Doctoral student Sora Park in front of the New York State Capitol Building.

Doctor of Philosophy

Public Administration and Policy

Program of Study


The core PhD curriculum covers the theoretical foundations of public administration and public policy, advanced research design, and professional development.

You will take additional coursework in public management, public policy, or public financial management, and also receive rigorous training in specialized methods tools such as econometrics, qualitative methods, spatial analysis, and network analysis. You are encouraged to take courses in other departments including economics, sociology, political science, psychology, and public health.

Core Courses

  • Field Seminar in Public Policy
  • Scholarly Foundations of Politics and Administration
  • Research Design
  • Advanced Quantitative Analysis
  • Scholarly Foundations of Public Administration


Fields of Concentration

Focus your studies by taking two advanced research tools appropriate to your planned research approach, and five or more courses in one of three fields of study:

Public Policy

Study public policy problems from an interdisciplinary perspective to support decision making on important applied public policy issues. You will develop an expertise in a policy area, and be trained to design and manage policy research projects in diverse academic, private, or government settings. Emphasis is placed on training in cutting-edge methods of causal inference and in theories of the policy process that can be applicable to a wide array of policy problems.

Public Financial Management

Study how public and nonprofit managers plan for, acquire, and manage financial resources. You will conduct research on a variety of topics such as state and local government budgeting and financial management, education finance, healthcare finance, and nonprofit financial management. Specific theories, concepts, and methods come primarily from the disciplines of economics, finance, accounting, and political science.

Public Management

Examine management challenges within public and nonprofit organizations, and the challenges and opportunities presented by politics, inter- and intra-governmental interactions, and multi-sector policy and program implementation. You will conduct theory-informed empirical research to build on interdisciplinary foundations from the fields of political science, sociology, psychology, economics, organization behavior and theory, and information sciences.

Professional Development

  • Seminars in Doctoral Research and Professional Development
  • Rockefeller Brown Bag Research Seminar
  • Specialized doctoral readings groups
  • Opportunities to work with faculty, research centers, and government practitioners on research projects


Candidacy Requirements

  • Completion of courses in the core curriculum, and personalized courses in research tools and concentration electives
  • Empirical research paper
  • Literature review
  • Outline of the dissertation proposal


After passing your candidacy requirements, you work closely with a faculty committee to craft a dissertation proposal, collect and analyze data, and write your dissertation. You may take a diversity of approaches tailored to your interests and career goals, including: selecting quantitative, qualitative, or mixed methods research tools; drawing on theories from a variety of disciplines; picking topics in the domestic or international context in numerous policy and organizational contexts; and using a three-paper or book format dissertation.

Career Paths

Graduates of the public administration and policy PhD program pursue academic careers, or research-intensive positions in the government and nonprofit sectors. 

Departmental faculty and the College’s Office of Career Development provide you with a variety of career services and support as you prepare to enter the job market.

Graduate Student Funding


The department offers fellowships with multiple years of funding that includes a full tuition waiver and stipend. In these fellowships, you work as a research and teaching assistant, enabling you to gain valuable experience to prepare for your dissertation and academic job market.

Rockefeller also provides financial support to PhD students attending academic conferences, including those who are not on a fellowship. All students are able to visit the career services office for assistance with locating additional sources of employment during their studies. With a strategic location in the Capital District, there are numerous opportunities for Rockefeller College students to work in government positions to gain experience.


Admissions Requirements


Fall (For funding consideration): January 1
Fall: July 1*
Spring: Not Available
Summer: Not Available

*Students not applying for departmental assistance will be reviewed on a space available basis only. Review is not guaranteed and the department can close admissions when there is no longer space in the program.

Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Official GRE or GMAT scores
  • Resume

Statement of Background and Goals


Special Notes

This program requires an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience requirement. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  1. Current Knowledge
    a. Demonstrates substantive mastery of the academic literature in public administration and policy
    b. Demonstrates substantive mastery of the academic literature in a specialized area of research within public administration and policy that draws upon the broader social science literature
    c. Shows a foundational understanding and ability to evaluate diverse quantitative and qualitative methods in public administration and policy research

  2. Independent Research
    a. Makes an original contribution to the field
    b. Competently and rigorously applies at least one quantitative or qualitative method in public administration and policy research
    c. Articulates a coherent argument in an article-length paper that links research question(s), theory, results and implications for theory and practice
    d. Articulates the relevance of the research
    e. Demonstrates an emerging scholarly identity

  3. Engagement in Public Affairs Community
    a. Effectively communicates research results to scholarly, practitioner and student audiences orally and in writing
    b. Involved in the broader public administration and policy scholarly community