Doctor of Philosophy: How to Apply

We appreciate your interest in our doctoral program. The School of Public Affairs and Administration offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degrees including the Michigan’s only PhD in Public Administration, which we’ve been providing since 1979. Currently, the School is expanding undergraduate offerings and restructuring graduate programs. In order to allow a more thorough review and restructuring of our doctoral education grounded in the interdisciplinary nature of the field, the SPAA faculty has decided our next incoming group for the PhD program to be for fall 2021. That means we have decided to skip two admissions cycles, revise the doctoral curriculum, and then get going again with a full slate of programs. We are aware that timing may not be good for every potential applicant, but we hope this information helps you make the best educational decisions given your personal situation. Our advice is to apply in late 2020 or early 2021.

Applicant criteria and application process


The following criteria will be used to make admission decisions in the Ph.D. program.  In order to be competitive, you must:

  • Have an undergraduate degree with at least a 3.0 grade point average.
  • Have a master’s degree in public administration or a related academic discipline with at least a 3.25 grade point average in all graduate coursework.
  • Have at least four years of supervisory or administrative experience, preferably in public serving organizations.
  • Provide three letters of recommendation, at least one of which should be from a person acquainted with the applicant’s professional work and at least one of which should be familiar with the applicant’s graduate-level academic work (use the WMU Graduate Reference Form).
  • Submit the completed University online application for Graduate Admission, with paid application fee.
  • Responses to the required essay questions.
  • Submit a complete and up-to-date professional resume.
  • Provide Graduate record examination (GRE) scores for the quantitative, verbal, and analytical written parts of the examination.

Application instructions

WMU has an online graduate application system that allows all students (domestic and international) to submit required information into one system. General application information for the University, as well as specific requirements for individual programs, are captured into this system.

Apply Here

All application materials should be submitted by Feb 1 to ensure consideration for the Fall semester. Late applications may be considered on a space available basis while earlier applications may be required for a student to meet university financial aid deadlines. An interview with members of the School’s faculty may be requested as part of the admissions process.


The School of Public Affairs and Administration anticipates accepting 4 to 8 new students each fall semester.  The Ph.D. committee, comprised of members of the School of Public Affairs and Administration faculty, makes admission decisions and forwards them to Western Michigan University's Office of Graduate Admissions or the Office of International Student Support Services for final processing.


International Students

*Please note that the School of Public Affairs and Administration does not admit Ph.D. students on a conditional basis at any time.


We are eager to help! Please contact the School of Public Affairs and Administration office with any questions concerning the Ph.D. in public administration program.


Phone: (269) 387-8930

We look forward to hearing from you!