Interested in learning about our PhD in Public Policy program? Why not connect with one of our graduate program advisors in person or online? 

Program Description

The Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy (PhD) offers learning and research opportunities for highly qualified students to advance knowledge and move the study of public policy forward. Students graduating from this program will be in a position to train the next generation of public service professionals and to conduct public policy and management research for government, business, think tanks and other research organizations.

The PhD program involves a combination of course work (culminating in a comprehensive exam) and proposing, writing and defending a dissertation. It is designed so that students can finish in as little as three years of full-time study. Students who are engaged in the program on a full-time basis can expect to receive financial support. Upon entry into the program, each student is assigned a research advisor and an advisory committee.

Students entering the PhD program are required to participate in the Get Connected! academic orientation for new students, which is held in early September.


As one of Canada's leading schools for policy analysis and research, the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy is making a difference by concentrating its research capacity on three main priority areas:

To ensure engagement in these areas of research, JSGS faculty are committed to encouraging student involvement on research projects, grant applications, seminar series, and other opportunities for knowledge translation. As such the school has on average three to five fully funded fellowships to support Master of Public Policy and doctoral students.

Research Supervisors

It is not necessary to find a potential supervisor before you begin an application. The list below though may be helpful to learn about the individual research interests of our faculty.

JSGS faculty Areas of research interest
Cheryl Camillo Public administration; Health administration; Comparative health policy; Health system reform; Canadian and United States public policy; Social policy; Inequality and inequity
Ken Coates Regional innovation;University education and higher education generally; Aboriginal rights and land claims; Science and technology policy; Japan and Canada-Asia relations; Northern development/Circumpolar affairs
Bruno Dupeyron Comparative politics; Multilevel governance; Processes of regional integration; Public action in the international and transnational fields; Border governance; Strategies of institutional building in the European Union, NAFTA and the Mercosur; Immigration policy
Murray Fulton Behavioural economics, Governance, Co-operatives and the social economy, Agricultural and resource policy 
Robert Hawkins Administrative law (public inquiries, bias, standards of review), Constitutional law (crown prerogative and conventions), Post-secondary education policy
Margot Hurlbert Law, Government policy, Aboriginal governance, Environment and sustainability, Social justice
Tarun Katapally Population health interventions; Active living research; Child and youth health; Built environment and health; Aboriginal health; Health policy
Iryna Khovrenkov Economics of charities, Foundation and leadership giving, Applied microeconomics, Public economics and tax policy 
Justin Longo Digital governance; policy analytics; public sector implementation of artificial intelligence and robotics; social and environmental impacts of technology
Kathleen McNutt Digital government; Social Media; Policy Analysis; Program Evaluation
Haizhen Mou Health policy; Fiscal policy
Peter Phillips Science, technology and innovation policy; International political economy; Regulation, governance and trade policy; Decision making theory and behavioural experimentation
Marc-Andre Pigeon Co-operatives; Behavioural economics and psychology; Money, banking and the financial sector; Fiscal and monetary policy
Jeremy Rayner Global forest governance; Resource, environmental and energy policies; Policy theory (especially institutionalism and problems of policy change)
Yang Yang Consumer behaviour; Food economics; Experimental economics; Food policy
Amy Zarzeczny Health law, Health and science policy, Governance of emerging, unproven and experimental medical interventions and biomedical technologies, Medical tourism 


Students at the U of S campus must also complete (in their first term of study) GPS 960 Introduction to Ethics and Integrity. This is a non-credit, online course required by the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and is at no cost to the student.

*Once an applicant has been admitted, the program of studies (i.e., selection of appropriate courses based on above) will be determined.

Students who have taken one or more of these courses previously (i.e., in a master's program) will be required to substitute an additional course or courses. Students may take additional courses in a particular subject area if they wish, subject to the approval of their advisory committee.

Application Qualifications

Applicants to the PhD program must have a master’s degree in public policy, public administration or in a cognate discipline such as economics, political science, political sociology or educational administration, with a minimum average of 75 per cent in that program.

Please note that because the number of applications received greatly exceeds the number of available places, not all qualified applicants will be offered admission (we typically admit two to three students a year). Indeed, successful candidates will typically have an average well in excess of 80 per cent (or lower first class).

To apply to the program, applicants are required to submit a research program statement that outlines the research that they would like to pursue in the area of public policy. This should include a well-defined problem statement, a review of the appropriate literature, an initial methodology and a statement indicating the significance/relevance of such a research program. While students will not be held to the research program that they outline, the document will serve to guide the student and their committee with the courses and the material they explore through their course work.

Exceptional students may be considered for a transfer from the school’s MPP or MPA program to the PhD program, following completion of at least 15 credit units of the core courses required for the MPP (MPA students who wish to be considered must take MPP core courses through their electives). Students seeking a transfer will be required to pass a qualifying exam. Three letters of recommendation (typically from faculty in the school) in support of the transfer must be provided.


Students entering the PhD program are required to pass a qualifying exam. This exam may be waived for students with a master’s degree (with thesis) in public policy from a recognized university and for students with a master’s degree (with thesis) in a cognate field (e.g., economics, political science, political sociology, public or educational administration). Normally this examination is administered within the first year, preferably within the first four months, of a student beginning the PhD program.

Students will complete a comprehensive exam following their prescribed course work. The comprehensive exam involves both written and oral components. The exams will cover general public policy topics, as well as material linked to the student’s research program. Following successful completion of the comprehensive exam, students will move to the development of a dissertation proposal and, upon its approval, to the dissertation research. Students will be given the option of using either the standard dissertation structure or the three-paper model.

Funding and Tuition


Highly qualified PhD students who are engaged in the program on a full-time basis will automatically be considered for funding at a competitive rate.

In addition to potential funding from the school, there are scholarships and awards available for students at the University of Regina and the University of Saskatchewan.


Tuition and fees are subject to change. Should there be a discrepancy between the information posted on the institution's website and information posted on the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy website, the institution website should be viewed as accurate.

University of Saskatchewan campus

The tuition rate for PhD program at the University of Saskatchewan campus is $1,619.00 (per term) for the 2021/22 academic year (September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022), plus graduate student fees, as well as an international surcharge (if applicable, $1,227.75 per term). Continuous registration for all students in the PhD program is required—that is, students must register in all three terms each academic year until their program is completed.

University of Regina campus

The tuition rate for PhD program at the University of Regina campus is $1,619.00 (per term) for the 2021/22 academic year (September 1, 2021 to August 31, 2022), plus graduate student fees, as well as an international surcharge (if applicable, $1,239.50 per term). Continuous registration for all students in the PhD program is requiredthat is, students must register in all three terms each academic year until their program is completed.