Current Doctoral Students

Mid-Program Review

Whether or not the written portion of the Preliminary Examination is required, there will be mid-program review meeting between the student and the Ph.D. Committee. The purpose of the mid-program review is to assess the students performance on the written examination, if required, the students academic and career objectives, plan of study, grades, and other evidence of academic progress. If the student was required to take the written Preliminary Exam, the committee will decide at the end of the meeting if the student should continue with the program, should not continue, or should continue under specified conditions. At least one week before the meeting with the Ph.D. Committee, the student is required to submit a completed program of studies, including the selection of a major professor and advisory committee.


After completion of all course work students must pass a comprehensive examination designed to test their scholarly competence and knowledge. Students who pass the preliminary examination are admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The examination is ordinarily given two times a year–once in the tenth week of the fall and spring semesters. Students may not take the preliminary examination earlier than the semester in which they will complete all course requirements.

Examinations will be both written and oral and will be prepared and evaluated by the appropriate School field committees. The examination will cover the Ph.D. Core, prepared by the Ph.D. committee, and the student=s specialization, prepared by the pertinent specialization field committee. One may also opt to be tested in methods. The membership of these committees is subject to change. Preparation for the examination may include discussions with field committee members and review of old examinations which are available in graduate office.

The Comprehensive Examination is intended to be a general examination that covers all aspects of the field of public administration and policy. However, the focus of the examination will be on the Ph.D. Core and the Ph.D. Specialization chosen by the student. The Ph.D. Core Examination will cover specified topic areas that may change as the curriculum changes. The current (2001) coverage includes: (1) Intellectual history, including but not limited to the history of organization, management and policy thought; (2) policy theory and analysis; (3) institutions and organizations, and (4) administrative behavior. The Ph.D. Core Examination will be given over two days, six hours each day. The Ph.D. Core Examination will be given under standard examination conditions. The first day will emphasize intellectual history and policy, the second institutions, organizations, and administrative behavior. On either day or both days there may be questions that link institutions, organizations, behavior and policy.

The Ph.D. Specialization Examination portion of the Comprehensive Examination covers the student=s specialization. The format is a take home examination which must be completed within 72 hours. The examination will focus on the identification of important research questions, appropriate research designs and associated data gathering and analytical techniques.

The student’s written examination will be circulated first to the committee that wrote the exam and then, if requested, circulated to the other examining committee. The major professor shall read all examinations. After these readings individual faculty will send their evaluation to the Ph.D. Director who will tabulate the results and distribute them to the faculty. The major professor shall then inform the student whether or not the s/he should progress to the oral examination.

The major professor, in cooperation with the student, shall schedule the oral examination. Normally the oral examination will be scheduled for a time within a month of the completion of the written examination. The Oral Examination Committee shall be constituted of a representative of the Core Committee, the major professor (who will also be a member of the student’s Field and Supervisory Committees), a second professor from the student’s Field Committee (who typically will also serve on the Supervisory Committee), a methods representative, if methods is selected as an examination area, and an outside representative of the University who typically also will serve on the Supervisory Committee.

A decision of “pass,” “fail,” or “pass with conditions” will be made immediately upon completion of the oral examination, although the progression of the examination may be terminated at any time by the committee. Students are expected to demonstrate a sense for the important theoretical questions, the literature associated with them, and an ability to develop theoretically and practically significant research projects. Students must not discuss their performance on the written examination with the examining committee before the oral examination.

The student and the major professor shall be responsible for obtaining the required signatures on the Admission to Candidacy Form (AC-107) at the completion of the oral examination. These forms can be obtained from the program secretary.


Ph.D. Candidates must complete a dissertation which makes an original contribution to knowledge. During the period that students undertake the dissertation, ordinarily at least two semesters, they must regularly enroll for dissertation credit for a minimum of 12 semester hours per term if they are in residence and serve as graduate assistants, 12 semester hours per term if they are on fellowships, or 3 semester hours if they are not in residence. Exceptions to this policy will be made only in cases of financial need. Dissertations are expected to be of publishable quality, either in whole or in part, according to the standards of the journals in the study field.


After passing the comprehensive examination, students must submit a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus must be approved by the supervisory committee after a formal meeting of the student and the committee. This should be accomplished as promptly as possible, ordinarily not later than three months after the successful completion of the comprehensive examination. The prospectus must be signed by the committee and by the Ph.D. Program Director. The required contents of the prospectus are described in Appendix B, “Required Contents for the Ph.D. Dissertation Prospectus.” The student and the major professor shall be responsible for obtaining the required signatures on the Defense of Dissertation Prospectus form which can be obtained from the secretary to the program.


The major professor shall schedule the oral examination in defense of the dissertation in consultation with the student and other members of the supervisory committee. Each member of the supervisory committee shall have an opportunity to examine a dissertation draft at least one month before the defense date. When the defense is successful, and the dissertation is approved by the supervisory committee, the student must submit the Final Term Degree Clearance Form, as required by the University.

Colloquium Series

Prior to the dissertation defense but after the collection of data, the Ph.D. candidate, in cooperation with the major professor, shall schedule an open colloquium at which the research problem and preliminary findings will be presented and discussed with students and faculty of the School.