If you want to earn a Doctor of Public Administration (DPA) degree, you will need to first research schools that offer the degree so you can decide which programs you want to apply to. After determining that you are qualified for their programs, you should prepare your applications and, if necessary, take entrance or qualification examinations. Once you have been accepted to programs, you'll want to review each before making a decision about matriculating in a particular program. The structure of each program, and the requirements to graduate, varies by program but may require you to complete coursework, comprehensive examinations as well as a dissertation or major project that represents original research in the area of public administration.
After deciding that earning a Doctor of Public Administration degree would be beneficial to your career, begin the process of choosing programs. Typically, the easiest way to do this is usually to begin doing online research to find schools that offer a Doctor of Public Administration degree. It's also a good idea to talk to your colleagues to find out if they have any recommendations for quality doctoral level programs. Things to think about when choosing a program include a school's accreditation, reputation and the location of the school. If you hope to remain in your current position, you will typically need to either choose a local school, a school that has low residency requirements or an online program.
It's generally a good idea to begin the application process at least several months before the submission deadline. This is because you may need to complete essays, obtain letters of recommendation from colleagues and superiors and pass admissions examinations. If you are working full-time, it may be difficult to balance all this activity with your family and professional obligations, so allowing a lot of time can significantly reduce your stress level. Keep in mind that if you do not already have a Master of Public Administration degree, you may be required to earn one, or to be able to document several years of experience in high-level public administration jobs before you can be accepted to a doctoral program.
Once you've been accepted into a program and have begun your studies, the actual requirements for your degree will vary by school as well as the country in which you study. In the United States, for example, you will typically be required to take numerous classes which may require at as much as two years of full-time study. You may also be required to you as a comprehensive examination before you can begin work on your dissertation or final project, which will have to be approved before you can receive your Doctor of Public Administration degree.