Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs The University of Texas at Dallas
The Ph.D. in Public Affairs program is a rigorous, research-oriented degree offered through the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.
The skills and knowledge gained in the Public Affairs doctoral program will allow students to interface between the traditions of public management, public policy, and organizations while providing a strong theoretical and a practical appreciation for the challenges of maintaining and building institutions of governance and civic culture in a complex democratic world.
The mission of the Ph.D. in Public Affairs program is to prepare students for research-oriented careers in academia, policy analysis, and 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 human resource management, nonprofit management, public policy, government finance, leadership, and organizational theory.
Through a faculty-guided program of instruction, research, and mentoring, students in the Public Affairs doctoral program develop a firm understanding of the broad intellectual tradition of public administration and related fields. The guiding philosophy of the degree is that "public affairs" involves more than merely 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 organizational theory with a practical appreciation for the challenges of maintaining and building institutions of governance and civic culture in a complex, democratic society.
The Ph.D. in Public Affairs begins as a cohort program where entering students remain together through the completion of a core curriculum and the qualifying examination. This structure produces shared experiences that enrich student learning and research.
The faculty of the Ph.D. program in Public Affairs is committed to assist students in meeting a set of clear and specific education- and research-related goals. The specific objectives for all graduates of the Ph.D. in Public Affairs program are to:
- Demonstrate Comprehensive Knowledge. Students will demonstrate their knowledge in core areas of public administration and management, including theoretical foundations of public administration, public policy, organization theory, budgeting, and governmental finance, and human capital.
- 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.
- Produce Scholarly Manuscripts and Publications. Students, as scholars, will have the ability to conduct research projects that use state-of-the-art methodologies to produce scholarly manuscripts that are worthy of publication in the journals of the field.
- 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.
The Ph.D. in Public Affairs requires the completion of at least 54 semester credit hours of coursework beyond a 36 semester credit hour Master's degree. The 54 credit hours should include a minimum of 45 semester credit hours of coursework, and a minimum of 9 semester credit hours of dissertation work.
Students who do not meet the 36 semester credit hours of Master's degree requirements will be required to take additional courses as directed by the Ph.D. advisor. Funded students will be required to take at least 9 semester credit hours per semester in order to retain funding, as in the case in any other semester during which funding is awarded.
Prior to enrolling in core classes for the Ph.D. program, students must have completed a master's degree in public affairs/administration or related field. In addition, students should have completed a graduate-level course in quantitative methods and a course in public institutions in the recent past. Students who do not meet either of these prerequisites should contact the Ph.D. advisor to discuss leveling courses they will need to take prior to beginning the Ph.D. program. The leveling courses will not count toward the degree plan.
Students must pass the Qualifying Exam to continue in the Ph.D. program. This exam is based on materials from the following four courses: (1) PA 7306 Foundations of Public Affairs, (2) PA 7330 Research Design in Public Affairs, (3) PA 7314 Advanced Policy Process, Implementation and Evaluation, and (4) PA 7350 Advanced Organizational Theory and Behavior. The exam will be administered once a year, near the close of the spring semester.
Students must have a grade of B or better in each of the four exam-related courses to be eligible to sit for the exam. Students who do not meet this requirement may choose to leave the program or repeat a course to earn a better grade (only one course may be repeated). Students are encouraged to review the University's Retaking Courses Policy. Students retaking an exam-related course are required to enroll in the course in the next semester it is offered. Students will not be permitted to enroll in courses outside the doctoral core curriculum until the successful completion of the Qualifying Exam.
If a student fails any section of the exam, he or she will be given the opportunity to retake the failed section(s). The retake exam can be taken no sooner than two months after the student receives the written results of the first examination, and no later than one year after the first examination. If the student passes the retake exam he or she may continue in the program. If the student fails any part of the retake exam or does not successfully complete the retake exam he or she will be dismissed from the program. Under no circumstances will a third examination be allowed.
Only under extreme, documented circumstances will a student be allowed to reschedule the Qualifying Exam. If an emergency arises, the student must notify the program head within 12 semester credit hours of the scheduled exam and request to take a rescheduled exam. If approved, the exam will be rescheduled within 2 weeks of the original exam date.
Required Courses and Dissertation:
54 semester credit hours beyond 36 semester credit hours of Master's degree credit (90 graduate semester credit hours total)
Required courses fall into three categories: core, research methods, and electives.
*** Indicates the four (4) courses included in the required qualifying examination taken following the first two semesters of coursework.
I. Public Affairs Core: 21 semester credit hours
- PA 7305 Leadership and Change in Public and Nonprofit Organizations
- PA 7306 Foundations of Public Affairs***
- PA 7314 Advanced Policy Process, Implementation, and Evaluation***
- PA 7320 Advanced Human Capital Research and Theory
- PA 7350 Advanced Organizational Theory and Behavior***
- PA 7360 Advanced Fiscal and Budgetary Policy
- PA 7375 Nonprofit Organizations: Theory and Practice
II. Research Methods: 9 semester credit hours
- PA 7330 Research Design in Public Affairs***
- EPPS 6316 Applied Regression*
- or EPPS 7316 Regression and Multivariate Analysis**
- Choose ONE course from the following:
- EPPS 6346 Qualitative Research Orientation
- EPPS 7344 Categorical and Limited Dependent Variables
- EPPS 7370 Time Series Analysis I
- EPPS 7386 Survey Research
- EPPS 7390 Bayesian Analysis for Social and Behavioral Sciences
III. Electives: 15 semester credit hours
Students are required to complete 15 semester credit hours of approved electives. Of the 15 semester credit hours, a minimum of 9 semester credit hours have to be from a PA course and the remaining 6 semester credit hours can be taken in PA/EPPS or another program on campus. This is subject to the approval of the Ph.D. advisor or the student's committee chair.
IV. Dissertation Research: minimum of 9 semester credit hours
To complete the Public Affairs doctoral program, a student must successfully defend their dissertation. The student will select a dissertation chair and a supervising committee to advise them through the research component of the doctoral requirement.
The dissertation is an original work initiated and completed by the doctoral candidate that demonstrates research competence and substantially adds to the knowledge in the candidate's field. The three-paper option is permitted when it is composed of a set of articles that together represent a significant and coherent contribution to our knowledge in the field of Public Affairs.
Regardless of the option selected, after a student completes the required courses, they must enrol in PA 8V99 (Dissertation) every spring and fall semester until they complete and defend their dissertation. The final dissertation defence is completed when the student's dissertation chair and supervising committee agree that the research has been satisfactorily completed.
* Presumes algebra.
** Presumes calculus.
Graduates of the program seek positions such as professor, researcher, and policy advisor in the government sector.
Graduates of the Ph.D. program will be prepared for research-oriented careers in academia, policy analysis, executive public, and nonprofit management.
English Language Requirements
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