DPA - Doctor of Public Administration Public Administration

Doctor of Public Administration

Grow as an effective community advocate and public policy leader

Professionals with public administration jobs have skills in critical thinking, communication, and leadership. The Capella Doctor of Public Administration online can help you develop mastery of these skills, along with a deep understanding of how public policies and practices enhance public value and collaboration. Discover how earning a DPA can help you make an impact on public policy, protect the public interest, and maintain community trust.

At a Glance

  • Online & in-person
  • 16 Core courses
  • 2 Residencies
  • Doctoral Capstone
  • 74 Total quarter credits
  • 18 Max transfer credits

Classes Start November 9th

Ready to get started? We’re ready for you. Chat with an enrollment counselor or apply now to take the first step on the journey toward your future.

$50 application fee (waived w/promo FALL20).

Doctor of Public Administration program highlights

Real-world skills

Designed around cultural awareness, diversity, and ethics, the DPA program can help increase your professional leadership.

84% of doctoral alumni found that their Capella education was designed around working professionals.

Alumni Outcome Survey, 2019-2020.

No wasted time

This program is designed to teach critical skills, knowledge, theories, and abilities that employers want to add to their workforce.

Scholar-practitioner faculty

Learn from and consult with experts who have worked in the field and understand the needs of the industry. 

Meet the faculty »

Reduce your tuition by $5,000

Enroll in a qualified program and apply for a $5K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help fund your doctoral degree. 

Apply now »

Capstone vs. dissertation

A capstone is designed to help you solve a real-world problem using applied research instead of a traditional dissertation. 

25 years of online doctoral experience

With over 25 years of experience in online doctoral education, we understand the unique needs of doctoral students, and have designed our programs to meet those needs. We've structured our programs to help you reach your goals and obtain critical skills—with our expert faculty, support teams, and online resources to help guide you every step of the way.

Cost & learning format

Online education isn’t one-size-fits-all. We know you’re busy—you need a learning experience tailored to your life, not the other way around. Capella has learning and tuition formats to suit you, however you learn. 

A more structured learning format with an active peer community and faculty guidance. We’ll set the schedule, you meet the deadlines. 

  • Based on the quarter system; 1-3 courses per 10-week quarter
  • 1 semester credit = 1.5 quarter credits
  • Weekly assignments and courseroom discussions
  • Pay for what you take, price varies by courseload or term
$710 per credit, 74 total quarter credits, 18 max transfer credits

Get the details

Speak with an enrollment counselor to get a personalized cost estimate for what you can expect to pay.


Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Accreditation and recognitions provide the assurance we meet standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, learner services, and fiscal stability. See all of our accreditations and recognitions

Ways to save

Affording your education shouldn’t be an obstacle to reaching your goals. We can help you find ways you can save

10% military discount

If you're an active-duty military service member, spouse, or veteran, discounts may be available.

$5K toward your doctorate

Apply for a $5K Capella Progress Reward, a scholarship to help fund your doctoral degree.

Employer & association discounts

If your employer or organization is a partner with Capella, you may be eligible for a tuition discount.

DPA sample courses

Our public administration doctorate can help you evaluate current theories and practices in the public administration field and conduct valid research. This program includes professional doctorate research seminars, which allow you to gain momentum toward your doctoral capstone early in your program.

Show course with description
PUAD7015 *
Theories and Concepts in Public Administration

Learners in this course investigate the structures, practices, and theoretical underpinnings of public administration. Learners acquire and demonstrate public administration knowledge and skills to provide high-quality professional services to the communities they serve. Prerequisite(s): PSL7020, completion of or concurrent registration in PSL7030. Cannot be fulfilled by transfer. 

4 quarter credits
PUAD7035 *
Public Sector Policy Analysis

Learners in this course gain knowledge of differing theories associated with organizational structure, organizational environments, and organizational leadership in public sector settings. Learners also determine ways to effectively apply theories and skills needed to collaborate with diverse populations; manage human, technological, information, financial, political, and networking resources; analyze and formulate appropriate responses to public administration, public health, and public safety issues; communicate clearly and effectively; and maintain professional ethics and integrity. Prerequisite(s): PSL7030 and PUAD7015; or PSY8002. 

4 quarter credits
PUAD8015 *
Operational Strategic Management and Planning

Learners in this course build their understanding of operational strategic management and planning concepts. Learners analyze processes as well as collaboration, cooperation, and coordination practices within and among organizational operations. Learners apply these concepts to real-life situations and organizational operations through the examination of their internal and external environments, the allocation of resources, and the translation of strategic plans into tactical operations. Prerequisite(s): PUAD7015, PUAD7025. 

4 quarter credits
PUAD8045 *
Public Administration Strategic Accounting and Finance

In this course, learners analyze and implement strategic finance and accounting concepts within public administration. Learners investigate the policies and practices associated with public organizations in conjunction with the operational fiscal climate. In addition, learners apply the skills required to construct and evaluate budget documents and assess the strategic operational financial needs. Prerequisite(s): PUAD8025.

4 quarter credits

What you’ll learn

The right education can change everything. Discover your path to gaining real-world leadership skills with a DPA.

  • Learn how effective decision-making can create value in diverse communities or organizations.
  • Discover how to effect positive change through public administration research.
  • Create value through public administration policies, processes, and leadership.
  • Integrate citizen involvement and community advocacy in the public sector.
  • Assess social and ethical implications in decisions that affect society.
  • Create equitable solutions for diverse populations in the global community.

Public administration insights

What Is Public Administration?

Public administrators need a broad range of skills and an understanding of how different civic and governmental entities function. Learn the most important things you need to know about public administration.

How to Recruit and Retain Millennials in Public Service

Federal agencies are facing one of their greatest challenges—attracting and retaining the upcoming generation in government. 

Up Close and Personal with Public Service Leadership: Dean Charlyn Hilliman

See why Dean Charlyn Hilliman’s broad education background makes her a perfect fit to guide the Capella School of Public Service Leadership.

Read the blog post »

Public administration professional paths

Your education can help you reach your goals, professionally and personally. Here are some of the jobs and employment settings to consider with a DPA.

Related job titles to explore*

  • Adjunct or part-time public administration faculty
  • Human resources specialist
  • Auditor
  • Management analyst
  • Budget analyst
  • Executive director
  • Director of human resources
  • Director of finance
  • Chief executive officer
  • City manager
  • Policy analyst

Employment settings to explore

  • College or university
  • Community or technical college
  • Government - local, state, federal
  • Hospital
  • Nonprofit organization

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

Other programs to explore

Is this program close to what you need, but maybe not a perfect fit? The programs below might be interesting. Check them out to find one that suits your academic and professional goals.

Ready for the next step?

Learning online doesn't mean going it alone. Help is here. From faculty, coaches, advisors, and more. Plus a supportive community of students who are as passionate about their careers as you are about yours.