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The doctoral degree in public policy and administration offered by the University of Kentucky through the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration is an academic credential of the highest order. Since 1988, the Martin School has offered a doctoral degree in public administration (now public policy and administration) to prepare scholars and leaders for distinguished careers in public service. Our Ph.D. program was ranked #4 by the National Research Council. 

The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare graduates to carry out sophisticated research at the frontier of public policy and administration theory. It provides knowledge of the principle core features of organizational behavior and administrative decision making in public and quasi-public organizations; the development of public budgets and management of public finances; an understanding of the critical aspects of public policy processes, including the interrelationships of economic, political and social factors that facilitate and constrain change. Our graduates have an ability to apply research and analytical methods to the analysis of policy and administrative problems, and an in-depth understanding of policy issues and analytical approaches in a functional public affairs area.

Preparation and Curriculum

Many incoming students hold a master's degree in public policy, public administration, political science, economics, agricultural economics, or business administration. All students are also expected to have a strong background in research methodologies. Students who have not had adequate preparation in specific courses may be required to enroll in pre-requisite courses prior to entering certain Ph.D. classes. Details about these requirements will be provided by the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. David Agrawal

Course work toward the Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration is divided into four phases with a total requirement of 42 hours of graduate course work beyond the master's level as well as the completion and successful defense of a dissertation of original research. Course work includes 12 credit hours of core courses, 9 hours of research methods, 3 hours of economics, 3 additional hours of theory, and 15 hours in the area of concentration.

Core Curriculum (12 hours)

  • PA 731: Fiscal/Budgetary Policy
  • PA 742: Theory of Public Organizations
  • PA 751: Public Policy Formulation and Implementation
  • PA 752: Economics of Policy Analysis

Research Methods (9 hours)

  • ECO 703 Introduction to Econometrics 
  • PA 692 Econometrics for Policy Analysts 
  • PA 792 Causal Inference

Theory (3 hours)

  • AEC 503 Price Theory and Applications

Area of Concentration (15 hours)

  • Public Financial Management
  • Public Management
  • Public Policy
  • Education Policy

Current students

Doctoral Placements

We are incredibly proud of the achievements of our graduates. 


PhD Application Requirements

*The GRE is no longer required for admission

  1. Transcripts (unofficial are accepted for the application; official transcripts are required before matriculation)
  2. Three letters of recommendation
  3. Personal statement
    1. Please also indicate if you have previously applied to the Martin School?  If so, when? 
    2. How many years of paid public or non-profit experience have you had?
    3. Do you have support from any of the following programs: The Fulbright Foundation, and/or Government Support (Provide specific information).
    4. Please explain why you want to earn this degree at the Martin School and what your research interests are.
  4. CV or resume
  5. Writing sample
    1. ​Please upload a sample of academic or professional work.

NOTE: we do not offer application fee waivers


Important Dates

February 15: Martin School application deadline to be considered for funding You can apply here

April 15: Graduate School deadline for international applications for fall semester

One month prior to classes starting (fall): Deadline for domestic students to apply


Advising Do I need to select an advisor prior to applying?

No.  However, if you know who you want to work with, please indicate that in your personal statement. The Martin School does its best to pair students with advisors who match their research interests. 

Meet our Researchers and discover who might work best for you.

Funding What about funding for the PhD program?

All PhD students will be considered for funding, but admission is highly competitive and selective via committee.  You do not have to apply separately for PhD funding. If you make satisfactory progress in the program, you can receive funding for four years.

International students TOEFL/IELTS

  • International applicants with a degree in English-based instruction should send proof of this from the school directly to the Graduate School admissions officer
  • International applicants with a domestic U.S. master's degree do not have to submit TOEFL/IELTS scores
  • All others must submit official TOEFL (79 minimum) or IELTS (6.5 minimum) in your application

Current students

Contact Graduate Student Affairs

Director of Graduate Studies, PhD

David Agrawal

Dr. David Agrawal Director of Graduate Studies, PhD,

Linked Department (or Location)
Meet Dr. David Agrawal
Location Detail
433 Patterson Office Tower

Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Suzy Wampler, Staff

Suzy Wampler Student Affairs Officer

Linked Department (or Location)
Meet Suzy Wampler
Location Detail
407 Patterson Office Tower