Questions and Answers About the Proposed Joint Ph.D. Initiative

Questions and Answers About the Proposed Joint Ph.D. Initiative


1. How would a Ph.D. program add value to the School of Government? Doctoral students would assist faculty with client projects, work on Applied Public Policy Network research, and collaborate with MPA faculty on publications in top-tier journals.

2. Would having a Ph.D. program boost our national MPA rankings? Perhaps, but only indirectly. Faculty reputation appears to be the key factor in the rankings. All of our peers in the top 14 national Public Affairs rankings have a Ph.D.

3. Why propose a new program now, when budgets are tight and some existing programs are being cut? Work on the Ph.D. initiative began in 2006, when resources were more plentiful. Implementation of the program could be further delayed until the financial picture improves.

4. What are the major risks to the School of Government?Steps will be taken to reduce risks, but the worst-case scenario could have adverse ramifications. Launching a small, expensive degree program with insufficient resources would be a drain on faculty and the MPA program.If new faculty resources are not provided, meeting Ph.D. commitments could reduce time available to serve clients for some faculty members. If sufficient additional financial support is not provided for teaching assistantships, funds would need to be provided from the MPA budget, reducing research assistantships for MPA students.Partnering with another Department that may not be well-aligned with our priorities and approach could also jeopardize our reputation on campus. None of these outcomes is anticipated, but their possibility is recognized.

5. Why not propose our own Ph.D. instead of a joint degree? The original proposal was for a free-standing Ph.D. in Public Administration, with a budget totaling $461,000 and including three new faculty positions, teaching assistant support, and a part-time administrative assistant. It was rejected by the Graduate School’s Administrative Board as too-small and too-expensive. Another concern was that our proposal was possibly redundant given the existence of a Ph.D. program in Public Policy at UNC and a Ph.D. in Public Administration at North Carolina State University.

6. How does the joint degree differ from a traditional Ph.D.? Our degree focuses on engagement, and prepares students for working on practical applications of scholarship most likely through university-based public service organizations or institutes of government. Students in this program will focus on important management or policy issues in state and local government.

7. If the engagement focus distinguishes our degree from a traditional Ph.D., why are four methodological courses required? Solid grounding in research methods is a common component of a Ph.D. program. These courses enable graduates to compete in the academic job market as well as to conduct research and prepare articles that would qualify for consideration in the top public administration journals and count toward hiring and tenure.Three of these courses were prescribed in the initial plan for the SOG’s own Ph.D. program. The fourth methodology course is tailored to the dissertation research.

8. Why is a joint degree being proposed? The small class size (three students a year) and resource requirements (new faculty and student financial support), make collaboration with another program good economic sense, especially one that could cover several core courses. Adding a public administration track to an existing Ph.D. considerably reduces the number of levels of University/UNC System review and approval time.

9. Why offer a joint degree with Public Policy? Many of the Ph.D. as well as Masters programs offered by our peers are combinations of public policy and public administration. At UNC there is a history of collaboration between Public Policy and Public Administration when the MPA program was in the Political Science Department.

10. Does Public Policy fully grasp the differences between our engagement-focused Doctorate and their more traditional Doctoral degree? We believe so, even though historically the programs had differing emphases (international/quantitative for Public Policy; local and state/applied for Public Administration).

11. What does Public Policy gain from participating in the joint degree? Public Policy will gain student credit hours as a result of Public Administration students taking their courses. The Public Policy Department also will gain one faculty member.

12. What does Public Administration gain from participating in the joint degree?In addition to faculty research support and client assistance, the School of Government will gain at least one faculty member.

13. What would the new Doctorate be called and who would award it? The joint degree would be called a Doctor of Public Policy or Doctor of Public Policy and Public Administration, depending on the Graduate School’s (and Department’s) preferences. It would be awarded by the Department of Public Policy.

14. Where will the funds come from to launch and sustain the program? The proposal envisions additional faculty lines and student support from the Provost’s Office. Without a commitment to provide such resources, the joint degree proposal will be dropped or delayed until a time when such a commitment can be made. If the program is approved, start-up funds for student support are commonly available.

15. What if additional resources cannot be provided for a year or two? If a longer-term commitment of support is made by the University, we could begin to ramp-up the program with current faculty and seek “seed money” from the Provost’s Office to cover student financial aid.

16. Is one additional Public Administration faculty member sufficient since time would be divided between the Doctoral Program and SOG clients? The original proposal requested three new faculty lines, which the Graduate School’s Administrative Board considered excessive. Ideally, two positions will be needed at SOG in order to mount and deliver Doctoral courses and advise/mentor students. (The present proposal requests one additional faculty member for SOG.)

17. Even if additional faculty and student resources are provided, will there be other impacts on the core MPA program that could be a concern?Beginning in year two of the joint Ph.D. program Engaged Field Project courses will be offered, each supervised by a faculty member. In year three, Dissertation Committeeswill be organized, requiring two faculty members. These committeesare labor-intensive, and will call upon faculty to spend more time than has been the case in the MPA program on advising and mentoring students and supervising their research. In addition, while program marketing and student recruitment can be handled by current MPA staff, the time required for overall direction of the program will need to be absorbed by the MPA Director or a Doctoral Studies Director.

18. Who will design and deliver the Public Administration core courses and Doctoral seminars? The hypothetical course schedule developed for program planning purposes indicates that fournew core courses will be developed and offered in the first two years of Public Administration Doctoral studies – Intergovernmental Management (Stenberg); Collaborative Governance (Morse); Community Economic Development (Hoyman);and Organization Theory (Jacobson). Adjunct faculty may need to be recruited to cover some elective coursescurrently offered by these faculty members. Course development would take place during the 2010-2011 academic year. Other specializedDoctoral seminars would be developed in the second year of the program. Faculty teaching electives in the Public Administration Doctoral track would be expected to offer their course once every three years.

19. When will the program begin? If approved during the 2009-2010 calendar year, the entering class will be admitted in spring 2011 and classes will begin in fall 2011.

20. What will the program cost?Using the mean salary figure reported in the NASPAA reaccreditation self-study report, two new faculty positions at the assistant professor rank would cost a total of $221,160. Each teaching assistant would cost $15,140, or $45,420 annually for the three Public Administration Doctoral students. The assistantships (including stipend, tuition waiver/remission, and health care) would be required beginning in year one of the program, and the new faculty would be recruited to start in year three of the program.It is anticipated that students would receive financial aid for three years, with some of the costs being defrayed by grants and contracts for client projects.For the first two years, assuming a three-student entering class each year, $90,840 would be required; beginning in year three total annual program costs would rise to approximately $357,420 ($136,260 for nine students and $221,160 for two faculty positions).

21. What is the MPA faculty’s reaction to the joint Ph.D. initiative? MPA faculty members have agreed that, without a commitment of additional resources, we should not go forward. Even if the resource commitments are made, the faculty is divided on whether they would be sufficient given the demands of the Doctoral program relative to on-going commitments to SOG clients and the MPA program. Concerns also have been expressed about the provision of the proposed governance structure giving the Chair of Public Policy the deciding vote in the case of a tie on the Executive Committee, which makes all governance and policy decisions. While seeing the prospective benefits to the School and MPA program, in the short-term the impact of the Doctoral initiative could at worst decrease client service and dilute the core Masters experience. While reengineering of responsibilities and program components (such as the Capstone) could reduce this potential, as could provision of a second faculty position,the reaction from MPA faculty to pursuing this initiative is still mixed given the above concerns.