Social Sciences and Public Affairs Doctorate Programs award terminal degrees in many fields of study. Among them are psychology, emergency management, population biology, marital and family therapy, economics, and more.
Doctoral students are often encouraged to use their curiosity to question and challenge theories. Their work may lead them to solve complex problems and implement solutions. As they work towards the highest academic award in their field, they may also build social research skills and develop their expertise.
written by Rana Waxman
Due to the diversity of Doctorate Social Sciences and Public Affairs programs, admissions requirements will vary. For some programs, it may be enough to have earned a bachelors degree in your field. In others, the school may require you to have a masters degree and, possibly, work-related experience.
Most doctorate Public Affairs and Social Sciences programs entail advanced courses. After their coursework, doctoral students may have to take a comprehensive exam. This is used to assess the knowledge synthesized from their courses. The next step is often to submit a research proposal and, finally, a dissertation.
Not all Public Affairs and Social Sciences PhD programs follow this format, so keep informed about your degree requirements and course plan.
Doctorate Public Affairs and Social Sciences programs explore two interwoven, yet distinct areas. Many of these fields study human society and human relationships with and within those communities.
Doctorate in social science and humanities programs might look at human behavior and activity from a social, cultural, psychological, political, and anthropological point of view.
Areas of study include, but are not limited to, counseling psychology, social work, human services, and gerontology.
By contrast, PhD in public affairs programs may be focused on matters that address humans in a direct way. These may include government policy, public administration, communication, law enforcement, public health, and other areas that often stem from the relationship of organizations with their public.
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There are various types of Doctorate Public Affairs and Social Sciences programs, not just in terms the content area, but also in terms of the degrees themselves. The different degrees are of the same academic value but usually, entail their own unique point of view.
You might use this as a general guideline when there is a choice to make. As you reflect on the kind of doctorate you want to pursue, think about your personal and professional goals. Then, read program descriptions carefully to see if they match up.
Some doctoral degrees are oriented to professional practice. Students in these programs may work towards a ‘doctor of’ in their field of study. And, they might learn how to apply existing theories to solve specific real-time problems through practical (or clinical) work and examinations.
Other programs, such as the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) are more research-focused. In these programs, students may have to contribute original thought or theory to their field. Because of this, some students might choose a specific area within a broader category to anchor their research. Their courses often include a heavy emphasis on statistics and research methods.
PhD in Anthropology students may research and evaluate the origins of humans and their evolution. Some programs take a distinct point of view, such as a PhD in Anthropology and Social Change. This type of PhD could focus on activist scholarship, militant research, and social change through ethnographic research.
Doctorate Counseling Psychology programs explore one of the practice areas in professional psychology that addresses personal and interpersonal wellness across the lifespan. Counseling psychology pays attention to emotions, social behavior, vocation, education, and health-related concerns. As a result, counseling psychology doctoral degrees are often designed for students who seek to engage in the professional practice of psychology. This can mean research, academia, or counseling others.
The two primary doctorate degrees to consider are the PsyD in Counseling Psychology and the PhD in Counseling Psychology. Both offer psychology-based curricula but are distinct.
A Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) is a professional doctorate. Students in PsyD counseling psychology programs could study psychotherapy and diagnostic appraisal, and , as such, they may develop various counseling skills. Many PsyD programs include a doctoral practicum, and may help graduates to gain eligibility to take licensure examinations. The PhD is a research degree in the field where students may learn to conduct tests and measure results that could contribute insight to a specific query.
The field of counseling psychology could also include doctorate degrees in art therapy, career counseling, counseling therapy, marriage and family therapy, rehabilitation counseling, or substance abuse counseling. The Doctor of Marriage and Family Therapy (DMFT) is one of several examples.
PhD in Economics students might study the relationship of humans, goods, and services in various ways. In some universities, Ph.D. students are expected to master advanced economic theory (macro-theory, micro-theory), research methods, and two economic subfields. At the doctoral level, economics courses prepare students to conduct highly-focused research in areas such as labor economics and market design.
A Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) in School Psychology may prepare graduates to attend to the educational, behavioral, social, and emotional needs of children, youth, and families. Coursework in education and school psychology doctoral programs can be quite varied. Candidates could study child, adolescent, adult, and older adult development along with the psychology of at-risk children. Other courses might address psycho-biology and psycho-pathology.
By comparison, a PhD in Educational Psychology may help candidates grasp some of the key psychological theories that affect learning. Through their courses and research, PhD students might study how to apply these theories to teaching learners across their lifespan. They may also research topics such as student cognition, motivation, and development.
