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. 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 the Doctoral Degree 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 submit a Student Petition form 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 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
PAD 690 Dissertation 12
Total Hours 52

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 six DPA core courses (24 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 not be allowed to progress toward their degree and future enrollment will not be allowed. 

Dissertation Work

Entry into closure will occur after the student has passed qualifying exams, completed all course work, and complied with any other programmatic requirements, thereby permitting the student to enter the proposal and dissertation phases of study.  Students must be continuously 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. 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.

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

Reasonable Progress Standard

Students must maintain reasonable progress toward the completion of the doctoral degree. The DPA program defines reasonable progress as follows:

  • Completing at least four credit hours each fall and spring semester during the course work phase of the degree;
  • Completing the dissertation proposal within two semesters of passing qualifying exams and completing all course work; and, from this point forward
  • Enrolling in a minimum of one dissertation credit hour (PAD 690) each fall and spring semester until the dissertation is completed, defended, and accepted for a total of at least 12 hours.

In the event that a student is unable to maintain reasonable progress toward the completion of the doctoral degree, the student may request a leave of absence from the program by completing the Student Petition requesting such a leave and submitting it to the student’s advisor and the DPA director for approval.

A leave of absence may be granted for up to one semester.  At the end of the leave of absence, the student may apply for an additional leave. If a leave of absence is not approved, degree progress and future enrollment will not be allowed. If, at a later date, the student wishes to resume doctoral studies, the student may reapply and be considered for re-admission during the regular admission decision periods. There is no guarantee, however, that a student whose leave of absence expired will be re-admitted to the program. The requirement for continuous enrollment will result in the assessment of tuition and fees for every fall and spring semester unless a leave of absence has been approved.