Department of Statistics Unitmark
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Statistics/Engineering and Public Policy Ph.D.

The Department offers a Ph.D. in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon's Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP). As stated on their web site, research in EPP focuses on four main areas: energy and environmental systems, information and communication technology policy, risk analysis and communication, and technical innovation and R&D policy. These are areas which clearly require statistical methodology; students in this joint program will focus on developing novel methodology to address such challenges.


Students in this program and not required to take the Data Analysis Exam (unless they want to receive the M.S. in Statistics). Otherwise they are subject to all of the core Ph.D. requirements, plus the following:

Additional course requirements of this joint program are the following:

  • 19-701: Theory and Practice of Policy Analysis
  • This course 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. Topics covered include the difference between science, trans-science and policy analysis, policy problems formulated in terms of utility maximization, issues in the valuation of intangibles, uncertainty in policy analysis, selected topics in risk analysis, limitations and alternatives to the paradigm of utility maximization, issues in behavioral decision theory, issues related to organizations and multiple agents, and selected topics in policy advice and policy analysis for the federal government. The objective is to look critically at the strengths, limitations and underlying assumptions of key policy research and analysis tools and problem framing and sensitize students to some of the critical issues of taste, professional responsibility, ethics, and values that are associated with policy analysis and research.

  • 19-702 Quantitative Methods for Policy Analysis
  • Economic framework for identifying and analyzing investment and operation options facing agencies and firms, (both in theory and in practice); economic efficiency, utilization, pricing, and investment; and multi-objective evaluation.

  • 19-705: Workshop in Applied Policy Analysis
  • The course is designed to provide experience in setting up, analyzing, and writing about policy problems of the type that are used in the EPP Part B qualifying exam. 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.

Also, students must complete a teaching experience which may be satisfied by teaching a Statistics course, or completing the EPP Teaching Practicum (19-753) or the course EPP Project Management (19-752).

Further, students in this program are required to be enrolled in at least six units of courses other than Reading and Research. Students must choose at least two approved Social Science/Policy courses (24 units), including Applied Microeconomics (90-908 or equivalent), over the course of their program.

Students must also complete the EPP Part A Qualifying Exam. The EPP Part A Qualifying Exam is a research paper written under the supervision of an advisor from each department. The writing is followed by a 20-minute presentation with an extended Q&A session. The exam occurs following the third semester of study.

The thesis committee for a student in this program should contain at least two EPP faculty and at least two Statistics faculty.