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The Sophomore Year: KDI School Ph.D. Program

01 May, 2012 News Center 1,965

By Befekadu Mulatu LIKASA (2011 MPP, Ethiopia)



This is the second year since Ph.D. program reopened at the KDI School after a long hiatus. Currently there are twelve Ph.D. students on campus, studying either on Public Policy or Development Policy.

Studying for a Ph.D. degree gives one the chance of joining a pioneering research community of the KDI School. With its strong interdisciplinary and international focus, the Ph.D. program provides rigorous training in methodology, and enables students to stretch themselves to the limit in their field of interest. One of the unique aspects of the Ph.D. program is an interactive nature of the student-faculty relationship. Students are strongly encouraged to work with their advisor and publish joint papers.

The Globe interviewed some of our doctoral students about their graduate life, a small group of future scholars who allowed us to get a glimpse of what it’s like to be a Ph.D. student at the KDI School.



I am a second-year Ph.D. student researching in Public Policy. I found out about KDI School through my ministry in Laos. I visited the school website to learn more about the program and discovered that the school’s focus is on public and development policy. Since I did my masters in development and planning economy, KDI School’s program immediately caught my attention. As I looked more into it, I was further impressed with the high caliber faculty with academic brilliance and ample experience.

In my country we need more researchers and decision-makers in the field of economic development, and I believe KDI School is enhancing my skills in those areas. In our program, we spend the first year attending regular classes and a series of special lectures from professionals in the field. They are informative, interesting and useful especially if you do not have a background in public policy. The professors are easily accessible, so we can visit them anytime and ask questions as we try to finalize our research plans. Their availability also means that we can learn enough about them to decide which professor would suit us best for the research advisor. Based on my experience so far, I can comfortably recommend the Ph.D. program at the KDI School for anyone seeking in-depth knowledge and research ability in development and public policy.



I’m a 2006 MPP graduate from KDI School. Receiving an outstanding thesis award for my master’s thesis gave me the inspiration to seek a higher degree. One of the best things I learned during my master’s training here was a wide range of case studies and comprehensive evaluation of policy applications. Another appeal of the KDI School was its world-class faculty and the extensive practical knowledge they bring to class. In addition, I chose to come here again because of the flexible system they offer for a Ph.D. student. A relatively short residency requirement made it easier for me to leave my job and pursue further education.

In the KDI School we come not only from different countries but also from different religions, different cultures, different languages and customs. Under a single roof we can learn how the East Asians, Africans, Central Asians and Latin Americans live and do things. I couldn’t think of a better place to polish my views for global development and policymaking.

As a Ph.D. student I would like to produce notable research outcome and contribute to the KDI School community I’m proud to be part of. If time allows, I’d also like to help master’s students as an alumnus when they have difficulties in their studies.



My goal in life is to become Chief Economist in my country. To achieve this goal I needed a theoretical understanding of development policy. I was looking for a Ph.D. Program in the field, and had a deep interest in Korea’s development success. The Ph.D. Program at the KDI School seemed like a great fit.

Prior to my joining the KDI School, I was a Banking Economist in Mongolia for more than 16 years. I worked at the central bank, at several commercial banks and also as an entrepreneur. I was both a board member for the Central Bank of Mongolia and the Director General of the International Economic Department.

After spending a semester here, I can gladly say I’ve made the right decision. Mongolia is a developing country with a similar culture and mentality to Korea, so it’s very important for me to gain practical information I can apply to my country. On top of the opportunities to acquire hands-on experience in Korean economic development, I also enjoy the diverse cultures and peoples in my daily encounters. I benefit from our discussions, sharing of opinions and best practices. When I worked in the Central Bank I visited Korea several times, but I see a different side of Seoul now. Everything is different when you’re living a student life, and I take pleasure in the process; even my body is adjusting to the spicy food.