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Political Science

Policy Studies, Ph.D.

Image of a presidential state of the union address

As our world and society become increasingly interdependent, the problems of one sector or group can frequently affect the welfare and concerns of the rest.  Economic development, viable agriculture, natural resource allocation, property rights, rural development, small town and community development, and environmental issues are just some of the difficult policy issues that are on the agendas of national, state, and local policy makers.  Business and government leaders must continue to make complex decisions that often have long term consequences.  To meet this need, Clemson University’s interdisciplinary Policy Studies Program offers the Ph.D. in Policy Studies and a Graduate Certificate in Policy Studies.

The mission of the Policy Studies Program is to provide educational and research opportunities for a diverse and inclusive population of students and to develop their leadership capacity in public policy analysis, design and/or evaluation for careers in the private, public, or nonprofit sectors. The program further expands the capacity to conduct policy-relevant research to support and develop communities in support of the land grant university mission while adhering to the highest standards of academic rigor, objectivity, and independence.

In addition to offering a Ph.D. in Policy Studies, the Department of Political Science offers a Policy Studies Certificate Program that permits students pursuing other graduate degrees the option of adding a policy focus to their curricula.  The Policy Studies Certificate Program takes one year and consists of 12 credits (4 courses).

  • Program Information

    Two fundamental characteristics will underlie all of the aspects of the program:

    1. A multidisciplinary approach for studying public issues, the policy making process, problem-solving, and public policy analysis.
    2. The synthesis of core competencies in a policy domain leading to rigorous original research.

    The core courses for the program are designed to expose and assist students with developing fundamental and rigorous quantitative and qualitative analytical skills necessary for effective policy analysis. he core curriculum consists of an interdisciplinary approach to developing competencies in the study of the public policy process and public policy analysis. The core includes coursework in methods (both quantitative and qualitative), the policy process, and policy theory. In addition to the core curriculum, students also acquire expertise in a policy domain, through a concentration.  The concentrations are currently undergoing revisions, however they include: health policy; environmental and natural resources; regional community development & entrepreneurship; law & justice; homeland defense & security; communications law & policy; and, the policy process.

    Policy Studies Ph.D. students are immersed in a course of study which focuses on the policy making process and state-of-the-art policy analysis methods and techniques, equipping them with the capacity to conduct high level policy research that provides useful information to decision makers and advances the body of knowledge about important policy concerns.  Ph.D. graduates are expected to assume research positions in public policy “think tanks” and other policy research organizations; serve as officials in governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations involved in public policy; or, academia.  Program alumni have done all of the above. Clemson’s Ph.D. in policy studies will provide students with a set of research, analytical, and management skills that are transferable across public, private, and nonprofit sectors as well as academic and non-academic settings.

  • Program Focus

    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 strengths of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences (CBSHS). In 2016, the program was moved from the Graduate School to CBSHS, and in 2017 to the Department of Political Science. Faculty associated with the program come from departments in CBSHS, as well as other departments across Clemson University.

    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 program is currently developing a new set of concentrations, including:

    • Natural Resource and Environmental Policy;
    • Health Policy;
    • Regional Community Development Policy & Entrepreneurship;
    • Law and Justice Policy;
    • Communications Law and Policy;
    • Homeland Defense and Security Policy; and,
    • The Policy Process.

    Core Curriculum: The core curriculum is interdisciplinary drawing heavily from the policy sciences including economics, political science/public administration, quantitative methods, and social sciences. Concentration courses come largely from linkage disciplines related to each of the concentrations. Policy application is made through seminars, practicums, workshops, as well as in-house research activities.

    Policy Studies Certificate Program: For the policy studies certificate, 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 some concentration areas, a strong science base is essential. For other concentrations, a strong social science background is essential.

    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; public health sciences; sociology, anthropology and criminal justice; and, communications. 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 their concentration area and policy sciences, and capable of bridging the gap between policy theory and the policy-making realm. Analysts with this background are particularly valuable in an increasingly complex policy arena.

  • Our Faculty

    Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the Policy Studies program, faculty members who contribute to the program hold academic appointments in their respective departments. The core team of policy studies faculty is composed of (1) the entire faculty of the Department of Political Science and (2) additional faculty who choose to become involved in the Policy Studies program due to their academic interest in some dimension of public policy.

    Core Policy Studies Faculty Members

    Allen, Jeffery Adjunct Assistant Professor of Forestry and Environmental Conservation and South Carolina Water Resource Center Director; Ph.D., Policy Studies, Clemson University.

    Ash, Erin Associate Professor of Communication; Ph.D., Mass Communications, Pennsylvania State University.

    Baldwin, Elizabeth Associate Professor of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management; Ph.D., Forest Resources, University of Maine.

    Bridges, William Jr. Alumni Professor of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences; Ph.D., Biology and Mathematics, University of North Carolina-Wilmington.

