Online Doctorate in Public Administration Programs
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Public administration careers involve shaping public policy for communities at the local, regional, state, and federal levels. Pursuing a doctorate in public administration requires a significant investment of time and money, so it's important to choose a program that aligns with your personal career goals and interests.
Earning a doctorate qualifies students for a variety of jobs across industries like education, government, law, and healthcare. Employment data for the public administration sector shows that professionals earn an average annual salary of $64,280. Keep in mind that salary potential depends on industry and title.
Read on to learn more about what it takes to earn an online doctorate in public administration.
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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Accredited Online Doctorate in Public Administration Programs
What Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Public Administration Program?
An online doctorate in public administration develops advanced skills in research, leadership, and strategic thinking to prepare students for management and other executive positions. Successful public administration professionals possess a passion for helping communities and shaping effective policies across industries.
An online doctorate in public administration develops advanced skills in research, leadership, and strategic thinking to prepare students for management and other executive positions.
Students planning to pursue a career in public administration typically earn a doctorate of public administration (D.P.A.) or a Ph.D. These degrees feature many similarities, but the key difference typically lies in the thesis or dissertation. In a Ph.D. program, the dissertation component often takes a theoretical approach. The D.P.A. focuses more on examining real-world situations.
Each online doctorate in public administration offers unique curriculum and graduation requirements. Most curricula consist of 43-54 credits. Most students take 2-3 years to graduate, but completion times depend on whether learners enroll full time or part time.
Some programs offer concentrations that allow learners to focus their degree on a particular area. Each school differs, but common concentration options include public management, ethical leadership, nonprofit management, analytics, and healthcare administration.
Doctorate in Public Administration Program Admissions
Admissions teams work hard to evaluate applicants and determine if they fit the program. On-campus and online admissions tend to differ in terms of depth. Online applicants usually have to submit more materials than on-campus students do -- for instance, many online programs ask applicants to submit several letters of recommendation alongside their application and transcripts. Online and on-campus students have the same minimum GPA requirements, but admissions professionals often look closely at online students' transcripts to determine their ability to motivate themselves in an online program. Admissions officers make sure the students they admit to online programs can find success and thrive in a flexible setting. These extra steps are beneficial for both the university and the student, affirming that the applicant can commit to online coursework based on their credentials and academic history.
In order to obtain a Ph.D. in public administration, students must first earn their master's degree. Though not every DPA program requires an MPA, some do.
Some doctorate programs require applicants to have prior field experience.
Minimum GPA requirements vary depending on the university, but most require between a 3.0 and 3.5.
Related licensure is not required to gain admission to a DPA program.
Applications require students to input basic, generic information, and typically take students 20 to 30 minutes to complete.
Students must provide transcripts from their prior graduate program. Most schools charge a fee for transcript requests.
Letters of Recommendation:
Many DPA programs require students to submit at least three letters of recommendation with their application. These letters should be from professional or educational references relevant to the program.
DPA programs do not require students to submit test scores during the application process.
Application fees are between $50 and $75, though schools sometimes waive these fees for students with demonstrated financial need.
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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Doctorate in Public Administration Program?
An online doctorate in public administration develops advanced skills in analysis, communication, research, and leadership. Exact courses vary by school, but the following section delves into five common courses in these programs.
This course provides a comprehensive overview of administrative theory. Students explore the history of the field and applications of theory to current issues. The curriculum also explores the impact that organizational structures and the political or social environment have on administrations.
This course introduces students to the foundational principles and techniques of quantitative analysis. Additional topics include statistical inference, regression analysis, other related estimation techniques, and commonly used statistical software packages.
Qualitative Methods of Program and Policy Evaluation
Students taking this course learn how to use qualitative techniques to design research to analyze current policies. Covered topics include case studies, focus groups, ethnography, and document analysis.
Strategic Public Management and Governance
This course provides an overview of the factors driving strategic management at organizations within the public sector. Covered topics include strategic planning and performance measurement. Students learn to lead teams to solve problems in the public sector.
Ethics and Social Justice
In this course, students examine the philosophy of ethics through the lens of social justice. The course explores theories of economic disparity, power, and privilege. Students also learn about accountability in leadership and best practices for ensuring fair and equitable treatment of people in diverse communities.
|Public Management||Focusing on the effective management of public organization, the public management concentration provides students with the skills they need to succeed as managers in public administration. The concentration focuses on developing managerial and strategic planning skills to help students manage organizations of all sizes.||Students who earn their DPA with a public management concentration can work in public management in all types of companies.|
|Ethical Leadership||Centered around addressing some of the most critical leadership issues in modern public organizations, the ethical leadership concentration allows students to expand their knowledge of ethics. Coursework focuses on the public sector, and how to develop meaningful, ethical leadership qualities.||Students with an ethical leadership concentration may qualify for leadership roles in companies and government agencies.|
|Nonprofit Management||Dedicated to understanding one of the major sectors of public administration, the nonprofit management concentration gives students an overview of all things nonprofit. Students learn how nonprofit agencies differ from public and for-profit entities regarding mission, funding, governance, and staffing.||This concentration prepares students for successful careers in management at nonprofit organizations.|
|Analytics||Focused on a large part of public administration, the analytical concentration explores critical issues related to data management in organizations. Coursework explores the concept of data as a resource, the database approach, the data environment, and the need for data modeling.||Graduates with a concentration in analytics qualify for program analyst positions and other analytical careers.|
|Healthcare Administration||The healthcare administration concentration provides students with the critical strategies and information they need to effectively manage issues specific to the healthcare sector. They learn to handle problems like reimbursement and profitability troubles, extensive regulation, and managing a highly educated, diverse workforce.||This concentration prepares students to work in healthcare management and administration.|
What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Public Administration Degree?
