PhD Program
Public Policy

The PhD in Public Policy, housed in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, is designed for individuals seeking interdisciplinary, policy-relevant careers in academia or other high-level professional settings such as research institutes, government agencies, nonprofit organizations,and private sector firms.  The program equips students with the theoretical and analytical skills to solve problems of pressing concern, in policy domains such as sustainability and resilience, health care, transportation, housing, and community development.

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The program is small, admission is selective, and all students are full-time.  All students admitted are given the financial support to enable them to focus on their studies and research – up to five yeas with sufficient progress.

Students in the Public Policy PhD program take core courses on policy theory, quantitative and qualitative methodology, and research design.  They then specialize in one of three concentrations: Sustainability and Resilience, Urban and Regional Policy, and Health Care Policy and Management.  Students work with faculty advisors to tailor a pan of study within their field of concentration from graduate courses offered by the various schools and colleges throughout Northeastern University.


  • Bi-weekly “brown bag” lunches with faculty and invited guests on selected theoretical and policy issues.
  • Teaching and research assistantships designed to sharpen student pedagogical and analytical skills.
  • A summer research residency aligned with a student’s concentration area with Boston-area public, private, and nonprofit organizations.

Students engage in a number of different experiential activities:

  • Field Work — Our doctoral students gain real-world experience conducting field work and working with faculty on cutting-edge research.
  • In-Class Case Studies — Professors integrate case studies, small group exercises, and applied projects into the classroom to add a real-world perspective to the coursework.

Our graduates pursue careers in academia and in a range of public, nonprofit, and private sector institutions:

  • Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth (MassINC)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association
  • United States Coast Guard Academy
  • CMC Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • San Jose State University
  • Partners Healthcare
  • Department of Planning, City of Newton


Application Materials

  • Application
  • Application fee – US $100
  • Personal statement
  • Unofficial transcripts from all institutions attended
  • English proficiency for international applicants
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) – Optional
  • Resumé


Admissions deadline for Fall term entry: December 1

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