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Best 15 PhD in Public Administration Programs in 2021

February 18, 2021 | Staff Writers

PhD in Public Administration
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Public Administration can cover several different aspects of the urban world including urban management, policy administration, and political practice.  This advanced degree can easily be applied to work in a variety of different industries and sectors including both for-profit and non-profit endeavors.  A PhD in Public Administration is often necessary for specialized government work and can be applied to research practice and methodology when it comes to urban management and planning.  

What is A PhD in Public Administration?

The majority of PhD programs in Public Administration focus on being able to effectively and methodically create solutions that benefit the community and world at large.  These programs can be policy based or application based, and focus on management practices.  A Public Administration program is usually intended for people who are already working in the public sector but wish to pursue leadership or management positions in their career.  Depending on the particular program, a PhD in Public Administration can easily be paired with an engineering or economics degree to utilize the skills and benefits of each discipline as it relates to helping people and their communities.  

Top 5 PhD in Public Administration Programs

RankSchoolLocation
1Jackson State UniversityJackson, Mississippi
2Boise State UniversityBoise, Idaho
3Western Michigan UniversityKalamazoo, Michigan
4American UniversityWashington, D.C.
5Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca Raton, Florida

What Are The Benefits?

Like any PhD program, the benefits of a PhD in Public Administration include a thorough understanding of research methods and analysis.  Unlike a hard science discipline, Public Administration focuses on research as it pertains to the politics, culture, society, and better understanding of the people within a specific community.  This can often be applied to urban settings to better develop and study social and cultural dynamics and policies.  This program is a great way to express your desire to earn a leadership role, taking the reigns when it comes to innovative thinking and critical thought to solve common problems in a real world setting.  

What is the Outlook And Salary?

A PhD in Public Administration can bring about a desirable position with an enticing salary.  The demand outlook for this particular career is expected to grow between 10-20% in the coming years.  There are several different managerial positions for people with a PhD in Public Administration including a Policy Analyst, City Manager, or Research Director.  Graduates with a PhD in Public Administration can expect to make between $40,000 and $108,000 per year depending on their location and title.  

When it comes time to choose a school for your to pursue your PhD, it can be difficult deciding.  So much is riding on your decision so you want to be sure you are making the best choice that aligns with your interests and career goals.  Luckily, our team is here to help.  We have scoured the available PhD programs and have compiled a list of the top 15 programs available for a PhD in Public Administration.  We have also created a list of the best masters in public administration programs.

The Best 15 PhD in Public Administration Programs

1

Jackson State University

  • Jackson, Mississippi
  • Points: 30

The Jackson State University PhD program for Public Administration teaches students a range of skills as they relate to urban development. Students will address issues centering around addressing urban policies, working with urban minorities, and study the analysis of system administration. Through the program they will examine the history of urban development globally, and assess the way urban development has changed and evolved throughout time.

This degree is set up to help students work in non-profit and for-profit sectors focusing on policy making, program analysis and implementation, as well as planning management and environmental management. This is a great program for people who are in management positions for non-profit sectors.

  • Application Requirements: Graduate degree with 3.5 or higher, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, GRE scores, two samples of professional writing

School Overview

Tuition: $462 per credit
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2

Boise State University

  • Boise, Idaho
  • Points: 26

The Public Policy and Administration PhD offered at Boise State University is set up to prepare students for management roles in a variety of different fields including government sectors, non-profit, and environmental careers. The program focuses on building policy analysis skills to make a students better prepared for their career in public policy.

Further, the degree is set up for both full-time students and working professionals, offering flexible schedules and course curriculums. This is an ideal program for students who wish to focus their studies on learning analysis and research practices for applied policy in the real world.

  • Application Requirements: Graduate degree with 3.0 or higher, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, transcripts, statement of purpose, writing sample

School Overview

Tuition: $826 per credit
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3

Western Michigan University

  • Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Points: 23

Western Michigan University offers students the chance to earn a PhD in Public Administration and has been awarding degrees for over thirty years. This school only offers a PhD program, without the option for a terminate Masters, which means that students will be with fellow PhD candidates throughout their academic career. This program is set up for students who wish to pursue careers in the local, state, or federal government.

The program is offered for students who wish to examine the history of policy, and to move forward with thorough analysis and understanding of future policy. This is the perfect curriculum for students who wish to go on to teach at the college level or who want to enter leadership and management roles within the public sector.

