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.  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.