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    Jun 23, 2024  
American University Catalog 2020-2021 
American University Catalog 2020-2021 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Public Administration and Policy (PhD)

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Offered by the Department of Public Administration and Policy , School of Public Affairs , the mission of the PhD program is to educate scholars who produce original research that is methodologically sound, socially relevant, and makes important contributions to knowledge and theory.

Admission to the Program

Applicants are considered and admitted for the fall semester only. January 8 is the deadline for application for admission. All applicants must submit scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The normal minimum for consideration is a grade point average of 3.20 (on a 4.00 scale) in all previous academic work. Applicants are admitted for full-time study only.

Degree Requirements

  • 36-54 credit hours of approved graduate coursework, exclusive of  / 
    • Students entering with an approved master’s degree must complete 36 credit hours of approved coursework, exclusive of  /  
    • Students entering with only a bachelor’s degree must complete 54 credit hours of approved coursework, exclusive of  /  
    • Minimum 3.20 GPA in all coursework required to remain in good standing and to earn the degree
  • Major Fields: Public Administration or Public Policy
  • Advancement to the second year of study is contingent upon successful completion of an oral qualifying examination at the end of the second semester of study
  • Advancement to candidacy is accomplished by successfully passing two written comprehensive examinations: one examination in Public Administration and one examination in Public Policy
  • The PhD is fundamentally a research degree. Understanding scientific inquiry and correctly using research techniques require extensive preparation. All students in the program take required courses designed to help doctoral students comprehend the nature of science and master tools of research (see Course Requirements, below)
  • Each student selects a research specialization in which to complete an original project under the direction of program faculty and write a dissertation. Students may choose research projects within Public Administration or Public Policy
    • Each student prepares a research proposal for the dissertation project. It is the responsibility of the student to secure the agreement of a School of Public Affairs full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member to serve as the chair of the dissertation committee. One of the two other members of the committee may be from outside the School of Public Affairs. Each student must publicly defend the research proposal before the dissertation committee and other interested faculty
    • The committee and the SPA director of doctoral programs (acting for the dean) must approve the defense and the research proposal. The topic covered by the proposal must be related to ongoing research or publications of the supervising faculty
    • As work on the dissertation project progresses, students register for directed study. Substantive coursework may be used as part of this requirement where it contributes directly to the research specialization and is specifically recommended by the dissertation chair
    • Upon completion of the research and the written dissertation, the candidate submits the manuscript to the dissertation committee for review. If the committee members approve the manuscript, the candidate must complete an oral defense of the dissertation and the general field in which it lies before the committee and other interested faculty. The committee determines conclusively at this point whether the dissertation and examination are acceptable
    • The dissertation must consist of high quality original research directly relevant to the student’s doctoral program. A dissertation proposal may be rejected if the topic does not address a major research issue in political science or public administration, the research design is inadequate, the methodology is inappropriate, or because no full-time tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the School of Public Affairs is academically competent or available to supervise the project. If the candidate fails to maintain satisfactory progress toward completion of the dissertation, candidacy may be terminated

Course Requirements

Major Field (18 credit hours)

Complete one of the following major fields, including additional coursework in the minor field:

Research Design and Methodology (12 credit hours)

Additional Methodology

Complete 6 credit hours from the following, or other research methodology courses approved by program coordinator:

Electives (6-24 credit hours)

  • 6-24 credit hours chosen in consultation with the department, depending on the total number of credit hours required on the student’s approved Program of Study

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