The PhD program in public administration and policy at the University of Georgia is designed to prepare students for leading careers in teaching, research, and public service. The program has a strong research orientation and maintains high standards in the admission and evaluation of students.

Graduates of the program have received numerous national dissertation awards in public administration and public policy. They are placed in Research I institutions throughout the United States and in leading institutions of higher learning around the globe where they contribute to the expansion of knowledge in the fields of public management and policy analysis.

The Georgia Advantage

Our PhD students work closely with an award-winning, highly productive, and internationally recognized research faculty. The aim of the program is to educate professionals who can generate, share, and consume knowledge effectively in academic settings, and the curriculum is crafted with those objectives in mind. First, it provides an appreciation for the broad range of issues — economic, institutional, normative, and political — that surround public administration and public policy in the contemporary state. Second, it equips students with the research skills that are needed to conduct original investigations of questions central to these fields. Finally, it immerses students in the core issues, research traditions, and applied skills of a management or policy specialization of their choice.



Admission Requirements & Deadlines

To be considered for admission to the PhD program, students must hold a baccalaureate and masters degrees from accredited college or university programs and must demonstrate potential for excellence in the study of public administration and public policy.

Doctoral applications are considered for fall semester admission only and must be received in time for thorough consideration by the Department of Public Administration and Policy and the Graduate School.  Applicants from countries where English is not the native language must submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores with their application materials.  Please request that official scores be sent to UGA.  Photocopies of will not be accepted.  Any application originating from outside the United States must be received at least twelve weeks before the beginning of the fall semester.

Doctoral applicants are admitted only if the department can offer them financial assistance in the form of a research or teaching assistantship as noted above. All doctoral applicants must submit all application materials before February 1 deadline to ensure full consideration.

How To Apply
  1. 1. Online Graduate School Application  and fee ($75 domestic / $100 international).
  2. One unofficial transcript from each institution of higher education attended, except the University of Georgia (University of Georgia transcripts are on file). You may upload transcripts through the application portal or mail them directly to the UGA Graduate School.
  3. Official GRE test score report. The UGA institutional code for ETS reporting is 5813.  No departmental code is required.
  4. You will be prompted to upload a resume and statement of purpose.  The statement of purpose is your opportunity to communicate to us how this program fits with your future plans. You should use this document to convey why this area of study and specifically this program are a good fit with your career and educational goals. You should also highlight your relevant experience and preparation for this program.
  5. You will be asked to enter the email addresses of three recommenders. If you would rather submit paper letters to the department, list your name and e-mail in the boxes on the online application that ask for your recommenders. That way, only you will receive the electronic letter of recommendation requests, which you may delete.
  6. International applicants please see additional requirements.

If you have problems uploading documents to your application or any other application issues, please contact Kristin Lawrence at (706) 542-3510 or [email protected].

Mail materials to:

University of Georgia Graduate School Admissions
Brooks Hall
310 Herty Drive
Athens, GA 30602

Curriculum Overview

PhD students must prepare for comprehensive examinations in three substantive fields of study. In consultation with the PhD Program Director, each student will select a minimum of three courses from each of the fields listed below.


This required field involves intensive coursework in issues of and approaches to the general field of Public Administration, as well as coverage of major subfields, such as public personnel administration, public financial administration, and organization theory. All students are required to complete PADP 8710.

  • PADP 6490 Administrative Law
  • PADP 6910 Public Administration and Democracy
  • PADP 6920 Public Personnel Administration
  • PADP 6930 Public Financial Administration
  • PADP 6960 Organizational Theory
  • PADP 8710 Ideas and Issues in Public Administration
  • PADP 8730 Doctoral Research Seminar in Public Administration


This required field involves intensive course work in issues of and approaches to the study of public policy generally, as well as in substantive policy areas that are of interest to the student (e.g., educational policy and public welfare). All students are required to complete PADP 8670.

  • 6940 Economic Foundations of Policy Analysis
  • PADP 7520 Urban Policy
  • PADP 8620 Policy Process
  • PADP 8630 Policy Implementation
  • PADP 8640 Program Evaluation
  • PADP 8670 Policy Analysis I
  • PADP 8680 Policy Analysis II
  • PADP 8650 Public Policy Seminar
  • PADP 8850 Quantitative Analysis for Public Decision-Making


As a third field of study, each PhD student will develop a specialization in an area of public management or public policy.  This specialization will involve intensive course work in the area selected such as public budgeting and finance, public organization theory and behavior, public personnel administration, nonprofit administration, health policy or social insurance policy  Other specializations are possible with the approval of the PhD Program Director.

