Policy Studies


Degrees Offered


The PhD in Policy Studies program is designed around interdisciplinary precepts and built upon the subject matter strengths of a land-grant University. The program integrates the social sciences with specific fields of interest, enabling you to be grounded in the basics of policy studies, while preparing you to conduct high-level research, emphasizing quantitative, economic and political skills to solve public problems.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

PhD: This doctoral degree will provide you a firm understanding of the basics of policy studies and a land-grant-oriented subject domain—a cutting-edge practice for policy studies programs in the US.

The core curriculum (33 credit hours) is interdisciplinary, drawing heavily from the policy sciences, including economics, political science/public administration, quantitative methods and management science. The four concentration areas are:

  • Environmental and natural resource policy
  • Agricultural policy
  • Economic development policy
  • Science & technology policy

Concentration courses (18 credit hours) and elective courses (12 credit hours) come largely from linkage disciplines, which are related to the life and physical sciences, technology fields and the social sciences. Policy application is made through seminars, practicums and workshops as well as in-house research activities. In addition, you must research, write and defend a dissertation (at least 18 credit hours).


The Jim Self Center on the Future focuses on South Carolina’s future. The center brings to the debate leaders from all walks of life and varied political persuasions. The agreements that emerge provide grassroots leaders with the matrix that helps shape South Carolina’s destiny.

The South Carolina Water Resources Center (SCWRC) is one of 54 institutes established by the US Congress through the Water Resources Research Act of 1964. The SCWRC provides an avenue for applied research in water resources across South Carolina and a mechanism of access to water resources expertise and information for scientists, resource managers and concerned citizens.

Our Students

There are 19 graduate students enrolled in the program, seven of whom are international, five are female and seven are male.

Students generally come from one of two backgrounds—those with a strong science/technology base and those with grounding in the social sciences or the humanities.

Graduates are employed in state and national government entities, “think tanks,” consulting firms, international lending institutions and academia. Because of the interdisciplinary nature of the program, graduates are well grounded in both the natural 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 arena, and employment prospects are quite strong.


Application Information

Successful candidates typically have a minimum GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) for both the bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

You may apply on the web at Applications should be received no later than four weeks prior to registration for domestic students (late August for the fall semester and early January for the spring semester). Every required item in support of your application must be on file by that date. International students living abroad must have completed applications (including all supporting materials) to the Graduate School by May 1 for the fall semester and by October 1 for the spring semester.

Required Documents

In addition, international students must submit scores on the TOEFL examination. After the initial screening, the admissions committee reserves the option of interviewing you about your academic backgrounds, scholarly interests and career objectives.


Graduate research assistantships and the potential for salary supplements for externally funded projects are available. If you are awarded an assistantship, you will pay reduced tuition and fees. Decisions about awarding graduate assistantships are made in April and early October for the fall and spring semesters, respectively.


Program Contact(s)

  • Carolyn Benson
  • Office: Strom Thurmond Inst., 2nd Fl
  • Phone: (864) 656-4463
  • Email:

Program Coordinator(s)

  • Bruce Ransom
  • Office: Strom Thurmond Institute
  • Phone: (864) 656-0214
  • Email: