Public Administration & Policy Ph.D. Degree Program

Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy

The doctoral program in Public Administration and Policy is designed to prepare students for successful research careers, primarily in academia, by providing advanced education and mentoring in theory-driven interdisciplinary social science research on systemic public problems.

Attainment of the Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of three years of graduate study beyond the bachelor's degree, including at least 60 credits of coursework composed of core courses, research tool competency, and field courses. Students also must achieve candidacy and successfully defend a dissertation. Coursework is designed so that a student entering with a relevant Master’s degree and enrolled for 13 or more credits per semester can complete coursework in four semesters of study.

Core Knowledge

All students in the Ph.D. program are required to have a basic proficiency at the doctoral level in public affairs scholarship, broadly defined. Proficiency is demonstrated by satisfactory performance in coursework and the candidacy requirements. Students achieving less than a “B” average (GPA = 3.00) in the Ph.D. core are not eligible to continue in the program.   

For students entering with a Master in Public Administration, a Master in Public Policy, or other equivalent degree, the department will transfer in credit for two preparatory courses at the introductory Masters level completed in the past eight years where students earned satisfactory grades. These courses will be in the areas of public administration, public policy, economics, and/or basic statistics and should be equivalent to: Pad 500, Pad 503, Pad 505, Pad 540, and/or Pad 517.

Ph.D. Core:
Pad 526 Field Seminar in Public Policy
Pad 702 Politics and Administration;
Pad 704 Research Design;
Pad 705 Advanced Quantitative Analysis;
Pad 709 Foundations of Public Administration

Professional Development
Students are required to register for the Pad 881-884 Series: Seminar on Doctoral Research and Professional Development, a two-year series of one-credit S/U courses. Students are required to make a presentation at least once in Pad 881-884 on a research topic of their choice.

Field of Study
Students choose a field of study from among the three department offers: Public Policy, Public Financial Management, and Public Management. A field of study is composed of at least five graduate courses, not to include Ph.D. core courses, chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor.

Research Tools
The basic requirement for demonstrated competence in research tools will usually be met by satisfactory completion of Pad 704 and 705. All students are further required to complete two additional advanced research tools courses appropriate to the student’s research interests, selected in consultation with the faculty advisor.

Full Time Study in Residence
Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two semesters, not necessarily in consecutive terms. This requirement is designed to insure a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth.

Candidacy Requirements
In addition to coursework all students must successfully complete comprehensive examinations in public affairs, an empirical research paper, and an outline of the dissertation proposal.

The comprehensive exams will be offered at a common time each semester and will be graded by a central committee of faculty. If a student fails a comprehensive exam the student may only re-take the exam once. If a student fails the comprehensive exam a second time the student will not be eligible to continue in the program.

The empirical research paper and dissertation proposal outline will be reviewed and approved by a faculty committee of the student’s choosing.

Admission to Candidacy
A student will be admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

1. Satisfactory record in all coursework and candidacy requirements;
2. Satisfactory completion of the professional development requirement;
3. Satisfactory completion of the research tool requirement;
4. Completion of the full-time study in residence requirement;
5. Satisfactory completion of the core and field requirements.


Each candidate for the Ph.D. must submit an acceptable dissertation that is approved by a faculty committee of the student’s choosing. Requirements and guidelines for the dissertation and for other details of the Ph.D. program are contained in the Doctoral Program Manual, available from the department.

Statute of Limitations
All requirements for the Ph.D. degree must be completed within eight calendar years from the date of initial registration in the program.