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Doctoral Program

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Policy Studies, offered through the School of Public Policy, is an advanced scholarly degree appropriate for students seeking a career in university teaching and research or a leadership position in public policy in the public, private or non-profit sector.


Admission to PhD Policy Studies:

Admission to the Doctoral Program requires a formal application with supporting documents, a full curriculum vitae (or résumé), a statement of research interests, and evidence of research ability (although not necessarily research achievement).  Many applicants to our program will already have earned a Master’s degree in some field, but a Master’s degree is not a prerequisite for admission.  Matriculants who have already earned a Master’s degree in a policy-relevant field can, though, expect to enjoy more latitude in course selection than matriculants entering without such a degree.  All applications will be reviewed by the Doctoral Program's Director, and most applications will then go on to be reviewed by other members of the School’s Faculty.  Applicants whose research interests are  best matched to one or more potential Faculty Advisors and who show broad promise as Public Policy scholars and as citizens of the School and University will be considered for admission by the PhD Committee.

GRE scores are required for all doctoral level candidates. If you are submitting GRE scores, please use ETS school code 5814 when reporting your scores. A department code is not required.

The number of students admitted to doctoral study is dependent on 1) the number of applicants who display a high level of performance and 2) the faculty’s capacity to provide high quality supervision in the students’ areas of interest. Completion of the doctoral degree generally takes a minimum of four to five years. Student progress toward the degree is reviewed each semester by the doctoral faculty as part of a broad program of student advising, networking, and mentoring between faculty and students and among doctoral student peers.

School of Public Policy doctoral students have received a wide variety of awards and fellowships and graduates have obtained senior positions in universities, research organizations, governments, non-profit organizations, and the private sector.


Application Requirements:

  • Online application to program code POSI
  • Personal Statement
  • Statement of Research Interests
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation
  • Official transcripts (uploaded directly by the applicant)
  • Resume
  • Writing sample

Application Deadlines:

  • Fall 2020 priority deadline for best consideration:  December 3, 2019
  • Fall 2020 final deadline for all applicants:  March 13, 2020
All admissions related questions should be directed to the Office of Student Affairs, policy-applications@umd.edu or 301-405-6331.


International applicants: 

International students must demonstrate a proficiency in the English language by taking the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The TOEFL is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) at numerous locations throughout the world. Please use institution code 5814 when submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores

Please click here to view IBT TOEFL AND IELTS REQUIREMENTS FOR DEGREE-SEEKING STUDENTS established by the University of Maryland Graduate School.