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Universities in Washington, DC, for a Public Administration Doctorate

There are a few schools within about five miles of Washington, D.C, that have public administration doctorates available. Read an overview of their program requirements and find out which university is the right one for you.

Washington, D.C., Public Administration Schools

Doctoral-level programs in public administration, as well as in other subjects, often focus on research and academia. To get more in-depth information about this type of degree, take a look at the following coursework details for two universities. Be sure to also take a moment to review the table of stats to learn more about each school. Also included are some details on other relevant program options in the area.

  • Of the two private universities on this list, George Washington University has the largest student population. The school offers students a broad-ranging Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program that covers many aspects of public policy and public administration. The campus is less than two miles from downtown D.C.
  • Located roughly five miles from central Washington, D.C., American University also has a doctorate program in public administration. This degree program prepares students for careers in public policy research and teaching.

Comparison of Schools

Use this table to compare facts and figures for the two universities. The information on tuition rates, enrollment numbers, acceptance rates and more could help one school stand out in your search.

George Washington University American University
School Type 4-year; private, not-for-profit 4-year; private, not-for-profit
Total Enrollment (2017) 27,973* 13,858*
Campus Setting Large city Large city
Tuition & Fees $1,660 per credit (as of Fall 2018)** $1,708 per credit (2018-19)***
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 77%* 79%*
Acceptance Rate (2017) 41%* 29%*
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 91% for full-time students* 90% for full-time students*
Graduation Rate (students who began in Fall 2011) 81%* 79%*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **The George Washington University, ***American University

George Washington University

The Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University is a research-focused institute that connects students with international scholars and researchers who specialize in policy and administration. Students also learn about leadership and its role in developing policy for the public's benefit. About 25% of students come from outside the United States, and many students are mid-level professionals who have experience in policy and administration. The graduate degree can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis.

Ph.D. in Public Policy and Public Administration

Students in this degree program will take numerous classes on research methods and statistics so that they can understand how research is used to set public policy. Within the degree program, students can take classes in specific disciplines that cover education policy, health policy, program evaluation, public budgeting and social policy. These classes are meant to prepare students for leadership positions that promote democratic governance and help the public. By the end of the degree program, students need to pass examinations and complete a dissertation in order to receive the Ph.D.

American University

Through weekly research seminars and one-on-one mentoring with faculty, the university's Department of Public Administration and Policy trains students on how to conduct research. Students have the opportunity to take part in research conferences and submit scholarly work to academic journals.

Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy

The Ph.D. program is meant to give students the opportunity to specialize in their preferred areas of public administration. Students can take the public administration or the public policy track. In the former track, students take seminars in organization theory, public management and public administration, while in the latter track courses are taken in policy analysis, public policy and public finance. Both tracks offer a seminar in policy implementation. There's also the option for students to take electives in environmental policy, management, public budgeting and nonprofit studies. Throughout the degree program, students engage in public administration research to understand how research can be applied to policy development. All students take comprehensive examinations and submit research papers to earn their degrees.

Other Schools

There are no other schools in the District of Columbia area that offer doctoral degrees in public administration. However, students who want to earn master's degrees can check out the University of the District of Columbia, a public university about three miles away from downtown.


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