Public administration professionals work in the local and national community to institute positive public services and policies. Students who pursue a Ph.D. in public administration will engage in intensive research, case studies, advanced learning technologies, and field experiments to strengthen their public administration skills. By the completion of their degree, doctorate students will able to identify issues in the local and national community that could benefit from research and analysis. Those who pursue a Ph.D. may prepare for careers in public administration research and teaching. The degree is also beneficial for students who want to conduct research and policy development in nonprofit agencies, government entities, and research institutes. A Ph.D. in this discipline is designed for students who have a desire to lead in the public administration field.

Why a Ph.D. Degree?

A doctorate degree in public administration is designed to educate students about the administrative, leadership, and policy needs in local, state, and national levels of government and nonprofit organizations. A Ph.D. degree primarily prepares students for careers in research and academia. However, graduates also obtain high-level careers in management or policy analysis in the public, private, and government sectors. Some common positions students accept after completing a Ph.D. in public administration are postsecondary teachers and policy analysts. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), students need a Ph.D. to work in the university setting.

Getting Into a Ph.D. Degree Program

Students interested in applying for a Ph.D. program in public administration must have certain qualifications in order to be considered as an applicant. The following is not an exhaustive list of said materials, but gives the student a general idea of what most schools require:

Inside a Ph.D. Degree Program

Doctoral programs can be lengthy due to the dissertation component, averaging three to six years in length. In this degree program, students will enroll in an array of doctorate courses that discuss subjects that relate to public administration, such as political science, social work, economics, and quantitative or qualitative research. Research culminates to the student’s dissertation, which may be considered the major building block of a Ph.D. program. Students may also be encouraged to seek out teaching development opportunities in order to broaden their understanding of the postsecondary teaching field.

Students who juggle numerous commitments and priorities often find online programs more appealing than traditional ones. Materials for public administration PhD programs online are presented through online platforms or online college websites. Generally, students are allowed to submit their homework and classwork assignments without ever having to step foot on a college campus. This allows the student to maintain a full-time job on the side, if need be. However, there are some schools that require students to come to campus on a regular basis meet with advisors and take exams.

What’s Next for Ph.D. Holders?

Upon completing an online public administration PhD, students may be able to enter into leadership, academic, or research positions in universities, social work organizations, nonprofits, and more. The BLS reports that postsecondary teachers make an average of $62,050 a year in their careers. Moreover, university teaching positions are expected to experience a 17% growth rate over the 2010-2020 period, according to the BLS.

While a Ph.D. is the highest degree level a student may achieve, many doctoral students who have spent years working on their education find that they simply enjoy academia. Such students may spend their lives pursuing research opportunities to add knowledge to the field of public administration. Their work is typically funded by grants and they may get their findings published such that future students may study them.