PhD in Public Administration

UVic climate policy expert Katya Rhodes and PhD student Aaron Hoyle are researching multiple ways that Canada can hit its climate targets while winning public support. Credit: UVic Photo Services
UVic climate policy expert Katya Rhodes and PhD student Aaron Hoyle are researching multiple ways that Canada can hit its climate targets while winning public support. Credit: UVic Photo Services

The PhD in Public Administration program prepares students to undertake research in the broad, interdisciplinary field of public administration. The program will develop scholars who contribute to the literature in the form of articles, dissertations, and books, and to applied theory and practice. The School supports the creation of theoretically informed empirical research that guides practice.

Students will be expected to master basic research methods at the start of the program (foundational statistics, qualitative methods, and evaluation, for example), and may be required to undertake methods courses prior to the start of their doctoral studies.

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.

Intake into our PhD program is currently every two years (September 2022, 2024, 2026, etc.).

New! Students of a concurrent graduate degree program who wish to enrol in the Graduate Certificate program will be charged a one-time fee upon admission to the program.
The current one-time Graduate Certificate fee for concurrent students is:
• $847.78 (domestic students)
• $1,071.98 (international students)
Please note: Tuition Fees are updated annually. If students do not complete concurrent program requirements according to the recommended schedule, this may result in additional fees.

Degree Requirements

The first year of the program is a full-time course of studies consisting of a minimum of 9.0 units of coursework, a non-credit doctoral seminar and language training (if required for the student's dissertation research). Students must be in residence to complete the following coursework, their PhD candidacy examinations, and the oral defence of their dissertation research proposal:

  • two core courses in public administration:

ADMN 605 (1.5)  Public Policy and Governance in Public Administration

ADMN 608 (1.5)  Innovation, Implementation and Evaluation in Public Administration

  • two methodology courses

ADMN 602 (1.5)  Research Design and Methods in Public Administration

and a further graduate-level quantitative or qualitative methods or methodologies course with the approval of the Graduate Adviser (1.5)

  • two elective courses (3.0)

The elective courses could be either a substantive specialization or a combination of methods and substantive specialization. Students 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 Adviser.

Students will be required to register in this non-credit seminar course for the duration of their PhD program. The Doctoral Seminar will provide essential knowledge, skills, and research proposal development guidance.

The total number of courses each student is required to take will depend on the background of the student and will be decided by the student and the Graduate Adviser and approved by the Admissions and Program Standards Committee. The minimum units required for the PhD Degree is 9.0 units of coursework, the candidacy examination (ADMN693) of 3.0 units, and the dissertation (ADMN 699) of 30.0 units. (See information on candidacy and dissertation information that follows this tab.)

PhD students are expected to have mastery of additional language(s) if germane to their chosen fields of study. They will be expected to acquire needed language skills in addition to their PhD coursework. No PhD credit will be given for language training.

Program Operation and Length

The entry date for the PhD program is September. The program operates year-round. Courses, faculty members and facilities are available during Fall, Spring and Summer sessions. PhD candidates are expected to complete the program, including their dissertation, in five years


ADMN 693 (3.0) Candidacy Examination

Within two terms of completing course work (normally in November of the second year of study), the student will complete one written candidacy examination on the foundational studies and methods/ methodologies of public administration. This model assumes a generalist orientation to the exam.

Within three terms of completing coursework, the student will develop and submit a dissertation proposal which will be defended in an oral defence.

In all cases, both the written candidacy examination and defence of the dissertation proposal must be completed within 36 months of first registration in the PhD program.

A student who passes the candidacy examination and successfully defends the dissertation proposal is admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree.


ADMN 699 (30.0) Dissertation

Only when the student's supervisory committee is satisfied that the dissertation proposal meets the standards of the program, may the student register in the dissertation (ADMN 699).

Oral Examination

Students will defend the completed dissertation in an oral examination in accordance with the regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Consult our faculty profiles page for information about our members' research specialization areas and please indicate your interest to the Graduate Academic Coordinator via 

Admissions information is available at UVic Graduate Admissions with PhD in Public Administration specific application requirements here.