Urban and Public Affairs (PhD)


Admission Requirements

Students must complete the Online Graduate Application for admission and submit all original documents required for admission to the Graduate School.

The recommended qualifications for admission to the Urban and Public Affairs doctoral program are as follows:

  • Bachelor's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA (on 4.0 scale);
  • Master's degree with at least a 3.5 GPA (on a 4.0 scale);
  • GRE scores;  
  • All applicants for whom English is a second language must also submit official TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test, 213 or higher on the computer-based test. English proficiency can also be met by submitting official IELTS scores of at least 6.5 overall band score from the academic module exam or official Duolingo overall score of 105.  Students holding a bachelor's or advanced degree from an accredited institution in the United States may be exempt from this requirement;
  • A personal interview with members of the PhD Admissions Committee may be required for applicants not fully satisfying (normal) admissions requirements. Interviews will be conducted online. 

Applications must include:

  • All transcripts from all institutions attended;
  • A statement of purpose of approximately 1000-1500 words, describing the students' background, research interests in Urban and Public Affairs, and intended career goals;
  • At least two letters of recommendation (preferably from former  professors).

The program gives preference to applicants who intend to study full-time and who can be supported with financial aid (i.e., a Graduate Research Assistantship or a Fellowship). A few (exceptionally qualified) part-time students may be admitted if they can demonstrate they have very flexible schedules, can attend daytime courses, and can fully participate in program and department functions.

Students should consult the Program's Student Guide for additional details and requirements.


Fall Admissions Deadline: July 15 (before February 1 for a University Fellowship or a Graduate Assistantship)

Spring Admissions Deadline: November 15

Program Requirements

The PhD in Urban and Public Affairs consists of 48 credit hours.

Core Courses12
Urban Policy and Governance
Urban Economics
Urban Theory
Urban Experiential Learning
Required Methods Courses 112
Applied Research Methods
Research Design
Qualitative Methods
Advanced Methods Course (3 Credit Hours)
Field Area Courses12
Public Administration
Foundations of Public Administration
Policy Analysis and Program Evaluation
Leadership and Community Engagement
Cultural Competency and Action
Introduction to Sustainability
Sustainability and the Natural Environment
Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems
Environmental Policy
Urban Planning
Planning Theory & History
Urban Demography and GIS
Urban Design
Site Planning
Dissertation Research
Minimum Total Hours48

Doctoral Candidacy
After completing all required coursework, including twelve (12) credit hours of dissertation research, and passing the qualifying exam, each student is required to maintain continuous enrollment in DOCT 600 Doctoral Candidacy until they graduate.

Departmental Colloquia
The Department presents colloquia on a variety of urban-related topics 3-4 times per semester.  PhD student attendance at these meetings is required.


Courses require approval of the Program Director.