The PhD requires 48 credits of course work beyond the attainment of a relevant master’s degree and 24 dissertation research credits for a total of 72 credit hours.
Course Work (48 credits)
Core Courses (15 credits; required of all PhD students)
- Intellectual History of Public Administration (26:834:617)
- Government Budgeting and Resources Acquisition (26:834:605)
- Study of Public Organizations (26:834:601)
- Governance and Politics (26:834:603)
- Leadership, Equity and Diversity (26:834:618)
(Students are required to complete one comprehensive exam in the core. Core classes typically meet on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday afternoons.)
Research Methods (12 credits; required of all PhD students)
- Quantitative I (26:834:607)
- Quantitative II (26:834:608)
- Qualitative I (26:834:609)
- Mixed Methods (26:834:619)
Major Field (21 credits; required of all PhD students)
Students are required to select a major field with at least 12 credit hours of study. The 9 remaining credit hours can be taken in another area of the student’s choice, for a minor field.
- Budgeting and Nonmarket Organization Finance
- Comparative Public Administration
- Human Resource Management
- Performance Measurement and Improvement
- Public Management
- Urban Systems
(Students are required to write one comprehensive exam in their major field, and one comprehensive exam that develops a research design on a particular topic in public administration, which will assist in the preperation of the dissertation prospectus.)
See Field Descriptions for examples of courses that can be taken for each field.
Download the PhD Summary Worksheet (WORD .doc) to plan and keep track of coursework.
Dissertation Research (24 credits)
The dissertation committee must consist of at least four faculty members, one of whom should be from outside the core faculty of the SPAA. The PhD director must approve the committee.
There are 5 stages to the PhD Dissertation.
PhD Comprehensive Examinations
There are three comprehensive examinations in Public Administration, each of which may be taken only upon completion of all required coursework, including resolution of incomplete grades in the relevant area of examination. The Program recommends that students who complete all of their coursework on a full-time basis sit for Comp I at the conclusion of the Spring semester of their first year, complete Comp II after all courses, and Comp III by the beginning of their third year. Students normally complete the examination process using computers.
Comp I. Core Courses
A one-day, in-class, closed book written examination, consisting of two three-hour answers. Students will choose to answer two questions. Comp I is given in January and June. Click here for sample questions for Comp I.
Comp II. Major Field Specialty
A 48-hour take home examination. The question or questions will be based upon the courses in the student’s field.
Comps II is offered at the completion of all field courses, with Comp III available immediately after the conclusion of Comp II. However, students may take each exam at the end of different semesters. Upon notice of at least seven days, students may take one or more of the examinations.
Comprehensive exams are graded by two faculty members. If one faculty member evaluates the exam as a pass and the other as a failure, a third faculty member will be assigned to grade that exam, and the majority opinion shall prevail. If both faculty members evaluate the exam as a failure, the student must repeat the exam for that question at the next regularly scheduled date.
Each question will be graded as High Pass, Pass or Fail. A passing grade on each comprehensive examination requires a passing grade in all sections: High Pass or Pass. Students shall be informed of the outcome of each examination within four weeks of its completion. The Director of the Ph.D. Program counsels each student who takes the examination once the grading process is complete. A student may retake a section subsequent to a failure, but will be required to take additional coursework after a second failure on a section and prior to a third examination in that section. If a student fails a section three times, the student will automatically be asked to leave the program, but may appeal that decision to the program's Executive Committee.
Comp III. Research Design/Dissertation Proposal
One comprehensive exam that develops a research design on a particular topic within public administration, which will assist in the preparation of the dissertation prospectus. This examination may be taken at any time subsequent to the completion of Comps I and II. A doctoral student should work with one faculty member to prepare for Comp III; that person generally serves as the student’s dissertation chair. The Ph.D. director coordinates with the student and the faculty member working with the student on the administration of Comp III.
The student must get approval by the PhD Director of the composition of the dissertation committee.
Click here for the form.
A doctoral student is officially a Candidate once he or she has successfully completed the required courses, passed all three comprehensive examinations and has successfully defended the dissertation proposal. The official status is marked by the signing of Part I of the Candidacy Form, Application for Admission to Candidacy for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy by the Committee members and Ph.D. Program Director. The student then must take this completed form to the Graduate School's office (4th floor Hill Hall).