USC Price School of Public Policy

Screening Process and Examination

The USC Price faculty must screen each doctoral student into full graduate standing. The screening procedure is the first formal post-admission assessment of a candidate’s progress towards completion of the program. In cases in which the student is not performing satisfactorily or appears unlikely to complete the program successfully, a fail may be registered during Screening. In such cases, University regulations require that the student withdraw from the program.

» Prerequisites
» Annual Progress Report
» Screening Exam Committee
» Screening Exam
» Documents Required for the Screening Exam

Prior to screening, a student should have completed the three doctoral core courses. Units attempted beyond this would not be counted towards the degree if the screening has not been satisfactorily completed. In general, students take the screening exam at the end of the first year of study. (No incomplete grades are allowed at this stage).

Annual Progress Report
Each Student is required to complete an annual progress report that must be approved by the student’s advisor and the Doctoral Committee. This information will be made available to the Screening Exam Committee.

Screening Exam Committee
For each student, the Director of Doctoral Programs will nominate a Screening Exam Committee. In most cases this will consist of the student’s faculty advisor as Chair, and other USC Price tenure track faculty members.

Screening Exam
The screening exam is composed of two parts. The first part is a proctored, open-book, and fixed duration written exam covering the core courses. It is designed to see whether you can think clearly about problems in the field of planning, public management, policy, and development. The second part is an oral exam, where the student meets with a Screening Exam Committee to discuss any weak sections of the written exam, as well as to discuss future coursework. This is an important point in the program in which important decisions are made about the next phase. Be prepared to talk about fields, courses (including evaluation of transfer units), advisor and guidance committee, upcoming research experience, workshops, plans for teaching experience and any other questions you may have.

Documents Required for the Screening Exam
In order to pick up the exam, you must hand in a Curriculum Vita and a field statement:

  • Vita
    • name, address, telephone and email
    • date of birth, citizenship
    • education history
    • employment history
    • teaching experience
    • publications, if any
    • service to community, organizations, etc.

    In addition, list the courses you have already taken at USC; list your advisor, other faculty, and someone from outside of the Price School of Public Policy as your outside advisor (or at least make a proposal).

  • Field Statement (3-6 pages, double-spaced)
    Describe the major and minor fields you plan to focus on. Indicate the courses you are planning to take to fulfill those fields and a few exemplary works (articles and books) in each field.