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Law and Public Policy PhD

To read about proposed changes to the PhD program for Fall 2018, click here.

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. Current and prospective students should refer to the 2017-2018 Graduate Catalog for a description of the PhD in Law and Public Policy curriculum.


Program Outcomes

  • The ability to gain deep knowledge in a field, to add to that knowledge through original research, and to be able to publish that knowledge in academic outlets.
  • Proof of knowledge in core theory and methods of policy analysis through a comprehensive exam requirement.
  • Experience in teaching.
  •  With the guidance of faculty mentors, develop a research proposal, perform the research, and produce a publishable dissertation on the research.


Additional information:

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.