Program Design

The DPA Program requires students to complete core and elective coursework, a qualifying exam, and a dissertation. As a part-time program, the length of time to complete the DPA Program may vary based on the amount of time available for academic study. The program has, however, developed a series of benchmarks in support of a 4-year time-to-degree from which students can work with their advisors to develop a personalized timeline.

For the doctoral student, his/her academic career might be thought of as consisting of three phases of study, as described below.

Phase I: Coursework

In phase I, our students progress with a group of colleagues (cohort) through a sequence of core courses in policy, management, research methods, and research design; and elective coursework where they are encouraged to pursue one of our three Fields of Specialization.

Most of our students take one elective course per semester with each core course. Click here for specific curriculum requirements.

Phase II: Qualifying Exam

The qualifying exam phase is a time for students to integrate their core coursework and demonstrate their competence before being allowed to progress to the proposal and dissertation phase.

Phase III: Proposal and Dissertation (Closure Exercise)

The dissertation is the threshold of the students’ academic career and should represent a systematic analysis of a real world phenomena that results in a meaningful contribution to practice.