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PhD in Public Policy and Administration

PhD program Director

PhD Administrative Assistant
Silvia Acquati 


The PhD in Public Policy & Administration is a 4-year PhD program completely taught in English, which started in the academic year 2014-15.  The program is designed for highly qualified and motivated students who wish to acquire knowledge of the constantly evolving frameworks used to understand the dynamics of public policies, as well as cutting edge research skills used to evaluate both public policies and the social dynamics that are implicated in them.  A key feature of the program is the combination of multi-disciplinary training in both theory and methods and an evidence-based approach.  A core theme of the program is the implications of globalization and the need for an international comparative perspective for understanding policy formation, implementation, and outcomes.  The program strives for maximum social relevance and emphasizes major and minor specialisations that are highly appreciated for both academic and non-academic employment (e.g., NGOs, governmental agencies, the EU, UN departments, think tanks and public policy consultancies).  Successful graduates will be uniquely qualified for high-level policy analysis in sub-national, national, and international organizations.

The program is organized around advanced study in two of four fields: economic and political institutions, health, social dynamics, and public administration. 

The economic and political institutions field is designed for students interested in the impacts of politics on economics processes and outcomes and the complementary effects of economics on political processes.  The program isparticularly oriented to those interested in political and economic dynamics on a global scale and the importance of the international arena for policy development and implementation.

The health field is designed for students interested in the complex interplay of social and political processes in shaping population health across the entire age-span.  Particular emphasis is placed on the intersection of epidemiology, health management services, and health economics as the necessary lenses for understanding population health.  Issues of global health are a particular focus of the program.

The social dynamics field is ‘discipline-plus’ in its orientation with the objective of providing a solid disciplinary foundation in sociology and demography with an orientation to the key social issues of our generation.  Here, special attention focuses on issues of work and education and opportunity, economic viability, family change, and immigration, and assessment of the institutional contexts that provide both challenges and opportunities for policies to enhance life chances.

The public administration field emphasizes the organization and inter-relations among public management organization and how these influence the delivery and efficacy of public policies.  This field provides students with an opportunity to shape the direction of public policy research on issues such as the environment, international economics, science and technology, security, regulation, and development. 

In the first year, students will acquire or hone basic skills in mathematics and statistics and complete applied course work in research methods, policy sciences, and the social sciences.  In the second year, students choose a major and a minor field among economic and political institutions, health, social dynamics, and public administration.  The third and four years are dedicated to research and include participation in a research workshop, participation in a field specific reading group, and attendance of department seminars with internationally known researchers.  In the third and fourth years, students will have opportunities for international exchange with many of the elite universities to which the department faculty are connected.

The program is open to Master’s level graduates in the social and management sciences (e.g., economics, political science, management and sociology), but also accepts applicants with other backgrounds (e.g., engineering, life sciences, philosophy) as long as students have demonstrated abilities for successful completion of the program.

Last modified 31/08/2015 - 16:47:43