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The University of Texas at Dallas
Graduate Admissions

Master of Public Affairs


Professors: Euel Elliott, L. Douglas Kiel, Richard Scotch
Associate Professors: Simon Fass
Assistant Professors: Paul Battaglio, Jeremy Hall, Young-joo Lee and Meghna Sabharwal
Clinical Professors: Donald Arbuckle, Calvin Jamison, Robert Whelan
Clinical Associate Professor: Wendy Hassett
Clinical Assistant Professor: Kimberly Aaron, Karen Jarrell, Nick Valcik
Senior Lecturers: Ted Benavides


The mission of the Master of Public Affairs is to educate professionals in public and non-profit management, policy analysis, and applied technology for effective careers in public policy and public management organizational environments. The program serves local, regional, and national communities through professional development programs, public policy, and management analyses, program and policy design, and as a forum for new ideas and approaches to policy and management problems. The curriculum is intended to train students who will ultimately assume senior staff, managerial and leadership roles in public agencies and other organizations.


The Master’s degree in Public Affairs is a professional degree with a focus on public management, policy analysis, and applied technology. The MPA program emphasizes public management, management analysis, implementation, and evaluation of public policies. The curriculum is intended to train students who ultimately will assume senior staff, managerial and leadership roles in public agencies, non-profit organizations, consulting firms, and businesses significantly affected by public policies.

The MPA program faculty is committed to producing clear and specific results for our students. Thus, the specific objectives for all graduates of the MPA program are:

1.To Demonstrate Knowledge: Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the theoretical foundations of public management and leadership, non-profit management and leadership, policy analysis, and civic engagement in governance.

2.To Learn Specific Skills and Knowledge: Students will learn specific skills and knowledge that will prepare them for challenging positions of management responsibility and/or policy analysis in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

3.To Develop Research and Writing Skills: Students will develop their research and writing skills so that they can effectively communicate their ideas based on study and research.

4.To Present Complex Ideas and Research Findings Orally: Students will have the ability to present complex ideas and research findings orally.


Students have access to the computing facilities in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences and the University’s Computing Center. The School has two computing laboratories which have over 50 computers that are network linked and equipped with major social science software packages, including E-Views, R, Rats, SPSS and STATA. A computerized geographic information system, the Lexis Nexis Database, and WestLaw are also available for student use. The University’s Computing Center provides personal computers and UNIX Workstations. Many important data and reference materials are also available online via the McDermott Library and School’s memberships in numerous organizations.

Admission Requirements

The University’s general admission requirements are discussed here.

The Master of Public Affairs program seeks applications from students with a baccalaureate degree for an accredited university or college. A 3.0 undergraduate grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) and a combined verbal and quantitative score of at least 1000 on the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) or equivalent score on the Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT), are preferred. Students may also wish to consider submitting their score from the writing component of the GRE test as additional evidence of their writing skills. An analytical writing score of at least 4.5 in the GRE is considered desirable.  Standardized test scores are only one of the factors taken into account in determining admission. Students should also submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation and a one-page essay outlining the applicant’s background, education, and professional objectives.


Some students may need to take courses that prepare them adequately for core coursework. In general, students who lack a background in mathematics or microcomputing may be required to take courses designed to prepare them for the material to which they will be exposed in these courses. Students should consult with the graduate advisor regarding specific courses to be taken.

Degree Requirements

The University’s general degree requirements are discussed here.

Students seeking a Master of Public Affairs (MPA) degree must complete at least 42 semester credit hours of work in the program. The program has three components: a 24 hour core, 15 hours of directed electives within a chosen specialization and 3 hours of internship or policy research workshop.

Grade Point Requirements

Students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in the core courses and an overall grade point average of 3.0 to graduate. If a student’s GPA does not meet these standards University policy concerning academic probation and removal from the program are in effect.

Core Courses (24 hours)

All MPA students should complete the core courses as soon as possible. A full-time student entering the program will normally take three core courses and one additional course each semester. The workshop or internship is usually undertaken when the student has completed most of the other degree requirements.

Required core courses for the MPA:

PA 6313 Public Policymaking and Institutions
PA 6317 Economics for Public Policy or PA 6342 Local Economic Development or PA 7317 Microeconomics for Policy
PA 7318 Ethics, Culture and Public Responsibility
EPPS 6313 Descriptive and Inferential Statistics for the Economic, Political and Policy Sciences
PA 6311 Public Management
PA 6321 Government Financial Management and Budgeting
PA 6320 Organizational Theory
PA 6345 Human Resource Management

Professional Specialization Core Courses (9 hours)

Students who specialize in Public Management take 15 hours from: PA 6300 Quality and Productivity Improvement in Government, PA 6326 Decision Tools for Managers, PA 6328 Management Process and Analysis, POEC 6336 Bureaucracy and Public Policy, PA 7322 Negotiation Strategies for Effective Management, PA 6344 Local Government Management, or other appropriate courses approved by the MPA Director.

Students who select the Local Government Management Track take 15 hours from: PA 6344 Local Government Management, PA 6345 Human Resources Management, PA 6342 Local Economic Development, SOC 6341 Urban Development and PA 6321 Government Financial Management and Budgeting.

Students who choose Policy Analysis complete 15 hours from: PA 7317 Economics for Public Policy, ECO 6361 Public Sector Economics, EPPS 6316 Advanced Regression Analysis, EPPS 6352 Evaluation Research Methods in the Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, EPPS 7304 Cost-Benefit Analysis.

Students who specialize in Applied Technology take: GISC 6381 Geographic Information Systems Fundamentals (GIS), GISC 6382 Applied Geographic Information Systems (GIS), GISC 6383 GIS Management and Implementation.

Students who wish to focus on the Non-profit Management Track take 15 hours from: PA 6380 Non-profit Organizations, PA 6381 Non-profit Management, PA 6374 Financial Management for Non-profit Organizations, EPPS 6352 Evaluation Research Methods and PA 7V62 Policy Research Workshop in Non-profit Organizations.

Other courses may substitute for those listed in any specialization with the approval of the Associate Dean for Graduate Education or the Director of the MPA degree.

Elective Courses (6 hours)

Students must also complete 6 hours of elective coursework within the professional specialization. These courses will be determined in consultation with the MPA advisor. Other courses, including online offerings, may be authorized for all tracks at the discretion of the MPA Program Director.

Workshop or Internship (3 hours)

The Policy Research Workshop applies the student’s knowledge and professional skills to a research project. Problem definition and project development occur in a team environment under faculty direction, sometimes in concert with an external client who is funding the research. The effort places the student in an environment where cooperative skills and timely product delivery are essential. The workshop is recommended for students specializing in policy analysis, for those who already have substantial professional experience, and for part-time students for whom an internship is not practical. GISC 6387 GIS Workshop fulfills the policy workshop requirement for students who specialize in applied technology; in addition, these students may choose to do an internship.

The internship involves work in a professional capacity in an organization, under the joint supervision of an experienced professional mentor at the internship site and a member of the faculty. The standard three hour internship requires approximately a one-quarter time commitment to the work experience. Six-hour internships normally are half-time appointments for a semester or the summer. The objective of the internship is to provide an introduction to professional life and to establish sound approaches to the practice of public affairs. Full-time students choosing public management will normally choose the internship.


Last Updated: June 3, 2011