USC Price School of Public Policy

PhD-PPM Program Learning Objectives


The mission of the Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management is to train leading scholars in public policy and management with foci on various policy areas like the environment, housing, and education and public management issues including inter-sectoral governance, civic engagement, and nonprofit management. We achieve that mission through Ph.D. education that emphasizes student engagement in research throughout their time in the degree program, faculty mentoring, faculty-student collaboration in research, and a strong multidisciplinary perspective that provides students with the theoretical and methodological depth needed to pursue dissertation research.

The learning objectives of the Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management are listed below.

  • Students will acquire the critical thinking and research skills to become independent scholars, at a level comparable to those who obtain faculty positions at universities classified by the Carnegie Foundation as “research universities / very high research activity.”
  • Students will learn advanced required coursework in the theoretical literatures that underpin modern theories of public management and public policy, and are required to master at least one disciplinary theoretical framework, usually drawn from economics, political science, sociology, or organizational theory.
  • Students will learn research methods ranging from quantitative and deductive methods to qualitative and inductive methods.
  • Students will master the knowledge of two sub-fields of public policy and management, at the breadth and depth that is characteristic of being able to establish scholarly leadership in those subfields and being able to teach a masters level course on the sub-field topics. The sub-fields will be chosen by the student under the guidance of and in consultation with their advisor and a qualifying exam committee.
  • Students will master a specific set of methods appropriate to their dissertation, with the depth needed to produce methodologically rigorous research.

    This will include a minimum of 6-8 units of advanced methodology coursework. Most students will be expected to exceed the minimum 6-8 units of advanced methods coursework. Specific courses appropriate for the methods requirement should be selected by the student in consultation with their advisor and, as appropriate, other program faculty members.

  • Students will master the theories that underpin their dissertation research, usually drawn from the social sciences, with the depth needed to produce advanced, theoretically informed research.

    This will typically include a minimum of 8 units of advanced theoretical coursework taken within the context of the required 16 units of required field courses. Specific courses appropriate for theoretical depth should be selected by the student in consultation with their advisor and, as appropriate, other program faculty members.

  • Students will produce a piece of original scholarship, worthy of publication, on a topic relevant to public policy or public management issues.