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Choose a program that prepares you for next-level leadership.

Gain the insights to address critical challenges in your community—and the credibility to shape sustainable change—with a PhD in Public Policy and Administration from Walden. PhD programs in public policy academically prepare students to pursue careers in academia or high-level practitioner and leadership roles in government, public, and nonprofit sectors.

#1

granter of doctoral research degrees

Learn from the No. 1 granter of doctoral research degrees in the U.S. 1 Walden has been serving the needs of doctoral learners at a distance for 50 years.

Expert Faculty

This program is taught by a distinguished faculty of scholar-practitioners, many of whom have senior-executive experience in government and public service.

Engaging Curriculum

Discover engaging classroom experiences that immerse you in a diverse and inclusive environment.

Robust Dissertation Support

Four residencies help you build skills and network with peers and faculty. Get research guidance from our Library, Writing Center, and Center for Research Quality.

BE SUPPORTED AT EACH STEP

The Walden Doctoral Degree Coach™ helps you find the right support when you need it and stay on track throughout your journey.

PROGRAM SAVINGS

Receive up to a $5,000 Grant if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on December 13, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

Get Started Now

Program Details

Curriculum

Minimum Degree Requirements

  • Doctoral Writing Assessment
  • Foundation course (3 cr.)
  • Core courses (25 cr.)
  • Research courses (20 cr.)
  • Completion of the Doctoral Capstone
    • Dissertation support courses (5 cr.)
    • Dissertation writing courses (continuous enrollment in 5 cr. per term for a minimum of 4 terms until completion)
  • Four PhD residencies

Walden students have up to eight years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.

In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation/doctoral study course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.

To complete a doctoral dissertation/doctoral study, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation/doctoral study process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

This represents the minimum credit requirement for program completion. The number of credits for completion will vary by student, depending on individual progress and credits transferred, if applicable. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 855-646-5286.

Courses

Course Code Title Credits

Doctoral Writing Assessment

DRWA 8880G
Doctoral Writing Assessment

This course is part of Walden's commitment to help prepare students to meet the university's expectations for writing in courses at the doctoral level. In this course, students write a short academic essay that will be scored by a team of writing assessors. Based on the essay score, students will complete or be exempted from additional required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required assessment course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it at the beginning of their doctoral program.

(0 cr.)

Foundation Course

Choose one course from the following courses:
PPPA 8004
Foundations in Doctoral Studies

Students in this course are introduced to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online doctoral program and learning environment. Students work toward building a foundation for academic and professional success as scholar-practitioners and social change agents. They assess the relationship of mission and vision to professional goals and develop best practices and strategies for online success. Students also explore resources used throughout the program, such as the online Walden University Library, the Writing Center, and other Walden academic centers. Students engage in course assignments focused on the practical application of scholarly and professional writing, critical thinking, and the promotion of professional and academic excellence as they relate to practice in public policy and administration.

(3 cr.)
OR
PPPA 8004I
Foundations in Doctoral Studies

Students in this course are introduced to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online doctoral program and learning environment. Students work toward building a foundation for academic and professional success as scholar-practitioners and social change agents. They assess the relationship of mission and vision to professional goals and develop best practices and strategies for online success. Students also explore resources used throughout the program, such as the online Walden University Library, the Writing Center, and other Walden academic centers. Students engage in course assignments focused on the practical application of scholarly and professional writing, critical thinking, and the promotion of professional and academic excellence as they relate to practice in public policy and administration.

(3 cr.)

Core Courses

PPPA 8405
Ethics and Social Justice

Ethics is a fundamental element of leadership. In this course, students consider some of the leading philosophical bases of ethics as well as foundational social justice themes upon which public service rests. Seminal texts and case studies used to illuminate the tasks leaders face as they seek to serve diverse constituents. Students confront the challenge of ethical decision making and moral action in a world characterized (among other things) by economic disparity, power imbalances, social privilege, and division due to race and/or religion. Applying concepts presented in the course, students engage in an in-depth assessment of emerging or persistent ethical and social justice issues, with the objective of demonstrating an ability to make recommendations which lead to positive social change.

