PhD in Public Administration

PhD in Public Administration

TSU is the only university offering the doctorate in public administration in the state of Tennessee.  The PhD is a rigorous, research-based degree that can prepare you for faculty positions and leadership roles in public, nonprofit, and healthcare organizations. Our first student was admitted in 1991, and we are pleased that our graduates have succeeded in obtaining placements appropriate for their academic preparation (Where do our graduates work? Fall 2010 data). 

The goal of a PhD is to prepare scholars who can both understand and produce original research of the highest quality, which adds to the state of theoretical knowledge in the field and improves practice.  In an interdisciplinary, applied field of study such as public administration, PhD graduates can see the impact of their work in the organizations they lead or through the accomplishments of the students they teach.  Through the core curriculum, comprehensive, prospectus and dissertation processes, you will gain a grounding in the core literature of the subfields of public administration such as organization theory, public budgeting and finance, and policy implementation.  You will develop the ability to communicate, synthesize and evaluate complex abstract concepts key to the generation of new knowledge.

Many of our students work full time while pursuing the PhD, and once-weekly evening or weekend classes provide flexibility.  You can also choose to pursue this degree full time to progress faster.  While this demanding course of study is not to be undertaken lightly whether by part-time or full-time students, it can lead you to your fullest development as an academic or leader in the social sectors. Contact us to learn more.


Is this the program for me?

How do I apply?

Who’s my advisor?

What is my plan for graduation?

Are there resources to help me prepare for the PhD comprehensive exam?

How do I let the University know in advance that I am ready to graduate?

  • Graduation Application - FORM (ONLINE); you must apply online for graduation from this site IN advance; check deadlines a semester ahead. Application is mandatory whether or not you plan to attend commencement.
  • Finishing two programs?  Students seeking both a certificate AND the PhD must petition for graduation twice, once for both programs.  If you are trying to complete two programs in a SINGLE semester (such as a certificate and the PhD), apply for one of the programs using the online graduation application and then submit this other version for the second program by email as directed on the document.
  • FYI  |  TSU commencement site - important information on the "Grad Finale" which you must attend to get fitted for cap and gown, etc.; occurs before mid-semester - check site for date






webpage contact:
Department of Public Administration