USC Price School of Public Policy

Curriculum Overview

The program requires the completion of 60 units of coursework comprising the following elements:

  • master-level equivalent core (14 units)
  • doctoral core (12 units)
  • methodology (8 units)
  • field of study (20 units)
  • teaching seminar (2units)
  • dissertation (4 units minimum)

» Overview
» Prerequisites
» Doctoral Core Courses
» Methodology
» Areas of Specialization
» Doctoral Dissertation

Overview
Typically, students with a master’s degree in relevant area will be admitted with advanced standing. A minimum of 42 units of coursework beyond the master core, exclusive of Doctoral Dissertation (PPD 794) will be required for the degree, for a minimum total of 60 units. Additional coursework may be required if deemed necessary by the student’s faculty. In their first year in the program, qualified students will take three core courses and the one of two methods courses required to acquire a basic foundation for doctoral work in planning, public management, policy, and urban development. In this stage of the program, most students go through the program as a cohort. This provides the opportunity to learn from peers and acquire key skills in a mutually-supportive environment.

Towards the end of the first year of study, student performance in the program is evaluated by a screening exam. This is also the time when members of the doctoral committee and faculty in the student’s area of research provide collective guidance on future coursework, research and teaching experience. Soon after screening, the student is expected to form a guidance committee and nominate a chair of the committee from amongst tenure track faculty in the school. The role of this committee is to supervise the student’s qualifying examination, which is taken after required coursework is completed.

Prerequisites
While a master’s degree is not required, students entering the doctoral program without previous master’s degree or with a master’s degree in an unrelated area, will be required to complete 14 units of prerequisites relevant to a chosen area of specialization.

Public Management:

  • Intersectoral Leadership (PPD 500) – 2 units
  • Economics for Policy, Planning and Development (PPD 501ab) – 2,2 units = 4 units
  • Statistics and Arguing from Data (PPD 525) – 2 units
  • Human Behavior in Public Organization (PPD 545) – 4 units
  • Additional 2 units selected in consultation with advisor.

Public Policy:

  • Intersectoral Leadership (PPD 500) – 2 units
  • Economics for Policy, Planning and Development (PPD 501ab) – 2,2 units = 4 units
  • Statistics and Arguing from Data (PPD 525) – 2 units
  • Introduction to Policy Analysis (PPD 554) – 2 units
  • Public Policy Formulation and Implementation (PPD 555) – 4 units

Planning:

  • Intersectoral Leadership (PPD 500) – 2 units
  • Economics for Policy, Planning and Development (PPD 501a) – 2 units
  • Planning Theory (PPD 524) – 2 units
  • Statistics and Arguing from Data (PPD 525) – 2 units
  • Comparative International Development (PPD 526) – 2 units
  • The Social Context of Planning (PPD 527) – 2 units
  • Planning History and Urban Form (PPD 533) – 2 units

Urban Development:

  • Intersectoral Leadership (PPD 500) – 2 units
  • Economics for Policy, Planning and Development (PPD 501a) – 2 units
  • Statistics and Arguing from Data (PPD 525) – 2 units
  • Comparative International Development (PPD 526) – 2 units
  • Planning History and Urban Form (PPD 533) – 2 units
  • Institutional and Policy Issues in Transportation (PPD 634) – 4 units

Doctoral Core Courses

  • Knowledge and Practice in Social Systems (PPD 701) – 4 units
  • Governance, Place, and the Public Sphere (PPD 702) – 4 units
  • Globalization and the Urban Context (PPD 703) – 4 units

Methodology

  • Paradigms of Research and the Design of Inquiry (PPD 706) – 4 units

Also, students select one of the following:

  • Quantitative Analysis II (PPD 558) – 4 units
  • Survey Research Methods (PPD 707) – 4 units
  • Qualitative Methods (PPD 708) – 4 units
  • Applications in Advanced Quantitative Methods (PPD 709) – 4 units

Areas of Specialization
A major and a minor area of emphasis are required. The major field should fall under the disciplinary umbrella of one of the doctoral program substantive core tracks: Planning, Public Management, Public Policy, or Urban Development. Each student selects a thematic area of emphasis in one of the four areas and is required to take the foundation course associated with the respective area.

  • Public Management: Required course – PPD 711 Theoretical Foundation of Public Management (4 units)
    An offshoot of public administration, this area of research and scholarship focuses on the study of public organizations and how they can be effectively managed. Particularly important are considerations of the intra-organizational dynamics at the group and organizational levels of analysis and how organizations interact with the broader environment in which they are embedded.
  • Public Policy: Required course – PPD 712 Seminar in Public Policy (4 units)
    A long-established field of study, public policy deals with the processes and methods of policy analysis, including policy formulation, analysis, enactment, implementation and evaluation. Crucial to understanding these processes are the incentives and constraints facing individuals, groups, and institutions that demand or supply public policies.
    Many contemporary trends – globalization, decentralization, devolution, the growth of the nonprofit sector – give the study of public policy even more salience today. These trends demand that future scholars of the field require an academic preparation that integrates specialized knowledge in a substantive policy area, a set of general policy analytic skills, and a normative theoretical framework for approaching public problems.
  • Planning: Required course – PPD 713 Advanced Planning Theory (4 units)
    The field of Planning integrates the concerns of places, institutions, and people in effecting action. The scholarship in planning engages such ideas as the justification for government intervention in the provisioning of urban and social services, the interaction of land, property rights, and the environment in making choices, the link between knowledge and action, the effects of infrastructure and communication technologies on cities, cooperative and collaborative partnerships, and such substantive issues as sustainable development and sprawl.
  • Urban Development: Required course – PPD 714 Advanced Urban Development (4 units)
    The area of urban development is marked by special care for the built environment. The scholarship in this area deals with problems of housing and real-estate and engages the knowledge of urban economics, community and economic development, urban design, urban sociology, etc. Previously within the PhD program in Planning, the field of Urban Development has seen renewed interest in land with the scholarship of finance and mortgages.

The minor field may be within the academic purview of USC Price or may fall outside this purview, as approved by the Guidance Committee. (Generally expertise in the major field should be deep enough to cover the specialized knowledge in the track and broad enough to cover material adequate for teaching two courses within the track.)

Every doctoral student should be able to develop and teach at least two graduate courses in his/her major field and at least one course in the minor area. This criterion has often served as a heuristic in judging the suitability of a major or minor area of specialization. Students are encouraged to propose a specialization taking into consideration the faculty’s research contributions in that area.

Doctoral Dissertation
All students will produce a doctoral dissertation based on original research on an issue relevant to planning, public policy, public management, or urban development from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective. The dissertation must adhere to the format prescribed by The Graduate School.