Dec 06, 2023  
Graduate Catalog 2018-19 
Graduate Catalog 2018-19 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Departments and Programs

Advisor: Dr. Matthew Mingus
Room 220E
Walwood Hall

The mission of the Doctor of Philosophy in Public Administration program is to give students a deep and extensive knowledge of the history, theory, practice, and future of the field. The curriculum encourages broad intellectual inquiry with a scholarly perspective and seeks to prepare students for careers in teaching, research, administration, and consulting. The doctoral program is designed for those who have experience in a supervisory or administrative position with a federal, state, or local government or nonprofit agency and those wishing to teach public administration in a college or university setting. The program is structured to provide decision makers, researchers, and future professors with a more sophisticated understanding of the governing process.

The curriculum incorporates a diversity of viewpoints, gathered from classical and contemporary readings in the discipline, examination of the contributions of its seminal thinkers, analysis of the institutions and processes of governance, exploration of emerging theories and trends, and an investigation of the challenges of leadership and public management in a democracy. Public administration is multidisciplinary and so during the coursework phase each student will be able to develop substantive and/or methodological knowledge in one or more of the many related disciplines, including sociology, economics, educational leadership, interdisciplinary health sciences, political science, statistics, and communication.

Integral to the program is the development and refinement of the skills to conduct both qualitative and quantitative research, practice in statistical and quantitative analysis, and experience with applied skills of leadership and ethical decision-making.

Students should graduate with the ability to perform independent research on theoretical public administration concerns and substantive issues, to analyze a wider range of alternative policies, and to weigh competing choices in the decision-making process.


Admission Requirements

Applicants can obtain doctoral student information by going to the School of Public Affairs and Administration website ( for complete details concerning admission to the Ph.D. program. The following criteria will be used to make admissions decisions. In order to be competitive, applicants must:

  1. Have an undergraduate degree with at least a 3.00 grade point average.
  2. Have a master’s degree in public administration or a related academic discipline with at least a 3.25 grade point average in all graduate coursework.
  3. Have at least four years of supervisory or administrative experience, preferably in public serving organizations.
  4. Provide three letters of recommendation, at least one of which should be from a person acquainted with the applicant’s professional work and at least one of which should be familiar with the applicant’s graduate-level academic work (use the WMU Graduate Reference Form).
  5. Submit the completed University online application for Graduate Admission, with paid application fee.
  6. Responses to the required essay questions.
  7. Submit a complete and up-to-date professional resume.
  8. Provide Graduate record examination (GRE) scores for the quantitative, verbal, and analytical written parts of the examination.

All application materials should be submitted by Feb 1 to ensure consideration for the Fall semester. Late applications may be considered on a space available basis while earlier applications may be required for a student to meet university financial aid deadlines. An interview with members of the School’s faculty may be requested as part of the admissions process.

Program Requirements

Students should meet with the director of the Doctoral program after being accepted into the program and before the end of their first term of coursework to develop an initial program of study. Forty-eight semester hours of credit are required beyond the master’s degree, including the statistics requirements (3 hours), the public administration core (15 hours), the methods requirement (9 hours), the elective requirement (6 hours), the dissertation seminar (3 hours), and the minimum hours of dissertations credit (12 hours). This may be reduced to 45 semester hours if the statistics requirement is deemed to have been met at the time of admission to the program. Successful performance on the comprehensive examination and the submission of scholarly article is required of all students in order to continue in the program. Finally, successful annual reviews are required of students at all stages in the program.

Statistics Requirement

Each student must take PADM 6070: Data Analysis for Administrators, or an equivalent statistics course. Students should be aware that many of the methods courses will require this background and so they are encouraged to meet this requirement early in the program. If this has been done in the five years prior to program admission, this requirement may be waived at the student’s request and the credit hours required for the doctoral degree may be reduced by 3 credit hours.

Comprehensive Examinations

After completing the public administration core, students will be eligible to take the written comprehensive examination. The exam will be offered once each year and will be prepared and graded by a group of faculty who teach the public administration core courses. Outside readers may be used to assess the comprehensive examinations as well. Results will be honors, satisfactory, or unsatisfactory. Students with a score of unsatisfactory will have one opportunity to retake the comprehensive examination. A score of unsatisfactory on the retake will result in program dismissal.

Methods Requirement (9 hours)

Each student will be required to successfully complete three methodology courses beyond the general statistics requirement. This will include courses that have components covering research design (most likely PADM 6640), qualitative research (most likely PSCI 6900 - Qualitative Methods, EMR 6480 - Qualitative Research Methods, or SOC 6820 - Qualitative Research), and quantitative research (most likely PADM 6920). The methodology requirement will be tailored to meet the needs of individual doctoral students and must be approved by the Doctoral Director in the student’s Program of Study.

Elective (6 hours)

Electives may come from within the public administration curriculum or may be in the disciplinary field(s) related to the student’s methodological core and/or proposed dissertation. These must be 6000-level or higher graduate courses and must be in the student’s approved Program of Study before the student takes the electives.

Article Submission Requirement

Each student shall produce a substantive scholarly, article and submit it to a recognized peer-reviewed journal. The purpose of this requirement is to increase the understanding of students of the peer-review process and their role in contributing to the development of academic knowledge. Another purpose it to allow each student to put his/her developing research and methodology tools to this real world test. “Substantive” is intended to exclude commentaries, book reviews, and general expository pieces.

A core public administration faculty member will need to determine that this article submission is of high quality and meets departmental standards. This article submission requirement will usually be met after meeting the comprehensive examination requirement and within four years of starting course work in the doctoral program. While obviously desirable for the student and the program, the article does not need to be published for this requirement to be fulfilled.

Doctoral Seminar (3 hours)

Each student must take PADM 6970: Dissertation Seminar, which will focus specifically on developing a dissertation proposal and adapting their developing methodological expertise to the field of public administration.

Dissertation (12 hours)

Each student must complete at least twelve credit hours of doctoral dissertation which focuses on scholarly investigation of a limited topic, issue, or problem of choice. This will be an independent research conducted by the candidate under the guidance of a faculty committee. The dissertation committee chair (first reader) plays a key role in guiding the candidate’s proposal development, research, and writing. The candidate must defend the proposal before the dissertation committee to formally begin research and defend the dissertation publicly once the research and writing is complete.


Each student is required to enroll each Fall and Spring semester until completion of the degree, and must also be enrolled in the term in which he/she will graduate.. After all course work is completed, students are required to maintain continuous enrollment in PADM 7300 Doctoral Dissertation, in all Fall and Spring semesters until graduation. During the first six semesters of PADM 7300 students must register for at least two dissertation hours.

Annual Student Reviews

Each student must submit the Doctoral Student Annual Activity report (DSAAR) each year by March 15 and will receive an annual review letter from the faculty by May 15. In order to continue in the program, each student must receive a positive review. This may be “positive with conditions” in which case the student will have one academic year to meet the stated conditions. A 3.0 grade point average is required to graduate and is therefore also an ongoing condition for positive annual reviews.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Departments and Programs