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The University of Texas at Dallas
Graduate Admissions

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs


Professors: Marie Chevrier, Euel Elliott, L. Douglas Kiel, Murray Leaf, Richard Scotch
Associate Professors: Paul
Battaglio, Simon Fass, Douglas Goodman, Jeremy Hall
Assistant Professors: Young-
joo Lee, Meghna Sabharwal
Clinical Professors: Donald Arbuckle, Robert Whelan
Clinical Assistant Professor: Kimberly Aaron


The mission of the Ph.D. in Public Affairs program is to prepare students for academic careers or high-level management positions in public and non-profit organizations by assuring that they gain competency at an advanced level in the core subject matters and methodologies that are central to the study of Public Affairs. Through instruction and research, the faculty will help students obtain a firm understanding of the broad intellectual tradition of public administration and related fields. It will integrate both traditional and innovative methods of educational delivery and emphasize the application of theory to practice.


The Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs degree is an interdisciplinary doctoral program that prepares graduates to assume either positions in academe, research producing organizations or positions of administrative authority in public (government, public school districts), quasi-public (healthcare, insurance), and nonprofit (providers, foundations) organizations. The degree combines innovative and traditional methods of educational delivery and emphasizes the integration and application of theory to practice. The guiding philosophy of the degree is that "public affairs" involves more than mere functional administration, policy implementation or quantitative policy analysis. Rather, doctoral education in public affairs requires an interface between the traditions of public management, decision science, and policy analysis and processes with a practical appreciation for the challenges of maintaining and building institutions of governance and a civic culture in a complex, democratic society.

The PhD program in Public Affairs is a cohort program. The program requires 42 hours of coursework plus relevant doctoral dissertation hours. Well-prepared students (for example, those with a master’s degree in public administration, public affairs, public policy, business administration, health administration, or education administration) may be able to complete the course requirements and the dissertation within 3 years from their initial enrollment. Students in each cohort take 6 hours of classes each fall, spring and summer semester. This allows students to complete the core courses and elective in 7 consecutive semesters of enrollment. Students will generally start the production of the dissertation during the seventh semester of enrollment. Entering cohorts begin each fall semester. This approach produces shared experiences and progress through the program that enrich student learning and student research.

Faculty Commitments

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

1. To Demonstrate Comprehensive and Deep Knowledge: Students will demonstrate their knowledge of the interface between the traditions of public management, decision science, and policy analysis and processes with a practical appreciation for the challenges of maintaining and building institutions of governance and a civic culture in a complex, democratic society.

2. To Understand and Apply Theories and Processes of Knowledge Acquisition: Students, as executive level administrators, will have a solid grounding in theory and in the process of knowledge acquisition through research that is essential for institutional maintenance and renewal.

3. To Produce Scholarly Manuscripts and Publications: Students, as scholars, will have the ability to produce scholarly manuscripts based on extensive practical experience or field-based research that are worthy of publication in the journals of the field.

4. To Develop, Present, and Defend Complex Ideas: Students will have the ability to develop, present, and defend both orally and in writing complex ideas based on in-depth scholarly research.


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 house over 30 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.

Admission Procedures and Policies

Application Deadlines: The Ph.D. program in Public Affairs is a cohort program allowing new groups of students to start each fall semester. Cohorts only start during fall semesters. Students intending to start with a fall cohort must submit their applications by March 1 of that year. Students admitted to the program, but who do not hold one of the master’s degrees noted above, may be required to take master’s level courses in public management, basic statistics, financial management, budgeting or economics.

Application/Admission Requirements: Prospective students must complete the University’s graduate application form and arrange to have GRE scores and transcripts of all college coursework sent to UTD. A graduate GPA of 3.0 or better and a minimum combined math and verbal GRE score of 1100 are expected. Three letters of recommendation are also required. Applicants must submit a written statement that should, at a minimum, include: (1) the nature of the student’s current work situation and responsibilities; (2) responsibilities for large scale/strategic issues in their work environment; (3) the nature and frequency of interactions with organizational stakeholders; (4) the student’s current span of control in their work environment; and (5) their career goals upon completion of the Ph.D. All applicants must also submit a complete professional resume.

