Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy

The Ph.D. Program in Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) focuses on problems in science, technology and public policy in which the interaction of technology, humans and institutions play central importance. It addresses unstructured and complex problems that are best tackled by combining fundamental and applied knowledge from various traditional research fields using multidisciplinary research mechanisms and tools.

Admissions and Scholarships – 2020/2021 Applications are closed

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Students enrolled in the Ph.D. Program in Engineering and Public Policy will part of Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy (EPP) and of one of the two Portuguese Universities involved: Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Universidade de Lisboa and Faculdade de Engenharia, Universidade do Porto (FEUP) .


The program focuses on the idea of technical change and its implication for sustainable development under increasing uncertainty. Engineering and other scientific disciplines have contributed dramatically to technical change but the issue has been studied extensively mainly by economists. Thus, the study of technical change departing from an understanding of the technology is still largely missing, mainly under conditions of uncertainty. Engineers and scientists who develop new technologies understand specific technologies, but often have no interest in exploring their economic and social implications.

This raises the need to study technical change (and, therefore, innovation) departing from an understanding of specific technologies, and drawing from the conceptual framework of the interactive models of technical change and risk governance.

The challenge is to establish “technology and policy” as a field of study that focuses on complex engineering systems and products, viewing those systems and products in their broad social and industrial context. This requires faculty from engineering, management, and the social sciences committed to integrative, interdisciplinary engineering systems and policy programs. 


Specific focal themes for advanced doctoral studies include: 

    • Industrialization, geography and policy: it is important to develop new competencies, at a post-graduation level, on industrial policy and complement generic research on how technical change contributes to productivity together with job creation, with specific analyses of new and advanced manufacturing technologies at the firm and sectorial level. Attention should be focused on knowledge flows along the value chains of emerging industries (e.g., oil & gas; aeronautics; space; biotech), together with the necessary competencies and capacities to devise policies to promote a sustainable future. It will include analysis of “technology infrastructures”, consisting of science, engineering, and technical knowledge available to industry.
    • Networked and critical infrastructures, by extending methods developed in the context of more conventional disciplinary problems to issues of both technology and policy, with emphasis on: i) energy systems and their integration with information and communication technologies, giving priority to the integration of renewables in the energy network; and ii) telecom security, giving priority to regulatory frameworks of the ICT sector, which is highly dynamic with new technologies emerging at increasing rates and conflicting interests of operators, manufacturers and consumers affecting the level of competition among different infrastructures, products and services.
    • Knowledge for development: the idea that investments in S&T can, rather than a cost for governments, be a driver of productivity and innovation in developing societies is now a well-established hypothesis, but lacking empirical testing. Thus, it is important to invest in new competencies enabling us to improve our understanding of the mechanisms through which investments in S&T lead to modern societies in developing regions and to help training a new generation of technology and policy leaders for those regions.
    • Risk governance: Analysis of emerging and systemic risks, facilitating societies to benefit from technical change, while minimizing the negative consequences of associated risks. The focus is on technological risks, as analyzed together with major societal risks. The ultimate goal is to help designing engineering practices to deal with uncertainty (i.e., “design for uncertainty”), including industrialization strategies that consider major opportunities associated with the need to mitigate energy and environment related risks, as well as emerging risks in association with urban concentrations. This includes the discussion of stakeholder engagement processes to help communicating emerging risks and to foster their mitigation.
    • Regulation and policies towards emerging forms of technological innovation, with emphasis on adaptive regulatory frameworks and including the analysis of new convergence paradigms among health sciences, physical sciences and engineering (i.e., with particular application in bioengineering).

Course Structure

The course structure requirements and contents may vary between the Universities. Below you can access the course structure or the Ph.D. in Engineering and Public Policy for each University.


The thesis will be co-advised by at least two co-advisers, one from CMU and one from a Portuguese partner University

Type of Degree

The student will be awarded with a dual degree Ph.D conferred by CMU and another by the Portuguese partner University. During the Ph.D., the student should comply with the regulations of both Universities.


5 years (full-time), with up to 2 years at CMU and up to 3 years at a Portuguese University.

Scholarships and tuition​

The Ph.D. students enrolled in the dual degree Ph.D. program will receive financial support through an FCT - CMU Portugal Fellowship (includes tuition fees and a monthly stipend).​

Application requirements

The Ph.D. program uses the College of Engineering online application for admissions.
You must submit the following with your application:
• CV (pdf.)
• A statement of purpose — a concise one- or two-page essay describing your primary research interests, related experiences and objective in pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science
• Graduate Record Examination (GRE)* scores
• If your native language is not English, then you must submit a TOEFL**
• Transcripts from each college and/or university you attended, even if no degree was granted (pdf.)***
• Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which are from faculty or recent employers

* GRE test: On the following website you can register for the GRE test. In Portugal, this test can be taken in Lisbon and Coimbra. To meet the application deadline, we recommend applicants to take the required tests by September. GRE Scores are valid for five years; older scores will not be considered.

** Fluency in English: The TOEFL is required for international applicants whose native language is not English. More information can be found on the following website.

*** Degree recognition: If the degree was obtained in a foreign institution the candidate must require the equivalence or the recognition of the degree according to the Portuguese law, through DGES or a Portuguese higher education institution. More information here.

More information on admission requirements at the CMU EPP Department are available here.