Take a deep dive into the theories, frameworks, research skills, and methodologies necessary to advance knowledge and solve problems in your area of interest.

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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. However, the program has developed a series of benchmarks in support of a 4-year time-to-degree from which students can work with their advisors to build a personalized timeline.

For doctoral students, their academic career might be thought of as consisting of three phases, 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 social sector leadership & innovation, public policy & management, research methods, and research design.

Then, we recommend that they use their 16-credit hours of elective coursework to pursue one of three Fields of Specialization. Most of our students take one elective course per semester with each core course. 

*Please Note: Students should meet with their advisors and consult the Doctor of Public Administration catalog page as the official record for all Degree Requirements

You’ll work closely with a faculty mentor, graduating well prepared to continue research, drive social change, and have an immediate impact.

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 design and dissertation phase.

You'll develop and demonstrate the capacity to produce knowledge that helps address the complex problems facing society.

Phase III: Proposal and Dissertation

The dissertation is the threshold of the student's academic career. It should represent a systematic analysis of real-world phenomena that results in a meaningful contribution to theory and practice.

The DPA is a highly specialized and applied doctoral program that is genuinely interdisciplinary. Each contributing faculty member provides a diversity of conceptual, methodological, and practical approaches to help students understand and solve the problems and issues they face in their respective organizations, positions, and fields.

Robert W. Smith, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Public Affairs and Administration