Carnegie Mellon University

Course Requirements

The course requirements for a PhD are designed to provide students with a common core of knowledge and techniques useful in policy problems, as well as to give each student a mastery of a body of knowledge in the disciplines relevant to his or her individual area of research. Three categories of courses are included in the curriculum:  Core courses; Type A courses in engineering, science, mathematics, and statistics; and Type B courses in social sciences and policy analysis. The following chart outlines the courses. 

19-701  Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis  12 units
19-702 Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis   12 units
xx-xxx Course in Social Science/Survey Statistics 
(19-704 recommended)
6 units (mini)
19-705  Workshop in Applied Policy Analysis 
(Prep for Part B Qualifier)
6 units (full semester)
19-752/753 EPP Teaching Practicum       12 units
12-704  Probability and Estimation Methods for Engineering Systems 12 units
xx-xxx 36 units of technical courses in area of focus
(Type A)
36 units
19-785 Engineering Optimization or other suiitable course incorporating optimization
90-908 Applied Microeconomics. (This is the recommended course.) Students with no previous courses in economics may request to take 19-681 Managerial and Engineering Economics to fulfill their graduate microeconomics requirement. Students wishing to take 90-908 after they have taken 19681 may do so as a Type B elective course.  12 units

24 units of courses in social science and social analysis in area of focus, with at least 6 of the units in the area of political science, regulation or law. (Type B)

24 units

Overall, students are expected to take at least 132 units beyond the BS degree to fulfill the requirements for a PhD in Engineering and Public Policy:

• A minimum of 42 units in core courses
• A minimum of 54 units in Type A courses
• A minimum of 36 units in Type B courses

In order to develop the skills needed to complete their PhD, most students take more than the minimum numbers of courses required.
If students qualify, EPP students may elect to get a M.S. in EPP along their way to the PhD. To do this they must meet the following minimum requirements.

• Spend at least two academic semesters as a full-time graduate student in EPP
• Complete all of the core course requirements including the Teaching Practicum 
• Complete 27 units in Type A courses (12-704 plus two technical courses) 
• Complete 24 units in Type B courses (Microeconomics course plus one social science/social analysis course) 
• Complete nine units in independent research (19-750)

In addition, the student must pass the Qualifying Exams, at least at the MS level and have their completed MS paper approved by their advisor or the Department Head.

They must also fulfill the general requirements of the College of Engineering as noted on the graduate policies website. Joint MS programs may impose additional requirements.

Core Course Requirement

The principal component of the EPP core curriculum is a sequence of courses on perspectives and tools for policy analysis: 19-701, -702, and a course in social science/survey statistics (19-704 recommended). “Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Applied Policy Analysis” (19-701) is a lecture and discussion course that reviews and critically examines a set of problems, assumptions, and analytical techniques that are common to research and policy analysis in technology and public policy. The objective is to look critically at the strengths, limitations, and underlying assumptions of key policy research and analysis tools and problem framing, and to sensitize students to some of the critical issues of professional responsibility, ethics, and values that are associated with policy analysis and research. “Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis” (19-702) is a course that provides a broad introduction to analytical and computational methods commonly used to address technical policy issues. Particular emphasis is placed on methods for decision analysis and optimization.

An additional, optional course offered in the policy sequence is “Workshop in Applied Policy Analysis” (19-705). This course is designed to provide experience in setting up, analyzing, and writing about policy problems of the type that are used in the Part B qualifying exam (described further on). Over the course of the semester, the class works through six or seven policy case problems. Much of the work is done in small groups. The principal focus is on integrating the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the problems and on identifying and practicing general problem solving strategies.

Students will take 19-701 in their first semester (fall) and 19-702 in their second semester (spring). In their 3rd semester, students take 19-705 (though 19-705 remains optional, virtually all of our students take it to prepare for the qualifying exams). Students should also take a social science/survey statistics course in their second or third semester, from a list of approved options (the preferred option for this requirement is the 6-unit mini course 19-704 “Applied Data Analysis,” offered in the 2nd half of the spring semester). Following these guidelines, students should be finished with core courses by the time they take their qualifying exams in the beginning of their 4th semester.

