Law and Public Policy PhD

The PhD program in Law and Public Policy is geared towards those few individuals who have the passion and willingness to dig deep as they seek the truth in their field of policy interest; who want to master the skills necessary to analyze and formulate policy and to advance knowledge at the top of their fields; and who have the determination to devote the time and energy needed to successfully complete a rigorous doctoral program.

This is an interdisciplinary social science program, which combines several social science and legal theoretical perspectives with both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. The wide-ranging faculty in the Policy School can support students’ research and dissertations in many fields – urban policy and regional economic development, sustainability and climate change, health policy, crime, social justice and inequality, and the intersection of law and policy. Students work with faculty members to formulate a plan of study within their field of concentration by choosing courses from graduate programs offered in the Policy School, the College of Social Sciences and Humanities, and in other colleges and schools at Northeastern University. Students also study a common body of knowledge developed in core courses on policy, research methods, and law. The School’s research centers and faculty members’ research projects provide opportunities for students to develop insight, experience, and synergies to help with their own research goals. The College and School provide a high level of support allowing all students to be devoted full-time to their studies and research.


Degree Requirements

The PhD program is open to well-qualified applicants who hold a master’s degree or a professional degree such as a JD, MBA, or MPA, and a few well-qualified students with only a bachelor’s degree. Students with master’s level or professional degrees take 36 hours of coursework; those with a bachelor’s degree take 42 semester hours of coursework. Students are expected to complete all coursework within three years, and must then pass a comprehensive examination. They then become PhD candidates and are expected to complete a dissertation within five years.

The PhD Core

Five core courses are required of all PhD students. These courses provide the common theoretical and methodological basis for the program’s curriculum. It provides a solid “jumping off” point from which the students can further develop the theory and methods needed for their dissertations.

Beyond the Core

Elective courses, which are tailored to the student’s individual study and research plan, further expand upon theoretical and methodological aspects while at the same time broadening the scope of the student’s skills and knowledge, and giving the student the opportunity to work with faculty in a specific area of interest. After fulfilling their credit requirements, students prepare for and take the comprehensive exam. Upon successful completion of the exam, students become PhD candidates, form dissertation committees, and develop dissertation proposals. Once proposals are approved, students then complete and defend their dissertations. The dissertation process normally spans two or three years, but should not take more than five years.

Law and Public Policy PhD Degree Requirements
Semester Hours
Core Courses (Required, 16 Semester Hours)
LPSC 7305 Research and Statistical Methods OR

POLS 7202 Quantitative Techniques
3 SH
LPSC 7308 Law and Legal Reasoning
3 SH
LPSC 7310 Research Design and Analysis OR

PPUA 6205 Research Design and Methodology in Urban and Regional Policy
3 SH
LPSC 7311 Strategizing Public Policy
3 SH
ECON 7270 Economics of Law and Regulation
4 SH
Open Electives (20 Semester Hours)—Approved by Program Director
View course descriptions through the Course Catalog

Additional information:

Information is accurate as of Spring 2015. Requirements and policies are subject to change. For up-to-date information, contact Jennifer Mocarski or view the official graduate catalogue for a full listing of graduate level courses.