PhD in Public Administration

By studying here, you will achieve an in-depth academic understanding of issues in comparative policy and governance and organizational studies.  You will graduate prepared to conduct leading-edge research and take on leadership roles in government, universities and other public institutions.

Through this program, you will:

  • work with experienced faculty members at the forefront of a wide variety of fields, including public policy analysis, governance and management;
  • participate in research projects through the School; and
  • build externally-funded research programs of your own.

Consult our faculty profiles page for information about our members' research specialization areas: and please indicate your interest to Professor Bart Cunningham: Admissions information is available at:

Program synopsis

The program features the following fields of study:

  • comparative policy and governance: addresses key contemporary topics of political and administrative reform, covering topics including new approaches to public management, accountability, performance management, privatisation, auditing and financial control, the role of central agencies, public sector ethics, and the creation of partnerships among public, voluntary, and private-sector agencies.
  • organizational studies: focuses on a combination of organizational theory, behaviour, design and development, from a human resources management perspective, covering topics related to improving service quality, motivation, and effectiveness.

These contemporary topics reflect the research strengths of our faculty members.

The first year of the program is completed full-time, on-campus, and includes courses in the fields, research methods, and elective topics. During the second and third years, students write comprehensive examinations and defend their dissertation proposal. Students then undertake thesis work with the goal of completing their oral defence in the fifth year of the program.

First year

Completed on campus at the University of Victoria, you will take core courses in two fields:

  • ADMN 600 (0.0 units) Doctoral Seminar: students are required to register in this non-credit seminar for the duration of the PhD program
  • Comparative Policy and Governance
    • ADMN 604 (1.5 units) Theories of Public Management
    • ADMN 605 (1.5 units) Comparative Policy and Governance
  • Organizational Studies
    • ADMN 607 (1.5 units) Organizational Behaviour and Analysis
    • ADMN 645 (1.5 units) Organizational Theory and Change
  • Two methodology courses: graduate-level quantitative or qualitative methods course approved by the Graduate Advisor (1.5 units).
  • At least one elective course (1.5 units): You may take graduate-level courses offered by the School of Public Administration, the Department of Political Science, other UVic departments, or other universities, with the approval of the Graduate Advisor.

Second year

  • ADMN 600 (0.0 units) Doctoral Seminar
  • ADMN 693 (3.0 units) Candidacy Examination

You will write comprehensive examinations in each of the core fields.

Third to fifth years

  • ADMN 600 (0.0 units) Doctoral Seminar
  • ADMN 699 (30 units) Dissertation

After completing the candidacy (comprehensive) exams, you will complete thesis work with the goal of getting to an oral defence in year five of the program.

View the PhD in Public Administration application requirements.

Review the titles of accepted PhD dissertations.