PhD in Public Administration Degree Programs
What is a PhD in Public Administration?
PhD in Public Administration and Public Policy programs help students to advance their understanding of the public sector and the management of community resources through research. Students could work towards earning doctorate degrees in public administration, policy, labor relations, or government policy.
While these Public Administration Doctoral programs have different curriculum, they each focus on teaching techniques to better oversee public assets. Courses topics could include public budgeting, drafting policies, or developing communications between groups.
Additionally, many Doctorate in Public Administration and Public Policy programs include a dissertation requirement, preparing graduates to investigate core challenges in the public sector and contribute new insights to their chosen field.
PhD in Public Administration Programs
Public Administration PhD programs focus on research into issues in civil service, administrative leadership, urban planning, social justice, government and public agency budgeting, and other challenges in the public administration field. PhD Public Administration programs may also touch on issues in strategic planning and management, such as program evaluation, citizen and governmental partnerships, and government management at the local, state, federal and international levels.
Essentially, students work to identify ways to more effectively and efficiently manage public resources.
PhDs are academic, research doctorates and as such, curriculum focuses on developing theory and conducting specialized scholarly research. However before diving into the research component, students typically take courses in core topics in public administration to provide a background for their inquiry.
PhD Public Administration students could explore some of the following areas.
- Program Planning & Evaluation
- Public Organizations
- Environmental Compliance
- Human Resources Management
- Administrative Law
- Urban and Regional Planning
- Public Budgeting
- Public Affairs Research Methods
Courses vary. Contact schools for detailed course lists.
Popular Schools with PhD in Public Administration Programs & Degrees
PhD in Public Administration Dissertations
In addition to the topics above, PhD Public Administration students may take courses in research methods and techniques, while outlining a core area of interest in preparation for their dissertation. The dissertation is the culmination of the PhD in Public Administration program.
Students conduct original research into a relevant topic. They may explore the effects of new policies, current trends or the failings of old public programs. They then offer new solutions or insights to help address the issues.
Dissertations are usually written in lieu of classes during one or two semesters. When completed, students present and defend their findings. Students may also be required to take written and oral exams before graduation.
How Long Could It Take to Earn a PhD in Public Administration Degree?
Generally a full time student could complete a PhD in Public Administration program in four years. This may depend on enrollment, course requirements and the time it takes to complete a dissertation. Most PhD Public Administration programs require students to complete 60 credit hours of classes. Schools vary, so be sure to talk to an admission advisor directly.
Additional Doctorate in Public Administration Degrees
For those interested in working in the field, rather than academics, other types of doctorate in public administration degrees may be preferable. The two most common options are the Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) and Doctor of Business (DBA) with a focus on Public Administration.
In many ways they mirror PhD Public Administration programs. Both are terminal degrees and focus on similar topics. However DPAs and DBAs are considered professional research doctorates and therefore approach the content matter differently.
Doctor of Public Administration degrees are very similar to PhDs but focus on applied research. This means they look into issues that have a direct relevance to practice. They also emphasize the dissertation but the research may have more practical applications.
Therefore DPA programs may be better suited to those interested in careers as practitioners but who wish to keep their program tailored closely to public administration issues.
The DBA with a concentration on Public Administration is also a professional degree. However, these public administration doctoral programs are offered through the business department.
Students take core courses in business and then purse their specialization through electives in that track. DBA programs emphasize leadership and may prepare graduates to pursue advanced positions in the field.
It should be noted, that every school defines their programs differently. The variations between the PhD in Public Administration, DPA and DBA may be great or small. That’s why it’s important to read descriptions carefully and contact an advisor with questions.
PhD in Public Policy Programs
The PhD in Public Policy program is designed similarly to PhD in Public Administration programs. However, while administration courses focus on management and the implementation of policy, the PhD Public Policy program emphasizes creating laws and regulations to better address the needs of a community.
To do this, students research current policies to analyze their effectiveness. Then, they may offer solutions to current obstacles and challenges.
A PhD in Public Policy could also be further concentrated to deal with a specific type of policy. In these cases, students could study the unique challenges facing an area of the public sector as opposed to general policy material.
PhD in Public Policy concentrations could include some of the following.
- Crime & Drug Enforcement
- Urban Affairs
- Emergency Services
- Educational Policy
These are only a sample of possible concentrations. Speak with your program for a more complete list.
PhD Public Policy programs typically require students to complete 66 to 82 credit hours to graduate and defend a dissertation. Students could earn a PhD in public policy degree in 4 to 6 years, depending on enrollment. Schools vary.
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|District of Columbia||3,670||$123,070|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$122,500||90|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||$118,430||30|
|Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, TX||$85,990||0|
DID YOU KNOW? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for political scientists was $122,510 in May 2021.
PhD in Government Programs
A Government PhD program is closely related to political science. Mainly, the program deals with research surrounding political and international relations, and the policies that could enhance them. During this program, courses may focus primarily on conflict resolution and crisis negotiations.
PhD in Labor and Industrial Relations Programs
Labor and Industrial Relations PhD programs may also be called human resource management programs. Courses teach ways to cultivate a strong company culture. This could include managing a team of employees or creating policies to enhance workplace morale.
First, students may study methods to support employee needs in the workplace. Then, they could study ways to minimize workplace obstacles and negate crisis situations. Classes may be focus on both national and international employee relations. Emphasis is often placed on multi-level institution behaviors and how they affect the working environment.
Applying to Public Policy and Public Administration Doctoral Programs
Generally PhD in Public Administration and Public Policy programs require a masters degree, either in the form of an MPA or in a related field. Schools may also require students to submit a 3.0 or higher graduate GPA, test scores and letters of recommendation, though this varies.
In addition, schools may ask students to write and submit a research essay. In these essays, students could outline potential research topics for their future dissertation. This way, programs could see if a faculty member may be able to advise them in their studies and whether the student might be a good match for the school. Contact individual Doctorate in Public Administration programs to learn more.
Could I Earn My Doctorate in Public Administration Online?
Many schools offer PhD in Public Administration and PhD in Public Policy programs online to make an advanced education more accessible and convenient to students.
Courses, assignments, lectures and class discussions are generally placed on a digital platform, which is available anywhere with internet connectivity. This could make them a great choice for working professionals, or those far from a preferred school.
It should be noted though that some Online PhD in Public Administration programs may have in-person requirements. Students might visit campus or nearby locations for research or dissertation defense. Contact preferred PhD in Public Administration online programs to learn if this might apply to you.
On the other hand, some students may prefer the more traditional classroom experience offered by Doctorate in Public Administration and Public Policy schools. Campus based programs could be a great chance to interact face-to-face with other industry professionals.
Additionally, students may be able to assist professors with their research, participate in student teaching and take advantage of campus resources. Available opportunities vary. Contact schools for details.
GradSchools.com offers 86 Graduate Schools with PhD in Public Administration Programs
Liberty University Online
Auburn University At Montgomery
North Carolina State University
Middle Tennessee State University
Rand Graduate School Of Policy Studies
University of Pittsburgh
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Maryland Baltimore County
Florida Atlantic University