For Doctoral Degree Students

Academic Year: 2009 – 2010

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. Graduates of the DPA program 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 translate the contributions of the scholarly community back to the world of practitioners.

Minimum Admission Requirements

Note: The Doctor of Public Administration Program has been revised. Information about the revised DPA curriculum and application requirements for admission to the program is available by contacting College of Public Affairs and Administration Dean Pinky Wassenberg at 217/206-6523 or

For admission to the degree program, applicants must have:

• A master’s degree with a minimum grade-point average of 3.25 for graduate course work.

• An educational and professional goals statement of at least 600 words.

• Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills.

• Three letters of recommendation with at least one letter from an individual at an academic institution from whom the applicant took courses, and

• An oral interview with the Program Admissions Committee.

In addition to satisfying the admission requirements, applicants must submit a portfolio providing evidence of some or all of the following preferred qualifications:

• A master’s degree in a public affairs discipline.

• A graduate GPA of 3.50 or higher.

• Significant work experience in a public affairs field.

• GRE scores above the 50th percentile.

Applications for admission must include all of the following:

• Completed UIS application.

• Official transcripts from all colleges and universities previously attended, showing undergraduate and graduate completion.

• Three letters of recommendation; at least one must be an academic reference attesting to the applicant’s likelihood of success in a doctoral program.

• Three- to five-page statement of academic and career goals.

• A current writing sample, written solely by the applicant, such as a research paper or report.

• International students: Submit an official TOEFL score of at least 575 (paper based), 232 (computer based), or 88 (Internet based).

The program is a cohort program that admits new students in the fall of odd-numbered years. Prospective students are encouraged to apply by March 15 of the year in which they would like to begin the program; however late applications may be considered. Students will not be allowed to start the program separate from an entering cohort.


General Requirements

To earn a doctor of public administration degree from UIS, students must fulfill the following requirements:

• Meet program matriculation requirements.

• Earn at least 52 doctoral-level hours with a grade-point average of at least 3.00, and a grade no lower than B in any course.

• Complete 12 semester hours of dissertation credit. During work on the dissertation, students are required to be enrolled in dissertation credit each fall and spring semester.

• Successfully pass a qualifying examination in the core courses.

• Develop, present, and have approved a dissertation proposal.

• Research, write, and present a dissertation to the Dissertation Committee and satisfactorily complete an oral defense.

• Complete a graduation contract and pay graduation fees.

Grades Acceptable toward Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral students are expected to do scholarly work of high caliber. Each student must complete at least 40 credit hours of course work plus a minimum of 12 hours of dissertation credit. Students must receive a grade of B or better in all courses.

For more specific information related to acceptable grades, see the “Grades Acceptable Toward Graduate Degrees” section under the heading “Academic Standards for ALL Students.”

Closure Requirement

Progress toward the Doctoral Degree

During the summer of their first year of courses, there will be a meeting between each student and his/her advisor. The advisor will produce a written evaluation of each student to be shared with the program faculty. A student must complete the five core courses before being eligible to take the qualifying examination. This qualifying exam will be written and evaluated by a committee including the instructors of the five core courses and the director of the program. Students who are not successful in the qualifying exam will be allowed to retake the exam only once. After the second unsuccessful attempt at the qualifying exam, the student will be dropped from the doctoral program.

Doctoral Closure Requirements

After successful completion of the qualifying exam and the 20 hours of elective course work, the student is admitted to candidacy and may officially begin working on a dissertation proposal. Each student’s advisor will assist with selection of the dissertation committee from among the graduate faculty of the university. A written dissertation proposal must be formally approved by the student’s dissertation committee before dissertation work proceeds. Preparation and defense of the dissertation proposal constitutes the beginning of the closure requirement, which includes preparation and successful defense of the dissertation. An oral examination on the dissertation will be conducted by the dissertation committee. The dissertation advisor will chair the oral dissertation defense which will be open to the campus community.

Time Limitation

All pre-dissertation credit earned at UIS that is to be applied toward the completion of the doctorate must be taken within eight consecutive years from the first doctoral course taken at UIS. This does not include prerequisites or closure requirements. Exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis.

Transfer Credit

No more than 12 hours of approved credit may be transferred to UIS for doctoral credit. To be considered, all transfer credit must have been earned with a grade of B or better, and must have been earned within five years of the first graduate course taken at UIS in pursuit of the doctorate.

Financial Assistance for Doctoral Students

The UIS Office of Financial Assistance coordinates federal, state, institutional, and private financial aid programs for all students. Assistance is available in the form of grants, tuition waivers, assistantships, scholarships, loans, part-time employment, and veterans’ benefits. For detailed information and for assistance programs specifically available for doctoral students, see the “Financial Assistance for ALL Students” section of the current catalog.