Ph.D. in Public Affairs

Ph.D. Admissions

The Woodrow Wilson School’s Ph.D. in Public Affairs program is interdisciplinary in its approach. Ph.D. candidates undertake in-depth study of policy issues in conjunction with appropriate departments of the University.

The goal is to admit and enroll an incoming class of six students, each of whom brings distinctive qualities based on academic strengths, life and work experiences and commitment to excellence in research.

The program includes two academic clusters:

Security Studies

This cluster is designed to prepare Ph.D. students for rigorous, policy-relevant research of the major threats to international and national security in the 21st century and the relevant forces that will confront those threats.

Topics of study will include:

  • terrorism
  • proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • rapid shifts in regional and global distributions of capabilities
  • insurgency, civil war and regional political instability
  • military force composition and capability
  • civil-military relations
  • new innovations in military technologies

The cluster will combine 1) social science training in international security politics and national defense policy; 2) focused study of specific regions of the world; and 3) exploration of the technical and scientific aspects of proliferation, weapons innovations, terrorist and counter-terrorist operations, and insurgency and counterinsurgency warfare.

Science, Technology and Environmental Policy (STEP)

This cluster focuses on applications of natural and social science methodology in the policy arena. Emphasis also is placed on the interactions among natural and social science in policy analysis.

A curriculum in STEP helps practitioners develop a deeper understanding of:

  • the nature of scientific and technological problems and opportunities;
  • the specialized methods used for analyzing scientific and technological issues; and
  • the dynamics of science and technology development and application.