Ph.D. in Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG)

Ph.D. in Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) 2016-12-12T21:58:06+00:00

The Ph.D. in Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) focuses on the impact of and the response of societies to globalization.  The program draws upon course work and insights across the social sciences and humanities.   Faculty and students work closely together to build a research-based program in which students apply theories and leverage their professional experience to explore enduring issues in international affairs.

Who Should Consider This Degree?

Professionals and active military in the DC metro area aiming at pursuing a PhD degree while working full time

Full-time students wishing to work towards their PhD degree, while networking in the Washington policy environment.

– students interested in pursuing an academic career.

Short Guide to the Ph.D. in Planning, Governance, and Globalization

Key Features

The PGG program consists on 90 credit hours. This consists of a mixture of coursework (up to 30 hours) and research and dissertation hours. Student can transfer in up to 30 hours from their Master’s degree.

  • Program is offered in Blacksburg and the Washington D.C (National Capital Region) campuses
  • Program is open to full and part-time students
  • Flexible scheduling through online and evening courses
  • Individualized guidance from faculty advisers
  • Scholarships and tuition support
  • Prior graduate credits can be counted towards the degree
  • Rolling admissions

Classes are offered in the evenings and online to accommodate working professionals and PGG students may enroll part-time.  Nearly all courses are taught by regular, full-time faculty.

A limited number of Graduate Teaching Assistantships are available each year.  Students interested in receiving an assistantship need to apply to the PGG program by 15 February.

Possible research areas include the US foreign policy, new security threats, conflict resolution, geopolitics, social policy, international finance, economics, and development, the environment and natural resources, and social movements.

The faculty has particular strengths in post-Soviet Eurasia, the Balkans, Latin America, and the Middle East.

Dissertation topics – In progress  

  • Eric Reading – the dynamics shaping global development assistance.
  • Dallas Shaw – military and civilian interventions in “weak”, “failing” and “failed states”.
  • Gabriel Mitchell – the relationship between energy policy and foreign policy in Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Craig M. Johnson – international organizations and nuclear security.
  • Gregory Kruczek – nationalism, conflict and Middle Eastern Christian communities
  • Martin Cho – International policy and new energy technology.
  • Carl Ciovacco – Perceptions of threat and US-China relations.
  • Jeanette Ruiz – Informal networks and communication technologies.
  • Pishtiwan Jawal – political Islam, democracy and the Kurdish issue.
  • Gela Merabishvili – Sub-national actors’ influence in international politics.
  • Joe Karle – US nation building efforts in the Middle East since 9/1.
  • Kevin Rosier – international political economy and development.
  • Ashleigh Breske – The governance of repatriation-returning history in a globalized world
  • Putu Desy Apriliani – The effects of microfinance on gender relations in Bali’
  • Jake Keyel – Social and political pressures on, and self-perceptions of, Iraqi refugees in the United States
  • Brett R. Netto – the English School of International Relations Theory and Russian perception of International Society. 

Recently Defended Ph.D dissertations:

  • Adis Maksic, 2014, NCR – “Mobilizing for Ethnic Violence? Ethno-National Political Parties and the Dynamics of Ethno Politicization”.
  • David Belt, 2014, NCR – “A Muslim-led Strategy for Countering Violent Extremism”.
  • Michelline Stokes, 2015, Blacksbug – “The Household Survival Strategies of Manufacturing Workers Displaced in Henry County and New River Valley, VA”.
  • Arnold Dupuy, 2016, NCR – “Changing Patterns of Regionalism and Security in the Wider Black Sea Area: The Transformative Impact of Energy”.
  • Bryan Riddle, 2016, NCR – “Accounting for Counterinsurgency Doctrines and Solutions to Warfighting Failures in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghnistan”
  • Sonya Finley,  2016, NCR – “Recommending Political Warfare: The Role of Eisenhower’s Committee on International Information Activities in the US’s Approach to the Cold War”.


Admission to PGG program is based on a combination of four criteria:

  • Performance in Master’s program/Academic Transcript
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose/interest in program
  • Professional background and experience

The PGG program does not have an application deadline but has a ‘rolling admissions’ policy. As a general guideline, applications for Fall Admissions (Fall semester starts in late August) should be filed by 15 July, and applications for Spring admissions (spring semester starts in late January) should be filed by 1 January in order to allow time for review.  Applications for Summer admission is 15 April

A limited number of Graduate Teaching Assistantships are available each year.  Students wishing to be considered for one of these assistantships should apply by 15 February.

Students can be admitted to the PGG degree program in the Fall, Spring, and Summer. However, it is recommended that students enter in the Fall or Spring semesters as our foundational courses are taught face to face during the Fall and Spring semesters

Information Sessions: All Washington D.C. based applicants are encouraged to attend an information session before applying.

  1. Prospective student need to prepare a statement of interest, detailing their proposed area of research, their professional background and experience (if applicable) and their interest in pursuing a doctorate at Virginia Tech.  They should include a professional resume.
  2. Academic Transcripts – Master’s and undergraduate
  3. Three letters of recommendation from a mix of former professors and others who have had the opportunity to observe the applicant in an academic and  professional capacity.
  4. GRE scores of at least 1100, verbal and quantitative.  Non-traditional, part-time working professionals can make a case for the GRE to be waived. Applicants wishing to request a waver are encouraged to come to an information session or contact the program director, Prof. Joel Peters to be considered.
Are you uncertain about enrolling in this program but would be interested in trying a class?

Many of our doctoral students, especially part-time students who are working professionals in the Washington D.C area, start the PGG program as a non-degree Commonwealth Campus student.

Commonwealth Campus status is open to an applicant who holds an earned bachelors or higher degree from a regionally accredited U.S. university. Examples of students who seek admission into the Commonwealth Campus program include those who may qualify for regular admission but do not currently wish apply immediately for a graduate degree or need to update their academic credentials after several years of professional experience.

If students perform well in the courses they take, they can build a case for admission into the PGG degree. Students can take up to twelve credit hours (typically four classes) as a non-degree Commonwealth Campus student.

Get info on our non-degree programs

Contact us today!

Please note that International students must have a decision on their applications no later than the following deadlines:  

For Fall Admissions – 1 April

For applications for Spring admissions – 1 September.  

Please allow plenty of time for the review of your application.  Any decisions made after these time frames need to be approved in advance and on a case-by-case basis, by the Graduate School’s International Graduate Student Services staff.  The contact email is

Evidence of English Proficiency: International applicants are exempt from demonstrating English proficiency if they have graduated from an accredited university where English is the language of instruction or if they are U.S. permanent residents (“green card” holders).

International applicants may demonstrate English proficiency by submitting scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper-based test (PBT) or 80 on the internet-based test (iBT) is required for consideration of the application. 

International students in F-1 or J-1 status who obtained admission into a degree program are eligible for consideration by the academic departments for assistantships and in-state tuition scholarships.

Meet our Students

Gabriel MitchellGabriel Mitchell

Gabriel moved to the Middle East after completing his Bachelor of Arts in History at The Ohio State University. He also holds an Master of Arts in Political Science from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His dissertation explores the relationship between energy policy and foreign policy in Israel and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Meet more of our students

Meet our Faculty

Ariel Ahram

Ariel Ahram

Ariel’s research focuses on issues of security and development, particularly in the Middle East. His book, Proxy Warriors: The Rise and Fall of State-Sponsored Militias (Stanford University Press, 2011), examines the emergence and evolution of armed non-state actors that collaborate with governments.

Meet more of our faculty

Dallas Shaw Shares His Experiences: PhD in Policy, Governance and Globalization