Students have two options to fulfill their teaching practicum. One option is to serve as a manager for a student group project course in EPP. The students taking the project course include EPP undergraduate double major engineering students, undergraduate policy majors in Social and Decision Sciences, and Master's-level students in the H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management. This course allows the development of research and project management skills and involves considerable interaction with both students and outside experts who serve as consultants and reviewers for the project. Students are advised to keep informed about projects being designed for the following semester by attending the project selection meeting held mid-semester. Managers are expected to assist faculty in preparation for the course prior to the beginning of the semester. If you choose this option, you will need to sign up for course 19-752 “EPP Practicum: Project Management.”

The second teaching practicum option is to serve as a teaching assistant in EPP's freshmen introductory course, Introduction to EPP. This opportunity is somewhat limited, typically there are two positions available in Spring semesters when the course is taught. Duties include assisting the course instructor in preparing content prior to the start of the semester, administering the course website, preparing and grading homework and test questions, attending lectures, meeting weekly with the course instructor to plan recitation sessions, conducting recitation sessions, assisting in assigning grades, and being available outside of class to assist students and answer questions. This is a fairly large course with typical lecture sizes in the range of 60 students. As a result some activities, especially grading, will mandate significant periodic time commitments.

Since our practicum options involve lecture, and/or close work with undergraduate students, all international students are expected to take and pass the ITA test at the appropriate level. The International Teaching Assistant test is administered by the Carnegie Mellon University Intercultural Communication Center.

In addition, PhD students working with individuals under the age of 18 may be required to obtain clearances under the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law, known as “Act 153”, including the following clearances: (1) a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance; (2) a Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check; and (3) a Federal Bureau of Investigation Criminal Background Check (collectively, the “Clearances”). The FBI Criminal Background Check requires you to submit your fingerprints at an authorized fingerprint site. If the University determines that you are covered by Act 153, we will notify you and assist you in obtaining the clearances. Failure to obtain any required clearances may impact your ability to serve as a teaching or research assistant.

Students are expected to fulfill their teaching practicum requirement by the end of their third year in the Department.

Type A Requirement

All students are required to complete a first-year graduate course in applied probability and statistics. Currently, the recommended course to meet this requirement is 12-704 “Probability and Estimation Materials for Engineering Systems.” An additional course in optimization is also required. The recommended course is 19-785 "Engineering Optimization" (12 units) or another suitable course incorporating optimization (examples include 18-660 “Numerical Methods for Engineering Design & Optimization,” 45-751 “Optimization,” and other courses on optimization in Mathematics, Machine Learning, Tepper, and other COE Departments. Any of these courses may also be taken in addition to 19-785, with credit applied toward the Type A requirement.)

To meet the remaining units required, students choose from a large group of graduate technical courses in areas such as engineering, science, applied mathematics, and statistics. There are two motivations for this requirement. First, before one can extend the perspectives and tools of engineering, one must develop a firm notion of what these perspectives and tools really are. Second, the technical dimensions of the policy problems that are addressed by students pursuing graduate studies in EPP cannot be treated as a "black box." EPP graduate students must develop the skills to deal with the technical aspects of these problems. It is intended that students develop a level of mastery in their technical area of focus similar to that obtained in a traditional program of graduate study in that area.

Type B Requirement

All students must take a graduate-level course in applied microeconomics (currently 90-908 or with approval 19-681). A minimum of two additional social science electives are required. Several courses in quantitative research methods in the social sciences are available. Courses in political science and social processes are also encouraged, and it is intended that students will develop a healthy sense of cultural relativism, a notion of the way in which values and social organizations shape our thinking, and an understanding of the way in which these factors have changed and can change with time. Such notions are difficult to characterize in quantitative terms, but are fundamental to a proper understanding of many of the problems that EPP graduate students address. At least 6 units must be in the area of political science, regulation, or law. Note that units for certain courses, such as 19-710 “Management and Practice for Environmental Engineering,” and 19-713 “Policies of Wireless Systems & the Internet” may be split and counted partially for Type A and B course requirements and that the Type B units for these can be applied to the political science-regulation-law requirement. Similar flexibility may apply to other courses as well. Our students also commonly take courses in the following CMU schools and departments: Tepper School of Business, The H. John Heinz School of Public Policy and Management, the Department of Social and Decision Sciences, and the Department of Statistics.

An overall 3.0 grade-point average is expected for graduation.

Further information on coursework is provided in our doctoral student handbook and is updated each August.