  • Application Requirements: Bachelor degree with transcripts, GRE scores, previous written work, personal statement, letters of recommendation, resume

School Overview

Tuition: $1,022 per credit
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4

American University

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Points: 20

The program at American University for a PhD in Public Administration touts its ability to help students work through the program with a dedicated one-on-one program allowing students to work closely with faculty and staff. Students will have the opportunity to pursue their studies and research as it relates to public administration by working closely with professionals in similarly related fields.

This degree is ideal for students who wish to enter leadership roles within public administration, or go on to teach the subject matter at a college level. Following successful completion of required course work and research students will be coached closely to prepare them for interviews and real world career experience, setting students up for ongoing success.

  • Application Requirements: Applications and application fee, transcripts, GRE scores, personal statement, letters of recommendation, resume

School Overview

Tuition: $1,631 per credit
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5

Florida Atlantic University

  • Boca Raton, Florida
  • Points: 19

The PhD program offered by Florida Atlantic University for Public Administration offers several different concentrations for students to pursue. These concentrations including Organizational Studies, Public Administration Theory, Public Budgeting and Financial Administration, and Public Policy Studies. These concentrations are specifically designed to give students the focus they need to pursue a leadership role in a career in non-profit administration or government work.

While Florida Atlantic University offers students a range of concentration opportunities for study, it is also possible to custom create your own course work. It is possible to speak directly with a professor before acceptance to custom create a program that best aligns with your current or future career goals.

  • Application Requirements: Application, transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation

School Overview

Tuition: $1,026 per credit
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6

Florida State University

  • Tallahassee, Florida
  • Points: 16

The Public Administration Program at Florida State University is geared toward giving students the ethical background and knowledge needed to work in non-profit and public administration facilities. This program is centered around the policies of integrity and competent leadership, and strives to teach students through methodical research and best practices.

Students who wish to earn their PhD must complete 45 credits in a rigorous course curriculum. Required classes include theoretical courses on policy and behavior, as well as a historic overview of prior public policy. Students must take classes in both methods and political practice, a well as complete a dissertation. Students will have the opportunity to specialize in their concentration to better align their academic work with career goals.

  • Application Requirements: Undergraduate work with a 3.5 GPA or better, GRE scores, writing sample, personal statement, professional experience encouraged but not required

School Overview

Tuition: $1,110 per credit
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7

Carnegie Mellon University

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Points: 15

With a strong engineering and technology background, it is no wonder that the PhD program for Public Administration offered by Carnegie Mellon University is geared toward applying technology and engineering to public policy. This program helps students address technological issues facing the public sector, and applies real world problem solving and policy change to address these issues.

There are several areas of concentration students can focus in including Energy Systems, Climate and Environment, Technology Innovation Policy, Risk Analysis, and Information and Communication Technology. The majority of graduates go on to work in academia or in consulting type roles.

  • Applications Requirements: Transcripts, GRE scores, essay questions, identify faculty member to work with, 3 letters of recommendation

School Overview

Tuition: $1,912 per credit
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8

Syracuse University

  • Syracuse, New York
  • Points: 14

The PhD program offered at Syracuse University for Public Administration allows students to not only gain a better understanding of public policy and application, but allows them to solve complex problems caused by resource limitations by facing the problems head on with real world solutions. This program is intended for full time students and requires the majority of study to be completed on campus.

One of the best highlights from this program is that within the first year of study, students will be able to participate as a full-time researcher. Every doctoral student will have the opportunity to work one on one with a faculty and public policy professional throughout the course of his or her career.

  • Application Requirements: Application fee, transcripts, GRE, letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume, writing sample

School Overview

Tuition: $1,891 per credit
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9

George Washington University

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Points: 13

The PhD program in Public Administration offered by George Washington University is ideal for students who are working full-time jobs. The majority of the classes for this program are offered in the evening, allowing students to still work a full day before attending classes. This program consists of 72 credits, and focuses on applied research as it relates to public policy.

Students will take a wide range of classes including economics, politics, and quantitative and qualitative public research. Graduates from this program most commonly go on to pursue a career teaching at a college level.

  • Application Requirements: GRE scores, transcripts, three letters of recommendation, statement of purpose

School Overview

Tuition: $1,890 per credit
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10

Auburn University

  • Auburn, Alabama
  • Points: 13

The PhD program offered from Auburn University is actually a joint Doctorate degree combining Public Administration and Public Policy together into one, comprehensive degree for students. This program is perfect for students wishing to pursue a career in either academia or in the government sector. Students enrolled in this program will take classes at two different campuses, just 50 miles apart from one another.