Graduate Assistantships: Students admitted to the program may receive teaching assistantships. Prospective students interested in receiving assistantships must have submitted all application materials including an application form for an /assistantship by March 1 of the year they intend to start the program. Applications for the assistantships may be obtained from the Public Affairs Program Office. Offers of teaching assistantships will be made by May 1 of the year of fall enrollment, although additional appointments may be made as new positions become available in subsequent months.

Ph.D. in Public Affairs

The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 42 hours of course work and twelve hours of dissertation work beyond the master’s degree for a total of 90 graduate hours. Students not holding a master’s degree in public affairs, public administration, public policy or other related field may be expected to complete additional course work. These courses will be determined by the program director. Students must also complete a qualifying examination and the doctoral dissertation.


Prior to enrolling in core classes in the Ph.D. program students must show evidence of completing graduate level course work in general public management, basic statistics, financial management and budgeting and economics or public finance. Students admitted to the Ph.D. program without these requirements may be directed to complete relevant courses in the Masters of Public Affairs program at UTD prior to taking Ph.D. level courses. Students lacking a recent graduate level statistics course may be required to complete EPPS 6313 Introduction to Quantitative Methods.

Required Courses (42 hours)

The Program will consist of course work in four substantive knowledge areas. These areas are the public affairs core that includes topics of Governance: Leadership, Change and Conflict Resolution. The three remaining substantive knowledge areas are Social Policy and Development, Decision Analysis and. Organizational Management and Analysis

Dissertation Research

During the dissertation research students must also be enrolled in PA 8V99 Dissertation.

Program Course Work

Cohort Mapping of Courses: 42 hours of required coursework through 7 consecutive semesters

YEAR ONE (18 semester credit hours)

PA 7321 Ethics and Law in Public Affairs
PA 7325 Survey of Public Affairs

PA 6326 Decision Tools for Managers
PA 7330 Research Design in Public Affairs

PA 7375 Non-Profit Organizations: Theory and Practice
PA 6320 Organizational Theory

YEAR TWO (18 semester credit hours)

PA 7322 Negotiations for Effective Management
PA 7338 Seminar in Human Resources

PA 7305 Leadership of Public and Non-Profit Organizations
SOC 6312 Socio-Economic Theories or SOC 6340 Domestic Social Policy

PA 7311 Models and Tools of Change

EPPS 6352 Evaluation Research Methods in the Economic, Political and Policy Sciences

YEAR THREE (18 semester credit hours)

PA 8340 Dissertation Seminar
Elective – (any 6000 or 7000 level PA or EPPS course)

PA 8V99 Dissertation (6 hours)

PA 8V99 Dissertation (6 hours)

Qualifying Examinations and Assessment of Student Performance

All students must successfully complete a qualifying examination after completion of their first two semesters in the program in which they take PA 7325 Survey of Public Affairs and PA 7321 Ethics and Law in Public Affairs in the first fall semester of enrollment, and PA 7330 Research Design in Public Affairs and PA 6326 Decision Tools for Managers in the first spring semester of enrollment. The examinations/assessments will cover the material in the four classes noted above. The examinations/assessments will occur immediately after the first spring semester of enrollment.

The examinations/assessments consist of three components. These components are an assessment of the student’s portfolio of work in the four courses noted above, a required GPA of 3.25 in the four courses and a written examination covering the material in the four courses. Successful completion of these components leads to continuation in the program. Students who do not successfully complete the examination/assessment process are dropped from the program.

Dissertation Seminar and Dissertation

Students typically enroll in PA 8340 Dissertation Seminar at the beginning of their third year in the program. This is an individual study course, supervised by the student’s likely dissertation chair, and normally would culminate in the completion of a dissertation proposal. Assignment to a dissertation chair is based on a number of factors, and students are encouraged to consult with the program director about the selection of their chair and the rest of their dissertation committee.

Following the public defense of their proposal, students begin work on their dissertation research, and enroll in PA 8V99 Dissertation during the semesters following their successful proposal defense. . Students enroll for up to 18 hours of PA 8V99, and typically will complete their dissertation research and writing within a year of the proposal defense. The final dissertation defense is conducted when the student’s chair and committee agree that the dissertation is essentially completed.

Last Updated: September 28, 2011