Executive PhD Programs for Public Policy in California

Jul 20, 2019

There are four schools in California offering Ph.D. programs in public policy. Read about degree options, program requirements and tuition to make an informed education decision.

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Essential Information

The doctoral programs in public policy that are available in California are designed to prepare students for careers in teaching or university research, as well as governance or organizational policy analysis. Ph.D. programs require completion of a dissertation or fellowship, and some programs offer partial or full funding to students. While many universities in the state offer master's degree programs, two members of the University of California system offer programs leading to a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree. Programs at two private, not-for-profit schools are also profiled below.

Pardee RAND Graduate School

A private institution located in the city of Santa Monica, Pardee RAND Graduate School is the creation of the RAND Corporation, an independent, non-profit corporation promoting research and development for scientific, charitable and educational purposes.

The graduate school offers only one program: the Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis. Program courses include topics such as econometrics, psychometrics, organizational culture and social policy case studies. Students may add an analytical concentration in social and behavioral sciences, economics or quantitative methods to their studies. They also choose a policy specialization from areas such as labor, health, civil justice or economic development. All students are awarded a fellowship for participating in research and on-the-job training as a policy analyst. Pardee RAND also offers week-long executive programs leading to a certificate of completion, each focusing on a single topic in public policy analysis.

University of California - Berkeley

The city of Berkeley is home to the flagship campus of the University of California system. The Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy at U.C. Berkeley offers a Ph.D. in Public Policy. Admission to the program is very selective, and only two or three individuals are admitted each year. The school prefers applicants who have completed a master's degree in public policy.

Individuals take coursework covering decision analysis, public leadership, policy design, public budgeting and energy. Students also choose from a variety of elective courses, choosing from areas such as the policy relationship between the environment and technology or urban economic development. Students participate in a Ph.D. seminar in which they discuss their dissertation research.

University of California - Irvine

Irvine's University of California campus was founded as a public research university in 1965. The School of Social Ecology offers several graduate degree programs, including the Ph.D. in Planning, Policy and Design. Required courses include data analysis and qualitative research methods. Students can design their own area of specialization or choose one from the four areas of design-behavior research, urban and community development, environmental policy or health promotion and policy.

University of Southern California

The Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles offers a Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management. Areas of study include civic engagement, homeland security, economic development and social policy. After completing prerequisite coursework in statistics, policy analysis and public administration, students go on to take program coursework in topics such as econometric methods and multivariate statistics. Doctoral candidates may participate in one of the Price School's variety of research centers and initiatives, including the Civic Engagement Initiative, the Center for Sustainable Cities and the Population Dynamics Group. Students are fully funded throughout the program.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Public Policy Ph.D. Programs Offered 2018-2019 Graduate Tuition & Fees
Pardee RAND Graduate School 4-year, private not-for-profit; small city Ph.D. in Public Policy Analysis $14,664*
University of California - Berkeley 4-year, public; midsize city Ph.D. in Public Policy $11,442 in-state tuition,
$26,544 out-of-state tuition*
University of California - Irvine 4-year, public; midsize city Ph.D. in Planning, Policy and Design $11,442 in-state tuition,
$26,544 out-of-state tuition*
University of Southern California 4-year, private not-for-profit; large city Ph.D. in Public Policy and Management $44,712*

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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