Apply for a PhD in Planning and Public Affairs

  • Application Available: Now available on the Graduate School site
  • Application Deadline: January 4, 2021
  • Application Decision: The admissions committee will meet after the application deadline to review applications and may conduct virtual interviews as part of this process. Our goal is to make offers by early February

Application to the PhD program is very competitive. To ensure adequate advising and support, we expect to admit a cohort of two to three students each year.

As disciplines and a school dedicated to equity and inclusion, we seek to diversify our fields and academia; our Equity Initiative and UO programs are designed to help support that goal by creating a supportive environment.

We value applicants with professional experience. As a school located in a state with innovative policies and faculty grounded in applied and engaged research, we seek applicants who aspire to innovative models of policy, planning, and nonprofit research.

Our goal is to ensure students are fully supported during their studies. Admitted students will be offered four years of financial support in the form of teaching and research positions provided they meet progress requirements. Additional years of funding will be available through an application process. Students are also expected to participate in developing grant proposals to support their research.

Admission Requirements

  1. Applicants must have a master’s degree in planning, public policy, public administration, nonprofit management, or a related field. Students interested in doctoral study who do not currently have a master’s degree should enroll in one of our master’s degree programs: Community and Regional Planning, Nonprofit Management, or Public Administration.
  2. Applicants must identify their Disciplinary Track and Research Concentration.

    Disciplinary Tracks (choose 1)
    Community and Regional Planning
    Nonprofit Management
    Public Administration and Public Policy

    Research Concentrations (choose 1, or 2 for a Dual Concentration)
    Access and Equity
    Nonprofit, Philanthropic, and Social Enterprise
    Sustainable Transportation and Cities
  3. You must also identify potential faculty members with whom you'd like to work. Use the links below to explore faculty bios and discuss your potential interests with them. Applications are reviewed by an admissions committee after consultation with the faculty members you have nominated.

    Access and Equity Faculty
    John Arroyo
    José Meléndez
    Gerardo Sandoval

    Nonprofit, Philanthropic, and Social Enterprise
    Renee Irvin
    Saurabh Lall
    Dyana Mason

  4. Complete the application for the PhD program online. You'll need to create electronic copies (in PDF format) of the following documents to upload:
    • Comprehensive Employment and Education Résumé
    • A statement describing:
      • why you are interested in pursuing a PhD
      • how our program fits with your career goals
      • your research area and interest
      • any personal challenges, barriers, or hardships you faced and how you overcame them
    • Unofficial transcripts
    • GRE scores: On the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) sent from the testing center. The University's institution code is "4846 UO" and use program code "Public Administration." GMAT scores are also accepted; use code "KSQ." Note: due to constraints created by COVID, the GRE is highly recommended but not required
    • Non-native English-speaking applicants: TOEFL scores (see UO requirements)
    • Primary and secondary research concentrations
    • Disciplinary track
    • Abstract of your research interests
    • Two faculty members you would be interested in working with, and a description of why you're interested in working with them
    • Three letters of recommendation from references who can evaluate your academic and research potential (provide email addresses for your references within the Online Graduate Application), with two or more of the letters by a faculty member
    • A writing sample that demonstrates your skills such as researching, analyzing, and synthesizing findings. This can be a published or unpublished work, such as an academic paper, research report, thesis, or other document.
  5. You must have official transcripts from all colleges or universities where you received a bachelor’s and masters’s degree. Find more information on the Graduate School's Official Transcript Requirements page
    Send them to:
    Office of the Registrar
    5257 University of Oregon
    Eugene, OR 97403

    Transcript Notes:
  • Transcripts must show degree awarded.
  • If you attended a school but didn’t complete a degree, you do not need to send that transcript to the Office of Admissions.
  • If you have not yet finished your degree at the time of application, you do not need to send your in-progress transcripts to the Office of Admissions. If you are admitted, you will need to arrange to have your final degree transcript sent after your degree is conferred.
  • If you attended or are currently attending the University of Oregon, you do not need to send your UO transcript to the Admissions Office.

Review and Notification

Application decisions will depend on finding a match between each applicant and at least two PPPM faculty members. Therefore, applicants should spend time understanding the work of our participating faculty in the three research groups. Also, some faculty may already be working with several doctoral students so may not be able to take on additional students in a given year.

An admissions committee will review applications and refer them to relevant faculty members for feedback. Finalists will likely be asked to participate in a video conference. Our goal is to make offers by early February.

We encourage prospective students to contact faculty for a call or video chat. For the time being, we are not organizing in-person campus visits.