PhD in Public Policy

PhD in Public Policy

Master policy analysis and implementation and prepare to be a leader in the policy world with the doctoral program in Public Policy at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government.

2020 U.S. News and World badge ranking for public affairs, national security and emergency management

At every level of government, and throughout the private and nonprofit sectors, there is a need for expert policy analysis and implementation. The expertise and academic interests of the Schar School faculty is extensive, so you can choose from a wide variety of research topics. The advantage of the Schar School’s interdisciplinary approach to public policy is that there is no defined list of fields from which you must choose. In fact, you can define your own field of research. You can also conduct your research through one of the emphasis areas.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Notice:
Mason has moved to virtual instruction for its on-campus programs for the spring 2020 semester. Faculty and staff who normally work on-campus are teleworking and are fully available to support students. Visit Mason's Coronavirus Information page for more information, including affected dates and frequently asked questions. For questions as a prospective student, please don't hesitate to contact the Schar School Office of Graduate Admissions at


Many students cite the level of flexibility as one of their favorite features of the program. As a student in the public policy PhD program, you are encouraged to define and explore research based on your interests and professional goals. Students may choose to identify a research focus within an established field of study such as:

  • Population, Migration, and Public Policy
  • American Foreign and National Security Policy
  • Economic Policy
  • Energy and Environmental Policy

Read more about these fields of study.

Explore Schar School faculty research areas.

Browse course descriptions and learn more about the public policy doctoral program's degree requirements.

Learn more about our current students and their research interests.

Photo of Lisardo Bolaños, PhD in Public Policy '19

"I initially came to the Schar School because of the [Washington D.C. area] location, and it is a very competitive program. I learned more than I expected and had some of the best conversations about economic policy and development."
—Lisardo Bolaños, PhD in Public Policy '19

Photo of Alexis Lasselle Ross, PhD in Public Policy '18

"The way that [the PhD curriculum is structured] made a lot of sense to me. [The] three-phased system [coursework, field exams and field ratings, independent dissertation research and writing] felt like a much more guided approach to a PhD program."
—Alexis Lasselle Ross, PhD in Public Policy '18

Photo of Bruce Lindsey, PhD in Public Policy '06

"The academic rigor that George Mason and [now] the Schar School presented helped me refine my thinking processes, especially at the strategic level. The rigor and the multiple disciplinary approach they have there is important."
—Bruce Lindsey, PhD in Public Policy '06


Contact the Schar School graduate admissions team at or (703) 993-8099.