Adam Eckerd, Graduate Program Director
Katrina Davenport, Graduate Program Manager
The mission of the Ph.D. in Public Administration & Policy program is to develop expert leaders and scholars in public and non-profit administration and policy who are capable of creating and disseminating knowledge that advances public service in a multi-sector environment with 37 hours of doctoral level course work and 12 hours of dissertation credit. This program is available on-campus and online.
Applications for admission to the program will be considered once per year in March. Students begin classes in the fall.
Prospective students will submit the following for consideration:
- An online graduate application.
- Three letters of recommendation with at least one letter from an academic source.
- Transcripts from a regionally accredited institution or a comparable foreign institution showing completion of a master's degree by the time of enrollment with a minimum GPA of 3.25 on a 4.0 scale
- Aptitude scores on the GRE, or in cases of substitution, the GMAT, taken within five years prior to applying for admission. Scores from the Miller Analogies Test (MAT) are not accepted or considered for admission. The requirement for the GRE or GMAT may be waived for applicants with at least a grade of B or higher in a graduate level statistics or research methods course, or with a 3.5 or above GPA in a regionally accredited master’s degree program. Applicants who wish to be exempted from the GRE or GMAT requirement should complete the “Request for GRE/GMAT Waiver” form and submit it with their application package for review by the admissions committee. The decision to waive the GRE or GMAT is the sole responsibility of the admissions committee and its decision is final
- A three- to six-page double-spaced written statement of academic and professional goals. The focus of the essay should be on how the Ph.D. degree in Public Administration and Policy will assist the applicant in advancing his/her professional development, and why the applicant wishes to pursue these goals at Old Dominion University and in the School of Public Service
- Résumé with educational and professional experience.
- For students whose native language is not English, a minimum score of 550 on paper based TOEFL, 79 on internet based TOEFL, or 6.5 on the IELTS.
|PADM 800||Colloquium - Public Administration and Policy||1|
|PADM 801||Policy Theory||3|
|PADM 802||Public Administration I||3|
|PADM 803||Public Administration II||3|
|PADM 804||Multi-Sector Administration||3|
|PADM 805||Research Design||3|
|FOUN 722||Introduction to Applied Statistics and Data Analysis||3|
|PADM 806||Multivariate Analysis in Public Administration||3|
|TLCI 814||Qualitative Research Design in Education||3|
|Select one of the following:||3|
|Multivariate Statistics in Criminological Research|
|Qualitative Methods in Criminology and Criminal Justice|
|Advanced Quantitative Techniques in Criminology & Criminal Justice|
|Advanced Research Methods in Criminology & Criminal Justice|
|Advanced Statistical Models in Business Research|
|Research Design and Analysis|
|Advanced Qualitative Research|
|Analysis of Variance Applied to Educational Research|
|Applied Structural Equation Modeling in Educational Research|
|Educational Measurement and Assessment|
|Geographic Information Systems|
|Research Design and Application|
|Quantitative Research Methods in Health Care|
|Qualitative Research Methods|
|Health Outcomes Research|
|Fundamentals of Survey Research|
|GPD approval required for alternative courses.|
|Choose 3 courses from the following list:||9|
|Urban and Regional Economic Development|
|Policy and Program Evaluation|
|Management and Governance of Nonprofit Organizations|
|Introduction to Nonprofit Sector|
|Public Human Resources Management|
|Ethics in Public Administration|
|Government, Society and Business|
|Performance Measurement and Management|
|Collaboration in Public Administration|
|Public Financial Management|
|GPD approval required for alternative courses.|
|Total Credit Hours||49|
Depending on a student’s prior academic preparation and work experience, additional prerequisite courses may be required by the GPD. Such courses must be completed with a grade of B or better and will not be included in the 49 semester credit hours required to complete the doctoral program. Prerequisites will be determined by the admissions committee based on prior coursework and professional experience.
Requirements of Ph.D. Degree
The following are the minimum requirements for the Ph.D. degree and must be considered in preparing the student's plan of study:
- Satisfactory completion of 37 hours of coursework;
- Acceptable performance on written and oral comprehensive exams for advancement to candidacy;
- Completion of a dissertation representing the candidate's ability to conduct scholarly, original research; and
- Successful oral defense of the dissertation.
