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Public Policy, PhD

Due to concerns over COVID-19, UMass Boston is currently operating online only. Many answers about the campus's response to the coronavirus can be found in our special coronavirus web section.
At this time, applications for all graduate programs and courses are being accepted as usual. If in-person activities need to be adapted to remote learning, you will be notified. We encourage you to Request Info for email notifications as the situation evolves.


UMass Boston's Public Policy PhD program starts with a commitment to social equity. Our students conduct interdisciplinary research and examine policy issues related to economic development, education, immigration, health care, housing and urban affairs, nonprofit organizations, and racial justice. 

Small classes promote the personal and intellectual growth of each cohort member. The student-faculty ratio is often less than 10:1. Graduate assistantships cover full tuition and partial fee and health insurance charges for the first three years of study. Research opportunities available in our McCormack Graduate School centers and institutes provide students with hands-on research experience.

Public Policy Learning Outcomes

1. Attain scientific literacy in public policy theory and methods.

Display scientific literacy, which includes understanding the scientific method, quantitative and qualitative research methods, the ability to evaluate scientific literature and critically apply theories, methodologies, and knowledge to address fundamental questions in public policy.

2. Demonstrate theoretical knowledge in the interdisciplinary field of public policy.

Understand the history of theoretical knowledge in public policy and social sciences more broadly, and identify how these conceptual developments reflect broader changes in political, social, economic, and cultural values over time.

3. Plan and execute a dissertation project advised by a faculty committee.

Demonstrate the ability to synthesize and apply scientific knowledge to create a plan of inquiry, develop new conceptual models and/or research hypotheses. Graduates will justify new questions based on existing literature, select appropriate methodologies to analyze a public policy issue, and indicate potential contributions and informed evidence-based recommendations to make or change policies and processes as a result of research through an original individual research project.

4. Acquire professional skills to communicate research ideas and policy arguments.

Acquire professional skills in the production of their own ideas. Graduates will exhibit skills in professional communication appropriate to public policy including writing, in a clear, concise, and convincing manner to a variety of audiences, including academic scholars, public policy professionals, legal actors, and the general public, publishing and presenting research at conferences in their field, and through teaching, in both formal and informal venues which may include students, practitioners, and community members.

5. Understand and practice scientific ethics and values.

Respect the principles of scientific ethics and the values of diversity and social justice in public policy research, teaching, and service.