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Program at a Glance

College of Community Innovation and Education
Public Administration, Schl of
U.S. News & World Report Best Grad Schools Public Affairs Badge

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.

Specialization Areas:
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:

Program Tracks

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.

Application Deadlines

February 1
January 15

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