For illustrative purposes, the following is a list of fields and courses from which a Ph.D. student, in consultation with the Ph.D. program director, may build a management specialization. The list is not intended to be exhaustive but only illustrative of the options available to Ph.D. students in Public Administration.


  • PADP 7500 Local Government Management
  • PADP 7930 Human Services Administration
  • PADP 8560 Special Topics in Urban Administration: Poverty
  • PADP 8840 Metropolitan Fiscal Problems
  • PADP 9200 Intergovernmental Relations
  • PADP 9200 Economic Development Policy and Financing
  • PADP 9200 State and Local Taxation
  • PADP 6370 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
  • PADP 8630 Seminar in Urban Geography


  • PADP 6930 Public Financial Administration
  • PADP 7840 Budget Practicum
  • PADP 8430 Public Financial Management
  • PADP 8830 Seminar in Public Budgeting
  • PADP 8840 Metropolitan Fiscal Problems
  • PADP 8850 Quantitative Analysis for Public Decision-Making
  • PADP 9200 Economic Development Policy and Financing
  • PADP 9200 State and Local Taxation
  • ACCT 6000 Financial Accounting


  • PADP 6960 Organization Theory
  • PADP 7360 Managing Government Performance
  • PADP 8420 Leadership in Public Service
  • PADP 8460 Organizational Behavior
  • PADP 8740 Frontiers of Public Management Research
  • PADP 8960 Organizational Development and Change
  • MGMT 9020 Concepts of Organizations


  • PADP 6920 Public Personnel Administration
  • PADP 7900 Managing Volunteers in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • PADP 7920 EEO and Diversity
  • PADP 8420 Leadership in Public Service
  • PADP 8720 Seminar in Selected Problems in Public Personnel Administration
  • MGMT 7010 Developing Leadership Skills
  • MGMT 9810 Seminar in Human Resource Management
  • PSYC 6140 Introduction to Industrial-Organizational Psychology


  • PADP 7210 Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector
  • PADP 7220 Nonprofit Governance and Management
  • PADP 7900 Managing Volunteers in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • PADP 8210 Civil Society, Nonprofits, and Government
  • PADP 8220 Special Topics in Nonprofit Management: Social Entrepreneurship
  • PADP 8220 Selected Topics in Nonprofit Management: Grant Writing
  • PADP 8220 Selected Topics in Nonprofit Management: NGOs
  • MNPO 7060 Fundraising and Development for Nonprofit Organizations
  • MNPO 7123 Theory and Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • MNPO 7423 Innovation and Change in Nonprofit Organizations


  • PADP 8610 Economics of Health Policy
  • PADP 8640 Program Evaluation
  • EHSC 7010 Fundamentals of Environmental Health Science
  • HPAM 7010 Introduction to Health Policy and Management
  • HPAM 7700 Public Health and Health Care Ethics
  • HPAM 8400 Advanced Policy Analysis in Public Health
  • HPAM 8700 Management of Public Health Organizations
  • HPAM 8800 Leadership in Public Health
  • HPAM 8810 Health Policy Planning and Evaluation
  • HPAM 8900 Special Topics in Health Administration
  • HPRM 7070 Program Planning in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
  • HPRB 7270 Resource Development and Implementation in Health Promotion
  • HPRB 7470 Program Evaluation in Health Promotion and Health Education
  • HPRB 7500 Community Health Promotion


In addition to the above requirements, Ph.D. students must take four research methods courses. These courses should be taken as early as possible in the program of study and may be selected from the following list:

  • PADP 8110 Logic of Social Inquiry
  • PADP 8120 Data Analysis and Statistical Inference
  • PADP 8130 Linear Models
  • PADP 8140 Advanced Topics in Statistical Modeling
Degree Requirements

Completion of the PhD program normally requires two years of course work and two years of work on the dissertation. Comprehensive examinations are taken at the beginning of the third year of the program, and the remainder of the third year should be devoted to the dissertation prospectus and dissertation research. Completion of the PhD degree may require more time for students who enter without significant previous graduate work in public administration and public policy or who fail to complete degree requirements in a timely fashion. The course requirements are further outlined in the PhD Program Guide.



As a requirement for admission to doctoral candidacy, all PhD students must pass written and oral comprehensive examinations on their three substantive fields of study: public administration and management, policy process and analysis, and a field of specialization intended to direct the student’s development towards preparation for a specific, substantive dissertation topic.


The written examinations are administered in a take-home format during three consecutive weeks early in the fall semester each year.  The exams have a 5,000-word limit, and students have 12 hours to complete them.  Exam questions are drafted to emphasize theory as well as research design and analysis.  The public administration and management and the policy process and analysis exams will be written and evaluated by departmental committees consisting of the PhD Program Director and two other members of the faculty appointed by the PhD Program Director.  The examination in the field of specialization will be written and evaluated by a committee selected by the student.  All exams will consist of 3 sets of questions with 2 questions in each set.  Students are expected to answer 1 question from each set.  Committee members will read and provide written comments on the exams, and will assign grades of: (1) high pass, (2) pass, or (3) fail.


