PhD – Program Goals

School of Public Affairs and Administration
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey
Newark, NJ Campus


Public Administration Graduate Program to Prepare Individuals for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and to establish Careers as Effective Scholars, Researchers, and Teachers


The SPAA PhD Program in Public Administration consists of the knowledge foundations of the field of public administration and the premise that performance is a key to effectiveness in the field of public administration. As with other academic fields, curriculum of the program is based on the body of received knowledge and current knowledge accepted by the field.

The PhD faculty is responsible for the curriculum and on-going processes of evaluation of curriculum and student performance. PhD faculty members meet regularly during the academic year. A key element of these meetings is faculty members' evaluation of emerging literature in respective fields, and its importance to students' learning and directions. For example, a shared focus and emphasis emerging from these dynamics is that of performance. Performance measurement, management, and improvement are important dimensions of competence, knowledge, and service in public and nonprofit sectors. A performance focus encourages both facts and purposes of the public and nonprofit sectors, that is, effectiveness.

Faculty evaluation of curriculum takes place throughout the academic year in both formal and informal meetings and discussions sometimes generating formal proposals and sometimes leading to informal adjustments. On-going measures of curriculum and program performance are:

  • qualities of faculty who teach in the program as measured by faculty performance in relevant academic settings, i.e., scholarly contributions, professional contributions, service contributions, and PhD student performance;
  • curriculum proposals and changes in the context of program and student goals.
  • faculty teaching, assignments and feedback to students as measured by evaluation of faculty teaching evaluations and other feedback from PhD students;
  • evaluation of students' understanding of knowledge foundations and emerging emphases (e.g., performance) as dimensions of knowledge and practice, measured by grades and faculty feedback;
  • timely student successful completion of curriculum components (course assignments, papers, exams; summary examinations, unexplained student incompletes and withdrawals);
  • feedback from professional colleagues about student competence based on guest lectures and professional conference interactions with students;
  • successful employment in the academy where that is the graduate's goal, and effective participation in selected areas of the academy (papers, publications, participation in professional associations).

Program Goals

Learning Goal 1: The development and attainment of research, scholarship and teaching skills in the field of public administration.

Assessment of student achievement, Goal 1:

  • Grades in graduate courses.
  • Successful completion of the general comprehensive examination upon completion of all core courses; successful completion of a specialized field comprehensive exam upon completion of all field courses; successful completion of a research methods comprehensive exam and a dissertation proposal.
  • Annual review of students by the PhD Executive Committee, indicating the Advising by student's PhD committee members.
  • Successful teaching reviews for those students engaged in teaching and pedagogy.
  • Attainment of employment in positions requiring the expertise obtained with the degree.

Role of the program in helping students to achieve Goal 1:

  •  Close advising by Ph.D. Director and other faculty mentors in subfields to ensure that students are being prepared in a coherent and academically rigorous fashion.
  •  Effective monitoring of student progress at every stage.
  •  Mentoring of students who receive low reviews during the annual review of Ph.D. students.
  •  Assisting students prepare to make paper presentations at annual national and regional conferences in public administration, including funding.
  •  Encouraging students to join professional associations, including funding to join leading association in the field.
  •  School newsletter that highlights the publications, presentations, grants, awards and achievements of both faculty and students in the public administration program. This serves to illustrate the importance of communicating research and scholarship to the scientific community and the general public.
  •  Evaluations of teaching effectiveness of instructors.
  •  If effectiveness is below expectations, work with instructors to improve effectiveness.
  •  Review of the curriculum by the Ph.D. Executive Committee to insure that course offerings are sufficient and current in content.
  •  Providing guidance on job market preparation.

Learning Goal 2: Conducting and producing original research.

Assessment of student achievement, Goal 2:

  • Attendance and presentations (posters or talks) at regional and national conferences during the graduate career.
  • Attending bi-weekly seminars offered by the school; presenting at least once at such seminars.
  • Attainment of internal and external grants/fellowships for research.
  • Attainment of awards for research.
  • Submission and acceptance of peer-reviewed articles.
  • Completion and defense of PhD proposal by end of third or fourth year.

Role of program in helping students achieve Goal 2:

  • Advise students to meet with their Ph.D. advisor and committee frequently to act as mentors throughout the student's graduate career.
  • Introduce students to research possibilities during orientation for new students and during the first semester.
  • Assisting students prepare presentations at bi-weekly seminars.
  • Assisting students prepare paper presentation for regional and national conferences.
  • Providing funding for students to attend conferences.
  • Track publications and presentations, and nominate eligible student candidates for awards.
  • Provide advising at every stage of the program, both from field experts and from PhD Director.
  • Nominating eligible dissertations for "Best Dissertation Award" in the field.
  • Advise students on avenues and opportunities for publishing dissertation, including books.
  • Opportunities to write and submit grants for external funding.

Learning Goal 3: Professional career preparation.

Assessment of graduate student achievement, Goal 3:

  • Student teaching evaluations.
  • Assist in preparation of curriculum vita.
  • Advisement on relevant places to submit applications.
  • Track number of publications, presentations, and outreach activities.
  • Placement of students upon completion of degree.

Role of graduate program in helping students to achieve Goal 3:

  • Provide students with an academic culture that fosters professionalism by treating students as junior colleagues and expecting them to act in that manner.
  • Provide students with access to teaching skills classes both within the program.
  • Provide networking opportunities by providing access to seminar speakers and visiting scholars through one-on-one meetings, funding to regional and national meetings and professional organizations.
  • Keep students informed of the academic job opportunities available to them.
  • Keep students informed of professional development opportunities as they become available through the university.
     
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