Program Overview

If you are interested in an academic career in public policy, public administration, or public management,  or if you are interested in a research related career in a think tank, non-governmental organization, or a government agency,  a PhD in Public Affairs is a good choice.   

Students in our program take core courses in public policy, public administration/management with flexibility to take a variety of courses at the University of Missouri on subjects tailored to their own interests and career goals.  

“The Truman School offers doctoral students the opportunity to collaborate with a multidisciplinary and diverse group of faculty and scholars in a vibrant intellectual community.”  –Dr. Bryce Reeder, PhD Program Director 

Our program trains students in state-of-the-art methodologies such as experiments, policy analysis tools, spatial econometrics, and techniques to collect and analyze big data (including automated data collection and text analysis).   We are looking for promising students to help us answer important research questions with the most advanced techniques.  

At Mizzou, we provide opportunities for collaborative research projects with faculty members who are experts in their area.  Our School features professors who publish their research in top academic journals and university presses, edit leading journals in the discipline, and teach classes in their area of expertise.  The result is that our PhD students consistently publish in top academic journals while in graduate school.  Nationally, it is somewhat rare to see students graduate with multiple publications, both solo and co-authored with faculty members; at Mizzou, it is the norm.   

Coursework in our program consists of small seminars, allowing for intensive study of public affairs concepts and research, close interaction with faculty, and individual attention to student progress. Advised by graduate faculty, students at MU are encouraged to become active scholars capable of conducting independent analysis and research of political and social phenomena. 

The PhD program in Public Affairs  maintains a low graduate student to faculty ratio, a commitment to student success, and a high rate of retention and graduation. 

We prepare the next generation of scholars. Our interdisciplinary Ph.D. prepares graduates for careers in teaching, research and applied research settings in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. 

The Truman School is deeply interdisciplinary. The diverse academic training of our faculty gives students an opportunity to explore many theoretical and methodological perspectives and multiple ways of thinking about social science research. 

Typical PhD Program Schedule 

(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 

Doctoral Advisers 

Recent Placements 

Andrew Wesemann, PhD 

Assistant Professor, Public Administration & Policy Analysis 

Southern Illinois University 

Edwardsville, Illinois 


Jean Felix Ndashimye, PhD 

Post Doc Research 

Peabody College of Education, Vanderbilt 

Nashville, TN 


Sarah Parsons, PhD 

Director of Institutional Research 

Westminster College 

Fulton, MO 

The Truman School funds doctoral students through a mix of research and teaching assistantships, grants, fellowships, and scholarships. 

Doctoral students in qualifying appointments earn a stipend of $20,000 for nine months, along with tuition remission and health insurance coverage. This funding ensures that students develop strong and lasting relationships with faculty and peers and receive the support they need to make substantive contributions to the field of public affairs. 

The Truman School also gives generous travel funds for graduate students to attend national and international conferences and awards funds for dissertation expenses. 

Are you interested in how public policies are implemented and in understanding the relationships between the bureaucracy and other political institutions? Dr. Lael Keiser is an expert on political institutions, representative bureaucracy, and their intersection with social welfare and education policy. 

Or will you forge a path in child policy? Dr. Irma Arteaga is an expert on program evaluation of early childhood interventions in both national and international contexts. Dr. Arteaga conducts evaluations of social programs designed to reduce poverty, child malnutrition, and gender and ethnic gaps in food insecurity, health, and achievement; she has advised the governments of Guatemala and Panama on health programs aimed to reduce maternal and infant mortality for the rural and indigenous population. 

Or is education policy where you will create change?  Drs. Brian Kisida and Cory Koedel are experts in education policy. Dr. Kisida’s research examines K-12 education policy and focuses on school integration, teacher diversity, art and civics education, school-community partnerships, and charter schools. Dr. Koedel focuses on higher education policy. Both researchers use cutting-edge research designs to examine the causal impact of programs and policies that intend to address educational disparities. 

These are just a few areas of expertise that Truman School faculty represent.  You can explore the research areas of other faculty members by accessing their individual pages from the doctoral advisor page.  

Doctoral students take classes and conduct research with faculty from a variety of disciplines in the Truman School and throughout the University of Missouri. Close work with faculty through research assistantships and the dissertation process encourages students to apply varying perspectives to real-world problems and to develop novel ways of addressing issues in public policy and public administration. 

Recently, our doctoral students have presented at the following national conferences

  • Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management 

  • Association for Education Finance and Policy 

  • Population Association of America 

  • Midwest Political Science Association 

  • International Comparative Rural Policy Studies 

Graduates and current students have published in journals such as

  • American Politics Research 

  • American Journal of Education 

  • Entrepreneurship Research Journal 

  • Evaluation and Program Planning 

  • Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition 

  • State and Local Government Review