About the Professional Doctorate

The Doctor of Public Administration Program (DPA) was initiated in the fall of 1998. The program was created to remedy the absence of a doctoral program in public affairs in the state of Illinois.

While numerous political science and public policy programs were already in existence at this time, few emphasized public administration or public affairs. Hence, the DPA Program was specifically designed as a practitioner-oriented program to meet the educational needs of professionals in administrative and governmental positions at the state and local levels. To date, this has existed as the only doctoral program to be offered at the University of Illinois Springfield.


To be the obvious next step for the civic-minded, experienced practitioner interested in becoming a more effective agent of change. To be a leader/exemplar for professional doctorates in public affairs.


Bridging the worlds of scholarship and practice, we equip the experienced practitioner with the advanced analytical skills and knowledge of public management and public policy necessary to lead impactful organizations and solve complex public problems.


Aligned with the College of Public Affairs and Administration’s (CPAA) long history of interdisciplinary public affairs education, scholarship, and public service, multiple colleges and departments at UIS collaborate to offer the professional doctorate. This interdisciplinary design supports a broad array of conceptual and methodological approaches and strategies for sophisticated problem solving. Several core values serve as the foundation for this approach:

  • Intellectual Rigor & Scholar-Practitioner Training. Our program develops students who can bridge the worlds of scholarship and practice by applying what they have learned to their workplaces and communities. With faculty support, our students are trained to initiate and produce highly relevant, theory-informed research and customizable solutions to complex public problems.
  • Diversity & Cohort Model. Our program is very selective and looks to fill cohorts of approximately 15 students. We strive for inclusion such that each cohort reflects a diverse set of cultural backgrounds, experiences, and professional expertise. Each cohort takes their core courses together as the student-student relationship is a vital component of our learning experience. Our cohort model provides students with a built-in peer support group and professional network.
  • Community Engagement. Our program seeks to develop a lasting bond with the community through collaborative efforts with students and faculty devoted to practical problem solving, thereby improving public and nonprofit management and public policy in Illinois, the nation, and the wider global community.

Learning Outcomes

Students who complete the DPA Program should be able to:

  1. Evaluate and integrate the theoretical literature and methodological approaches from a range of public affairs disciplines, thereby establishing a repertoire of new problem solving skills and analytical strategies;
  2. Apply their new problem solving skills and analytic strategies to understand and appropriately address complex problems in public management and public policy;
  3. Assess and critique the analytic techniques and conclusions of scholarly articles and practitioner communications; and,
  4. Prepare and produce high quality independent research through the systematic analysis of a real world phenomena that results in a meaningful contribution to practice.