Requirements | Policy Area Focus | Discipline Concentrations


16 courses

Complete the equivalent of 16 courses (minimum), equaling 48 credits. (List below)

Core courses

Complete a set of core public policy course requirements:

  • Political Economy of Public Policy
  • Social Choice and the Political Economy of Policy Making
  • Microeconomics

Concentration and research methodology

Complete disciplinary concentration and research methodology requirements, including sub-field requirements, in one of the following areas:

  • Economics
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Sociology


Complete at least one course in each of above four disciplines (Economics, Political Science, Psychology and Sociology).

Weekly Seminar

Regularly attend and participate in a weekly seminar in which faculty present their research as models of the kind of interdisciplinary work relevant to public policy.

POlicy Area

Complete a course of study focusing on a particular policy area. (Course of study must be approved by the PhD Director of Graduate Studies.)

Research seminar

Complete a yearlong (two-course) research seminar leading to the dissertation proposal.


Attain dissertation status by the end of the third year. (Includes meeting qualifying requirements and passing the preliminary exam.)

Pass final exam.

  • The final examination consists of an oral defense of a dissertation to an approved supervisory committee.
  • This is typically completed by the end of the fifth year.

Required Courses

Political Economy of Public Policy (PUBPOL 901)
Social Choice and the Political Economy of Policy Making (PUBPOL 902)
Microeconomics 1
Microeconomics 2
Disciplinary concentration 1 – Research Methods
Disciplinary concentration 2 – Research Methods
Disciplinary concentration 3 – Subfield Elective
Disciplinary concentration 4 – Subfield Elective
Disciplinary concentration 5 – Subfield Elective
Policy area elective 1
Policy area elective 2
Policy area elective 3
Non-concentration social science 1
Non-concentration social science 2 (for disciplinary concentration of Economics) OR Elective (for disciplinary concentration of Political Science, Psychology or Sociology)
Dissertation proposal seminar 1
Dissertation proposal seminar 2

All students in the PhD program take a common set of public policy courses that reflect the interdisciplinary and applied nature of the degree.

Find out more information about the core courses.

More Opportunities

Sanford Seminars - Wednesdays, 11:45AM - 1PM

Presentation and discussion of current research projects (faculty and doctoral students)

Graduate Research Workshops - Select Fridays, 10:45AM- 11:45AM

A forum to present in-progress research and receive friendly, constructive comments.  


Gaining new skills

"Before coming to Duke, I was working for the Department of Education in New York City doing data analysis on the lowest performing schools in the city, trying to improve student outcomes and teacher success. I had never considered getting my PhD, but I wanted to learn more about research design and how to answer my own questions." - Adam Stanaland PhD'23 with advisor Anna Gassman-Pines

Adam is a postdoctoral research associate at New York University