The mission of the Ph.D. program in the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration is to provide advanced graduate education in theory and research in order to prepare students for academic and research careers in public administration, as well as professional careers in advanced practice of public administration.
Preparing Students for Academic Careers
The Public Administration Ph.D. program primarily admits students who are interested in academic careers as tenure-track faculty at research universities, but also trains students for professional careers in research, data analysis and public service.
Our program is intentionally small. We admit 3-5 students each year and the total number of students in the program is typically around 15. We maintain a small program to devote considerable resources to each individual student, including finances, faculty mentorship and research collaboration.
Our graduates have been hiredinto tenure-track positions at universities such as American University, University of Michigan, and Arizona State University.
Foundations refer to the enduring theoretical issues and questions in the field; thus, on entering the academic job market, students can justifiably claim to be familiar with the core public administration “canon.”
PA doctoral students are required to take the following foundational courses:
- PUAD 932, Seminar in the Intellectual History of Public Administration,
- PUAD 930, Research Seminar in Public Administration and Democratic Theory,
- PUAD 931, Research Seminar in Public Administration and Management,
- PUAD 943, Constitutional Foundations of Public Administration or PUAD 949, Law, Courts and Public Policy.
The PA doctorate emphasizes skill development in research methods.
PA doctoral students are required to take the following methods courses:
- PUAD 934 Research Methods in Public Administration
- PUAD 935, Advanced Quantitative Methods in Public Administration.
PA doctoral students are encouraged to take the following methods courses:
- PUAD 937, Qualitative Methods in Public Administration
- PUAD 936 Policy Analysis and Evaluation
Students also choose a primary area of specialization, consisting of at least 3 courses. The standard specializations are budgeting, public finance, human resources management, public policy analysis and evaluation, public values and ethics, organizations and organization theory, public law and administration, and urban policy/politics and community building.
A student's cognate consists of a coherent series of courses outside the discipline of Public Administration. In consultation with their academic advisor, students will craft cognates that are closely related to their areas of specialization and their research program.
Comprehensive Written Exams
Students who complete the required courses with a GPA of 3.0 or better may proceed to the preliminary written examinations. PA doctoral students are required to take two separate written exams: one covering Foundations and the other their area of Specialization.
Comprehensive Oral Exam & Advancement to Candidacy
Following the successful completion of the comprehensive written examinations, the student must satisfactorily complete a comprehensive oral examination and present a dissertation proposal in order to become a PhD candidate. The oral exam involves comprehensive questioning across the intellectual field and a close review of the student’s dissertation idea.
Students complete a dissertation which reports substantial original research in the field of Public Administration.
SPAA doctoral students develop teaching knowledge and skills through serving as Graduate Teaching Assistants, attending departmental teaching workshops and utilizing campus resources such as the Center for Teaching Excellence and the Center for Online & Distance Learning.
SPAA doctoral students develop research knowledge and skills through coursework, positions as Graduate Research Assistants and departmental research workshops.