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PhD in Public Administration: Degree Program Overviews

Public administration is the study of how governmental policies and laws influence society. Learn critical information for pursuing a Ph.D. in public administration, such as prerequisites, program specializations, courses you may take, career prospects, and earnings potential.

Essential Information

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in public administration teach students to synthesize knowledge from a variety of related social sciences in order to understand how to create policies, laws and regulations that will benefit society. Programs may allow students to pursue specializations, including public finance and budgeting, public organizational theory or social policy. Most Ph.D. programs in public administration require students to complete a dissertation project and oral exam as part of their coursework. Graduates typically pursue careers in academia or the government.


Ph.D. in Public Administration

Schools offering this program seek to admit students who have demonstrated a great deal of aptitude in social science research methodology and understand wide-ranging applications of sociological and psychological theories. Typically, the prerequisite for a Ph.D. in public administration is a master's degree in the same field or a related subject, such as public policy or political science.

Since many Ph.D. programs in public administration take a multidisciplinary approach, the coursework often covers a wide range of material. The classes listed below are usually required in public administration Ph.D. degree programs:

  • Public organization research methodologies
  • Public organization theory
  • History of public administration
  • Comparative public administration
  • Public policy implementation

Popular Career Options

Graduates are qualified for jobs as researchers, policy administrators, professors and consultants. The careers named below are popular career options in the field:

  • University professor
  • Governmental public policy researcher
  • Public policy consultant

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Earning a Ph.D. in Public Administration can also prepare students for work as political scientists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that employment in this field is projected to decline 2% from 2014 to 2024, which is obviously slower-than-average compared to other job fields. As reported by the BLS, political scientists made a median salary of $99,730 as of May 2015.

Prospective students are now prepared for the doctorate program, understanding what prerequisites there are and what courses are required. In addition, students were provided a glimpse into the future, obtaining information on employment prospects and potential earnings.

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