DPA Course Descriptions: Graduate Catalog

Course Title Credits
Doctoral Study
DPA 700 Pre-Doctoral Seminar in Public Policy & Administration  3
Administrative Core 
DPA 701 Advanced Practice and Applied Theories of Public Policy and Administration  3
DPA 702 Strategic Public Sector Management and Governance  3
DPA 703 Advanced Public Sector Economic and Financial Decision Making  3
DPA 704 Advocacy and Leadership in Public Policy and Administration  3
Methods Sequence 
DPA 705 Research Design for Program and Policy Evaluation  3
DPA 706 Quantitative Methods of Program and Policy Evaluation  3
DPA 707 Qualitative Methods of Program and Policy Evaluation  3
Concentration Area 
May be selected from among the following departments: public policy and administration, criminal justice, geography and planning, and graduate social work  9
Dissertation Project 
DPA 801  Dissertation Seminar I: Research Questions and Framing the Literature  3
DPA 802 Dissertation Seminar II: Data and Measurements 3
DPA 803 Dissertation Seminar III: Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis 3
DPA 804 Dissertation Seminar IV: Findings and Recommendations 3
Total Credits Required 45

Comprehensive Exam

The DPA Comprehensive Exam covers content from the core public administration courses and the research methods courses.  The initial stage of the examination is a written qualifying exam.  A follow-up oral component of the exam may be required of students with noted deficiencies in the written portion.  Students not passing the comp exam on the first try will be permitted only one additional attempt.  Note that if a student does not submit their answers on time or does not submit their exam at all, this counts as a 'failed attempt'.  Students must successfully pass before they can enroll in DPA803. 

Students will be notified of the results of their exam no later than 45 days after the submission date.

Comprehensive Exam Study Tips

The DPA Comprehensive Exam consists of free response questions that cover the administrative core and methods sequence. The exam is open book, and all students are expected to reference and cite materials in support of their answers.

The faculty of the Public Policy and Administration Department have compiled the below study strategies for the DPA comprehensive exam. We urge students to consider this guide as a non-exhaustive list of strategies. Students are encouraged to contact their faculty advisor and/or the DPA Program Director for further discussion.

  • Keep all of your books, notes and course materials in a safe place so that you have them accessible for the exam.
  • Develop a system for organizing your course materials so you can easily access them while you are writing your exam.
  • Prepare a study and reading list. Be sure to include topics from all required DPA courses (DPA 700-707), but you should add your own topics as well.
  • Practice developing research designs. Consider questions such as: what methods will you use and why? How will you use the results of your analysis to answer the research question?
  • Develop a schedule for the testing window that allows sufficient time for outlining, drafting, writing, and editing your answers. Time management is key.
  • Make sure you answer the question and all components.
  • Try to limit your answers to the question, narrow your scope, and stay on topic.
  • Think about the relationships among the course materials and how you can synthesize that information in your exam answers.


The DPA Dissertation Seminar is a series of four courses whereby students demonstrate mastery of required competencies through the completion of a final culminating independent applied research project. Currently, DPA 801 and DPA 802 are completed in a seminar style class. DPA 803 and DPA 804 are independent research courses that are completed individually and under the advisement of a DPA Dissertation Chairperson.

The Dissertation Chairperson will guide each student through the dissertation process, aid in committee finalization, and establish research milestones. Students must pass the Comprehensive Exam before enrolling in DPA803.

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