George Mason University 1997-98 Catalog Catalog Index
Course Descriptions

Search the 1997-1998 Catalog:

Public Policy


Addleson, Bloch, Bowen, Buchanan, Clements, Conlan, Connelly, Dede, Dietz, Dinan, Finkelstein, Friesz, Fukuyama, Fuller, Gifford, Guagnano, Gulledge, Haynes, Heclo, High, Hill, Gary Johnson, George Johnson, Kafatos, Kash, Lavine, Lavoie, Lipset, Mahler, Malawer, Perry, Pfiffner, Ratchford, Regan, Rodrigo, Scimecca, Sibley, Stough, Warfield, Wegman, White

Research Faculty

Anderson, Armor, Benson, Brown, Button, Cook, Crepeau, Davis, Doyle, Furger, Garreau, Hamilton, Hennessey, Hoban, Kulkarni, Melmed, Might, Paelinck, Rikhye, Robinson, Schintler, Sommer,Stadtler, Stern, Taramcilar, Van Buskirk

Graduate Program in Public Policy

Public Policy, Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in Public Policy program is distinctive in its heavy emphasis on the combined influence of technology, culture, and institutions on public policy. Participants in the program investigate the increasing tension between rapidly changing technological capabilities driven by science and engineering and the less fluid elements of culture and institutions. The program places great emphasis on original research focused on important problems and issues in public policy.

The Ph.D. program is organized around faculty research interests in technology-driven organizational change, including science and technology policy; evolutionary systems and economic policy; regional development policy; society, values, and policy; governance and public management policy; and organizational informatics. To investigate the policy issues associated with substantive policy areas, students develop in-depth understanding of American institutions, values, and culture; competence in research methods and advanced analytical methodologies; and a comparative, international perspective. At the time of admission, each student is assigned a faculty mentor who will assist in designing and developing the student's program.

The Institute of Public Policy, within which the Ph.D. in Public Policy program is housed, has the investigation of alternative approaches to policy as a primary interest. This interest results from a view that the rapid changes resulting from modern technology require modifications both in the substance of public policy and in the way public policy is made. A goal of the program is to contribute to conceptual developments that will allow policy modifications to occur while protecting the fundamental, pluralistic, democratic character of policy making in the United States.

Admission Requirements
The program is seeking students with exceptional potential for accumulating, sorting, analyzing, and communicating information and findings effectively. Public policy is inherently complex and value laden. In the end, high-quality policy analysis requires thoughtful and judicious management of complex and incommensurate information, both quantitative and qualitative. Thus, the program seeks students who can manage and integrate both kinds of information and produce convincing, well-organized, written syntheses. The ideal Ph.D. program applicant intends to be a full-time student and has demonstrated capabilities in research and writing, basic mathematical skills roughly equal to the first semester of calculus and a competence in statistics, some background in economics, and a theoretical and working knowledge of public policy processes. Applicants with strong records who are deficient in one or more of these areas may be admitted to the program and will receive assistance in making up deficiencies. Part-time study is also possible for those able to commit to a demanding program. Specific entrance requirements include the following:

  1. Master's degree from an accredited institution with a grade point average of 3.0 or better;

  2. Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) (verbal and quantitative sections) or the General Management Aptitude Test (GMAT);

  3. Two letters of recommendation from faculty at the prospective student's previous institutions or from persons acquainted with policy-relevant work;

  4. A two-page written statement of the student's interest in and goals for advanced public policy study;

  5. A resume or vita;

  6. A writing sample such as a technical report, professional publication, or term or seminar paper.

The application deadline for students desiring financial aid is April 1. The deadline for all other students for the fall semester is May 1 and November 1 for the spring semester.

Degree Requirements
Students are required to complete a minimum of 82 hours of course work, of which no more than 24 hours may be dissertation credits. Up to 30 semester hours from a prior master's degree may be applied toward the doctoral requirements at the discretion of the graduate program director. Credit is not given for comprehensive examinations passed at other universities.

Specific course work requirements for the doctorate include four core courses in research and analytic methods and three in foundational policy topics, three courses divided among two of the areas of program concentration (typically the first course in each of two areas and the second in one of them), and a three-course sequence in advanced methodology tailored to the student's research needs and interests. This sequence is determined in collaboration with the student's adviser and the graduate program director and typically draws widely from courses offered throughout the university as well as in the program.

At the completion of the first academic year of full-time study, students must pass a qualifying examination that evaluates their mastery of the first year's material and their ability to integrate that material in addressing important and complex public policy problems and issues. The program also requires that students pass a field examination structured around their specific field of proposed doctoral research, typically in the second or third year of study. Other requirements include the successful preparation and defense of both a doctoral research proposal and the ensuing dissertation.

Degree Programs
The institute of Public Policy offers master's degrees in the following areas:

Special Programs
TIPP sponsors a variety of specialized seminars and short courses throughout the year, including an annual program on the Future of the Northern Virginia Economy. In preparation is a new series of specialized flexible courses in science, trade, and technology policy.

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