Prerequisites

  • MMPA 6116, NPMG 6116, PPPA 8000, PPPA 8000i, MMPA 6200, NPMG 6200, HUMN 8000, or HLTH 8003

(5 cr.)
PPPA 8104
Intellectual Traditions and Theoretical Foundations of Public Policy and Administration

In this course, students explore the underlying theories, history, and literature (the "great writers") that provide a foundation for current studies in public policy and administration. In addition to providing foundational concepts, perspectives, and values that enhance critical thinking and an understanding of the field, the course content provides examples of theories that will help students identify relevant frameworks for their dissertation. Students will be exposed to classical and modern thought and events in public policy and administration that have resulted in seminal literature in the field. Topics include governance, economics, decision-making, politics, leadership, and public policy trends. In addition, students consider their roles as public administrators in promoting social responsibility. This course provides a bridge for students to the rest of their coursework in the PPPA curricula, throughout their dissertations, and into their futures as scholar-practitioners.

(5 cr.)
PPPA 8431
Finance and Budgeting for the Public Sector

Sound financial practices are crucial to managing scarce funds in both public and nonprofit operations. Students in this course examine finance and budgeting concepts, policies, and practices related to organizations as well as the fiscal climate within which they operate. They assess theories for motivating major fiscal-policy debates, and they explore and discuss auditing practices, tax systems, financial management, budgetary reform, financial technology systems, the use of dashboards for financial reporting, and the impact of globalization on finance and budget. Students read and analyze budgets, financial statements, and reports. They contextualize their learning as they apply knowledge gained from their analysis to develop a new budget and financial plan for either a public or private organization.

(5 cr.)
PPPA 8111
Leadership and Organizational Change

Successful organizations in a rapidly changing and complex world require leaders who embrace change and are able to engage others in change. In this course, students use traditional literature, current articles, and interactive media to explore the qualities, characteristics, and skills of effective leaders as well as the theories, models, and relationships between leadership and organizational change. They assess the ethical issues and standards as well as the opportunities and challenges related to leading diverse organizations through change. Students also examine how current leaders employ leadership and organizational change to contribute to social change, and they consider how to use these lessons to make further positive changes within an organization or their own community.

(5 cr.)
PPPA 8112
Governance and Public Policy

Students in this course engage in an in-depth analysis of how societies are governed and how public policies are formulated, evaluated, adjudicated, and implemented. Students examine governance and public policy from theoretical and practical perspectives using ancient and classical voices as well as more modern and critical literature. Advanced techniques and research tools for policy analysis are used to illustrate various contemporary policy issues. With the aid of these techniques and research tools, students develop a policy plan to address a significant public policy concern or social issue of personal interest. Students also explore their future role in the field of public policy and administration.

(5 cr.)

Research Courses

RSCH 8110
Research Theory, Design, and Methods

In this research course, students are provided with core knowledge and skills for understanding, analyzing, and designing research at the graduate level. Students explore the philosophy of science, the role of theory, and research processes. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research designs and data collection methods are introduced. The alignment of research components is emphasized. Students also explore ethical and social change implications of designing and conducting research. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing an annotated bibliography.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • SOCW 8110 or SOCW 8110W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • COUN 8001
  • COUN 8110
  • RESI 8801C

PhD in Social Work

  • SOCW 8110 or SOCW 8110W

All Other Programs

  • RESI 8401

(5 cr.)
RSCH 8210
Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

In this research course, students are provided with the opportunity to develop core knowledge and skills for designing and carrying out quantitative research at the doctoral level, including the application of statistical concepts and techniques. Students explore classical common statistical tests, the importance of the logic of inference, and social change implications of conducting quantitative research and producing knowledge. Students approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting appropriate statistical tests for a research design. Students use statistical software to derive statistics from quantitative data and interpret and present results.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • RSCH 8110K or RSCH 8110W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • RSCH 8110
  • RESI 8801C

PhD in Social Work

  • RSCH 8110K or RSCH 8110W

All Other Programs

  • RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110
  • RESI 8401

(5 cr.)
RSCH 8310
Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students in this research course are provided with the opportunity to develop basic knowledge and skills for conducting qualitative research at the doctoral level. Students explore the nature of qualitative inquiry, how theory and theoretical and conceptual frameworks uniquely apply to qualitative research, data collection procedures and analysis strategy, and how the role of the researcher is expressed in the ethical and rigorous conduct of qualitative research. Students practice collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting data, and they develop a detailed research topic for conducting a qualitative study.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • RSCH 8110K or RSCH 8110W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • RSCH 8110
  • RESI 8801C

