PhD Course Requirements

(Number of credit hours in parentheses)

Fall Year 1

  • Public Affairs 8001 Administrative Politics and Management (3)
  • Public Affairs 8180 Research Methods and Inquiry in Public Affairs I (3)
  • Political Science 9310/Public Affairs 9170 Policy Theory (3)

Spring Year 1

  • Public Affairs 8190 Economic Analysis for Public Affairs (3)
  • Political Science 9030/Public Affairs 9180 Advanced Research Methods for Public Affairs I (3)
  • Political Science 9320/Public Affairs 9160 Organization Studies in Public Affairs (3)
  • Public Affairs 9183 Public Affairs Research and Professional Development Seminar (1)

Fall Year 2

  • Public Affairs 9150 Governance and Public Affairs (3)
  • Public Affairs 9181 Advanced Research Methods for Public Affairs II (3)
  • Specialization course (3)

Spring Year 2

  • Specialization course (3)
  • Methods elective (3)
  • Methods elective (3)
  • Public Affairs 9183 Public Affairs Research and Professional Development Seminar (1)


  • Up to 33 hours

Students in the PhD program will take a qualifying exam after core coursework is completed, typically after three semesters of full-time study. The exam is a written, open-book exam completed over two consecutive days of testing (6 hours to complete each day's exam).  Qualifying exams are given in May, August, and December. 

The qualifying exam is evaluated by the PhD committee, with input from faculty teaching PhD core courses. Students are graded as pass/fail for the qualifying exam. 

All students are notified in writing of the outcome of their qualifying exam. If a student fails the qualifying exam, he/she will have an opportunity to retake the exam during the next qualifying exam period. If the student fails the qualifying exam a second time, he/she is dismissed from the PhD program.

Please refer to the doctoral advisors page.

The Truman School does allow students to enter the doctoral program as part-time students if necessary.

Course Load

We recommend that students take a minimum of three courses (9 credit hours) each year so that the qualification exam can be completed no later than the end of the second year in the program.

Required doctoral classes within the Truman School will usually be offered first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. However, in order to complete your full course requirements in your individual plan of study, you will need to take coursework in other departments.

Keep in mind that the Truman School has no control over when courses in other academic units are offered, and it’s unusual for online classes to be offered at the doctoral level.

Program Timeline

A typical student completes a doctoral degree in five years. The maximum amount of time to doctoral degree completion in the Truman School is set at the campus level and is eight years. After this point, additional coursework, or a waiver from the Office of Graduate Studies, is required.

Practically, students must register for 9 credit hours per year reach the 72 credit hour requirement within eight years (or two courses in one term and one course in the other).

Students can switch to full time after starting the program, and the eight-year deadline would still apply.

Financial Assistance

We do not provide financial assistance to part-time students.  However, teaching or research opportunities may be available.

Additionally, part-time students are eligible for travel awards and dissertation funds as described above.


For more information, please contact the Ph.D. Coordinator

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