PPOL PhD student sitting on outside steps
PhD Candidate Perspective

I've joined two research labs at HKS: Jennifer Lerner's and Julia Minson's. The brainstorming, feedback and mutual pursuit of important research that comes from working in the labs is truly fulfilling.

Brad DeWees PPOL PhD Candidate

As a PhD in Public Policy (PPOL) student, you will register full time, which is the equivalent of four courses each semester. You must complete 16 courses to receive your degree—these include courses in the core requirements and in a primary and secondary field of interest. Most of our students focus their primary or secondary field in our special fields of interest. At least 11 of your total courses must be at the doctoral level, with a minimum of five taught at Harvard Kennedy School.

The PPOL curriculum requires you to complete core requirements and an oral general examination as well as participate in PhD research seminars. All your public policy coursework and qualifying exams are completed within the first two years.

By the end of your third year, you submit and defend a dissertation prospectus. After that, you research, write and prepare to defend that dissertation. Typically, you should complete your dissertation research and writing within three years after your oral general examination.

Students usually complete their degree requirements within five years and are awarded their degrees after they submit and successfully defend their dissertations.