In order to be awarded a PhD, students must complete 49 credits and must complete at least one-third of their studies at each of the two campuses. Students must have faculty from each campus on their dissertation committee for graduation.

  • Application Requirements: Transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, writing sample, current resume

School Overview

Tuition: $1,638 per credit
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11

University of Kentucky

  • Lexington, Kentucky
  • Points: 13

The research heavy PhD program in Public Administration offered at the University of Kentucky helps to set students up with the research and analysis skills needed to pursue a career in public policy. This school heavily emphasizes theory and research as it applies to effective public policy in both the for-profit, and non-profit world.

The course curriculum for this program focuses on methodology and research. Students must take an additional 15 credits in their specified area of concentration, which can be created to align with individual students’ career goals. A dissertation is required for successful degree completion.

  • Application Requirements: GRE scores, transcripts, letters of recommendation, writing sample, personal statement, resume

School Overview

Tuition: $1,384 per credit
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12

University of Georgia

  • Athens, Georgia
  • Points: 13

The PhD program offered at the University of Georgia for Public Administration sets students up for a successful career in public service. This program heavily leans on research methods and prepares students with the correct and ethical way to apply analysis and research methods to lasting policy change in the public sector.

Graduates are expected to gain a wide range of knowledge as it applies to the political, economic, normative, and institutional settings throughout public administration. Students are encouraged to teach, collaborate, and share their thoughts with others in the public sector in order to continue to grow and strengthen our own communities.

  • Application Requirements: Application, application fee, transcripts, three letters of recommendation, statement of purpose

School Overview

Tuition: $1,166 per credit
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13

University of North Texas

  • Denton, Texas
  • Points: 10

Touting an extremely selective application process, the PhD program at the University of North Texas for Public Administration only selects between 8 and 10 students admitted into the program each year. This is the best way to guarantee that students get dedicated instruction from faculty and staff at the university.

Students selected into this research-centric program are encouraged to work toward a variety of available concentrations which include urban management, emergency management, public financial management, and nonprofit management.

  • Application Requirements: Application, three letters of recommendation, academic writing sample, statement of purpose, current resume

School Overview

Tuition: $1,256 per credit
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14

University of Illinois at Chicago

  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Points: 10

The PhD program for Public Administration offered by the University of Illinois at Chicago offers students the opportunity to combine academic theory with hands on practice. This program is one of the few PhD programs that allows students to get experience with real research and training as it applies to their future career goals.

For graduation, students are required to complete 96 hours of course work and select a concentration of study. Available concentrations include Survey Methods, Financial Management, Urban Governance and Networks, and Public and Nonprofit Management.

  • Application Requirements: Application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, personal statement, GRE test scores, writing sample, resume

School Overview

Tuition: $1,186 per credit
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15

North Carolina State University

  • Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Points: 5

The PhD program offered at the North Carolina State University for Public Administration focuses heavily on research and teaching in academia. This program for Public Administration is geared toward students who wish to pursue research careers with government agencies.

Students enrolled in this program will not only have to complete the required course work, but must also complete and defend a dissertation with sound research skills and methodology. Students are free to choose their own concentration and adjust their course of study as it pertains to their individualized career goals.

  • Application Requirements: Application, transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, statement of intent, writing sample, resume

School Overview

Tuition: $1,988 per credit
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Methodology

In order to create a list of the top schools to earn a PhD in Public Administration we have put together a methodical scoring practice.  Schools and universities are assessed on two different metrics which help establish a point system.  The first metric used for our point system was the cost of tuition.  This was calculated on an assumed two semester year, with an average of 12 credits per semester.  Schools with a lower cost of tuition were given a higher amount of points.  

The second metric that was used to calculate the overall score was the enrollment size for the school.  Universities that had a smaller enrollment size were give more points in our ranking system.  It is assumed that schools with fewer students have smaller class sizes, and thus a better student to teacher ratio.  The schools with the smallest enrollment total received the highest amount of points.  The total points awarded for tuition and enrollment were added together, giving a composite score.  The highest amount of points was the most favorable school in our ranking system.

We always want to give our students the best and most accurate information available.  If your school has been listed, but you notice that the information is out of date or not correct, just let us know!  We are always happy to make the necessary adjustments to ensure our perspective students receive up to date and accurate information.  

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