Students who fail one of the three written exams will be given one opportunity to retake that exam at the beginning of the following spring semester.  Any student who fails two or more of the exams must retake all three exams and will be given one opportunity to do so at the beginning of the following spring semester.


The oral examination will be administered by the specialization examination committee selected by the student once all written exams are passed.  The oral exam may address any issues from the student’s three written field exams, but the focus of the exam will be on the student’s presentation of a sole-authored research paper suitable for submission to an academic journal or presentation at an academic conference.  The paper is due no later than two weeks after the third written exam.  The intent of the paper is to allow the student to explore a topic that will be related to their dissertation.  As such, the paper is expected to reflect, largely, the student’s own thought, analysis, and writing.  If faculty assistance was given prior to submitting the paper, the student must detail the nature of that assistance so that the committee can determine the extent to which the paper represents requisite independent scholarly thought.


Following passage of the oral exam, the student will be admitted into Doctoral Candidacy. Students who fail the oral exam will have one more opportunity to stand for the oral exam no sooner than the following non-summer term, and no later than one year after failing the exam.


Failure to pass the written or oral exams after the previously described opportunities to retake them will result in the termination of a student’s matriculation in the program.


Before the comprehensive examinations are taken, the student must have completed all required course work with at least a grade of “B.”  All incomplete grades must be resolved prior to the comprehensive examinations.


The department maintains a file of previous examination questions for students to consult in preparation for the written field examinations.


Sample Comprehensive Exams
















After a student is admitted to Doctoral Candidacy, the final requirement for the degree is completion of a dissertation.  The dissertation must be based on an original research project that makes a substantial contribution to scholarship in the fields of public administration or public policy.  The first step in this process requires that the student choose a major professor from the Department of Public Administration and Policy and two additional dissertation committee members—one of whom may be from outside of the department—that are members of UGA’s Graduate faculty.  The major professor will chair the committee. Additional voting members, with proper rank, may be appointed to the committee, including no more than one non-UGA faculty, who must hold the terminal degree in their field of study. If there are more than three members, more than 50% must be members of the UGA Graduate Faculty. The student will work closely with the major professor on all aspects of the dissertation but may also seek advice from other committee members.  The committee may be comprised of the same individuals who served on the committee for the specialized field examination.  Ultimately, the dissertation committee must formally approve the dissertation.


Once the committee is in place, the student must prepare a dissertation proposal or prospectus.  The prospectus identifies a problem to be explored, draws on relevant literature to show the significance of the problem for public administration or public policy, sets forth a line of argumentation to be pursued or hypotheses to be tested, and describes the approach or methods and the data that will be employed in conducting the research.  The prospectus must be written in consultation with the student’s major professor, and the student must defend the prospectus to his/her full dissertation committee.  To remain in good standing in the PhD program, a student must have an approved dissertation prospectus by the end of the third year of full-time study.  Work on the dissertation cannot proceed until the prospectus is approved.


After the dissertation has been completed and approved for defense by the dissertation committee, a final oral examination is scheduled for defense of the dissertation.  The student must receive a majority of positive votes from the members of the dissertation committee to pass the defense.  Once the dissertation is approved, defended, corrected, and edited as necessary, approval forms are signed by the major professor, other committee members, and the student, and the dissertation is submitted by the student to the Graduate School.  Students must be careful to prepare the dissertation in conformity to all Graduate School specifications.


Tuition & Financial Aid

Information on the cost of attendance can be found on the Office of Student Financial Aid’s website.  However, the Department of Public Administration and Policy places all PhD students on teaching or research assistantships that provide tuition waivers and stipends ranging from approximately $19,000 to $22,000 for a nine-month academic year.  Assistantships also require at least a 17 hour per-week work commitment and are renewable for up to four years depending upon satisfactory academic success. To achieve renewal for years two and three, you must maintain a 3.7 GPA and avoid grades of Incomplete except in cases of documented medical hardship. In order to continue funding in year four, you must have passed all comprehensive exams and successfully defended your dissertation prospectus before the completion of the third year.

See “How to Apply” for more information.


PhD students may utilize numerous campus resources while pursuing their programs of study. The University’s library system includes the UGA Main Library, Law Library, and Science Library. The system contains vast holdings of periodicals and reference materials, is a government depository, and ranks among the leading research libraries in the country. Our department also provides a small specialized library and state-of-the art computer technology centers to assist students in their studies.

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