PhD in Social Work

  • RSCH 8110K or RSCH 8110W

All Other Programs

  • RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110
  • RESI 8401

(5 cr.)
Choose one course from the following courses:
RSCH 8260
Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students in this research course build upon knowledge and skills acquired in the prerequisite quantitative reasoning course and are presented with opportunities to apply them. They are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for conducting quantitative research at the doctoral level, including understanding multivariate data analysis and applying more advanced statistical concepts, such as factorial ANOVA, mediation, moderation, logistic regression, ANCOVA, and MANOVA. Students explore existing datasets and apply suitable statistical tests to answer research questions with social change implications. In this course, they approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting the appropriate statistical tests for more complex research questions and social problems. Students use statistical software to perform analyses and interpret and present results. They will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by carrying out a quantitative research project.

Prerequisites

Doctor of Social Work

  • RSCH 8210K or RSCH 8310K or RSCH 8210W or RSCH 8310W

PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision

  • RSCH 8110
  • RSCH 8210
  • CPLB 802L

PhD in Social Work

  • RSCH 8210K or RSCH 8210W or RSCH 8310K or RSCH 8310W

All Other Programs

  • RESI 8402

(5 cr.)
OR
RSCH 8360
Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis

Students build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis. and have experience applying them. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the theoretical antecedents and practical applications of eight contemporary qualitative approaches. Students gain experience developing qualitative interview guides, collecting data, and managing the process from transcription through analysis. The unique challenges of confidentiality and ethical issues are explored as well as implications for social change. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a qualitative research plan using a topic relevant to their capstone.

Prerequisites

  • RSCH 8360 prerequisites by program 

Note: This course was previously RSCH 8350.

(5 cr.)
OR
RSCH 8460
Advanced Mixed-Methods Reasoning and Analysis

Students build upon knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8210 - Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis and RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis for more specialized knowledge and skills to design mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. Students are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for designing mixed-methods research at the doctoral level. They gain an understanding of the types of mixed-methods designs and how to select the most appropriate approach for the research question(s). The emphases of this course are on integrating quantitative and qualitative elements into true mixed-methods studies, practice in data analysis, and integration of qualitative and quantitative data within a research write-up. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a mixed-methods research plan that incorporates qualitative and quantitative elements appropriately.

Prerequisites

  • RSCH 8460 prerequisites by program 

Note: This course was previously RSCH 8450.

(5 cr.)

Completion of Doctoral Capstone

PPPA 8115
Writing a Quality Prospectus

Students in this course acquaint themselves with the format and requirements of the PhD Prospectus Form and begin working on the components of their prospectus. The Prospectus Form is a formal document and is the first step in completing a dissertation. The prospectus articulates the initial plan for a proposed study and is intended to provide the dissertation committee with enough information to determine the viability of the study.The emphasis in this class is on the iterative development and alignment of all elements of the prospectus. Students explore the research literature related to their topic to distinguish between a social problem and a research problem and to identify a gap in the research literature; describe the specific research problem the proposed study will address and why it is appropriate for a dissertation; formulate a clear research question(s); and identify a study methodology and theoretical framework to ground the study.The draft Prospectus Form students produce in this course should not be considered a final product that is ready for approval. Once registered for PPPA 9000 - Dissertation Research, students work with their chair and committee member to refine and finalize the Prospectus Form.

Prerequisites

  • RSCH 8210P

Note: In addition to the prerequisites for this class, it is expected that students will have assembled and have available a list of peer-reviewed articles relevant to their potential research topic as part of their previous academic studies. Students will add to this collection as this course and all future dissertation work proceeds.

(5 cr.)
PPPA 9000
Dissertation

Through the final dissertation, students demonstrate their scholarly ability to examine, critique, and synthesize knowledge and experience, so that new ideas can be tested; best practices identified, established, and verified; and theoretical, practice, or policy constructs evaluated and advanced. Doctoral students have the opportunity to integrate their Program of Study into an in-depth exploration of an interest area, culminating in the completion of their dissertation research study in this course. Students complete the dissertation independently, with the guidance of a supervisory committee chair and committee members. Students complete a prospectus, proposal, Institutional Review Board application, and a final oral presentation and written dissertation. Ultimately, every dissertation should make a fresh contribution to the field of public policy and administration.Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.To complete a dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the chief academic officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.

