PhD in Public Policy

Frequently Asked Questions


When will the program begin to accept admission applications for the next cohort?

The PhD cohort admits students on a three year cycle. We expect to admit a new cohort for Fall 2019. The admission cycle will begin in the winter of 2019.

Are there testing requirements?

Yes, the GRE is required.

If an applicant is an international student whose first language is not English, the following testing is required: Submit official TOEFL scores of 550 or higher on the paper-based test, 79 or higher on the Internet-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test, or official IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher. International students who have received their undergraduate or graduate degree from an English-speaking institution may apply for a waiver of this requirement.

I am an international student. Are there any other items I need to submit?

International students should check this website for additional instructions:

Will I be able to transfer in prior coursework?

No.  Those admitted will be expected to take all courses with the cohort..

I was recently accepted into a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) program, but I want to transfer into the Ph.D. program. What do I do?

You cannot transfer into the Ph.D. program. You will need to apply to the Ph.D. program. Your acceptance into a CAS program at USM does not mean that you will be automatically accepted into the Ph.D. program.

How do I contact Admissions?

Admissions can be reached at 207-780-4386 or

General Program Questions

Would this Ph.D. be a good fit for me?

The Ph.D. in Public Policy with a concentration in educational leadership and policy is designed for working professionals with experience and interest in educational leadership who wish to attain a doctorate.

Is there going to be a focus on K-12 educators or will higher education also be included?

We are looking for a diverse cross-section of applicants across the spectrum of K-12 and higher education.

Will this program lead to teaching/principal/superintendent certification?

The Ph.D. program will not give you the course work that you need to become certified as a teacher, principal, superintendent or any other school administrator in the state of Maine. The School of Education and Human Development offers several masters and CAS degrees in which you can fulfill the requirements for certification.

What is a “cohort-based program model”?

Only a small group of candidates will be selected to begin the program this fall. Those students will progress through the program and take all courses together over the next three years and will aim to complete the program at the same time.

Who will be on the dissertation committees? Will outside professionals be invited to participate?

The dissertation committees will consist of a combination of University of Southern Maine faculty members affiliated with the School of Education and the Muskie School of Public Service. Outside professionals will be considered as appropriate.

Curriculum & Enrollment Questions

What is the program of study?
See the link “About the concentration” for the three-year schedule of courses.

How/when will the courses be offered?
Students will take two courses each semester for a total of four courses during the school year (September - May) and two courses during the summer for a total of 18 credits per year. The final course schedule will be developed after students have been admitted, so the program can be best designed to fit the students’ needs.  However, students can expect to have class one evening per week and approximately one Saturday per month throughout the academic year.  During the summer, courses will be compressed with one or two weeks of intensive study.

See the link “About the concentration” for the three-year schedule of courses.

What is the mode of delivery for courses?
This is a face-to-face program.  There are no online courses in the program.  At their own discretion, individual instructors may include online components, including the option to attend class a distance.

Who will be teaching the courses?
The courses will be taught by a combination of University of Southern Maine faculty members affiliated with the School of Education and the Muskie School of Public Service.

Can I take a course before applying to the program?
Sadly, no. You need to be accepted into the program in order to enroll in a course.

Financial Questions

Where can I find the most up-to-date tuition rates and fees information?
Student Financial Services lists the current tuition and fees on their website.

Will I be able to finance my education with student loans?

Graduate students commonly obtain unsubsidized loans to assist with their expenses. Half-time students (those taking at least six graduate credit hours per semester) are usually eligible for loans to cover tuition, books, and assist with living expenses.

Who do I contact for more information about the program?

Kimberly Warren, Director of Academic Administration
School of Education and Human Development
College of Management and Human Service


(REV 6.6.2016)