Brinck Kerr
428 Old Main

Valerie H. Hunt
Associate Director
213 Gearhart Hall

For full faculty list, see website at 

Degree Conferred:
Ph.D. (PUBP)

Program Description:  This interdisciplinary policy program has a strong emphasis on public affairs and will train policy leaders to directly address the policy issues of the people of Arkansas, the region, and the nation. The program provides a vehicle for the consideration of policy issues by students, faculty, and the larger community. Therefore, students and faculty will participate in colloquia, projects, and research that contribute to successful public policy. Leadership and administrative skills are included in the course of study, along with a strong emphasis on policy analysis that recognizes the complex nature of policy problems. Such an analytical approach will prepare students for work with governmental, educational, professional, and private sector experts who must cooperate in shaping public policy.

Primary Areas of Faculty Research: See areas of concentration.

Areas of Concentrations: Agricultural Policy, Community Development and Recreation Policy, Education Policy,  Family Policy, Health Policy, Policy Studies in Aging, Public Policy Management. (Other areas of concentration are possible. Contact us for more information.)

Admission Requirements for Degree Program: Applicants must have a master’s degree completed prior to beginning the doctoral program. The master’s degree should be relevant to the policy area of their concentration. For example, students with a master’s in geology might enter the agriculture policy concentration but not the family policy concentration. If students enroll in classes designated to address deficiencies, they may enter a concentration outside of their master’s area. These decisions will be made by the program faculty. An application should include identification of the applicant’s objectives and supportive background information including three letters of recommendation evaluating the applicant’s ability to successfully pursue a Ph.D. A GPA of at least a 3.20 on a 4-point scale for all graduate course work is required. Scores from the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) must be submitted. GRE scores may not be more than five years old. Admission is competitive and based on the specialization and availability of an appropriate faculty mentor. Two students with identical packets may receive different decisions.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree: In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School, the doctoral program consists of a minimum of 65 hours including:

Core Requirements
PUBP 6001Pro-Seminar (Fa)1
PUBP 6013Theories of Public Policy (Fa)3
SOCI 5133The Community (Irregular) (or equivalent course)3
Economics and Policy (3 hours selected from approved courses)3
PUBP 6023Law and Public Policy (Fa)3
PUBP 6103Policy Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation (Irregular)3
PUBP 6113Agenda Setting and Policy Formulation (Fa)3
PUBP 6134Capstone Seminar in Public Policy (Sp, Fa)4
ESRM 6533Qualitative Research (Sp, Fa) (or equivalent course)3
Quantitative Methods (3 hours selected from approved courses)3
Advanced Research Methods (6 hours selected from approved courses)6
Electives in area of concentration, 12 hours: See program director for concentration requirements.12
PUBP 700VDoctoral Dissertation (Sp, Su, Fa)18
Total Hours65

After completing approximately two years of graduate study, and at least one year before completing all other requirements, the prospective candidate must take candidacy examinations covering core and concentration studies as well as research methods. The examinations will be both written and oral. After having been admitted to candidacy, students will be required to successfully defend a dissertation proposal in front of their dissertation committee. All students must demonstrate a capacity for research by writing an original dissertation on a topic in their area of concentration. The student’s final examination will be an oral defense of the dissertation.

Students should also be aware that the program in public policy has a residency policy. Students shall have met the residency requirement in the public policy Ph.D. program if they make satisfactory progress including positive residency evaluations in their annual review.

Students should also be aware of Graduate School requirements with regard to doctoral degrees.

Agricultural Policy Concentration

Course of study (12 hours)

Specific courses will be selected in consultation between the student and the student's curriculum committee.  Examples of appropriate courses are:

Political Economy of Agriculture and Food (Fa)
The Economics of Public Policy (Sp)
Through a special arrangement with the Law School, students may take courses in the Law School that are relevant to agricultural policy.

Community Development and Recreation Policy

Course of study (12 hours)

Specific courses will be selected in consultation between the student and the student's curriculum committee.  Examples of appropriate courses are:

PUBP 604VSpecial Topics in Public Policy (Irregular)1-6
PLSC 5173Community Development (Irregular)3
SOCI 5133The Community (Irregular)3

Education Policy Concentration

Course of Study (12 hours)

Students electing the Education Policy concentration must complete a minimum of twelve graduate semester-hour credits including the following:  EDFD 5683 Issues in Educational Policy (Sp, Su, Fa).

