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The University of Texas at Dallas
Graduate Admissions

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs


Professors: L. Douglas Kiel, Robert W. Taylor
Associate Professors: Paul Battaglio, Simon Fass, Douglas Goodman, Jeremy
L. Hall
Assistant Professors: Young-joo Lee, Meghna Sabharwal
Clinical Professors: Donald Arbuckle, Robert Whelan


The mission of the Ph.D. in Public Affairs program is to prepare students for research-oriented careers in academia or executive public/nonprofit management positions. The rigorous core curriculum provides advanced conceptual and theoretical training in the principal areas of public administration and management, including: public policy, intergovernmental relations, budget and finance, human capital and organizational theory. Students develop analytical competencies through a sequence of research methods courses, and they develop technical knowledge in specific topics through a flexible elective sequence. Through instruction and research, faculty guide students as they obtain a firm understanding of the broad intellectual tradition of public administration and related fields.


The Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs degree is an interdisciplinary doctoral program that prepares graduates to assume positions in academia, research producing organizations or positions of administrative authority in public, quasi-public, and nonprofit organizations. 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, public policy, and organizations 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 begins as a cohort program where each year entering students remain together through four core courses and the qualifying examination, after which they are able to diverge into specialization courses appropriate for their interests and methodological approach. This approach produces shared experiences and progress through the program that enrich student learning and student research. The program requires 42 hours of coursework plus doctoral dissertation hours (12 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 typically take 6 hours of classes each fall, spring and summer semester, though the flexibility of the program permits full time students to take more than two courses per semester. Students will generally start the production of the dissertation during fall of their third year in the program.

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 in principal fields of public administration and management, including: public policy, intergovernmental relations, organization theory, budget and finance, and human capital.

2. To Understand and Apply Theories and Processes of Knowledge Acquisition: Students will demonstrate familiarity with key theories in each of the principal fields of public administration and management, and will apply this theoretical knowledge in the development of research projects ranging from course assignments to their dissertation research projects.

3. To Produce Scholarly Manuscripts and Publications: Students, as scholars, will have the ability to execute research projects that utilize state of the art methodologies to produce scholarly manuscripts 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 admits a cohort of students each fall semester. Students are only admitted during fall semesters, so students intending to begin the program in fall of a particular year must submit their applications by March 1 for full consideration.

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. The program typically admits only students who have completed a Masters degree. Three letters of recommendation are also required. Applicants must submit a written statement that should, at a minimum, include: (1) the student’s interest in pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Affairs, (2) the student’s academic background in research ability related to public affairs; (3) their career goals upon completion of the Ph.D.; (4) the nature of the student’s current work situation and responsibilities (if applicable);and (5) responsibilities for large scale/strategic issues in their current or past work environment (if applicable). All applicants must also submit a complete professional resume.

Graduate Assistantships: Students admitted to the program may be eligible to receive teaching assistantships. Prospective students interested in receiving assistantships must have submitted all application materials including a TA application form 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 each semester.

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 (36 hours) for a total of 90 graduate hours. Students must also complete a qualifying examination and the doctoral dissertation.

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. Typical courses include: public policy, public management, statistics, financial management, budgeting or economics to provide the necessary preparation for advanced doctoral study. These courses will be determined by the program director. The Ph.D. core curriculum rotates so as to offer flexibility to students taking either two (part-time) or three (full-time) courses per semester. Six courses (five core courses plus research methods) are offered each year (three each fall and three each spring) in the following rotation:


PA 7310 Advanced Policy Process, Implementation and Evaluation (T) (required in year one)

PA 7320 Advanced Human Capital Research and Theory (W) (may be taken in year one or two)

PA 7330 Research Design in PA (R) (required in year one)



PA 7340 Intergovernmental and Intersectoral Relations (T) (required in year one)

PA 7350 Advanced Organizational Theory and Behavior (W) (required in year one)

PA 7360 Advanced Fiscal and Budgetary Policy (R) (may be taken in year one or two)

All students must take the four courses included on the qualifying exam (7310, 7330, 7340, & 7350) during the first year in the program. Full time students will take the complete rotation presented above, while part time students will take two seminars (7320 & 7360) in the second year, as they are not included on the qualifying exam.


Prior to enrolling in core classes in the PhD program students must show evidence of completing graduate level course work in public policy, public management, graduate level 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 are required to complete EPPS 6313 Introduction to Quantitative Methods prior to continuing their methods sequence.

Required Courses (42 hours)

The Program consists of course work in five core substantive knowledge areas central to public administration and management, including: public policy, intergovernmental relations and management, organizational theory, fiscal and budgetary theory, and human capital (15 hours).

