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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: Paul Battaglio, Simon Fass, Doug Goodman, and Jeremy L. Hall
Assistant Professors: Young-Joo Lee and Meghna Sabharwal
Clinical Professors: Donald Arbuckle, Calvin Jamison, Robert Whelan
Clinical Associate Professor: Wendy
Clinical Assistant Professor: Kimberly Aaron, Karen Jarrell, Nick
Senior Lecturers: Ted Benavides


The Master of Public Affairs program advances excellence in public service. The program accomplishes this mission through three sets of activities aimed at preparing its students to serve as capable and ethical stewards of the common good. It imparts essential knowledge, competencies and perspectives to a diverse array of future and current professionals in government and nonprofit organizations. It supports the wider community though in-service professional and leadership training, and through policy and management analysis services. And it produces new knowledge through practice-centered research.


The Master’s degree in Public Affairs is a professional diploma that focuses on skills of management and analysis that contribute to successful carrying out of administrative and leadership responsibilities in government and nonprofit settings. The specific outcome objectives for students who graduate with the MPA degree are:

         Firm understanding of the philosophical, theoretical and legal foundations of public management, policy making, and leadership in government and nonprofit settings;

         Proficiency in organizational and decision analysis, research and evaluation practice, and quantitative and qualitative techniques;

         Sound preparation for advanced study aimed at research centers; and

         Mastery of persuasive written and oral communication.


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 to attract and admit highly motivated students with strong records of academic performance from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The program draws from mid-career professionals and from the pool of recent college graduates alike to create a diverse and capable pool of students with a desire to contribute to public service. The minimum requirement for admission to the MPA program is a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Students’ records are evaluated across several performance dimensions in making admission decisions. In accord with Chapter 51, of the Texas Education Code, decisions on admission to degree-granting graduate programs at U. T. Dallas are based on holistic considerations of all information contained in the application material submitted, including academic, career and personal histories. Standardized test scores and GPA levels cited in the catalog descriptions of some degree programs are listed for advisory purposes only, to indicate the typical achievement levels of students enrolled and succeeding in the various programs. No single quantitative or qualitative measure or any specific combination thereof, constitutes a definitive standard for admission. Rather, each application will be considered individually and each applicant’s complete profile of strengths and prospects for successful completion of the program will be evaluated.

In general, students who have 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 submit the 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 also submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation and a one-page essay outlining the applicant’s background, education, and professional objectives. Students who fail to meet these standards may be admitted on a probationary basis until they demonstrate their capabilities in graduate level course work.

To be guaranteed consideration for admission, fall applications must be received by August 1. Applications for spring admission must be received by December 1. Any incomplete application received after these dates will not be considered for admission during the designated semester. Students who do not meet this deadline must reapply for the following semester.


While there are no specific prerequisites required for any MPA course, students who lack background in particular areas may be advised or required to take preparatory courses. In particular, students who lack background or experience in mathematics and micro computing may be required to develop proficiency in these areas before being admitted into certain courses. Students meet with the Assistant Program Head for Advising and Enrollment to determine these requirements.

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, 12 hours of directed electives within a chosen specialization and the 3 hour Capstone seminar (Policy Research Workshop in Public Affairs: CAPSTONE). For students without evidence of at least 12 months full time managerial experience in the public or nonprofit sectors, 3 hours of internship credit are also mandatory. Students for whom the internship requirement is waived must complete an additional 3 hours of approved elective coursework.

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 (24 hours)

PA 6313 Public Policymaking and Institutions
PA 7317 Economics for Public Policy or PA 6342 Local Economic Development
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

Elective Courses (12 hours)

Students not wishing to complete a professional specialization must complete 12 hours of elective coursework in addition to the core courses, capstone and internship. 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.

Professional Specialization Core Courses

Specialization tracks include: Public Management, Local Government Management, Nonprofit Management, and Policy Analysis.

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 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 an additional elective course approved by the MPA Director.

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.

Capstone (3 hours)

The capstone in public affairs is the culminating experience for graduating MPA students. Students integrate knowledge from across the MPA curriculum in a faculty-directed semester-long applied research project (PA 7v62 Policy Research Workshop in Public Affairs: CAPSTONE). This required 3 hour seminar should be taken in the semester in which the student intends to graduate.

Internship (3 hours)

3 hours of internship credit (PA 8v97) are required for completion of the MPA. 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 20-hour per week time commitment to the work experience for a total of 300 internship contact hours during the semester. The objective of the internship is to provide an introduction to professional life and to establish sound approaches to the practice of public affairs. For students with evidence of at least 12 months full time managerial experience in the public or nonprofit sectors, 3 hours of internship credit may be waived at the discretion of the MPA director. Students who wish to seek the internship waiver must submit a formal written request to the MPA Director that includes a letter documenting the duration of their experience and its relevance to public or nonprofit management. This request must be approved no later than the student’s penultimate semester in the program. Students for whom the internship requirement is waived must complete an additional 3 hours of approved elective coursework in lieu of the internship.

Last Updated: September 28, 2011