PhD in Public Administration Programs

A PhD in public administration can put you ahead of the field.  This page gives you information on where the courses are, what employers expect, and what you can earn.

If you wish to further your career in administration or management in the local, state, or federal government, you should consider getting a public administration doctorate.  There have been major changes in the public arena in the last ten years, resulting from technology, demand for greater accountability, an emphasis on client service, and an overall up-skilling.  So to stay ahead and be an effective leader in this field you need the best education.

PhD public administration degrees are available on-campus and online.  This page has links to online and on campus programs at the foot of the page - and if you wish to find out more about programs at a traditional college or university go to the On Campus Programs page.  Click here for more details of public administration and masters programs.


Where can you study online PhD in public administration programs?

Here are some selected schools that offer doctoral programs in public administration:

  • Walden University
    • Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration with specializations in:
      • Criminal Justice
      • General
      • Health Services
      • Homeland Security Policy and Coordination
      • International Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs)
      • Law and Public Policy
      • Local Government Management for Sustainable Communities
      • Nonprofit Management and Leadership
      • Public Management and Leadership
      • Public Policy
      • Public Safety Management
      • Terrorism, Mediation, and Peace
  • Capella University
    • Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) - General Public Administration


What is studied in public administration at doctoral level?

Doctorate degrees in public administration usually comprise some coursework (similar to master's level courses) plus independent resesrch resulting in a thesis which you'll be expected to present and defend.

At Walden University the Ph.D. in Public Policy and Administration program gives you the option of earning your degree by taking online courses plus independent research.

Online PhD degree programs often require you to attend university for some period of time for seminar style presentations and discussions.


Career prospects for graduates of public administration

As someone with a PhD in public administration, you would be able to prepare public policies and have good budget planning skills. In this way, you would be thoroughly prepared for a job where you can work for elected officials.  While most graduates will obtain a government position, a few find jobs with schools and other private businesses or organizations. The private sector of this field can be quite interesting, and includes areas such as religious organizations, political groups, and other special interest groups. The responsibilities will be roughly the same in both sectors, private and public. Usually this job will require you to be responsible in a managerial type position for the people working under you, as well as making sure that goals are met.

Most graduates of PhD programs find positions such as program research analyst, human resources manager, health care administrator, city manager, municipal manager, or other managerial position.

The expected salary and career outlook for those with a doctoral public administration degree will vary greatly depending upon experience in the field and job type.  However, the median salary for those starting at entry level is around $45,000 in the first year. After ten years experience, this median salary grows to $74,000, and to $86,000 after twenty years of experience. This is definitely a job where skilled experience can be to your advantage. Keep in mind that salaries in the government and education venues tend to be lower, with non profit organizations paying the least. Public administration is a broad field requiring a host of skills and those who have a PhD will have a competitive edge in the field.


List of schools and programs

Browse the schools below to find a suitable school and program. Request information from several schools and compare the admission requirements and course content before you choose a program.

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