Our Vision:

To empower collaborative and innovative leadership and research to address evolving policy challenges.

Our Mission:

The SPP Graduate Program faculty and students engage in innovative research, on all aspects of public policy, that supports ethical and equitable policy decisions at all levels of government, from the local to the global.


Oregon State University offers the Ph.D. in Public Policy to full-time resident graduate students interested in the study and practice of policy. Graduates of the Ph.D. in Public Policy program will have the capacity to shape the future direction of public policy, participate in original public policy research and analysis, and train the next generation of teachers and researchers for programs in public policy and related social sciences. Program graduates also will be qualified to be leaders in the public and non-governmental sectors.

To successfully complete the program, students entering with an MPP degree (or equivalent) will be expected to take courses, pass exams, and complete a dissertation, as follows:

  • Coursework will include an established core of research methods and theory, courses in an area of concentration, and elective courses. Most students will complete coursework by the end of year two.
  • Students must complete a written preliminary exam (covering theory, methods, and the student's substantive concentration area) and an oral preliminary exam. These exams will be developed and assessed by the student's dissertation committee. Most students will complete the preliminary exams by the end of year two. The student will become a doctoral candidate upon completion of required course credits and the preliminary exams.
  • Students will write a dissertation proposal to be defended in front of their committee. After successfully defending the dissertation proposal, the student will research and write a doctoral dissertation, which will be submitted for oral defense in front of the student's committee. With all other degree requirements fulfilled, the student will be awarded the Ph.D. upon successful defense and submission of the dissertation. Most students will complete this requirement by the end of year four.
  • Students will also fulfill a teaching requirement, which can include classroom instruction or related activities.
Learning Outcomes:

Through successful completion of the Public Policy Ph.D. program, students will graduate with:

  • Learning outcome 1: The ability to conduct original policy research that extends the knowledge of both policy and other social science disciplines.  This will be demonstrated through mastery and application of critical thinking, and application of standard and innovative policy theory and methods in both coursework and an individual research project [equivalent to Graduate School Learning Outcome: “Conduct research or produce some other form of creative work”].       
  • Learning outcome 2: Substantive knowledge in an area of concentration that allows for immediate immersion in a relevant policy arena.  This will be accomplished through coursework, independent study, and a professional practicum [equivalent to Graduate School Learning Outcome: “Demonstrate mastery of subject material”].       
  • Learning outcome 3: Experience in the practice of policy analysis, development, and implementation through an appropriate professional practicum.  This will be demonstrated through the completion of a professional placement that includes a mentoring relationship with a current practitioner.
  • Learning outcome 4:  A commitment to diversity “because it enhances our education and provides tools to be culturally respectful, professionally competent, and civically responsible” (OSU Mission Statement).  This will occur through participation and training in courses and seminars throughout the entire program.
  • Learning outcome 5: Skills and experience in designing and teaching in both formal and informal venues with students, practitioners, and community members.  This will be demonstrated through university teaching assignments, development and implementation of community outreach/training programs and professional development seminars, and presentations at professional conferences.
  • Learning outcome 6:  High ethical standards in public policy research, teaching, and service.  This will be accomplished through participation and training in research methods courses, professional development seminars, and core courses in public policy and administration [equivalent to Graduate School Learning Outcome: “Conduct scholarly or professional activities in an ethical manner”].
  • Learning outcome 7: The development of a public service ethic resulting in student understanding of the significance of working collectively, in collaboration with the public and prioritizing the desires of citizens, communities, and society at large. This outcome will be achieved through coursework and service learning projects that involve public partners in mutually beneficial, community-driven efforts.


PhD Assessment Plan