The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs is designed to prepare graduates to advance research and theory by exploring topics at the leading edge of public affairs. To achieve this goal, the program builds on a set of four foundational core courses that explore the intellectual history of public administration, the principal theories of public organizational theory and behavior, the public policy process, including policy formulation and implementation, and advanced public policy analysis. Students will appreciate and apply an understanding of social, economic, political, and technological factors that shape governance through formal and informal processes and actions.
The program matches the career goals of students through the interdisciplinary nature of course content, the interaction with faculty, and the flexibility inherent in the choice of program concentrations and electives. Those seeking advancement within public agencies or nonprofit organizations can choose a mix of electives, including course work from other UCF programs, while those seeking to teach at the college or university level will focus on specialization courses within their discipline.
More specifically, the graduates of this doctoral program will demonstrate the ability to: 1) attain and apply knowledge and understanding of the complex relationships that characterize public affairs and policy; 2) conduct and lead original research, 3) become professional individuals either in academia or in other positions related to public administration, public affairs, and policy.
Students enrolled in the Doctoral Program in Public Affairs will have the opportunity to choose from one of nine specialization areas. Suggested areas of specialization are comprised of graduate courses offered by the university’s existing graduate degree programs. When pursuing electives intended for master’s level students, doctoral students are expected to complete additional readings and assignments in addition to those required for master’s students enrolled in those courses. Students complete four recommended courses (twelve credit hours) for their chosen specialization (substitutions will be allowed with the approval of the program director, and students may create their own specialization with advance approval from the program director) and six credit hours of directed research in which the student conducts independent research in their anticipated dissertation topic with their advisor. Students should note that the concentrations identified below are exemplary and not exclusive.
The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs’ specialization areas include but are not limited to:
- Public Policy Analysis
- Public Budgeting & Finance
- Public Management
- Urban Policy
- Emergency Management
- Nonprofit Management
- Collaborative Governance
- Comparative Public Administration
- Community and Global Health Services Research
For detailed explanations pertaining to each specialization, please visit the Doctoral Program in Public Affairs’ program page at: https://ccie.ucf.edu/public-administration/public-affairs-phd/
The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs offers prospective applicants who do not have a graduate degree the opportunity to apply to the Public Affairs PhD - Public Administration MPA Dual Degree Track.
The Public Affairs PhD - Public Administration MPA Dual Degree Track provides academically talented students an opportunity to earn the Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs and the Master of Public Administration degrees concurrently. Students successfully completing the PhD/MPA Dual Degree program will have the skills and analytical techniques for careers in academia or in the public and nonprofit sectors. After successful completion of the PhD/MPA Dual Degree program, students will receive two diplomas, one for the Public Administration MPA degree and one for the Public Affairs PhD degree.
Students seeking admission to the PhD/MPA Dual Degree program should apply directly to the Public Affairs PhD - Public Administration MPA Dual Degree Track. Only one application will be required. If admitted, students will be active in both the Public Administration MPA and the Public Affairs PhD programs but will be required to complete all coursework for the MPA program prior to starting any coursework required for the PhD program.
Earned Master's degree in public administration or a closely-related discipline, including but not limited to political science, economics, management, public policy, criminal justice, social work, or public health.
