  Students are urged to read and make sure they understand what is expected of them. The Advising Guide is available through the Public Policy and Political Economy program office.

If, in the judgment of the committee, the student is not prepared to write a dissertation or the student, the student will either  be asked to complete remedial work or will be designated as Masters level. Receipt of a Masters level designation means the student is not allowed to proceed to the doctoral stage. The student may continue taking courses and may pursue one of the school’s Masters programs by completing the appropriate degree requirements.

IV. Dissertation Seminar

Students must register for POEC 8398 Dissertation Seminar for a minimum of one semester. The aim of the Dissertation Seminar is to assist students in the formulation of a dissertation topic, and prepare a dissertation topic for submission to a dissertation Committee and defense of the proposal before the committee.

V. Area of Specialization

The student takes six to nine hours of additional coursework in one of the field areas as defined above. The specific required courses are designated by the faculty associated with that area of concentration and may be obtained from the program office. The student completes a dissertation in one of the two fields (see above) and must successfully defend the dissertation before a duly constituted dissertation committee, in accordance with the requirements of the University and the UT System.

VI. Electives

Students take free electives in areas of interest to fulfill the 90-hour PhD requirement.

Ph.D. students should note that they are eligible to receive Master’s degrees offered by the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences while they matriculate toward the doctorate. These degrees include the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree, Masters in Public Policy, MS in Applied Sociology, MS in Criminology, MS in Economics, MS in Geographic Information Sciences and the MS in International Political Economy. Students interested in obtaining one of these degrees should consult the catalog requirements or the graduate advisor.