Prerequisites

  • All prior coursework

Note: When students register for PPPA 9000, they will be registered automatically each term until successful completion of the dissertation.

(5 credits per quarter for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)
VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses

Admission Requirements

Program Admission Considerations: A master's degree or higher.

General Admission Requirements: Completed online application and transcripts. Please note that the materials you are required to submit may vary depending on the academic program to which you apply. More information for international applicants.


Your Doctoral Journey

At Walden, we’ll guide you every step of the way with a comprehensive suite of support resources designed to help you confidently pursue the finish line, including our Doctoral Degree CoachTM. Are you ready to reach a higher level in your field?

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A Personalized Guide to Completing Your Doctorate

Earning your PhD in Public Policy and Administration requires commitment, perseverance, and hard work. You can do it, and Walden is here to help—with our Doctoral Degree Coach™.

  • Map and Track Milestones: Break your research down into manageable, sequential steps. See where you are, what’s ahead, and what you’ve already accomplished, all in one place.
  • Meet Weekly Targets: No more guesswork. Set prompts based on your to-do list and receive reminders and updates directly to your inbox.
  • Connect With Faculty: Stay on the same page and keep your progress on track. With shared access to your dashboard, your chair can easily guide you through your checklists, goals, and timelines.
  • Access Helpful Resources: Quickly find support from the right person at the right time. Our comprehensive resource guide points you in the right direction—no more frustrating searches.

Residencies

Four academic residencies (face-to-face or virtual) support your progress at key points in your doctoral journey. Work with faculty and peers as you strengthen your scholarly and professional connections and prepare for your dissertation.

Tuition and Fees

Curriculum Requirements Cost Total *
Tuition-Coursework 53 quarter credits  $630 per quarter hour for coursework credits $33,390^
Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project  20-125 quarter credits $630 per quarter hour for doctoral study/project credits $12,600-$78,750*
Technology Fee $160 per quarter $1,760-$5,120*
Residency Fee Four Residencies $1,375 (virtual) 
$1475 (in-person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional) 
$5,500-$5,900
Estimated Range:     2.5-Year 8-Year
 
$53,250
$122,960*+
(assuming completion in a 2.5-year timeframe) (assuming completion in an 8-year timeframe)

Effective February 28, 2022

Curriculum Requirements Cost Total *
Tuition-Coursework 53 quarter credits  $646 per quarter hour for coursework credits $34,238^
Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project  20-125 quarter credits $646 per quarter hour for doctoral study/project credits $12,920–$80,750*
Technology Fee $165 per quarter $1,815–$5,280*
Residency Fee Four Residencies $1,375 (virtual) 
$1475 (in-person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional) 
$5,500–$5,900
Estimated Range:     2.5-Year 8-Year
 
$54,473
$126,168*+
(assuming completion in a 2.5-year timeframe) (assuming completion in an 8-year timeframe)

These are ranges of what a student can expect in terms of time and tuition cost to complete a degree. It does not include other fees, nor is it adjusted for tuition increases over time. Walden faculty has concluded that generally students who do not complete their program in eight years are unlikely to complete and only allow students to exceed that time frame when a student petitions for an extension and provides good reason for the delay and assurances that obstacles to completion can be overcome. Time is calculated using the time allowed for each semester or unit that the student completes. Students are encouraged to work continuously during the program so as not to extend the time needed to complete the degree as work can become stale and students lose focus. Students who earn two grades of “Unsatisfactory,” who repeatedly drop a course before a semester or unit has been completed, or are unable to complete in the eight year time frame, should expect that they may be dismissed from the program. Walden believes that it is in the best interest of a student who is unable to complete the degree in the stated ranges to strongly consider withdrawal or obtaining a lesser degree.

Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic such as tuition and fee increases and/or the student’s transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; writing, research and editing skills; use of external data for their doctoral study/dissertation; and/or individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations; care giving responsibilities or health issues; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; leaves of absence; and/or other personal circumstances.

Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included. Students may incur additional costs for remedial writing assistance, if necessary.

