The primary objectives of the Ph.D. program in Public Administration are 1) to provide doctoral students with the philosophical, theoretical, and substantive material necessary to acquire an advanced understanding of the field of public administration; 2) to provide an opportunity to conduct research in each of the courses offered; 3) to assist doctoral students in acquiring the methodological skills needed to complete a major independent research project; and 4) to develop researchers proficient in undertaking major professional and scholarly research projects in social science in general and the public sector in particular.
The mission and objectives of the program are met by delivering a theoretically and intellectually stimulating program in a manner that encourages integration of course materials and promotes reflection on them. A variety of pedagogical methods will be used to challenge the thinking and facilitate the continued professional development of mid-career students.
The School of Public Affairs and Administration offers Michigan's only doctoral education program specifically in public administration, and this program has been graduating students for nearly three decades.
Qualified students are admitted for the fall semester each year. Students should meet with the SPAA Doctoral Director 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 credit hours (48 cr) are required beyond the master‘s degree, including the statistics requirement (3 cr), the five courses in the public administration core (15 cr), three courses in the methods requirement (9 cr), the elective requirement (6 cr), the dissertation seminar (3 cr), and dissertation (a minimum of 12 cr). This may be reduced to forty-five (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 an article requirement 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 and an overall grade point average of 3.0 is required for graduation. The following is an outline of the general requirements in the program.
Each student must take PADM 6070, Quantitative Data Analysis, or an equivalent statistics course. Students should be aware that many of the methods courses will require this so they are encouraged to meet this requirement early in the program. Depending on the specific sequence chosen to fulfill the methods requirement (see below), students may also benefit by taking a graduate-level introductory statistics course (that is equivalent to PADM 6070) from an appropriate department at Western. If an equivalent of this course has been taken within the five years prior to program admission, this requirement may be waived and the credit hours required for the doctoral degree may be reduced by three (3) credit hours.
The following five courses are required core components of the Ph.D. in public administration curriculum:
After completing the "public administration core," students will be eligible to take the written comprehensive examination. This exam will be offered once per year and will be prepared and graded by a group of the faculty who teach the public administration core courses. Outside readers may be used to assess the comprehensive exams as well. Results will be "honors," "satisfactory," or "unsatisfactory." Students with a score of unsatisfactory have one opportunity to retake the comprehensive examination.
Each student is required to successfully complete a three-course (nine credit hours) methodology sequence in a specific discipline, in addition to the general statistics requirement. This sequence must include components in research design, qualitative methods, and quantitative methods. This sequence will be different for different students and must be developed and approved by the Doctoral Director in the student‘s Program of Study. The goal is to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to conduct independent research. The following list provides examples of course-sequences that are appropriate for students. It must be noted, however, that the specific courses included in students Programs of Study will depend on her or his previous exposure to research and quantitative and qualitative methodology as well as on their academic and research interests.
Each student must take PADM 6970, Dissertation Seminar, which will focus specifically on developing a dissertation proposal and adapting her or his developing methodological expertise to the field of public administration.
Completing the dissertation is the final leg in the program allowing students to experience the process of an independent academic research project, including an application of the substantive and methodological expertise gained in the program.
Electives may come from within the public administration curriculum or may be linked to the disciplinary field that matches a student‘s methodological core and/or proposed dissertation topic. These must be in the student‘s approved Program of Study before the student takes the electives.
Each student shall produce a "substantive" research paper and submit it to a recognized peer-reviewed journal before being designated "all but dissertation" (i.e., ABD). A traditionally ranked, tenured faculty member of the SPAA will need to determine that this article submission is of high quality and meets departmental standards. "Substantive" is intended to focus on empirical research papers excluding theoretical treatise or commentaries, book reviews, and other general expository pieces. This requirement must be met within four years of being accepted into the program in order to achieve satisfactory annual reviews. The purpose of this requirement is to allow each student to put his or her developing research and methodological tools to this real-world application. Students are therefore expected to demonstrate the application of specific research design approaches and methodological skills that were acquired while completing the "Methods Requirement."
Students wishing to present for consideration should submit their papers submitted to a peer-reviewed journal to the Doctoral Director. This submission should also include a description of the specific theoretical and application focus of the paper together with a discussion of how the methodological approaches and tools and techniques applied in its research are drawn from the relevant courses taken to meet the "Methods Requirement." Based on the theoretical content and methodological approaches of the paper, the Doctoral Director will request an appropriate SPAA faculty for further review and communicate results with the student.
Each student must submit the Doctoral Student Annual Activity Report (DSAAR) each year and will receive an official annual review letter from the Doctoral Director. In order to continue in the program, each student must receive a positive annual review. This may be "positive with conditions" in which case the student will have one academic year to meet the conditions. A 3.0 grade point average is required to graduate and is therefore also an ongoing condition for positive annual reviews.
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 or she will graduate. After all coursework is completed, students are required to maintain continuous enrollment in PADM 7300, Doctoral Dissertation, until graduation. During each of the first six semesters of PADM 7300, students must enroll for at least two credit hours.