University of Minnesota
HHH
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The Humphrey School of Public Affairs is the University of
Minnesota's school of policy and planning.


PhD in Public Affairs – Curriculum

The curriculum of the doctorate of philosophy (PhD) in Public Affairs is customized based on educational background of the student, the student’s research interests, and the student’s academic sub-plan.

Students who enter the program with only a bachelor’s degree must complete, prior to completion of the PhD, one of these four master’s degrees:

  • Master of Public Policy (MPP)
  • Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP)
  • Master of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (MS-STEP)
  • Master of Development Practice (MDP)

Curriculum Requirements

For students who already hold a master’s degree, the curriculum requires a minimum of 36 credit hours, including 24 hours of thesis credit. For students with only a bachelor’s degree, the curriculum requires a minimum of 63 credit hours, including 24 hours of thesis credit.

Requirements include a two-semester Integrative Seminar (total of six credits), a Research Seminar (three credits), methods courses appropriate to the dissertation research (12 credits), up to 18 sub-plan credits, and 24 thesis credits. Requirements are summarized here, including the maximum credits that may be waived based on previous academic training.

Curriculum for the PhD in Public Affairs
Required Coursework Credits Credit Waiver Maximum Minimum Post-Masters
PA 8003 Integrative Seminar 6 0 6
Methods (must include courses in research design, quantitative methods, and qualitative methods). 12 9 3
PA 8005 Research Seminar 3 0 3
Sub-Plan Requirements 18 18 0
Subtotal (excluding thesis) 39 27 12
Thesis 24 0 24
Total 63 27 36

Sub-Plan Requirements

Students choose one of four academic sub-plans, whose requirements are described below.

Public Policy
A self-designed set of topic-based courses determined by the student and advisor with the consent of the other faculty in the sub-plan area.

Urban and Regional Planning
PA 8206 — Planning Theory (3)
PA 5204 — Urban Spatial and Social Dynamics (3)
Four additional courses to be determined by student and advisor
Demonstrated proficiency in GIS

Public and Nonprofit Management
PA 8106 — Research Seminar in Leadership and Management (3)
PA 5012 — Politics of Public Affairs (3)
Four additional courses to be determined by student and advisor

Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy (STEP)
PA 8706 — Science of Science Policy: Theory and Research Methods (3)
PA 5702 — Science Education (1 cr) or PA 5703 Science Communication (1)
PA 5704 — STEP Research Seminar (1)
PA 5711 — Science and Technology Policy (3)
Law — one course from approved list; e.g., renewable energy law, IP law, environmental law
Economics/Finance of Science and Technology — one course from approved list
Decision Science or Behavioral Science — one course from approved list
Technical Area — one course from approved list; e.g., renewable energy, nanotechnology, materials science, electrical engineering, biotechnology

Teaching Requirements

Each candidate must complete training in pedagogy and a teaching experience as a course instructor or teaching assistant (TA) with instructional responsibilities. The pedagogical training may take place prior to or concurrent with the teaching experience. Training options may include for-credit courses in the Preparing Future Faculty program (e.g., GRAD 5102, 5105, 8101, 8102, and 8200); completion of Center for Teaching and Learning non-credit courses on teaching techniques; and informal training or courses offered in other units at the University.

Preliminary Examinations

Each candidate must take and pass a preliminary examination. The requirements of the preliminary examination vary by academic sub-plan. Doctoral students must have an approved degree plan on file prior to taking the preliminary oral exam.

Public Policy
  • Preparation of a research proposal on a topic related to the student’s dissertation
  • Completion of a preliminary oral exam consisting of a seminar-like presentation of proposed dissertation research
  • Submission of a peer-reviewable paper
  • Preparation of a preliminary examination dossier to include:
    • copies of transcripts and approved program of study
    • statement of areas of specialization
    • examples of scholarly work
    • dissertation prospectus
    • at least one publishable peer-reviewable article based on research to date
Urban and Regional Planning
  • Written examination that covers theory, method, and subfield content
  • Oral examination that may overlap with the written examination or cover additional topics
Public and Nonprofit Management and Urban and Regional Planning
  • Written examination that covers theory, method, and subfield content
  • Oral examination that may overlap with the written examination or cover additional topics
Science, Technology, and Enviornmental Policy
  • Preparation of a research proposal on a topic related to the student’s dissertation
  • Completion of a preliminary oral exam consisting of a seminar-like presentation of proposed dissertation research
  • Submission of a peer-reviewable paper
  • Preparation of a preliminary examination dossier to include:
    • copies of transcripts and approved program of study
    • statement of areas of specialization
    • examples of scholarly work
    • dissertation prospectus
    • at least one publishable peer-reviewable article based on research to date

Dissertation Requirement

Each candidate must complete original academic research and fulfill a dissertation requirement that includes:

  • Oral defense and approval of dissertation proposal, separate from the oral preliminary examination. The proposal defense will occur after completion of preliminary examination requirement.
  • Completion of one of the two following dissertation options:
    • An academic thesis
    • Three related academic papers that are judged by the student’s committee to be of publishable quality.

Progress

Students must meet the following criteria to remain in good standing.

  • Maintain continuous enrollment every semester (fall and spring) from the time of matriculation until degree conferral
  • Maintain a GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.000 scale) in both the cumulative GPA and in courses used to fulfill degree requirements
  • Complete requirements and have degree awarded within eight years
  • Complete coursework by the end of year 2 (if admitted with master’s degree) or year 3 (if admitted with bachelor’s degree)
  • Complete preliminary exams and have dissertation topic approved by end of year 3 (if admitted with master’s degree) or year 4 (if admitted with bachelor’s degree)
  • Begin dissertation work in year 4 (if admitted with master’s degree) or year 5 (if admitted with bachelor’s degree)

Assessment

Annual reviews – At the end of the first year of course work and each successive year through graduation, the student’s performance will be assessed by a committee of faculty, including the advisor.

Preliminary examination – Student must pass both a written and oral preliminary examination, as specified by each sub-plan.

Preliminary defense – Defense of dissertation proposal and acceptance of the proposal by the student’s committee.

Final defense – Final oral examination and acceptance of the dissertation by the student’s committee.

Inquiries?

For further information, send an email to hhhphd@umn.edu.


Humphrey School
University of Minnesota
280 Humphrey School
301 19th Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55455

612-624-3800
hhhphd@umn.edu