Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Studies Public Policy & Social Change

Union’s Public Policy & Social Change concentration prepares students to critically re-examine the principles and values that support the public policy process. The concentration challenges students to critically interrogate governmental policies through the lens of ethical leadership, creative problem-solving, social justice, diversity, and global interdependence. Students develop multifaceted expertise through courses such as policy processes, policy analysis, conflict resolution, community development, democratic theory, human rights, and global studies. As scholar-practitioners, students move beyond the traditional confines of public policy as a technocratic science and develop critical and creative ways to solve crucial contemporary social problems.


66 Total credits
$1095 Cost Per Credit Hour
Jan 1 Next Start Date

Applied & Academic Skills

  • Articulate the impact of power on conflict resolution across the world.
  • Reexamine the ways we generate knowledge and apply technique in a flexible, distance learning format.
  • Gain a unique perspective on the role of leaders and leadership in a changing and complex world.
  • 66 credit hour program
  • Full & part-time options
  • *Hybrid program
  • January & July start dates
  • Complete your degree in as little as 3 years

*100% online classes with a one-week residency in Cincinnati at the start of each term.


You have the option of exploring courses outside the ECL concentration or using electives for a certificate (e.g. Executive Leadership) or for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Legacy Studies specialization.

Careers of our Public Policy and Social Change Graduates

College Instructor

Non-Profit Sector

Government Sector

Environmental Advocacy

EMBEDDED CERTIFICATES - No extra time or cost to complete

Graduate certificates provide you with a distinguished addition to your Ph.D. focus. All students in the Ph.D. Program in Interdisciplinary Studies have the option to pursue one of these graduate certificates embedded in the program:

  • Creative Writing
  • Design Thinking
  • Educational Leadership
  • Ethics and Philosophy
  • Executive Leadership
  • Museum Studies
  • Women’s & Gender Studies

Dissertation Information and Examples

The program supports a variety of formats for doctoral dissertations, including theoretical, historical, and interpretive research, social action research projects, empirical research using qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods, and creative dissertations. Here are some examples from our Public Policy & Social Change graduates:

  • Lewis, Jacinda (2020).  Exploring sex offenders’ experiences through the lens of social justice.
  • Nauta, Carmen (2019). Understanding the challenges to lactation initiation and duration among low-income WIC participants in the South Bronx: A phenomenological study
  • Rojas, Gina Augon (2018). Navigating Contested Terrain: A Critical Case Study of Guam’s Chamorro Land Trust Residential Land Lease Program.
  • Scott, Cheri (2017). Chronicling the Flint, Michigan Water Crisis: A Rigid Dichotomy Between Environmental Policy and Environmental Justice.

Funding Your Future

Explore your financial aid & scholarship options. We strive to make college affordable. See what makes Union the best value.