About the Program


The Ph.D. in Public Policy at UNC Charlotte prepares students to be researchers, decision makers and policy analysts in local, state or federal governments, non-profits, industry, and academics. The intellectual focus of the Program is guided by three overarching themes:

  1. Interdisciplinary Perspective: Effective policy analysis and policy formation are not informed by any single discipline. Rather, public policy requires knowledge of the historical, cultural, political, institutional, geographic, and economic dimensions of policy problems facing any community.
  2. Applied and Empirical Policy Analysis: Public policy is an inherently applied endeavor that seeks practical solutions and cogent analysis. While theory informs all research and analysis, the purpose of policy research is to elevate public discourse and improve public decision-making.
  3. Place-Based Research: To exercise applied policy analysis in an interdisciplinary context, policy research must be place-based. Real policy analysis, based on real data, applied to actual geographic and political settings is a strength of the Program.

The Public Policy at UNC Charlotte is an interdisciplinary program focusing on the study of policy development, implementation, and evaluation. It stresses the development of skills, tools, and specialties, as well as a theoretical understanding of them, that contribute to our understanding of the structure of institutional systems and sub-systems and of how policy should be shaped within political environments.

Mission and Vision

Our mission is to be leaders in public policy scholarship, to achieve excellence in public policy doctoral education and, through both, to advance the design and conduct of public policy application and research in a local, regional, state, national and international context.

Our vision is that political leaders, policy actors, and engaged citizens will come to Public Policy at UNC Charlotte, the state’s urban research university, for scholars who can provide reliable, innovative, non-partisan policy research, training and evaluation on issues of concern to the local, regional, state, national and international community.


  • Commitment to openness, honesty, forthrightness, and the highest standards of integrity and ethical professional behavior in all that we do.
  • Maintain a professional, collegial, respectful, and inclusive community.
  • Promote communication, cooperation, and collaborations among faculty members and between faculty members and students in this interdisciplinary program.
  • Promote the application of public policy scholarship and methods to the improvement of policy development, evaluation, and research.
  • Support public policy students and faculty in their efforts to study, research, develop, apply, and teach the principles, findings, and methods of public policy scholarship.
  • Value all types of high quality research from various disciplines be it qualitative, quantitative, lab-based, field-based, micro in-orientation, macro in-orientation, very basic, or very applied.
  • Maintain and foster our interdisciplinary foundation.
  • Commitment to thoughtfulness, reflection, flexibility, and the rigorous scrutiny of ideas.

We are a welcoming and inclusive community that values diversity. For more information see UNC Charlotte’s College of Humanities & Earth and Social Sciences Statement on Diversity.

View the Public Policy Doctoral Handbook