The Doctorate Degree

The mission of the Doctor of Public Administration Program is to advance the education of experienced practitioners interested in improving their understanding of public management and public policy. These individuals can make a significant contribution, bridging the worlds of practice and scholarship by developing a capacity to bring experience from the practitioner community to the scholarly community and translating the contributions of the scholarly community into the world of the practitioners.


A doctoral program faculty advisor will be assigned at the time a student is admitted to the DPA program. The advisor will assist the student in creating a formal plan of study. The student’s academic advisor must approve all electives and the appropriate quantitative methods course the student will take. The academic advisor will provide a formative written evaluation of the student’s progress during the first year of course work, and will assist in the preparation and grading of the student’s qualifying exams at the end of the core courses. The student may choose to switch advisors at the dissertation stage to work with someone who has expertise in a particular subfield.

Grading Policy

The minimum acceptable grade for each course is a B (courses in which a grade of B- or lower is earned will not count toward the degree). Grades of B- or below, though not counting toward the DPA degree, must be balanced with higher course grades to maintain the required cumulative GPA. All students are required to maintain a B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or higher cumulative GPA. 

NOTE: Students also should refer to the campus policy on Grades Acceptable Toward Master’s Degrees section of this catalog.

Degree Requirements

Each student must complete at least 40 hours of course work, plus a minimum of 12 hours of dissertation credit. Students may petition for up to 12 hours of transfer credit for post-master’s graduate work deemed appropriate for the DPA.

Core Courses
PAD 651 Conduct of Inquiry and Theoretical Foundations 4
PAD 652 Public Management Seminar 4
PAD 653 Public Policy Seminar 4
PAD 654 Research Design 4
PAD 655 Qualitative Research Methods (PAD 655 Qualitative Research Methods) 4
PAD 656 Quantitative Research Methods 4
Students must complete 16 hours of elective course work at the 500-level or above approved by the doctoral program faculty. No more than four hours of internship credit may count toward elective credits. 16
Total Hours 40
Since the program admits students in cohorts, the core courses are offered one per semester and do not repeat until the entire cycle has been completed.


After the student completes the five DPA core courses (20 hours), he or she will be required to complete a qualifying exam to demonstrate competence in the required core fields. The exam contains both oral and written components and each student’s exam will be conducted and evaluated by a committee of faculty members which included core teaching faculty. Students who have not passed the qualifying exam after two attempts will be dropped from the doctoral program.

Students must be registered for course work during the semester they are taking qualifying exams.

Dissertation Work

Upon successful completion of the dissertation proposal defense, the student is admitted to candidacy. The dissertation proposal defense is allowed no sooner than concurrently with the last elective. UIS considers this the “closure” event and the student must be continually enrolled from this point forward. Generally this is accomplished by enrolling in dissertation hours.

Each student’s academic advisor will assist with selection of the dissertation committee from among the full-time graduate faculty at UIS. A written dissertation proposal must be formally approved by the student’s dissertation committee before dissertation work proceeds. Students must complete 12 hours of dissertation credit (PAD 690). Campus policy requires that a student who has been admitted to candidacy must be continuously enrolled in at least one semester hour of dissertation course work each fall and spring until the dissertation is completed, defended, and accepted. An oral examination on the dissertation will be conducted by the dissertation committee. The dissertation adviser will chair the oral dissertation defense, which will be open to the campus community.

For more information on the doctoral closure guidelines, please refer to the Academic Information for Doctoral Students section of this catalog.