Required Core Courses
24 Total Credits
12 Total Credits
- Complete the following:
- PAD7006 - Intellectual History of Public Administration (3)
- PAD7016 - Public Policy Processes and Theory (3)
- PAD7106 - Public Organization Theory and Behavior (3)
- PAD7308 - Advanced Public Policy Analysis (3)
12 Total Credits
- Complete the following:
- PAD7706 - Advanced Research Design for Public Administration and Policy (3)
- PAD7701 - Quantitative Methods for Public Administration & Policy I (3)
- PAD7756 - Quantitative Methods for Public Administration and Policy II (3)
- PAD7709 - Advanced Qualitative Methods for Public Administration and Policy (3)
Area of Specialization
18 Total Credits
- Earn at least 18 credits from the following types of courses: Suggested areas of specialization are comprised of graduate courses offered by the School of Public Administration's existing graduate degree programs. Doctoral students are expected to complete additional readings and assignments in addition to those required for Master's students enrolled in those courses. Students complete four recommended courses for their chosen specialization (substitutions will be allowed with the approval of the program director, and students may create their own specialization with advance approval from the program director) and 6 credit hours of directed research in which the student conducts independent research in the area of their anticipated dissertation topic with their advisor. The concentrations identified below are exemplary and not exclusive. It is important to note that many students interested in pursuing a research career will find it necessary to supplement the quantitative methods sequence with additional coursework in analytic methods or public economics, which may also be provided through the directed study courses in consultation with the program director and their dissertation chair. Concentrations include but are not limited to: - Public Policy Analysis - Public Budgeting & Finance - Public Management - Urban Policy - Emergency Management - Nonprofit Management - Collaborative Governance - Comparative Public Administration See "Program Details" section below for suggested course sets
15 Total Credits
- Earn at least 15 credits from the following types of courses: PAF 7980 Doctoral candidates must enroll in PAF 7980 Doctoral Dissertation continuously (including summers) until they defend their Dissertation. Students are not permitted to register in more than 9 dissertation credit hours in any given semester and must take at least three credit hours. Students who have met the 15-credit hour dissertation requirement and have not defended their Dissertation must continue to register in subsequent semesters to meet the UCF College of Graduate Studies requirement of continuous enrollment; at which point, students can enroll in one credit hour each semester. The dissertation demonstrates the candidate’s ability to select and masterfully approach an issue in their respective field by conducting independent research, analyzing, and interpreting results, and placing the study and its findings into a larger context. The defense also establishes the candidate’s capability to skillfully communicate this process and its results. Each completed dissertation must be defended before a committee of the graduate faculty. Most of the committee members must approve dissertations. The determination is by vote of the committee. Where a determination is made that revisions are necessary, members can withhold signing the dissertation until additional modifications have been completed or leave it to the discretion of the Chair. Students must submit their final dissertation to the College of Graduate Studies once their committee has signed off.
0 Total Credits
- Committee: The committee must include the prospective chair of the student's dissertation committee and three other members selected by the chair in consultation with the student. During or prior to the semester during which completion of the qualifying examination is anticipated, students must select a dissertation committee (3 members from the public administration faculty, one of whom will serve as chair, plus an outside member). This committee will oversee the qualifying examination, dissertation proposal, and dissertation. Core Exam: Once the first year of Core Courses is complete, students are required to complete a written core examination. The core examination will be integrative, with each substantive core course represented. The examination is a collective exercise, with all eligible students sitting for the examination simultaneously. Examinations will be scored by a faculty committee as Fail, Pass, or High Pass. Students who do not receive pass or high pass scores on the examination will be required to stand for a supplemental oral examination. The first year of coursework will consist of the following courses: PAD 7006 Intellectual History of Public Administration, PAD 7016 Public Policy Processes & Theory, PAD 7308 Advanced Public Policy Analysis, and PAD 7106 Public Organizational Theory & Behavior. Qualifying Examination: All students are required to stand for the Qualifying Examination at the completion of their course of study, prior to defending a prospectus and entering candidacy for the degree. The qualifying examination is an individual exercise, scheduled individually with the student’s dissertation chair and committee. The qualifying examination shall consist of an oral defense before the student’s committee of three publication-quality papers: one literature review, one conceptual paper developing theory in an area, and one empirical paper in which the student demonstrates their proficiency in research methods to answer a research question of their choosing. The qualifying examination is an individual exercise, tailored to each student’s interests. The final grading for qualifying exams will consist of a score of “High Pass” “Pass” or “Fail.” All students will have two opportunities to pass the core and qualifying exams. Students must pass each component of each examination. Any student failing any portion of either exam twice will be dismissed from the program with no opportunity for re-admittance to the PAF program.
