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School of Urban and Public Affairs

School of Urban and Public Affairs

Ph.D. in Public and Urban Administration

Program Overview

student in the urban design center

The Ph.D. program in Public and Urban Administration (PUAD) is based on a unique interdisciplinary approach to preparing students for a variety of academic, research and senior public management positions in educational institutions, public and nonprofit organizations. It provides students theoretical and applied knowledge concerning policy and administration. The PUAD also stresses interdisciplinary courses given SUPA’s mission and multiple programs and students have considerable flexibility in choosing their specialty/emphasis. Faculty specializations include economic and community development, education, environmental, transportation and welfare policies, intergovernmental relations, organizational structure and change and public finance/budgeting. PUAD graduates predominately either seek an advanced credential beyond the MPA for their current or prospective job (about 2/3 of students) or to start a teaching career at a regional or national university offering public administration (about 1/3 of students).

Degree Requirements

Students are required to complete a specific set of eight courses, listed below, that comprise the core curriculum. Descriptions of these courses are available in the UTA Graduate Catalog ( Equal weight is given to Urban Policy and Urban Administration with the goal of integrating policy with administration. The eight core courses address the social sciences and public administration literature critical to the integrative approach of the program. A student can expect to complete these courses in no more than two academic years. These courses contain the foundation knowledge over which students are tested in the written comprehensive examination. Students are also required to take nine hours of coursework in research methods. The courses concern theory and theory construction, research design, and quantitative and qualitative research methods. Students also declare an emphasis of six hours chosen to enhance their particular research focus in consultation with their advisor.

All doctoral students must pass written examinations (comprehensives) and complete a dissertation.


Public and Urban Administration Required Core Courses (24 hours):
  • URPA 6315 Theories of Public Administration
  • URPA 6320 Advanced Organization Theory
  • URPA 6326 Budgeting and Finance
  • URPA 6349 Decision Making and Public Policy Analysis
  • URPA 5304 The Urban Political System
  • URPA 5305 Theories of Urban Society
  • URPA 5306 The Urban Economy
  • URPA 5311 Social Policy Formation

Required Methods Courses (9 hours):

  • URPA 5342 Strategies of Urban Research (also offered as CIRP 5317)
  • URPA 5344/CIRP 5346 Qualitative Methods
  • URPA 6301 Theoretical Foundations and Ph.D. Workshop (also offered as CIRP 6301. Taken as course leading to writing the dissertation proposal.)

Emphasis (6 hours; sample courses shown):

  • URPA 5323 Public Organizational Change
  • URPA 5351 Personnel and Human Resources in the Public Sector

Comprehensive Exam and Dissertation

After completion of all coursework, students must take a written comprehensive exam. After successful passage of the comprehensive exam, students work with a dissertation committee towards developing a dissertation proposal and present the proposal to the committee. During the dissertation proposal presentation the student must demonstrate extensive knowledge of the literature on which the work is to be based as well as a thorough understanding of the research methodology.

A successful completion of the dissertation proposal advances the student to the status of candidacy. Work continues with the dissertation committee to the completion of the dissertation. The student then defends the completed research to the committee. 

For more information, see Dissertation.

Enhanced Graduate Teaching Assistantship and Doctoral Teaching Fellowship Packages

Enhanced Graduate Teaching Assistantship and Doctoral Teaching Fellowship packages are available on a competitive basis to students beginning their first semester of study in UT Arlington doctoral or doctoral-bound programs. These five-year packages may consist of some combination of Enhanced Graduate Teaching Assistantships (EGTAs) with full tuition fellowships and grant-funded research assistantships that may include some tuition coverage. Requirements include 50% graduate teaching assistantship, full-time enrollment, and unconditional admission. Interested students should contact David Coursey for more information.