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PhD in Public Affairs

Welcome to the Ph.D program at the School of Public Affairs!

The doctoral program provides students with the skills necessary to research and analyze complex public sector challenges, and to train other practioners in various fields.

The Ph.D program requires an intensive commitment of time and effort. It is designed to serve: 

  • People who seek academic appointments to further the field of public administration, public policy and public management through teaching and research
  • Scholar-practitioners working in government, private sector organizations concerned with government and nonprofit organizations
  • Policy analysts in government, private sector organizations and nonprofit organizations.

For more information contact Dr. Chris Weible​.  You may also watch the short video below about the Ph.D. program​.​


Student and Facul​ty News & Activities

Fall, 2018. PhD student Nuri Heckler recently accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor at University of Nebraska Omaha School of Public Administration.

Fall, 2018. Third-year PhD student Alan Kennedy-Shaffer won the American Society for Public Adminstration (ASPA) Founders Fellowship, a prestigious award given to the next generation of public service leaders. He'll be invited to give a presentation at the next annual conference.

Fall, 2018. PhD student Kristin Olofsson recently accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Oklahoma State University.

Fall 2018. PhD student Maren Trochmann successfully defended her dissertation.

Fall, 2018. First-year PhD student Jongeun You (pictured below) received the Diversity Scholar Award at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) 2019 conference.

Fall, 2018. Third-year PhD student Alan Kennedy-Shaffer wrote an insightful op-ed on the Khashoggi murder​, which was featured in the Denver Post.

Fall, 2018. Emily Brixey presented research at the annual Association for Budgeting and Financial Management conference October 4 - 6  in Denver, Colorado. The presentation explored the differences in public financing strategies among small and rural municipalities in Colorado.

Fall, 2018. Jihye Jung was given the Emerging Scholars Award as part of Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA)’s Annual Conference in November.

Fall, 2018. Jongeun You was selected to participate in the Graduate Diversity Scholars and Leaders Professional Development Workshop at the Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) Annual Conference in November.

Fall, 2018. ​Alex Osei-Kojo was chosen to participate in the American Society for Public Administration’s (ASPA) Young Scholars Workshop in Mexico in August, and he was named as an Equity and Inclusion Fellow for the Association for Public Policy Analysis & Management (APPAM) for their conference in November.

Summer, 2018.  We are proud to see our recent graduates move onto to tenure track academic positions around the country.  This includes Vanessa Fenley to University of Nevada Las Vegas, Sojin Jang to University of North Carolina Pembroke, Sean McCandless to University of Illinois Springfield, and Annie Miller to Washburn University.  Congrats to all!

May 12, 2018.  Eric Butz and Sojin Jang graduated!  Congrats!  

April 18, 2018.  Vanessa Fenley was awarded the 2017 Best Dissertation Award for the School of Public Affairs.  

December 18, 2018.  Congratulations to Teri Bolinger, Samual Gallaher, Vanessa Fenley, and Kelley Harp for completing their doctorate degrees these past few months.  Samual, Vanessa, and Kelley are pictured at the fall 2018 commencement ceremony.

graduation 2018.jpg 

August 18, 2017.  SPA welcomes its 2017 PhD Cohort.

May 24, 2017.  Kyudong Park successfully defended his dissertation proposal.  

Kd's proposal defense May 24, 2017.JPG
May 13, 2017.  Congratulations to the four PhD students who were officially awarded their doctoral degrees at the spring 2017 commencement ceremony.  These students include Sam Larson, Annie Miller, Sean McCandless, and George Middlemist.

May 12, 2017.  Congratulations to Sam Gallaher who successfully defended his dissesrtation.

Sam's Defense May 12, 2017.JPG
May 3, 2017. Dr. Mary Guy was awarded the CU Denver Doctoral Student Mentoring Award for her outstanding advising and support to graduate students.

May 3, 2017.  Sharon Smolinski published an article with Professor Tanya Heikkila on learning in environmental policy issues.  Here's the citation:​ 

  • Gerlak, A.K., Heikkila, T., Smolinski, S.L., Huitema, D., Armitage, D. (2017). Learning our way out of environmental policy problems: a review of the scholarship. Policy Sciences, 1-37. doi:10.1007/s11077-017-9278-0

 May 3, 2017. Brenda Bautsch Dickhoner successfully defended her dissertation earlier this semester.  The title and her dissertation can be found in this hyperlink:  "Understanding the Expansion and Effects of Colorado's Concurrent Enrollment Program."

May 2, 2017. David Carter was awarded the 2017 Best Dissertation Award for the CU Denver campus.

April 26, 2017. Current PhD student Alan Kennedy-Shaffer recently wrote and published an op-ed in the Denver Post on President Trump's first 100 days in office.

 April 22, 2017.  David Carter was awarded the 2016 Best Dissertation Award for the School of Public Affairs.  The topic was organic farming regulations in the United States.  You can find his dissertation here: David Carter's Dissertation

April 17, 2017. Andy Pattison (graduate in 2015) secured a tenure track position at Colgate University starting in the fall of 2017.

April 16, 2017. David Carter (graduated in 2016 and currently at the University of Utah) and Sean McCandless (graduating this spring of 2017) were both selected as Founders' Fellows for the American Society for Public Administration. | Physical Address: 1380 Lawrence St., Ste. 500  Denver, CO  80204 | Mailing Address: University of Colorado Denver, SPA, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364 | ph: 303.315.2228 | fax: 303.315.2229 | SPA Website Feedback

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