Research methods provide analytical skills necessary to conduct doctoral level research beginning with Research Design, a regression course suitable for the student’s mathematical skill set (EPPS 6316 for algebra, EPPS 7316 for calculus), and a methods course appropriate for the student’s intended dissertation research (9 hours).

Building on the core curriculum, elective courses allow students to develop specialized concentrations in their area of interest (15 hours). Students have the flexibility to design their own custom concentration from existing EPPS courses (6000 level or above; with program director approval) or may select courses from one of four existing concentrations:

The dissertation seminar (PA 8340) is a directed study course during which students work one-on-one with an appropriate faculty member to develop and prepare the dissertation proposal (3 hours).

To graduate, students are required to enroll for dissertation research credit (PA 8v99) with their appointed dissertation chairperson (12 hours minimum). To remain in good standing, students must remain enrolled in 8V99 while completing their dissertation.

Program Course Work

*** Indicates the four (4) courses included in the required qualifying examination taken during summer immediately following the student’s first two semesters of coursework.

I. Public Affairs Core (15 hours)

1.     PA 7310 Advanced Policy Process, Implementation and Evaluation***

2.     PA 7320 Advanced Human Capital Research and Theory

3.     PA 7340 Intergovernmental and Intersectoral Relations***

4.     PA 7350 Advanced Organizational Theory and Behavior***

5.     PA 7360 Advanced Fiscal and Budgetary Policy

II. Research Methods (9 hours)

Prerequisites: Students are expected to arrive with EPPS 6313 or equivalent; if not, it must be taken prior to EPPS 6316 and does not count toward hours for graduation.

1.     PA 7330 Research Design in Public Affairs***

2.     Applied Regression (EPPS 6316) OR Regression and Multivariate Analysis (EPPS 7316). Note: 6000 presumes algebra; 7000 level presumes calculus.

3.     ONE of the following (or alternate with program director approval): Qualitative Research Methods (EPPS 6346), Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables (EPPS 7344), Time Series Analysis (EPPS 7370), Survey Research (EPPS 7386), Applied Multivariate Analysis (EPPS 7380), Evaluation Research (EPPS 6352).

III. Concentration (See Below; 15 hours)

1.     Elective 1

2.     Elective 2

3.     Elective 3

4.     Elective 4

5.     Elective 5

IV. Dissertation Seminar (Directed Study, PA 8340) (3 Hours)

V. Dissertation Research (12 hours)

Concentration 1: Policy Analysis and Evaluation (Choose 5 courses)

1.     PA 6340 Domestic Social Policy or

2.     PA 6344 State/Local Economic Development

3.     EPPS 6352 Evaluation Research Methods

4.     PA 6336 Bureaucracy and Public Policy

5.     PA 7304 Benefit Cost Analysis

6.     PA 6314 Policy Analysis

7.     Other approved elective(s)

Concentration 2: Emergency Management (Choose 5 courses)

1.     PA 6353 Emergency Management

2.     PA 6351 Homeland Security

3.     PA 6371 Strategies for Homeland Security

4.     PA 6390 Administration and Management of Justice Agencies

5.     PA 7307 Information Sharing and Communication for HS

6.     PA 7309 Protecting Critical Resources and Infrastructure

7.     CRIM 6314/PA6319 Policing

8.     Other approved elective(s)

Concentration 3: Nonprofit Management (Choose 5 courses)

1.     PA 6374 Financial Management for Nonprofit Orgs

2.     PA 7375 Nonprofit Orgs

3.     PA Leadership and Change in Public/Nonprofit Organizations

4.     EPPS 6352 Evaluation Research Methods

5.     PA 6375 History and Theories of the American Philanthropic Sector

6.     Other approved elective(s)

Concentration 4: Urban Policy and Administration (Choose 5 courses)

1.     PA Negotiations for effective managers

2.     PA 7305 Leadership and Change in Public/Nonprofit Organizations

3.     PA 6326 Decision Tools for Managers

4.     PA 7375 Nonprofit organizations: Theory and Practice

5.     EPPS 6352 Evaluation Research Methods

6.     PA 6344 State/Local Economic Development

7.     PA 6327 Land Use Law and Ethics

8.     Other approved elective(s)

Concentration 5: Customized and Directed Research (Choose 5 courses; *must be pre-approved by program director)