0 Total Credits
- Students can officially obtain candidacy status when they have passed the core and qualifying exams, formed their Dissertation committee, have no more than six required courses remaining electives included, and all required paperwork has been completed and submitted. In addition, students admitted to their UCF doctoral program in Fall 2011 or a later term must complete all CITI Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training. Once they have obtained Candidacy status, students can register for dissertation hours. Students officially enter candidacy when the following work has been accomplished: 1. Pass Core and Qualifying Exams 2. Form an appropriate Dissertation Committee by the established university deadline: 1. Chair (Graduate Faculty member who is eligible to chair a dissertation committee) 2. Minimum of four committee members (all must hold a Graduate Faculty or Graduate Faculty Scholar appointment) 3. At least three, and a majority of the committee, must be members of the Graduate Faculty 4. At least one member must be from outside the department (or college, if a college-wide program) 5. At least one member must have served previously on a thesis or dissertation committee that graduated a student, either at UCF or at another accredited institution. If the Chair does not have this experience, another graduate faculty member who has this experience may serve in this role as Vice-Chair. Under certain circumstances (see page 2), a graduate faculty scholar who has previous committee experience may serve as Vice-Chair. 3. Have no more than 6 total credit hours of coursework remaining (including electives) 4. Complete all required RCR Workshops and CITI Integrity Trainings. 5. Complete PAF Notification of Doctoral Candidacy form.
Grand Total Credits: 57
For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.
The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs will be open to applicants with an earned Master's degree in public administration or a closely-related discipline, including but not limited to political science, economics, management, public policy, criminal justice, social work, or public health. The program encourages applicants with diverse academic backgrounds, with preference given to those with grounding in the policy or administrative sciences drawing from fields aligned with the previously mentioned Ph.D. program concentrations.
Admission to the Doctoral Program in Public Affairs is granted on a competitive basis. Meeting minimum admission standards does not guarantee program admissions. Final admission is based on the evaluation of the applicant's abilities, past performance, recommendations, match to the program, correspondence of the applicant's career and academic interests with those of the core and affiliated faculty, and potential for completing the degree and making a significant contribution to Public Administration and Policy fields.
In addition to UCF's Admission Standards, the program requires applicants to meet the following requirements:
- One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended for both bachelors and master's degrees showing a GPA of 3.5 or better in both degrees.
- Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years, is required by all applicants applying to the Ph.D. program (UCF's Institutional Code is 5233);
- A personal statement of 1000 words or less describing the applicant's educational expectations, career aspirations, any special qualifications or experiences that may enhance the overall learning environment, and the reasons for pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Affairs. The statement should also indicate how the applicant's research and career interests fit with those of the current faculty;
- Three letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can assess the applicant's ability to succeed in a research-oriented doctoral program;
- A current resume;
- At least one writing sample, i.e., academic paper, report, etc.
- Evidence of adequate background in Calculus.
- In addition to official transcripts and certification of degrees, a course-by-course credential evaluation with GPA calculation is required of all students who have attended a college/university outside the United States. UCF accepts transcript evaluations from the following two agencies only: Josef Silny and Associates, Inc, or World Education Services (WES).
- International students, except those who are from countries where English is the only official language, those who have earned a degree from a regionally accredited US college or university, or those who have earned a degree from a country where English is the only official language of instruction, are required to submit a score on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Although we prefer the TOEFL, we will also accept International English Testing System (IELTS) scores. Students who are non-native speakers of English (and do not have a degree from a U.S. institution) must pass the English Speaking test administered by the UCF English Institute before they will be permitted to teach as a Graduate Teaching Associate or Graduate Teaching Assistant.
|Public Affairs PhD ||*Fall Priority ||Fall ||Spring ||Summer |
|Domestic Applicants ||Jan 15 ||Feb 1 || || |
|International Applicants ||Jan 15 ||Jan 15 || || |
*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.
Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.
Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student's graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.