The University has established 3.00 as the minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) for continuance in a graduate program and graduation. Probation by the University occurs when a student’s GPA falls below 3.00. Suspension occurs when the student is unable to raise the GPA above 3.00 within the next 12 credit hours taken. In order to remain in good standing in the Ph.D. program, students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.00. If a student earns a grade of C+ or lower in a course, that course will not count toward the student’s degree, and must be repeated and a grade of at least B- recorded for that course. Students may earn no more than one grade lower than B- in course work attempted while enrolled in the Ph.D. program. If a student earns a second grade lower than B-, the student will be indefinitely suspended from the Ph.D. program. Likewise, any student who earns a grade of F in any course work attempted while enrolled in the Ph.D. program will be indefinitely suspended from the program.
If a full-time funded student falls below a GPA of 3.20 (but above 3.00), he or she will be placed on probation by the academic program for a period of one semester. If, at the end of the probationary semester, the student’s GPA remains below 3.20, the student’s funding will be terminated. If a student’s GPA falls below a 3.00, the student’s funding will be terminated.
Earning a Ph.D. is more than an exercise in receiving acceptable course grades. Graduates of ODU’s Ph.D. program in Public Administration and Policy are expected to embody values such as honesty, integrity, and fairness, and are expected to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the expectations of the academy. Likewise, students are expected to exhibit growth in their intellectual capabilities and the integration of the scholarly tenets of their chosen discipline. These expectations are ultimately critical to a successful dissertation experience, as well as the ability to maintain the quality and reputation of the Ph.D. program, the School of Public Service (SPS), and the university. Students who fail to meet these expectations may, in accordance with the Student Performance Review Policy, be dismissed from the Ph.D. program, regardless of the student’s current grade point average. Students have the right to appeal the decision of the faculty to the Dean of the Strome College of Business.
Student Performance Review
Each Ph.D. student undergoes a performance review by his/her Advisor and/or GPD at the end of each academic year. In addition to certifying that the student is making satisfactory progress toward the degree (i.e., in compliance with the continuance and retention policies), the evaluation will include an examination of the following factors:
- Professional integrity, professionalism, and ethical behavior, as reflected in the ASPA Code of Ethics, Student Code of Conduct.
- Socialization Activities
- Collegiality and personal behavior
- Non-academic performance (e.g., publication efforts, conference papers, participation in SPS and program events, etc.)
- Capability and desire to pass comprehensive examinations and complete a dissertation in a timely fashion
If a student receives an unacceptable review, the student will be brought before the faculty to discuss their past performance as well as their future in the Ph.D. program. An integral part of this meeting would be to counsel the student. In lieu of an appearance, students may elect to write a letter of explanation to the faculty. The faculty will have the ability, by majority vote of the tenure-track faculty, to place the student on probation for one semester or to dismiss the student immediately, regardless of academic standing or time in the program. If the faculty chooses to place the student on probation and the student fails to meet faculty expectations by the end of the semester following this decision, the student will be automatically dismissed.
If a student improves but then receives a second unacceptable review, they will be automatically placed on a one-semester suspension from the program; if there is a third occurrence, the student will be automatically dismissed, regardless of their academic standing or time in the program. As noted in the Retention Policy, students may appeal the faculty decision to the Dean of the Strome College of Business.
An integral component of successful doctoral study is the socialization of the student into the discipline and the academy. This socialization process is critical to the long-term success of any Ph.D. student, whether they seek a career in academia or elsewhere. All Ph.D. students are required to attend at least seven designated socialization events during their Ph.D. program. This is a non-credit program, but no student will be certified for graduation until this requirement is met as determined by the Graduate Program Director. The SPS will designate at least 3-4 of these events each year, and the events will be advertised in Ph.D. classes and via email. Events may also be held during the summer term.
Students can meet some of the socialization requirement by participating in the Graduate School’s Career Pathways certificate programs, Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) and Preparing Future Professionals (PFP), by completing one of the Certificates or attending the professional development events required for the Certificates. Additional activities that count as socialization activities include attendance at prospectus and dissertation defenses, local ASPA chapter events, conference research presentation, and Dean’s Research Seminar. Students must maintain records and ensure documentation of these events with the GPD by the end of the semester in which they occur.
Comprehensive Candidacy Exams
The Candidacy Exams take place at the end of coursework and prior to the writing of the dissertation prospectus. The proposed structure and format are intended to better support Ph.D. students' transition from coursework to dissertation by focusing on written and oral exams in the form of an empirical research paper proposal that is specific to an individual student's planned dissertation topic, as opposed to more general concepts. It is a committee-led exam with the student identifying an exam committee comprising of at least three University faculty of which at least two must be School of Public Service faculty members. Exam committee members must be certified for graduate instruction. The student works with the committee during the exam process. The chair of the committee must be SPS faculty member graduate certified at Level I. The D1 Appointment of the Doctoral Advisory Committee form must reflect the composition up of this committee.