^This assumes students successfully complete their coursework on the first attempt.

Based on a 2.5-year minimum completion requirement and an 8-year maximum timeframe as outlined in Walden academic policy.

*Tuition and fees will be higher if students petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe or choose to take more expensive elective courses.

+Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition discounts. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-642-0198.

FINANCIAL AID

Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.

*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.

Find Ways to Save

PROGRAM SAVINGS

Receive up to a $5,000 Grant if you reside in the U.S. and start this program on December 13, 2021. Contact one of our Enrollment Specialists to learn more.

Get Started Now

Program Outcomes

An Online PhD Program That Puts You at the Center

We know how important it is to find a balance between work, studies, and your personal life. That’s why we’ve created a program with busy public service professionals like you in mind. Although you’re learning online, you’re never in it alone. From early on in your program, you’ll have access to a wealth of exceptional student resources designed to move you forward. This includes everything from writing assistance to experienced faculty who are here to support you at all stages.

Earning your doctorate is the ultimate intellectual challenge, and Walden’s online learning environment is designed to help you thrive. You bring your passion, drive, and determination. We’ll provide the ongoing support, guidance, and resources to help you reach the finish line.

Solve the Nation’s Pressing Issues

From poverty to rising healthcare costs, confronting today’s critical issues requires decision-making informed by the most current thinking. Walden’s online PhD in Public Policy and Administration program academically prepares you with the skills to become an effective, skilled, and innovative public administration leader. Gain an interdisciplinary, multicultural perspective and advanced problem-solving expertise that prepare you to create and lead positive contributions to the field.

What’s the Career Impact of Earning a PhD in Public Policy and Administration?

In an era of overwhelming societal challenges and limited resources, the country needs more public policy problem-solvers. A PhD in Public Policy and Administration program can provide you with the advanced expertise to shape sustainable solutions to America’s most pressing issues.

Whether you want to pursue leadership roles, make a greater impact as a public service practitioner, or teach the next generation of public policy professionals, a PhD can academically prepare you for bold new opportunities in all levels of government and in the nonprofit sector. Help improve quality of life and ensure a better tomorrow for your community—and beyond.

What Can I Do With a PhD in Public Policy and Administration?

An online PhD in Public Policy and Administration degree can prepare you to work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Nonprofit
  • NGOs
  • Local and National Government
  • Community Organizations
  • Schools
  • Civic Organizations
  • Healthcare
  • Higher Education
  • Consulting

Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of Walden’s PhD in Public Policy and Administration online program, you will be prepared to:

  • Discuss leadership concepts and theories that have been used to effectively lead and manage in the public sector.
  • Analyze evidence-based research, theories, and models used to promote participation in public and nonprofit policy processes.
  • Develop solutions for problems related to public policy and public administration using theory and research.
  • Ethically apply the major theories and concepts of public policy and public administration within organizations.
  • Evaluate models and best practices utilizing diverse perspectives in local, state, national, and international public agencies by using evidence-based research.

Resources

Meet Your Academic Team

  • Gregory Campbell

    Gregory Campbell

    Core Faculty

    Dr. Gregory Campbell is core faculty in the Public Policy and Administration Program at Walden University. He received his PhD in Management from Walden University, specializing in Leadership and Organizational Change, and holds BA and MA degrees from California State Dominquez Hills. He is a contributing author in Breakthrough Mentoring in the 21st Century by Dr. Walter McCollum.

  • Anne Hacker

    Anne Hacker

    Senior Core Faculty

    Dr. Anne Hacker’s formal training is in public administration and public policy where she has served in various professional capacities in the child welfare and human services systems since 1976. Dr. Hacker served as a Board Member, CEO, Case management Supervisor, Policy Advisor, and Case Manager for a variety of public and nonprofit organizations in Ohio, Michigan and Colorado. In 2006, she shifted to higher education positions.

  • Rebecca Stout

    Rebecca Stout

    Program Director

    Dr. Stout joined the faculty at Walden University in the School of Human Services in 2017, serving as the research coordinator. In 2019, she accepted the position of program director for the Master of Public Administration and MS in Nonprofit Management programs. She became the program director for the School of Public Policy and Administration in 2020, working with the entire academic vertical.

Testimonials

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