I can tell that it is getting close to the application deadline for the VSU DPA judging by the number of inquiries I have been receiving lately. I thought I would provide the answers to some of the more frequently asked questions. Feel free to PM me if the following does not answer your questions: Application Process: I was in the first group of students, so things may have changed a bit. GRE is required – as far as I know, at this time they will not accept other exams in place of the GRE. I am not sure what minimum scores are being accepted now since interest in the program has increased significantly. Most in the first group were in the 1200 range with your writing score being the most important consideration. Masters degree – subjects spanned the spectrum in the first group. You do not need a prior background in public administration. Your personal statement and objectives for taking the program are also a strong consideration. Be sure to follow up with phone calls during the process. Residencies: Yes, they are required. This is a requirement of SACS accreditation. People did occasionally miss residency weekends for extenuating circumstances, but it is noticed. Residencies are usually the first weekend of the semester. There are two a year, one for Spring (conducted in January) and one for Fall (conducted in August). Residencies start on Friday evening with a reception, dinner, and meeting. Saturday is broken down into two sessions (AM and PM), one for each of the two core classes offered each semester. You will not learn a significant amount of content from the residency sessions, but they are invaluable for keeping connected to the program and to get re-focused for the upcoming semester. Courseware is WebCT. Coursework: one of the most common questions I get is how many courses can a person take a semester. Unless you have a lot of free time, I would recommend taking only two at a time during the first year. In the summer you can take electives from any of the graduate programs to fulfill elective requirements. These are Master’s level classes in a shortened semester. Three is doable, but I would also recommend two here as well to keep some sort of balance because Doctoral courses start up again in the fall and they are exponentially harder. The first semester is by far the worst, and in my view is designed to weed people out who cannot commit to the rigor and pace of the program. When I took the courses, there were several large papers required. In one of the foundation courses there were at least two 4-hour timed exams (conducted on WebCT) exams. These represented a major portion of the grade and required essay and short answer responses. These were very stressful - most finished just under the time limit. The book for this course was over 1000 pages. You will also have several timed exams in the Research Methods course - these were stressful as well. Assignments: – these will vary by course. Typically, they involve discussion and written assignments. Discussion boards are not what you may have experienced at the graduate and undergraduate level. Each response requires you to build upon the previous posts of others using course theory and expanding upon it at the Doctoral level. Citations and references for discussion are a must. Papers will vary by course. Some courses require several 15-20 page papers. Some will require several shorter papers and a longer final paper. Reading – be prepared to read a TON. If you have no experience with public administration, you will quickly see that the works in the field are not always the most stimulating. Dissertation: after you complete the first two years of coursework, you will move into the Capstone courses. There is a Capstone seminar course and a Capstone Project course in the Fall of year three. The seminar course requires the completion of a portfolio where you present your academic works and professional accomplishments. The project course requires you to complete your Dis. research proposal. These two courses are linked in that a portion of the requirements in each requires work from the other. These are PASS/FAIL courses. In the Spring of year three you will only do the Project course and continue to work on your Dissertation. If you have not completed all of your electives at this point, you will take electives here as well. Timeframe: while the program could be done in three years from start to finish, I do not think that this is realistic for most. A few people in my group did this, but they all lived near Valdosta, with several of them working for the university. They had the opportunity to have more regular interaction with the faculty. My time frame is looking to be four years start to finish with an anticipated completion this summer. I have defended my Dis. Proposal, completed my portfolio, and have submitted two Dis. drafts. I am currently revising my third draft for a projected may submission. I could have moved faster, but things like needing a paycheck and having a family make this impractical. Hope this helps some of you with questions. Valdosta is a great school. The community is very supportive of VSU and it reflects in the atmosphere. As I noted above, if you have additonal questions, please PM me.