WMU News

New Ph.D. program in public administration OK'd

June 25, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Beginning this fall, Western Michigan University will offer a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Public Administration that emphasizes the role of research. Approval of the program was granted by the University's Board of Trustees at its June 25 meeting.

The Ph.D. program will replace the existing Doctor of Public Administration degree program which has been offered by WMU's School of Public Affairs and Administration since 1979. According to Dr. Peter Kobrak, professor of public administration and doctoral adviser for the program, changing the degree from D.P.A. to Ph.D. will give the program a much stronger emphasis in students' learning and becoming comfortable using qualitative and quantitative research methods.

"The D.P.A. was initiated at a time when this degree was viewed as the appropriate course of study for individuals who were practitioners, and it has served that purpose well," Kobrak says. "In more recent times, however, the Ph.D. has become the preferred degree by students and faculty across the nation because that degree adds research skills to the other competencies expected of public administrators."

The new Ph.D. Program in public affairs and administration is designed to provide the upper management ranks of government with executives who have excellent skills in leadership, public management and research and to educate non-profit administrators and future college educators. The content of the new curriculum will devote more attention to the governing process, the discipline's intellectual history and the future of public management.

"We will continue to focus on policy analysis and public management in the new curriculum," says Kobrak, "but we will now encourage more original student research and exchange of information in a seminar format."

Completion of the degree will provide doctoral graduates with the background to perform independent research on theoretical public administration concerns and issues, to analyze a wider range of alternative policies and to weigh competing choices in the decision-making process.

The program will offer classes in Kalamazoo and Lansing and is expected to enroll 15 students a year. WMU, which also has the largest master's degree programs in public administration in the Midwest, has awarded the D.P.A. degree to 42 persons.

The new program has been approved through the University's curricular review process and has been endorsed by the academic officers of the Presidents Council of State Universities.

For more information about the program, contact Kobrak at (616) 387-8941.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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