Completion of three hours in history or philosophy to be selected from the following courses:

  • EDFD 5303 Historical Foundations of Modern Education (Sp, Su)
  • EDFD 5353 Philosophy of Education (Irregular)
  • HIED 5083 History and Philosophy of Higher Education (Sp)

A minimum of six hours of committtee-approved elective course work related to legal, governance, or administrative policy issues, from the following areas:

  • Educational Administration (K-12 education)
  • Higher Education (post-secondary education)

Family Policy Concentration

Course of Study (12 hours)

This concentration requires 12 hours of post master's studies.  The three required courses are:

PUBP 612VResearch Problems in Policy (Sp, Su, Fa)1-6
SOCI 5043Public Policy, Children and Families (Irregular)3
or AMPD 5043 Theories and Practices in Apparel Merchandising (Even years, Sp)
HDFS 5403Family Theories and Methods (Sp)3
In addition, three hours of approved electives must be taken. This course will be chosen in consultation with the Ph.D. course committee, to fit the particular needs of the student. The following courses would meet this requirement:3
Domestic Relations (Irregular)
Juvenile Justice Seminar (Irregular)

Health Policy Concentration

Course of Study (12 Hours)

This concentration requires twelve hours of post masters studies.  The following two courses must be taken by all Ph.D. students in order to satisfy the requirements of the concentration:

PBHL 699VSeminar (Irregular)1-6
PBHL 5633Health Services Administration (Irregular)3
The following courses, or their equivalents, must be taken. However, if any of these courses, or their equivalent, have been taken during the master's program, electives will be selected to comprise the remaining six concentration hours needed for the Ph.D in Policy:6
Epidemiology (Fa)
Health Services Administration (Irregular)
Other Elective Courses
It will be the responsibility of the student's program committee to assist in selecting appropriate electives when necessary. Through a special arrangement with the Law School, students may take up to two law courses.

Policy Studies in Aging Concentration

Course of Study (12 hours)

Required course work for the concentration include:

GERO 5023Critical Issues in Aging (Irregular)3
CDIS 699VSeminar in Communication Sciences and Disorders (Irregular)3
Six hours to be selected from the following with the approval of the student's curriculum committee:6
Public Health: Practices and Planning (Sp)
Health Services Administration (Irregular)
Health and the Aging Process (Irregular)
Family Theories and Methods (Sp)
Disability Policy in the U.S. (Fa)
With the approval of the curriculum committee, other courses may be selected, depending on the student's area of interest.

Public Policy Management Concentration

Course of Study (12 hours)

Specific courses will be selected in consultation between the student and the student's curriculum committee.  Examples of appropriate course are:

PLSC 5103Human Behavior in Complex Organizations (Fa)3
PLSC 5113Seminar in Human Resource Management (Fa)3
PLSC 5133Nonprofit Management (Irregular)3
PBHL 5633Health Services Administration (Irregular)3
HIED 5073Management of Higher Education Institutions (Su, Fa)3
PADM 5823Grant Writing for the Social Sciences (Irregular)3


PUBP 6001. Pro-Seminar (Fa). 1 Hour.

An introduction to the field of public policy and to the program. The seminar will address topics such as the meaning of public policy, policy research, the dissertation process, and particular issues of public policy concern. Prerequisite: Admission to program.

PUBP 6013. Theories of Public Policy (Fa). 3 Hours.

This seminar introduces doctoral students to the major concepts, frameworks, and theories of public policy. Emphasis is on the usefulness and limitations of these frameworks and theories in empirical research. Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

PUBP 6023. Law and Public Policy (Fa). 3 Hours.

This course focuses on the legal aspects of public policy, with emphasis on the regulatory process and its legal constraints. Also considered are the process of administrative decision making, judicial review, legislative oversight, and public access to government information.

PUBP 6033. Community Development Policy and Practice (Su). 3 Hours.

This course examines multiple community development definitions, the community capitals framework as well as theories, conceptual frameworks and processes and how these are linked, both historically and currently, to broad-based US public policy and specifically, housing and workforce development policies.

PUBP 604V. Special Topics in Public Policy (Irregular). 1-6 Hour.

Designed to cover specialized topics not usually presented in depth in regular courses. May be repeated for up to 6 hours of degree credit.

PUBP 6103. Policy Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation (Irregular). 3 Hours.

This interdisciplinary seminar will explore the relationship between policy, public administration, and organizations in the community. Stakeholder groups will be considered as part of the newer approaches to practice-driven scholarship. The class will examine innovative approaches to decision making, strategic management and policy leadership in complex interorganizational and interagency settings.

PUBP 6113. Agenda Setting and Policy Formulation (Fa). 3 Hours.

Introduces agenda and policy formation focusing on the classic theoretical and empirical literature. The course is designed to introduce graduate students to a variety of theories typologies, concepts, and ideas relating to the study of public policy.

PUBP 612V. Research Problems in Policy (Sp, Su, Fa). 1-6 Hour.

Research problems. May be repeated for up to 6 hours of degree credit.

PUBP 6134. Capstone Seminar in Public Policy (Sp, Fa). 4 Hours.

This course is intended to integrate various policy interests in a specific community based project. Prerequisite: Instructor permission required.

PUBP 6143. Mixed Method Research Design (Irregular). 3 Hours.

Mixed method research is a multi-point research strategy that combines quantitative and qualitative research strategies into a single research project.

PUBP 700V. Doctoral Dissertation (Sp, Su, Fa). 1-18 Hour.

Doctoral dissertation. Prerequisite: Candidacy. May be repeated for degree credit.