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A Policy Studies Program for the Real World

Ph.D. in Policy Studies

Ph.D. in
Policy Studies

In the Spring of 1999, Clemson University was granted approval by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education to offer Ph.D. and certificate programs in Policy Studies. The programs are interdisciplinary, building on traditional strengths at the university in terms of policy analysis as well as scientific and technical fields. Because of its interdisciplinary nature, the program is housed within the Graduate School and draws faculty from each of the five academic colleges on campus.

Program Focus: As a land grant institution, Clemson faculty and students frequently participate in policy analysis and formulation working extensively within the state of South Carolina but also at the national and international level. The policy programs formalize within an academic program what has been an informal agglomeration of policy related work in the past. The four concentration areas of the program are:

  • Environmental and Natural Resource Policy;
  • Agricultural Policy;
  • Rural and Economic Development Policy; and
  • Science and Technology Policy.

The core curriculum is interdisciplinary drawing heavily from the policy sciences including economics, political science/public administration, quantitative methods, and management science. For the Ph.D. program, core and enhancement courses come predominantly from these disciplines. Concentration and elective courses come largely from linkage disciplines related to the life and physical sciences, technology fields, and social sciences. Policy application is made through seminars, practicums, workshops, as well as in-house research activities.

For the certificate program, students are required to take 5-6 courses (depending on their background) in the policy sciences and their concentration area.

Profile of Prospective Student: Students generally come from one of two backgrounds. For three of the four concentration areas, a strong science/technology base is essential. Students from the social sciences or the humanities generally have some initial advantage in the core curriculum but will be required to take prerequisite courses in the sciences before taking concentration and elective coursework in these areas.

Relationship to Other Academic Programs on Campus: There is overlap with a number of other disciplines on campus including economics; agricultural and applied economics; political science/public administration; city and regional planning; parks, recreation, and tourism management, the sciences and engineering. The program makes use of faculty and courses taught in these and other programs. Prospects for Graduates: Graduates are expected to be employed in state and national government entities, ‘think tanks’, consulting firms, international lending institutions, and academia. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, students are well grounded in both the hard and policy sciences and capable of bridging the gap between science and technology and the policy realm. Analysts with this background are particularly valuable in an increasingly complex policy arena, and employment prospects are quite strong.

Current Students


Prospective Students

Application Form

Program Contact

Carolyn Benson
2021 Barre Hall
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634
(864) 656-4463

Program Coordinator

Dr. Bruce Ransom
Professor and Policy Studies Chairman
Strom Thurmond Institute of Government and Public Affairs
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0125
(864) 656-4700