The entire comprehensive exam process requires the application of concepts, literature, and methodology of the public administration and public policy field to the distinctive research interests of the student. Furthermore, the exercise of completing the proposed comprehensive exam process provides a valid testing of the student's ability to use the knowledge gained from coursework.
The exam consists of two portions, written and oral. The exam committee is responsible for evaluating both portions of the comprehensive exam. Students should select and meet with their exam committee prior to the completion of their 37th credit hour of coursework.
In the interim, Graduate Assistants must register for dissertation research credit during the Fall and Spring semesters, which would count towards the three years of funding. All students must be continuously registered for at least one credit during the semester(s) in which they complete their 37th credit (end of required coursework) and are scheduled to take the comprehensive exams.
Written Comprehensive Examination
Students will write an empirical research paper with the following content: (1) introduction, (2) literature review, (3) theory/conceptual framework, (4) research design, data collection/availability, proposed analysis, limitations, and (5) contributions. The student and her/his exam committee will determine when to commence the comprehensive exam research paper.
Students have a maximum of three semesters (excluding summer) to submit the written exam following completion of coursework. The three-semester timeframe begins at the conclusion of the term where the student registered for her/his 37th credit hour. Students may submit as many drafts to the committee as deemed appropriate by the committee but can only submit one official written exam to the Test Administrator (by the end of the 3rd semester, excluding summer, following coursework completion). Due to the allowance for draft submissions, no retake of the written exam is permitted. The Test Administrator will test for plagiarism, and any student whose exam fails the plagiarism test will result in dismissal from the Ph.D. program. Failure to meet the deadline will result in exam failure and dismissal from the Ph.D. program.
Oral Candidacy Examination
The oral exam is completed with a presentation and oral defense of the written exam to the exam committee. Students must complete the oral examination prior to the end of the semester after the written exam is completed (excluding summer). A student who completes the oral exam and fails must retest prior to the end of the next semester. Failure to meet the deadline will result in exam failure and dismissal from the PhD program.
The oral exam may also serve as the dissertation prospectus defense, if the exam committee is comprised of the student’s dissertation committee, the student’s research meets the standards of the dissertation prospectus, and all guidelines of prospectus are followed. The chair of the dissertation committee and chair of the exam committee (if not the same person) must determine if the conditions are met to satisfy both exam and prospectus requirements.
Advancement to Candidacy
Candidacy confers the informal status of “ABD” (All but Dissertation) onto the candidate. Admission to candidacy occurs after the student has:
- Completed formal course work;
- Passed all parts of the comprehensive examinations
- Submits a dissertation topic that is approved by the dissertation committee chair
Upon admission to candidacy, candidates may retain full-time student status by registering for a minimum of one credit hour for each term, including summer (typically Dissertation Research credit). Failure to comply with this requirement will result in charges to the student’s account for one graduate credit hour plus required fees for each semester after advancement to candidacy. The D9 Advancement to Candidacy form is completed after the student has completed all of the above requirements for candidacy.
The Dissertation Process
The dissertation process involves the appointment of a dissertation committee (may differ from exam committee), the development and oral defense of the dissertation prospectus, the writing of the dissertation, the oral defense of the dissertation and certification for graduation. Students are required to register for a minimum of 12 credit hours of Dissertation Research credit (PADM 899) prior to graduation. Under university requirements, students must be continuously enrolled from the semester they complete the candidacy examinations and prospectus defense until graduation. Students who fail to maintain continuous enrollment in fall, spring, and summer terms are billed for additional credit hours at the time of graduation. If satisfactory progress is not made on the dissertation, the student is dismissed from the program. Candidates should consult with their dissertation chair to determine the number of dissertation credit hours for which they may register in a given semester.
After the comprehensive examination process has been completed, the examination committee is dissolved, and the student creates a dissertation committee. The dissertation committee may or may not have members who previously served on the student’s examination committee (see Oral Candidacy Examination section for exception to the chronology of events). The dissertation committee is formed to supervise the student’s dissertation research. The Appointment of the Doctoral Dissertation Committee form (D2) must be completed and submitted to the GPD. Refinement and final approval of the topic and the dissertation prospectus is the first responsibility of the dissertation committee.
The dissertation committee may not be formed until all course work is completed and the comprehensive examinations have been successfully completed. The dissertation committee shall have at least three full-time Old Dominion University faculty, at least two of which must serve on the faculty of the School of Public Service. A third member of the dissertation committee must be drawn from eligible faculty outside of SPS and must meet the requirements to be certified as Graduate Level II faculty or higher. The dissertation committee chair must be SPS faculty and certified as Graduate Level I faculty.
