L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs

L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs


Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration


Experience cross-disciplinary fields.

Work with faculty across our five academic areas and take the opportunity to specialize in one.


The Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration prepares students for scholarly and leadership roles in settings including government, higher education and research organizations.

Our multi-disciplinary approach means you’ll work with faculty from across our programs and have the chance to specialize in areas including: public policy, public administration, criminal justice policy and urban policy.

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Rising to New Heights: The Wilder School ranks No. 6 in Homeland Security, No. 33 in Public Management and Leadership, and stands strong at No. 39 in Public Affairs Graduate Schools according to the 2024 U.S. News & World Report.

We are proud to announce historic achievements in the 2024 U.S. News & World Report graduate program rankings. For the first time, the Wilder School has been recognized as the nation's sixth-leading institution for Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, marking a significant milestone in our commitment to academic excellence and innovation in public affairs.

This year, the Wilder School continues to be ranked among the nation's top schools:

All students are encouraged to pursue additional research and training while completing their degree, and those interested in academics careers are encouraged to gain additional teaching experience.

Classes are scheduled in late afternoons, early evenings and on weekends to meet the needs of working professionals and full-time graduate student

Program, admission and degree requirements

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Want to learn more about the program and application process? Get in touch and request information with this form.

Launched as the nation’s first homeland security and emergency preparedness program in 2005, we prepare students to manage the complexities of disaster planning and response.

Alumni often work in private and public-sector jobs related to emergency management, security or crisis planning, or pursue graduate study in fields such as government, international affairs, law enforcement, policy planning and law.

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The Wilder School is also recognized for demonstrating exemplary commitment in four areas recognized by Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA), the global standard in public service education.


“Professors at the Wilder School are simply outstanding. The most important lesson learned was not to accept the status quo but to challenge it, interrogate it, excavate it, and thus arrive at new understandings in the field.”

— Cynthia Cors, Ph.D., Class of 2014, Acting Director, Division of Program Operations, Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services