Joint PhD in Political Science, Public Policy Track

Note that this web page contains information specifically related to the Public Policy Track of the PhD Program. For more general information on the Joint Doctoral Program in Political Sciences visit the website of the CEU Doctoral School.

The program

The Doctoral Program in Public Policy is a specialized track in the Political Science PhD Program. It is operated by the Doctoral School of Political Science, Public Policy and International Relations. The program prepares graduate students for careers in both academic and applied research institutions. Core courses focus on the development of professional level research and analytical skills in the fields of European and international public policy, comparative policy analysis and political economy.

The Public Policy Track is based on the assumption that modern policy making, devoted to the principles of good governance, transparency, accountability and effectiveness, needs to be based on sound academic analysis of the problems and policies at stake. In this way, the track aims to attract scholars interested in conducting thorough and systematic academic work on the cause, function, nature and outcome of public policy on all levels of policy-making, whether global, regional, national, or local. Study on the track is founded upon both quantitative and qualitative methodologies; while the track puts and emphasis on empirically driven analysis, it also encourages the consideration of normative aspects and their socio-economic contexts. The track principally aims at training academic researchers in the field of public policy; yet, scholars also learn to apply analytical tools to ‘real world’ policy problems and to generate high quality policy advice.

DPP faculty involved in the PhD program brings a unique set of skills and perspectives. In addition to being authoritative voices in their respective fields of research, they also have first-hand policy experience, working for think-tanks (e.g. the RAND Corporation) or businesses (e.g. Vodafone), consulting with NGOs (e.g. Open Society Institute, Transparency International) or advising national or local governments, as well as international organizations (e.g. World Bank Institute).

Much of the student work in the doctoral program is centered on doctoral workshops and departmental seminars, where PhD candidates get acquainted with visiting scholars from the most outstanding European and US universities. As the department’s faculty is actively involved in European Union-funded research projects, such as CONNEX, RECON, RECWOWE and GARNET, doctoral candidates gain direct access to academic networks, workshops, and conferences in their field, both at CEU and beyond.

Selected Areas of Research

The department welcomes applications in fields that reflect the multi-disciplinary nature of public policy and the department’s mission to bridge policy and practice. These are, in particular,

• European Union politics and policy, regional integration
• Governance (local, national, European Union, global)
• Public management and administration
• Policy reform analysis
• Development and trade
• Role of civil society in public policy
• Minorities
• Public services and utilities (particularly media and communications, energy and higher education)
• Economic and labor market policy
• Political parties and public policies

Core curriculum

• Research methods and design
• Prospectus seminar
• Public Policy: Theories, Traditions and Transitions
• Public Administration
• Research in EU integration and governance


PhD studies comprise coursework and a research phase. Probationary Doctoral Candidates earn 24 credits during their first two academic years, with a focus placed on models and theories of Public Policy and on a methods sequence. After passing the comprehensive examination and successfully defending their Prospectus, PhD Candidates conduct research on their doctoral project. During the research period, students are encouraged to spend time abroad, carrying out research in another university or doing field work.

During doctoral studies, CEU offers travel support for participation in major academic conferences and summer schools, as well as opportunities for taking part in graduate student workshops organized in collaboration with some of the most outstanding European and American universities.

Click here for information on how to apply.

Selection, enrollment and financial support

The selection process is competitive and merit-based. Students admitted into CEU doctoral programs are eligible to receive the CEU Doctoral Fellowship for up to three years. Doctoral enrollment may continue up to a maximum of six years. Various additional funding opportunities exist, such as the Doctoral Research Support Grant Program, the Erasmus Mobility Scheme, as well as research and travel funds. For further information on financial aid for doctoral students click here.





For more information on the Joint PhD Program, please see: or download the leaflet