PhD in Emergency Management programs address the study of how to prepare for disasters and minimize their impact. Candidates might develop their ability to lead, manage, and motivate others amid emergencies. Coursework could delve into strategy, finance, and organizational change as well as both quantitative and qualitative reasoning and analysis.
Students who pursue their PhD in Gerontology may research and examine aging from a psychological point of view. Coursework is likely to cover mental health issues, elder care, death, and dying. These topics may help students grasp the emotional and physical challenges of the older adult. Class work also covers techniques that may be applied to enrich an older person’s life.
PhD in Human Services programs may address the underserved populations and their needs. Some programs may take an in-depth look at how to create sustainable change through social policy analysis and planning. Candidates could learn the strategies used to shape and implement public policy as well as how to potentially impact the legislation that governs society, such as legislation related to healthcare, hate crimes, and the environment. As a result, students may use their dissertation to focus on how to shape social policy around a specific issue.
PhD in Neuroscience students may have a wide array of research interests within neuroscience. These could range from molecular to cellular to behavioral neuroscience. Coursework could be interdisciplinary.
Some courses might address topics such as neuroanatomy, communication, and ethics along with techniques. Students may also have for-credit laboratory rotation requirements and the opportunity to tailor their PhD through electives.
PhD in Nonprofit Management programs could examine both the social impact that nonprofit organizations (NPOs) have as well as the contexts within which they exist. In their courses, students could learn about board governance and volunteer management, in addition to ways to apply marketing, public relations, and communication concepts and strategies to case studies and real-time scenarios. With their practical insight, students may apply what they learn in class to their research paper.
Doctorate Psychology programs explore the study of the human brain and behaviors. Students at this level may have several options for degree paths and fields of study, whether this means an applied, clinically focused Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), or a research-oriented PhD in Psychology. Also know that there are other options.
Some of these might include the Doctor of Education (EdD) in Sport and Performance Psychology and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Industrial Organizational Psychology. You can also explore specific fields such as Applied Behavior Analysis, Clinical Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Human Sexuality, and other areas.
Doctorate Public Administration programs could explore various aspects of corporate responsibility and organizational behavior. At this level, there are several degree options.
The Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) is the terminal degree in public administration. It often tackles public policy analysis, theories of leadership, ethics, and social responsibility. By contrast, students in a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management program could learn how to conduct scientific research on real-world problems in public policy and management in today’s complex environment. Areas of research might include crime and drug policy, energy and environment policy, health policy, and more.
You can look at either a PhD in Business Administration or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with a focus in areas such as public administration, nonprofit management, or interdisciplinary policy. Make sure to carefully read about coursework to choose the best degree path for your unique needs.
Doctorate Public Health Programs could explore topics such as public health policy, health education, epidemiology, international health, and occupational safety.
Two of the main types of doctoral degrees in public health are the Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) and the PhD in Public Health. DrPH degree candidates might analyze and apply research to design and implement public health strategies. PhD in Public Health candidates may research issues in disease and injury prevention; health informatics; communication, marketing, and public relations in the public health field.
Doctorate degrees in Social Work explore a field of study that may blend courses from counseling psychology, rehabilitation, advocacy, diversity, and public policy. Two of the main degrees at this level are the Doctor of Social Work and the PhD in Social Work.
The DSW is an advanced degree for practitioners. Doctor of Social Work students may develop leadership skills as well as refine their clinical abilities. PhD in Social Work students might choose to explore an area of their field in more depth. This could be a focus on an area such as social work administration, addictions, or family interventions.
PhD in Sociology programs focus on the study of human society and social behavior in various aspects. Some of the courses that students take are likely to cover statistics, graduate research methods, and sociological theory.
Many Doctorate Public Affairs and Social Sciences Programs are available at regionally accredited universities. These are institutions that tend to meet or exceed standards for financial stability, quality of faculty, student services, and curriculum.
On another level, individual programs may be approved by professional accreditors specific to that field. For instance, the American Psychological Association (APA) accredits some doctoral graduate programs in clinical, counseling, and school psychology. If your field of study is regulated by state boards, program approval may be a feature you might want to factor into what program you choose.
You can explore Doctorate Public Affairs and Social Sciences Programs in the online, campus, and hybrid formats. They won’t all be available in all three formats all the time, but you should reflect on how you learn best.
Online programs can be completely web-based and self-paced. Those that are not entirely online are called hybrid. Hybrid programs mix some independent study with low residency sessions. Purely residential, on-campus programs are interactive and courses may be designed with adult learner’s schedule in mind.
You can specify the format to personalize your search results. Moreover, look for PhD programs in a specific city, state, or country.
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