PhD Program Requirements

Students in the program must complete fifteen courses over two years in residence (training grant has additional requirements). The core curriculum spreads across three categories: theory, methods, and area of concentration. Students must take the 5.5 core curriculum courses, which are indicated by name below. In addition, students must take one course, as well as a non-credit doctoral seminar, in their area of concentration. Of the remaining 8.5 courses, 3.5 must be from an approved list of Heller PhD electives, listed below. Five courses are left for students to design their individual program of study.  Electives may be chosen from a variety of offerings in all three categories. Upon the completion of course work, students must successfully complete an integrated Comprehensive Exam. Successful completion of all course work fulfills requirements for the Master of Arts in Social Policy. Successful completion of all course work and the Comprehensive Exam allows students to proceed to the dissertation.

In addition to coursework, you must:

Core Requirements (5.5 courses - 22 credits)

Approved PhD Elective Courses


The Heller School has always been synonymous with extraordinary opportunities in social policy research and training. As a Heller doctoral student, you are expected to develop a specialization that has breadth and depth. You can do this by choosing several options, including formal course work, projects, tutorials, and attendance at professional meetings, lectures, workshops and colloquia. Select a concentration for a comprehensive description of each and its associated curriculum.

Cover of Heller viewbook

Heller Viewbook - accessible PDF

One mission. A million motivations. The Heller viewbook outlines those graduate degree programs in which you'll develop the broad knowledge and focused skills to serve the communities you care deeply about and have a positive impact on our society.