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Joint PhD Programs FAQ

Should I apply to Public Policy or to the Disciplinary Department as my home department?

You should apply to the disciplinary department if you are looking for a mentorship model with a focus on empirical research, but you expect that your research would benefit from learning more about policy.  If you see your ideal career involving an appointment in a disciplinary department you should apply through the department. If you are primarily interested in policy, but believe Psychology or Sociology would strengthen your policy analyses, then you should apply through Public Policy. In general if you are equally interested in a career where your ideal job could be in a disciplinary department or at a think tank, governmental organization of an interdisciplinary program, especially a public policy school, then you should apply through Public Policy.

What happens if I matriculate in the joint program but decide I do not want to pursue the joint degree?  

In general, if you are a student in good standing you will be able to switch to the regular Ph.D. program of your home department. If you decide that you want to switch out of the joint degree program and change your home department then you will need to go through the formal application process to be admitted to that department.

Is it possible to be admitted to a Disciplinary Department but not the Joint program?

Absolutely! Many excellent students may fit with a mentor in Psychology & Neuroscience or Sociology but have no specific commitment to Public Policy or to Public Policy research. The target student’s research interests fall at the intersection of a discipline and Public Policy; the program is not intended to simply increase course-work. Furthermore, some student research programs may be difficult to combine with an additional program.

Can students now in Psychology & Neuroscience, Sociology or Public Policy transfer into the joint program?

Yes! We realize that existing students may be interested in this new joint program. Due to the increased course load, successful transfers will most likely be in the first three years of graduate school.  Successful transfers will have a documented interest in Public Policy (e.g., past coursework, research questions at the intersection with Public Policy, etc).  Transferring requires approval by your primary mentor, the Disciplinary Department DGS, and the Public Policy DGS. 

How would being in the Joint Program affect my funding?  

The joint program has no impact on funding. If admitted to the Joint Program, your funding will be the same as other students in your home department.  You will also be subject to the same work requirements as other students in your home department. This includes any TA responsibilities that your home department has.

How would being in the Joint Program affect my course requirements? 

The joint program does increase course requirements.  Joint students will discuss with their advisors how best to fulfil the requirements of the disciplinary department, their specific training area within the discipline, and the Joint Program. Departments and Public Policy allow students to substitute some requirements of one program for the other. For example, it is common that there are methods courses in either the disciplinary department or Public Policy will count for both programs.

What might I expect as a first year in the Joint Program?  

As a first year in the joint program, you will still have the same research expectations as other first year students in the disciplinary department. You will have a public policy mentor in addition to your mentor in the disciplinary department, and you will be encouraged to attend public policy talks in addition to talks in your chosen discipline.  In general, you will take all or most of the first year coursework of the disciplinary department and will take the following:

  •  PubPol 901 (Political economy of public policy)
  • PubPol 902 (Social Choice and the Political Economy of Public Policy)