The PhD Program in Political Economy and Government (PEG) combines rigorous training in economics, formal theory, and methods with a substantive focus on the interaction between economic and political institutions and processes. It involves many of the world's leading political economists and is aimed at students who aspire to top academic or policy-making careers. Students typically combine coursework from different Harvard schools and departments for a truly interdisciplinary program of study. It is the oldest graduate program dedicated to political economy in the country, founded in the 1930s.
Students and faculty members in the PEG program share an intellectual interest in the impact of politics on economic processes and outcomes, and the reciprocal influence of economic conditions on political life. It covers such diverse areas as international economic relations, political development, political and economic institutions, institutional transition and reform, economic performance, environmental resource policies, and social policy.
With an eye to building careers in an academic world still divided into separate disciplines, the program offers two different tracks: one in economics and one in political science. The two tracks have somewhat different emphases, but both offer ample opportunities for students to tailor courses to their individual needs; both offer ample opportunities for students to create a suite of courses tailored to their individual needs.
Emphasizing positive—as opposed to normative—political economy, almost any substantive interest can be accommodated by the exceptionally diverse and distinguished faculty members.
PEG is a collaborative program between Harvard Kennedy School and the Department of Economics and the Department of Government in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Students in the Public Policy Program are enrolled in and receive a PhD from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, even though they may work primarily with Harvard Kennedy School faculty.
The Committee on Higher Degrees at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) admits students based on the strength of their academic records, test scores, letters of recommendations, and demonstrated ability and motivation to pursue research. Many of the strongest applicants have completed a master’s degree in a related field. Strong quantitative skills are important, and successful applicants have strong mathematical preparation to the level of multivariable calculus and linear algebra.
When writing their statement of purpose, prospective students should specify interest in either the economics track or the political science track.
All applicants are required to submit a 15- to 20-page writing sample, in English, that is not co-authored.