A flexible program for those with strong academic and professional success and a passion for research and policy in its many forms.
Ph.D. in Public Policy
Fostering next-level expertise through flexible, substantive research.
Applications paused for Fall 2022
Due to an unexpectedly large 2021 entering cohort and our desire to provide robust financial support to our doctoral students, the Ph.D. program will not be accepting applications for Fall 2022. We will begin reviewing applications for admission in September 2022 for students wishing to enter the program in Fall 2023. In the meantime, please reach out to one of our expert Graduate Admissions Coordinators to learn more about the LBJ School's degree programs.
The LBJ School's Ph.D. program has been in place since 1992 and has approximately 35 doctoral students working at various stages of the degree program. Its flexible curriculum allows students to develop in areas of special interest, both intellectually and professionally, and earn their degrees in just four years. They receive close, personalized mentoring from our expert faculty members, and many of our students publish with those faculty and present papers at major conferences and meetings. This, along with unparalleled access to one of the top public research universities, allows students to enter their chosen arenas with a strong foundation of theory and practice.
In addition to our excellent faculty members, all of whom are closely engaged in teaching and research, the LBJ School offers connections to several major research centers in the school with foci ranging from health and social policy, philanthropy and nonprofit management to international security and politics.
Our doctoral students have access to an extensive network of alumni and connections throughout the U.S. and abroad. Our Ph.D. graduates have developed successful careers in academia, think tanks, international organizations, nonprofits, private consulting, policy research institutions and state and federal government.
Sample Core Program Curriculum
In addition to core courses, doctoral students are expected to successfully complete a number of additional graduate-level courses (selected from the vast menu of courses at UT Austin and approved by their faculty advisers) relevant to their research area.
Part one of a year-long sequence, this course is designed to serve as a foundation for understanding the broad theories that have influenced the policy sciences and academic policy research to prepare students to design and conduct their own research. This course is designed to provide an overview of major theories and problems in contemporary public policy from a variety of academic disciplines, as well as the search for a unique policy theory.
Part two of the Theory and Philosophy sequence focuses on extending the scope of part one to address public policy formulation and implementation in the political, economic, social and organizational contexts within which they occur. Course content includes philosophies, analytic frameworks, theories and models that illuminate how policy research contributes to policymaking.
Intended to be a rigorous course in empirical methods, students have the opportunity to gain essential skills for conducting doctoral-level research and beyond. Students are asked to pursue a research or policy question that relates directly to their individual research plan and apply statistical concepts and methodologies to the analysis of that policy issue.
This course in research design provides a structured framework through which students can build on and apply their methods training to produce a quality research paper in their field of study. The research paper developed in the course can, if the student wishes, contribute to or act as a base for the eventual dissertation proposal.
Doctoral students are required to participate in the weekly Faculty and Ph.D. Research Colloquium, an integral part of the program that brings faculty members, students and guests together to engage in a discussion of current policy research. Topics change weekly based on the interests of the students and faculty.