Boston MA PhD in Public Policy & Public Administration

Pursuing a PhD in public policy or administration could help you develop knowledge necessary to manage a community’s resources effectively. Within these programs, students could work towards earning degrees in public administration, policy, labor relations, or government policy.

While these programs have different curriculum, they each focus on teaching techniques to better oversee public assets. Courses could include topics such as public budgeting, drafting policies, or developing communications between groups.

Doctor of Public Administration

PhD in Public Administration Programs

A PhD in public administration program focuses on research opportunities to develop students’ understanding of how to manage community organization’s resources. The goal of these courses is to assist cities, towns, and more better serve their population. For instance, new research conducted by students could help communities enhance their current budget. By doing this, they could be able to construct new infrastructure or plan or plan new outreach programs.

Before diving into the research component, students first study public administration fundamentals. As part of this, students could have a chance to study how to manage some of the following fields.

  • Program Planning & Evaluation
  • Public Organizations
  • Environmental Compliance

In addition, this program takes on some characteristics of business administration degree. Many classes may be geared toward managing public assets like business. For example, you could take some of the following business courses as part of your PhD in public administration.

  • Human Resources Management
  • Administrative Law
  • Urban and Regional Planning
  • Public Budgeting
  • Public Affairs Research Methods

During this program, students may also have chance to conduct public administration research. In these courses, you could study the effects of recently instated programs. After collecting data, you could then offer suggestions to enhance those same programs.

A PhD in public administration may require students to complete 60 credit hours of classes. Knowing this, students could possibly earn a degree in 4 years depending on enrollment.

PhD in Public Policy Programs

The PhD in public policy program may sound like the public administration program. But, while administration courses focus on management, the public policy program emphasizes creating laws and regulations to better address the needs of a community. To do this, students research current policies to analyze their effectiveness. Then, you could potentially offer solutions to any obstacles you observed.

A PhD in public policy could also be further concentrated to deal with a specific type of policy. In these cases, students could study the unique challenges facing the concentration as opposed to general policy material. These concentrations might involve working with marginalized groups or under-supported communities. Concentrations could include some of the following.

  • Crime & Drug
  • Environment
  • Health
  • Urban
  • Emergency Services
  • Education

These are only a sample of possible concentrations. Speak with your program for a more complete list.

These doctoral programs typically require students to complete 66 to 82 credit hours to graduate. Students could potentially earn a PhD in public policy degree in 4 to 6 years depending on enrollment.

PhD in Government Policy Programs

A government policy PhD program is closely related to political science. Mainly, the program deals with research surrounding political and international relations. And, the policies that could potentially enhance them. During this program, courses may focus primarily on conflict resolution and crisis negotiations.

PhD in Labor & Industrial Relations Programs

Labor and industrial relations PhD programs may also be called human resource management. Courses teach ways to cultivate a strong company culture. This could include managing a team of employees or creating policies to enhance workplace morale.

First, students may study methods to support employee needs in the workplace. Then, they could study ways to minimize workplace obstacles and negate crisis situations. Classes may be focus on both national and international employee relations. Emphasis is often placed on multi-level institution behaviors and how they affect the working environment.

PhD in Public Policy or Administration Program Dissertation

As with many doctoral degrees, many PhD in public policy programs require students to complete a dissertation before graduating. As some of the programs have already outlined, you could be asked to conduct research in your specific area. Collected research could study the effects of new polices, the failings of older ones, or trends in employee satisfaction.

Using the collected data, students could then offer solutions to address the observed issues. For example, you could offer an amendment to a current legal policy that you found to be ineffective. Or, you could propose a HR measure that enhances morale in the workplace.

Dissertations are usually written in lieu of classes during one or two semesters. To complete a dissertation, students may be required to present their findings to department faculty.

Applying to These Programs

PhD in public policy and administration program admissions aim to assess your previous academic ability. To do so, many schools may require students to submit a 3.0 or higher graduate GPA. Please note that institutions may require previous graduate coursework before admittance.

In addition, schools may also ask students to write and submit a research essay. In these essays, students could outline potential research topics for their future dissertation. This way, programs could see if a faculty member may be able to advise you in your studies. Additionally, this might be a great way for you to see if a school is perfect for you.

What Could I do with a Degree in Public Administration?

Depending on your PhD in public administration and policy concentration, you could have the chance to pursue a management role in your desired field. For example, human resource concentrations might be interested in pursuing a career as a human resource manager. These specific positions help companies manage employee related process.i This could include recruiting, interviewing, and hiring new staff. In addition, they may be put in charge of overseeing employee morale.

In 2015, human resource managers earned a median salary of $104,440. While this position may require a bachelors degree for entry-level roles, a PhD degree may demonstrate a better understanding of key HR concepts. In Addition, higher positions may require the advanced degree.ii Using this as an example, students may also want to pursue managerial positions in their field.

PhD in Public Policy and Administration Program Types

Depending on your personal schedule and time commitments, you may want to consider pursuing your PhD in public policy program in a none traditional format.

Online PhD in Public Policy Programs

Online PhD in public administration programs could be a great choice for students who are also working in the professional field. Flexible class times could help you insert your education into your current working schedule. And, with the online format, your classroom is wherever you are. This could be perfect for students who may also have to travel frequently for their career.

On Campus PhD in Public Policy Programs

On campus programs may be what you imagine when thinking about traditional education. These programs may be a great chance to interact face-to-face with other industry professionals. Professors may be working in the same industry as your concentration. Because of this, they could possibly provide unique, real-world insight to your courses.

Additionally, professors may provide additional research opportunities. During the semester, professors may require additional help to conduct their own research. Students currently studying similar topics might be a great resource for them! Speak with professors in your concentration to see if you could assist them on their current research. Not only could this offer a glimpse of how research is conducted, but also might offer publication opportunities!

Hybrid PhD in Public Policy Programs

Hybrid PhD in public administration programs split their time between online courses and in-person faculty advising sessions. The majority of the curriculum is conducted similarly to the online program format. But, during scheduled times in the semester, students report to campus to check in with advisors.

These meetings could be a great opportunity to address any questions you may have about your program. Or, tackle issues that may not be appropriate for email. This may also be a chance to speak with professors about advising your dissertation. In these instances, students may work more closely with professors. It’s important to build report before entering the challenging dissertation semester.

Searching for a Perfect PhD in Public Policy or Administration

Pursuing a PhD in public policy or administration could help you better craft plans to assist a wide range of communities. With this information in mind, it’s time to continue your search for a perfect program. Start by browsing the programs on this page. To find out more about a program, click its link. This provides you with a brief description about the program. While you’re there, you could also request more information from the school itself. To refine the list further, select your preferred specialty or program type from the menus on this page. Good luck!


[i] bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm | [ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm#tab-4

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