    Bundrick, Alfred Lecturer of Political Science; Ph.D., Policy Studies, Clemson University.

    Carey, Robert Lecturer of Political Science; Ph.D., Policy Studies, Clemson University.

    Curtis, K. Amber Associate Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Political Science, University of Colorado.

    Dickes, Lori Associate Professor of Political Science and MPA Program Director; Ph.D., Policy Studies, Clemson University.

    Fine, Jeffrey Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Political Science, University of Kentucky.

    Haller, William Associate Professor of Sociology; Ph.D., Sociology, University of Pittsburgh.

    Hallo, Jeffrey Professor of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management; Ph.D., Natural Resources, University of Vermont.

    Hanssen, F. Andrew Professor of Economics; Ph.D., Economics, University of Chicago.

    Hester, Rhys Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice; Ph.D., Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of South Carolina.

    Hu, Xiaobo Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Political Science, Duke University.

    Hurley, R. Andrew Associate Professor of Food, Nutrition, and Packaging; Ph.D., Rhetorics, Communication, and Information Design, Clemson University.

    Kalesnikaite, Vaiva Assistant Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Public Affairs, Florida International University.

    Knijnenburg, Bart Assistant Professor of Human-Centered Computing; Ph.D., Informatics, University of California at Irvine.

    Lamie, Ronald Professor of Agribusiness and Rural Development; Ph.D., Applied Economics, Clemson University.

    Limber, Susan Olweus Professor of Psychology; Ph.D., Developmental Psychology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Linvill, Darren Associate Professor of Communication; Ph.D., Educational Leadership, Clemson University.

    Malmin, Natasha Assistant Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Public Policy, Georgia State University and Georgia Institute of Technology.

    Mayo, Rachel Professor of Public Health Sciences and Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies; Ph.D., Health Promotion and Education, University of South Carolina.

    Miller, Bryan Associate Professor of Criminal Justice; Ph.D., Criminology, Law, and Society, University of Florida.

    Miller, Steven Associate Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Political Science, University of Alabama.

    Mobley, Catherine Professor of Sociology; Ph.D., Sociology, University of Maryland.

    Olson, Laura Thurmond Professor of Political Science and Policy Studies Program Director; Ph.D., Political Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Peake, Jeffrey Professor and Chair of Political Science; Ph.D., Political Science, Texas A&M University.

    Pickett, Gregory Senior Associate Dean and MBA Program Director; Ph.D., Marketing, Oklahoma State University.

    Ransom, Bruce II Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Government, University of Virginia.

    Rennert, Lior Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences; Ph.D., Biostatistics, University of Pennsylvania.

    Rhodes-Purdy, Matthew Assistant Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Government, University of Texas at Austin.

    Robinson, Kenneth Associate Professor of Sociology; Ph.D., Development Sociology, Cornell University.

    Sianko, Natallia Assistant Professor of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice; Ph.D., International Family and Community Studies, Clemson University.

    Stewart, Joseph Jr. Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Political Science, University of Houston.

    Strickland, James Professor of Nutritional Toxicology; Ph.D., Nutrition, Clemson University.

    Taydas, Zeynep Associate Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Political Science, University of Missouri-Columbia.

    Teklemariam, Natan Pathway Postdoctoral Fellow; Ph.D., Public Policy and Administration, Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Thompson, C. Bradley Professor of Political Science and Director, Institute for the Study of Capitalism; Ph.D., History, Brown University.

    Truong, Khoa Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences; Ph.D., Policy Analysis, Pardee RAND Graduate School.

    Turner, Brandon Associate Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison.

    Warber, Adam Professor of Political Science; Ph.D., Political Science, Texas A&M University.

    Warren, Patrick Associate Professor of Economics; Ph.D., Economics, MIT.

    Weisensee, Katherine Associate Professor of Anthropology and Chair of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminal Justice; Ph.D., Anthropology, University of Tennessee.

    Wueste, Daniel Professor of Philosophy; Ph.D., Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis.

    Wyman, David (College of Charleston) Associate Professor of Management and Marketing and Center for Entrepreneurship Director; Ph.D., Property, University of Aberdeen.

    Zhang, Lu Assistant Professor of Public Health Sciences; Ph.D., Epidemiology, Louisiana State University.

  • Program Contacts

    Program Director

    Dr. Laura Olson
    Thurmond Professor and Policy Studies Director
    Department of Political Science
    2079 Barre Hall
    Clemson University
    Clemson, SC 29634
    laurao@clemson.edu

    Program Contact

    Bianca Schuster
    Barre Hall
    Clemson University
    Clemson, SC 29634
    864-656-7135
    bianca@clemson.edu

    Administration

    Dr. Jeffrey Peake
    Chair, Acting Director, Professor
    Department of Political Science
    232 Brackett Hall
    Clemson University
    Clemson, SC 29634
    jpeake@clemson.edu

Department of Political Science
Department of Political Science | 232 Brackett Hall