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Students entering Saint Louis University’s public and social policy program must already have earned a master's degree in the social sciences or a related professional field.

If you have not already earned a master’s degree, you might consider any of the following programs at SLU before entering our Ph.D. program:

Full-Time or Part-Time Study?

Requirements for admission and achievement of our Ph.D. degree in public and social policy are identical for full-time and part-time students. Both full-time and part-time students take the same courses, taught by the same faculty members. To accommodate both groups, most graduate-level courses in our department are offered in the evening.

Making the final decision on whether or not to attend full-time or part-time should be considered carefully. Our faculty advisers can help you determine which is best for you.

Full-Time Students

Students who are experiencing a career transition and have plenty of free time may take on a full academic workload. Full-time students are expected to take nine hours of class each semester.

Graduate assistantships are available for some full-time students. Assistantships require 20 hours of work each week in the department. Tasks include teaching, research, communications and technological applications. If you are interested in a graduate assistantship, notify the director of the program.

Part-Time Students

Many of our graduate students are engaged in careers which require the majority of their time, so pursuing a degree part-time works best for them. Part-time students at the graduate level normally take two courses per semester. Our programs can be tailored to your schedule.

If you decide to attend part-time, be sure to apply as a part-time student. Your enrollment status will be taken into consideration if you apply for extra time to complete your degree.

Program Requirements

Written Comprehensive Exam

Once you complete the seven core classes, you will be required to sit for a written exam. In order to continue in the program, you must attempt the qualifying exam no later than the next regular semester following the completion of core course requirements, and you must pass the exam by the end of the second regular semester after completing the core course requirements. You may attempt the examination twice. Examinations are offered twice a year. The examination will be administered by a five-person committee.

Oral Dissertation Defense

Once you have completed the core requirements, you may submit a dissertation proposal. The proposal must be submitted no later than the next regular semester following the completion of all course requirements and successfully defended no later than the end of the second regular semester following the completion of all course requirements. The proposal defense will be evaluated by a five-person committee. You will advance to candidacy after passing the proposal defense.

Defense of the Dissertation

After readers have approved the general content of the dissertation, a public, oral presentation and defense of the dissertation will be scheduled. Once you have successfully defended the dissertation and required coursework, you will have fulfilled the requirements of the Ph.D.