Adjunct and/or emeriti ODU faculty who are certified for graduate instruction at the appropriate level may serve as voting members of the committee upon the recommendation of the chair of the dissertation committee and approval of the GPD and the college dean or dean designee. Adjunct and/or emeriti ODU faculty and externally affiliated faculty may serve in the role of dissertation committee co-chair if graduate certified at the appropriate level AND with the approval of the GPD and the dean or dean designee. External, non-ODU faculty may serve on a doctoral dissertation committee if they have special knowledge of the dissertation topic area AND upon the recommendation of the dissertation committee chair and approval of the GPD and college dean or dean designee. All external ODU faculty serving on doctoral dissertation committees must meet standards for Graduate Certification set by the by the College Graduate Committee.
The candidate will select a topic for dissertation research under the guidance of her/his dissertation committee. Then, the dissertation prospectus is completed either as part of the candidacy exam (as described above) or as part of a separate process. The dissertation prospectus is a plan detailing the need for the study and methods and procedures to be employed in implementing it. The document should be prepared according to university guidelines. The specific style and content of the prospectus is left to the student’s dissertation committee.
The dissertation prospectus should show that the student has technical mastery of the subject area and is capable of doing independent and scholarly work that will be, in some respect, a significant contribution to knowledge and practice and will modify or enlarge what has been previously known. The Dissertation Prospectus must contain the following elements:
- The Research Problem section must clearly specify the problem to be investigated. The student must justify that the problem is amenable to treatment or test and is worthy of study and investigation. This section must also include the statement of a clear research question that serves to guide the proposed research.
- In the Theoretical Framework, a relationship must be shown between the problem to be investigated, previous research, and a body of theory. References to both theory and past research must be included.
- The Research Design and Methodology portion of the prospectus must be presented in great detail. Research objectives and hypotheses must be stated and the significance of these to the development of research and theory must be demonstrated. The design of the study must be justified. Data collection and analysis procedures must be explained in detail and justified.
Approval of the dissertation topic and the Dissertation Prospectus is not a pro forma activity and the student is cautioned never to regard it as such. Students are strongly encouraged to work closely with their dissertation committee throughout this process; the key to a successful dissertation experience is excellent communication between the candidate and his/her committee.
Dissertation Prospectus Defense
With the permission of the student’s dissertation committee, the committee chair will consult with the GPD to schedule an oral defense of the dissertation prospectus. The prospectus defense is open to all faculty, students, and interested members of the university community.
The candidate will present and defend the proposal for the dissertation, demonstrating the originality of the research, its contribution to the literature of the discipline, requisite literature review, and the methodology that will be used in conducting the research. The committee will judge the merits of the proposal, making necessary suggestions and/or additions, and approve the proposal in writing, providing copies to the GPD. Faculty members not on the committee may also recommend changes to a prospectus, but final approval of the prospectus rests with the dissertation committee. Any proposal or dissertation research that involves human subjects must be reviewed and approved by the college's and/or university's Human Subjects Review Committee. The process and approval must be cited in the text of the prospectus and dissertation.
The prospectus must be approved by the student's dissertation committee. The Result of the Doctoral Examination or Requirement Graduate Form (D3) must be completed at this time.
The candidate's program of study culminates in a dissertation representing a major research project that focuses on an issue directly related to public administration and/or public policy and offers new or unique insight; the work must make a clear contribution to knowledge in the discipline. Whether the dissertation is applied or theoretical in orientation, it must address some aspect of the field of public administration or public policy and must both document and respond to a managerial or policy problem in the field. While the dissertation is guided by the candidate’s dissertation committee, the purpose of the dissertation process to allow the candidate to demonstrate the knowledge, skills, creativity, and ability to conceive and define a problem or research question, ground the work in the appropriate existing literature in the discipline, choose and apply appropriate methods to collect and analyze empirical data to address the research question, and place the findings in the broader context of the state of knowledge within the discipline. It is expected that every dissertation approved by the faculty is of a quality such that findings from the research are suitable for publication in the top journals in the discipline. There are no specific methodological requirements for the dissertation (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, or mixed-methods); the choice of appropriate methods is defined by the candidate and the candidate’s dissertation committee and is generally determined by the nature of the research question posed in the prospectus. While most students may choose to write empirical (data-driven) dissertations, candidates may also elect to write conceptual or theoretical dissertations. The purpose of a conceptual dissertation is to develop new theory, or to revise or rework existing theories in the discipline.
