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Ph.D. Program

The Program offers a Ph.D. in Public and International Affairs with a focus in STEP. Doctoral students normally take a minimum of 8 courses, the majority of which are completed during the first year. 

V. Science, Technology, Environment and Policy (STEP) (Revised fall 2010)

Associated faculty: Christopher Chyba (Astrophysics/ WWS), Andrew Dobson (Ecology & Evolutionary Biology ), Edward Felten (Computer Science/ WWS), Denise Mauzerall ( MAE/ WWS), Michael Oppenheimer  ( Geoscience/WWS), Lee Silver ( MOL/WWS), Frank von Hippel ( WWS), David Wilcove, EEB/WWS) Rob Socolow (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering) Robert Keohane (WWS/International Affairs), Peter Singer (Philosiophy/Bioethics), Harold Shapiro (WWS/Ecomomics and Bioethics) Bryan Grenfell (EEB /WWS), Alexander Glaser ( MAE and WWS) .

This cluster focuses on applications of natural and social science methodology to policy issues with a heavy scientific or technological component.

1) Courses. This requirement is satisfied by the successful completion (with an average grade of B+ or better), or exemption (by placement) based on comparable courses, preceptorial teaching, or offering suitable substitutes, of a minimum of 8 courses chosen from each of the five categories below. Doctoral students should prepare a detailed course of study with their faculty advisor so that the chosen courses can best be tailored to their expected research area. Students are expected to take the majority of their courses during their first year.

(i) Gateway course:

The Use of Science in Environmental Policy (WWS 584).

(ii) STEP and subject area courses:

WWS 304 Science, Technology and Public Policy, WWS 556c Topics in International Relations: Protection Against Weapons of Mass Destruction, WWS 582b Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, WWS 584 Methods in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy, WWS 585a Topics in Science Technology and Environmental Policy: Population, Environment and Health, WWS 585b Conservation of Endangered Species and Ecosystems, WWS 586a Topics in Science Technology and Environmental Policy: Biotechnology Policy, WWS 586c Earth's Atmosphere: Theory and Practice, WWS 586d Topics in Science Technology and Environmental Policy: Global Environmental Governance, WWS 586e Global Environmental Issues: Science and Policy, WWS 591b Workshop: Deploying Clean Energy in Rural China, WWS 585b: Topics in STEP:Living in a Greenhouse: Technology and Policy, WWS586e Topics in STEP: Risk Policy and Regulation (Please note that course offerings vary from year to year. Additional topics relating to biotechnology, hazardous materials, information and communications, energy industries, biodiversity, and R&D policy will be offered from time to time and will be acceptable choices.)

A minimum of 2 additional courses relevant to the student's interests, either from within WWS or in another department, selected with approval of their primary advisor and the director of the STEP PhD program.

(iii) Quantitative analysis courses:


Introductory: WWS 508 (Econometrics and Public Policy) (c-track recommended) or approved substitute.

(iv) Economics (two courses required):


Microeconomic Theory - either WWS 511c or 511d (Microeconomic Analysis or Econ 501 and Econ 502 (two-course sequence).

Advanced Economic Analysis: choose one of the following or an equivalent, selected with approval of their primary advisor and the director of the STEP PhD program: WWS 523 (Legal and Regulatory Policy Toward Markets), WWS 524 (Advanced Macroeconomics: Domestic Policy Issues), WWS 525 (Microeconomics Analysis of Government Activity), WWS 542 (International Economics), WWS 543 (International Trade Policy), WWS 562c (Economic Analysis of Development (Advanced)), WWS 58x-series, including WWS 582b (Topics in Economics: Environmental and Natural Resource Economics).

(v) Politics:

Choose one of the following: WWS 521 (Domestic Politics), WWS 541 (International Politics), WWS 561 (The Comparative Political Economy of Development) or an approved equivalent.


(vi) An advanced policy paper :

To be written either in an independent reading course or as the term paper for a fourth course (beyond the three taken to fulfill the core and focus area requirements) related to the student's interests. This paper should be of publishable quality.

2) Research Milestones. Early in the fall of their first year, students should meet with their provisional faculty advisors to discuss their research interests and to develop a directed reading list. During the summer following their first year, students will prepare a research prospectus, outlining a tentative thesis project. They are also expected to engage in actual research related to either their tentative thesis project or to a potential publishable paper during that summer. During their second year, students should complete the publishable paper requirement for the general exam. They should also refine and revise their research prospectus, such that it can be turned into a full thesis proposal shortly after the general examination.

3) Examinations. There are two topical examinations in areas selected by the student. The student prepares an examination proposal in consultation with a committee of at least two faculty advisors covering the two areas in which the student wants to declare expertise. The proposal should contain a brief explanation and definitive reading list. The examination committee will use this proposal for guidance in preparing questions for the written examinations. These will be of a form in which questions must be answered within a limited time period. The student's responses to the written exams will form the point of departure for the oral examination administered thereafter by the examination committee, should the examination committee feel that an oral examination is necessary.

In addition, the student should submit the name of a primary advisor and one or more additional committee members to the STEP Program Chair by the end of April in their first year in the program. This is non-binding, but initiates the discussion process between the student and his or her advising and examination committees.

4) Prospectus of dissertation research. A written prospectus setting forth the research plan for the dissertation is required during the semester following completion of generals.