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Graduate Admissions

PhD students

The School of Public Affairs offers three distinct PhD programs. Learn more about each program's course of study:

PhD Programs Overview

The School of Public Affairs offers three doctoral degrees: the PhD in Justice, Law & Criminology, PhD in Political Science, and PhD in Public Administration. The programs are designed to offer students an opportunity to engage in interdisciplinary research and coursework across the school and university, and many students take one of their fields outside their home department.

During the first year we give our students two invaluable tools to succeed in the program and in an academic career. First is a working knowledge of the ideas and issues in each field, gained by taking 2 or 3 proseminars in areas of interest; and second, development of the methodological skills needed to conduct effective research in the student's field of study, gained by taking 2 or 3 methods courses.

In a recent survey, almost all of our PhD students cited their training in both qualitative and quantitative methods as one of the greatest benefits American University has to offer. Our goal in developing these skills is to provide students with knowledge of research tools necessary for conducting original research. Students take a mixture of advanced research and methods seminars in the second and third years of the PhD program. Almost all of our students have presented their work at national conferences by the time they graduate, and many have published their research in peer-reviewed journals. Our graduates can be found around the world, both as faculty members in renowned universities and as cutting-edge researchers in think tanks and NGOs.


ranked political science PhD program in DC.

—PS: Political Science and Politics