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Core Requirements

Graduate College Requirements

The general requirements of the Boise State Graduate College also govern the Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration.

Core Requirements

The program of study for the Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration will require at least 67 credits beyond a Bachelor’s degree or 46 credits beyond a Master’s degree, and adhere to all policies and procedures of the Graduate College. Full-time students must be enrolled with a minimum of 9 credits each semester. Part-time students are expected to make continuous progress with a designated credit goal each year. Courses applied to meet the 67 credit minimum requirement must be taken for a letter grade (A-F), except for PUBADM 691 Doctoral Comprehensive Examination (graded P – Pass or F – Fail), and PUBADM 693 Dissertation (initially graded IP – In Progress and later graded P or F depending upon the outcome of the dissertation defense). Undergraduate courses are not applied to this doctoral degree. Students must complete coursework as outlined in the degree requirements table. For those entering the program with post baccalaureate graduate coursework, no more than 21 credits of previous graduate coursework can be applied as course credit. This previous coursework is subject to the restrictions and guidelines established by the Graduate College and University Registrar. All programs of study, including previously completed graduate coursework that a student wishes to apply to this program, must be approved by the student’s Supervisory Committee. All doctoral students must complete 15 credits of core requirements and a 12 credit methods sequence. In addition, doctoral students will complete 18 elective credits, along with the culminating activity credit PUBADM 691 (2), PUBADM 689 (2), and PUBADM 693 (18).

Focus Areas and Elective Requirement

Advanced courses in Public Administration Studies, in Public Policy Studies, and in Research Design are available to Doctor of Philosophy students in Public Policy and Administration. The Supervisory Committee chair will be a faculty member with primary research or teaching responsibility related to the student’s area of focus. Students will take 18 elective credits selected in consultation with the Supervisory Committee. Through consultation with the Supervisory Committee, students are encouraged to consider graduate elective courses from other disciplines in the many graduate programs in the University. A list of recommended graduate courses by discipline is available from the doctoral program coordinator. The following coursework is prohibited for use in meeting the Ph.D. credit requirements: 590, 594, 598, pass/fail coursework and undergraduate credit.

Comprehensive Exam

Doctoral students are eligible to sit for their comprehensive examination after the public policy and administration core (15 credits), the methods sequence (12 credits) and the designated doctoral seminar for the selected emphasis (3 credits). This means that students may take their comprehensive examination after completing 33 credits toward the doctorate, but must complete the exam prior to completing 48 credits exclusive of PUBADM 693. Within the parameters established by the Graduate College, the Supervisory Committee develops, administers, and assesses the student’s comprehensive examination. In consultation with the student, the Supervisory Committee will determine the appropriate point at which the student may sit for the comprehensive examination. The examination includes a written portion and an oral defense of the exam that is scheduled subsequent to the written comprehensive examination by the Supervisory Committee, if appropriate. The two-part examination is graded pass (P) or fail (F) and is intended to assess the depth and breadth of the doctoral student’s mastery of scholarship in public policy and administration and related analytical methodologies. After a student completes the written portion, the Supervisory Committee has the discretion to require a student to rewrite a portion of the exam before scheduling the student’s oral comprehensive examination. A student who fails the comprehensive examination may take it again in the following year with the approval of the Supervisory Committee. A second failure will result in dismissal from this doctoral program.

Doctoral Examinations and Dissertation Requirements

Beyond superior effort in coursework, students seeking the distinction of Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy and Administration must successfully complete three tiers of assessment – a Ph.D. comprehensive exam, an oral presentation of the student’s dissertation proposal, and the public presentation and defense of the dissertation. Graduate College guidelines offer specific parameters on the conduct and timing of these tiers of assessment. Beyond those guidelines, PPA has established the following protocol:

Dissertation Models Policy

Traditional Format
3-Essay Model Format

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation entails original research conducted by the student at the doctoral level in a manner that meets rigorous peer-reviewed standards. The dissertation proposal should be prepared and presented within a year of the student’s successful comprehensive examination, but before substantive advanced coursework or research in the student’s dissertation area commences. After the student submits a formal dissertation proposal to the Supervisory Committee, then upon review and approval of that proposal, the Supervisory Committee authorizes the student to schedule a formal oral presentation. The student may be required to revise and resubmit the proposal until it meets the approval of the Supervisory Committee. The student must formally present the proposed research and successfully respond to queries.


This dissertation should demonstrate the student’s mastery of best practices in research for public policy and administration and should reflect original research that advances policy and/or public administration scholarship. Students should work with the doctoral coordinator and their supervisory committee to ensure adequate progress. The standards and parameters established by the Boise State Graduate College and Public Policy and Administration should guide this effort.

Defense and Final Oral Examination

After the Supervisory Committee has approved the dissertation as a final version, barring incidental and editorial changes, the student will work with his or her Supervisory Committee to schedule the final oral examination in which the student will defend the dissertation. All processes associated with the defense are governed by the Boise State Graduate College including the structure of the Defense Committee with a graduate faculty representative appointed by the Graduate College to conduct the public presentation, public question and answer session, and private question and answer session with the Defense Committee. The Graduate College may appoint an additional external examiner, but the remaining members of the Defense Committee include the student’s supervisory committee.

Final Approval of the Dissertation

The Defense Committee must report either pass (P) or fail (F). Graduate College protocol for failed examinations applies. If the dissertation is approved in final form including a successful public defense, all PUBADM 693 credits are upgraded from IP (In-Progress) to P (Pass).