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 (during which they take PA 7310 Advanced Policy Process, Implementation and Evaluation and PA 7330 Research Design in the first fall semester and PA 7340 Intergovernmental and Intersectoral Management and PA 7350 Advanced Organizational Theory and Behavior in the first spring semester). The examination will cover the material in the four classes noted above and will occur immediately after the first spring semester of enrollment. In addition, student’s progress is assessed by instructors of record in the four core courses and student GPA is reviewed to ascertain progress in the program. This tripartite assessment is conducted according to PA Policy Memorandum 2008 I.1 (Revised September 14, 2011), the language of which follows below:

PhD in Public Affairs Program

First Year Review

Every PhD student entering the Public Affairs Program in fall 2008 and later is subject to a comprehensive first year review which takes place after the student completes two semesters of study. This review comprises a Faculty Assessment and a qualifying examination. The Assessment identifies priority areas for academic improvement, evaluates the student’s likelihood of successful program completion, and recommends whether the student should remain in the Program.

The qualifying examination, a take-home assignment, is based on student coursework during the first year. To continue in the program, a student must obtain a positive recommendation from the Faculty Assessment and pass the qualifying examination.

All four of the required courses must be completed before sitting for the qualifying examination. Students are expected to complete the examination immediately following their first spring semester of enrollment in the program. Students may not defer the examination; rather, it must be taken immediately upon completion of the four covered courses. If for any reason a student fails to complete the four courses during the first year of program enrollment, they must complete the four courses and sit for the qualifying exam immediately following their second spring semester of enrollment in the program. Students who have not taken the examination following their second spring semester will be dismissed from the program.

A. Faculty Assessment

The Faculty Assessment is compiled two weeks after the last spring semester final examination date on the UTD academic calendar. It is based on performance in the four classes that the student must complete during the first year in the program:

         PA 7310 Advanced Policy Process, Implementation and Evaluation

         PA 7340 Intergovernmental and Intersectoral Management

         PA 7330 Research Design

         PA 7350 Advanced Organizational Theory and Behavior  

Every assessment is completed by the instructor of record at the end of each of the listed courses. It judges the student’s promise with respect to five elements: critical thinking, quality of writing, proper use and application of citations and references, research ability and final course grade. The assessment will be copied in triplicate. The student will receive a copy of the assessment at the end of each course.  A copy will be placed in the student’s permanent file at the end of each course and the faculty member producing the report will retain a copy of each student’s assessment.

A Faculty Assessment Committee (FAC) compiles and reviews the four individual assessments for each student. The FAC then prepares a report that specifies areas of academic performance that warrant attention and enhancement, determines the likelihood of successful program completion, and recommends whether the student should remain in or be dismissed from the Program.

B. Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination takes place during the same time period as the Faculty Assessment. It is a take-home assignment comprising several questions that students collect at or after 8:00 am on Tuesday of the examination week and then submit - in hard copy and electronic form - before 5:00 pm on Thursday of the same week. Assignments are not accepted after this deadline.

The examination consists of two parts: a methods section and a field section. The methods section requires the student to answer one of two proposed questions based on subject matters covered in PA 7330 Research Design.

The field section requires the student to answer two of three proposed questions based on subject matters covered in:

         PA 7310 Advanced Policy Process, Implementation and Evaluation

         PA 7340 Intergovernmental and Intersectoral Management

         PA 7350 Advanced Organizational Theory and Behavior  

Answers to each examination question are limited to no more than 10 numbered pages of double-spaced text, prepared in 12-point font size with 1-inch margins on all sides, excluding end notes, reference lists, and other supplementary materials. All references must be properly cited within the text of each answer using a standard academic citation format.

The qualifying examination is assessed and graded within two weeks of its submission by a Qualification Examination Committee (QEC) comprised of program faculty. Students are notified of the result within three weeks of submission. Possible grades for a question are Excellent, Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. The student passes a question if a majority of QEC members grade the answer as Satisfactory (or better). The student passes the examination if all answers are Satisfactory (or better).

A student receiving an unsatisfactory grade on one question must retake that section (containing a new set of questions) six weeks after notification of the initial qualifying examination result. The examination format and procedure are the same as described above for the initial examination. Failure to receive a grade of Satisfactory (or better) on the qualifying examination a second time results in dismissal from the program.

If an emergency arises and the student in unable to take the examinations on the initially prescribed dates the student may complete the exams six weeks after the initial exam dates. If a student fails to take the exams on the initially prescribed dates and does not provide adequate justification for a change in dates he/she will be dropped from the PhD program. The Program Head will determine if justification for not taking the exam on the prescribed date is justified.

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 satisfactorily completed.  

Last Updated: July 30, 2012