Opportunities for public administration majors span several industries. Many careers in this sector require strong research, analytical, and interpersonal skills. Most positions involve looking at issues that impact individuals or communities and finding ways to create effective public policies with limited resources.
The following section highlights five common career paths you may consider after earning an online doctorate in public administration. For additional information, consult our guide on public policy careers.
Social advocates work with nonprofit organizations to create effective awareness campaigns and drive fundraising efforts. Professionals in this sector may also work for governments or for-profit social service companies. Primary tasks include analyzing data, suggesting improvements to processes or services, managing outreach activities, and writing proposals to gain funding.
Healthcare careers with a doctorate in public administration typically involve analyzing health trends and creating public health policies to encourage healthy habits across communities. Professionals in this field often work in offices, schools, or community centers. Job titles include health educator, community health worker, epidemiologist, and nutritionist.
Careers in finance involve monitoring an organization's finances and creating plans to maintain efficiency, profitability, and investments. Finance careers with a public administration focus include financial analyst, budget analyst, and financial manager. Primary tasks include budgeting, analyzing financial statements, and studying economic trends. Overall, financial experts ensure organizations use their limited resources effectively to eliminate waste.
Public administration majors often pursue government careers at the local, state, and federal levels. Professionals in this field work with lawmakers, lobbyists, and other government officials to gain support for policies or initiatives. Job titles include sociologist, political scientist, diplomat, and urban or regional planner. This field also includes jobs in law enforcement, criminal justice, and corrections.
Professionals with an online doctorate in public administration are qualified to teach at professional or vocational schools, community colleges, and universities. A postsecondary teacher's primary responsibilities include creating lesson plans, grading assignments and exams, advising students, and working with colleagues to develop and modify curricula.
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How to Choose a Doctoral Program in Public Administration
One of the most important factors students should consider when choosing their program is the cost. Cost includes tuition, fees, technology costs, room and board, and course materials. Students should research each institution's projected education expenses. Program length is another determining factor, since each program has its own set of requirements, which can impact how long it would take to finish. Students can enroll full or part time.
Prospective students should also consider employment opportunities and quality of life in the area of their desired program. They should research the cost of living and decide if they would like to enroll in an online program or an on-campus one. Depending on their schedules and outside responsibilities, many students might prefer online programs, which tend to be more flexible. Not all doctoral programs offer specializations, so prospective students should consider whether they want to focus their degree in a specific area, and find a program that offers that concentration.
What's the Difference Between a Ph.D. and a DPA?
The main difference between a Ph.D. and a doctor of public administration (DPA) lies in the curriculum. Students pursuing their Ph.D. take a more theoretical approach to their education, and must complete a dissertation to graduate. Dissertations use a theoretical approach in which students advance their professional knowledge through their work. A DPA takes a more practical approach in which their dissertations examine real-world problems. Because the dissertations differ in focus, they require students to take different approaches to their research methods. Dissertations requiring deep research may affect program length. Students should consider whether they would prefer more theoretical or practical methods of thought to determine which program is the best fit for them.
Programmatic Accreditation for Doctoral Programs in Public Administration
When choosing a doctorate program, students should pay close attention to accreditation. Credits from nationally accredited schools are often difficult to transfer to other institutions. Additionally, students at nationally accredited schools are often excluded from tuition reimbursement plans. Regionally accredited institutions are considered more prestigious, and graduates from those schools are usually eligible for tuition reimbursement plans. Many employers and higher learning institutions find candidates from these programs are more qualified and skilled than other candidates.
Popular Online Doctorate's in Public Administration Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Public Administration Programs
Is a doctorate in public administration worth it?
A successful career in public administration does not necessarily require a doctorate. Before selecting a program, you should determine whether or not you will receive a positive return on your investment. A great place to start is by establishing your career goals. For example, becoming a university professor typically requires a doctorate, but management positions often value experience more than an advanced degree. Competitive jobs, including in government and research, often value a doctorate.
What can I do with a doctorate in public administration?
Earning an online doctorate in public administration qualifies graduates for several jobs. Common job titles include social and community service manager, political scientist, urban and regional planner, college professor, and financial manager.
What's the difference between a doctorate in public administration and a Ph.D.?
A doctorate in public administration (D.P.A.) and Ph.D. share several similarities in curriculum and admission requirements. However, the main difference is that a Ph.D. program typically embraces a more theoretical approach to the subject, while a D.P.A. tends to focus more on real-world applications of course concepts.
How much money can I make with a doctorate in public administration?
Earning potential for public administration professionals varies by field, experience, and location. A doctorate is a terminal degree, meaning that graduates obtain expert-level education, which opens up the door to some of the most lucrative opportunities. According to PayScale, professionals with a doctorate in public administration earn an average salary of $102,500.
What are the highest paying jobs with a doctorate in public administration?
Salary data from PayScale shows that the best paid professionals in this sector are professors, data science managers, and executive directors.