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Assignment - DPA Professional Administrative Study Overview

The Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) at Walden University is an applied degree within the field of public policy. The DPA is a practice-oriented degree designed to provide students with the skills and knowledge to solve practical problems in public organizations. The DPA is designed to prepare students to use applied research to solve complex problems associated with the administration of public sector organizations. The DPA positions students for career opportunities in applied research, management, leadership, and the administration of public and nonprofit organizations, or careers in consultancy with organizations that contract with public entities.

The final phase of study for all Walden doctoral students involves a capstone experience, referred to in the DPA program as the Professional Administrative Study (PAS). The PAS is a supervised work of independent scholarship demonstrating doctoral students' ability to apply the knowledge, skills, and techniques learned in courses to solving needs and problems in the field of public administration, public-sector organizations, and nonprofit organizations. In the PAS, students are encouraged to collaborate with a public or nonprofit organization as their "client" to solve a problem or need that the client has identified. The PAS is supervised and supported by a committee of three faculty members, one of which is the chair who is responsible for guiding the student through the process, and the second who provides subject matter or methodological expertise. As with all doctoral capstones at Walden, a University Research Reviewer member will be appointed to the committee by program leadership.

The goal of the PAS is for the student to make a meaningful and unique contribution to the practice of public administration and at the same time, help public and nonprofit organizations solve problems. The student enrolled in the PAS works as a consultant to a public sector client. In line with Walden University's mission, the DPA study also encourages positive social change by creating and applying ideas, strategies, and actions to promote the worth, dignity, and development of individuals, communities, organizations, institutions, cultures, and societies to improve overall human and social conditions.

Statement of Goals for DPA Professional Administrative Study

The purpose of the DPA Professional Administrative Study is to guide students in designing and developing a work of scholarship that addresses a need or problem in their area of practice. This capstone project serves multiple purposes:

  • Create and evaluate solutions to practical problems in public administration using evidence-based practices and research.
  • Apply ethical concepts of public administration within organizations.
  • Apply culturally sensitive public administration research to meet the needs of diverse populations at local, state, national, and international levels of government.
  • Utilize analytic methods in making decisions related to public administration that contributes to positive social change.
  • Engage in scientific inquiry to advance practice in the field of public administration.

The Professional Administrative Study Proposal and Final Study

The PAS results in a formal manuscript designed and written to address a problem in public administration practice. The PAS involves the student completing an applied research study that addresses an actual problem or planning situation. The student works under the supervision of a faculty chair and a second faculty mentor. The PAS takes the format of a consulting report and at a minimum includes the following sections:

  • Abstract
  • Situation or Introduction to the Problem
  • Conceptual Approach and Background
  • Data Collection Process and Analysis
  • Evaluation and Recommendations

Stages of the Professional Administrative Study -

Prospectus - The prospectus is a relatively short (3-5 pages) summary of plans for the PAS. The Prospectus is completed as part of DDPA8300 and involves collaboration with the faculty member leading the companion course in which each student is enrolled. The document is finalized in the first enrollment of DDPA8400 and needs to be approved by the committee chair, second member, and the program director or designee. Once the prospectus is approved, students may begin work on their proposal.

Proposal - The Study Proposal is a detailed plan for carrying out an original work of scholarship. Following approval by the PAS supervisory committee all DPA Proposals must also be approved by the Walden Institutional Review Board (IRB) prior to collecting data and executing the study. The Proposal includes a description of the problem, the conceptual approach to solving the problem, a detailed process for addressing the problem including plans for data collection and analysis.

Execution and Completion - Carrying out the approved proposal is referred to as completing or conducting the PAS. Students may begin to conduct their approved proposal and data collection after they receive approval from the supervising committee and the Walden IRB.

Students may begin preparation for the Professional Administrative Study beginning with the very first course, however. One of the most time-intensive aspects of the project is developing a familiarity with peer-reviewed and appropriate and reputable professional literature related to the topic of the study. This early point in the program is also a good time to begin exploring candidate organizations to host the study. Students are encouraged to use assignments/discussions throughout the program to develop an in-depth familiarity with the literature related to the topic they intend to address in the PAS. Bringing this specialized knowledge to the study can significantly aid in developing a proposal and executing a successful study.

Forms and Types of Professional Administrative Study

The DPA Professional Administrative Study is a work of scholarship that can take many forms. One of the goals of the Professional Administrative Study is to begin to develop a professional portfolio that demonstrates and provides evidence of skill and knowledge related to practical problem solving in public administration. The DPA is an applied doctoral degree, and as such, the emphasis is on building applied research and problem solving skills. Students will apply theory in their study projects. It is not expected that they test, extend, or create theory in their study projects. Because the Professional Administrative Study is an exercise in advanced consulting for a public or nonprofit organization, the final form of the PAS can take a variety of formats. For example:

  • Development - Projects where the purpose is to develop a strategy for building new programs or processes.
  • Implementation - Projects in which developed products are implemented in practice settings.
  • Evaluation - Projects in which previously implemented products or programs are evaluated for their merit and worth in accomplishing the goals and outcomes for which they were developed.

DPA Professional Administrative Study may take any of the above forms or may combine such forms into a single project. A small project might develop, implement, and evaluate some product or process in a single study project. However change at a systems level would more likely be limited to a single one of these activities as a comprehensive project would be unfeasible given the timeline for the PAS. These conceptual categories can help students think about the DPA Professional Administrative Study, but this list is not intended to limit or pose restrictions on the types of study projects appropriate for the PAS. Students are encouraged to consult with their chairs to ensure that the size and scope of the study is manageable and includes reasonable timeframes that support completion of the study.

A variety of data types may be utilized in the Professional Administrative Study, including data collected by the student primarily for the purpose of completing the PAS or data provided by the organization where the study takes place which will be analyzed by the student. It is also a possibility that other secondary data may be used, such as data related to the United States Census, U.S. Department of Labor data, the General Social Survey, or other data sources available through government agencies. Students should also be reminded that Walden University is a member of the Inter-university Consortium of Political and Social Research.

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Public Economics, Economics

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