Students are required to register for dissertation credit, during each semester and summer session, as long as they continue to work with the dissertation committee, which may extend beyond the minimum twelve semester credit hours.
Preparing a dissertation requires a monetary expenditure, and costs may total several hundred dollars or more. Financing a dissertation is the candidate's responsibility. Major costs could include data collection (including any required travel), software licenses, photography, photocopying, and interlibrary loans. With proper planning, these costs can be minimized. Depending on the nature of the candidate’s research topic, there may be dissertation funding from external sources available to help offset these costs.
Oral Defense of the Dissertation
The oral dissertation defense is scheduled by the Chair of the dissertation committee in conjunction with the GPD. Announcement of the defense is made in the appropriate university news media and communicated to appropriate members of the university community at least two weeks prior to the scheduled date. The oral defense is open to the university community and all interested members, especially students, are encouraged to attend. At least two weeks prior to the scheduled defense, the candidate must place two copies of the complete dissertation document in the Pindur Library for access by both faculty and students.
The defense is convened by the GPD, and chaired by the dissertation committee Chair who, acting as moderator, rules on questions of procedure and protocol that may arise during the defense. The aim of the defense is to explore, with the candidate, research methodologies employed in conducting the study, findings and conclusions revealed by the study and contributions the study is expected to offer. In this way, the candidate and examiners reach a more extensive insight into the candidate's research area.
During the oral defense, all members of the dissertation committee must be present and must render a judgment on the candidate's performance. In the case of extenuating circumstances, absent members of the committee may participate via teleconference.
Majority approval by the dissertation committee constitutes successful completion of the defense of the dissertation and is so reported by the dissertation committee Chair to the GPD with the updated Result of Doctoral Examination or Requirement D3 form. Any final revisions must be made after the defense and approved by the dissertation committee. Final acceptance of dissertation is reported to the GPD and the Dean with the Doctoral Dissertation Acceptance and Processing D5 form, which is submitted to the Office of the Registrar. In the event that the candidate fails to pass the dissertation defense, the dissertation committee may recommend that the candidate be dismissed from the program or allowed one additional chance at re-examination at least three months after the failed defense.
The dissertation is submitted in accordance with the most recent Dissertation Guide found on the Graduate School website. It is the responsibility of the Dissertation Chair to ensure that the student has followed the latest Dissertation Guide. The dissertation must be submitted via the Electronic Theses and Dissertations website.
Certification for Graduation
Certification for graduation is a formal process, which must be initiated by the student. The student must file a formal Graduate Degree Application in accordance with deadlines established by the Registrar's office. If the application is not filed, there is no assurance that the degree will be granted when earned even though all other requirements have been fulfilled. The GPD and student are charged with reviewing the student’s file in Degree Works to ensure that all requirements have been fulfilled.
General Program Policies and Availability of Doctoral Forms
Doctoral forms discussed in this manual are available on the ODU Graduate School website (https://www.odu.edu/graduateschool; https://www.odu.edu/graduateschool/forms). See other ODU webpages of the offices requiring any other needed forms (e.g., https://www.odu.edu/visa). SPS maintains copies of all completed forms in each student file.
Responsible Conduct of Research Training
All students must complete the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) course. The course must be completed prior to the completion of 12 semester hours. Failure to meet this requirement results in a registration hold and shows up in Degree Works as an unfulfilled requirement, which can delay graduation https://www.odu.edu/impact/responsible-conduct-of-training.
Student Orientation Sessions
Prior to the beginning of each fall semester, the SPS schedules an orientation session to discuss program requirements, course scheduling, advising requirements, and other pertinent information. These meetings are mandatory for all new students and students receiving financial assistance and are highly recommended for all students in the program, regardless of progress toward the degree. The sessions are announced at least two weeks in advance, and typically last about 90 minutes.
Time Limit for Degree Completion
All requirements for a doctoral degree must be completed within eight calendar years from the date of beginning the initial course of study following admission to the doctoral program. This time limit may be extended under exceptional circumstances but will require re-validation of any course credit more than eight years old at the time of graduation.
Re-Validation of Out-of-Date Graduate Credit
Academic credit granted outside the time limit established for graduate degrees must be re-validated by a written examination before the work can be applied toward the requirements of a degree program. Responsibility for securing appropriate faculty for this task falls on the student.
For more information relating to this program and its requirements, please visit http://odu.edu/business/departments/sps/academics/paup