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 60 credit hours.

Core Courses15
Urban Policy and Governance
Urban Economics
Urban Theory and Public Affairs
Special Topics in Urban and Public Affairs (Advanced Urban Studies)
Urban Experiential Learning
Required Field Area Courses9
Foundations of Public Administration
Introduction to Sustainability
Planning Theory and History
Required Methods Courses 19
Research Methods
Qualitative Methods
Advanced Methods Course (3 Credit Hours)
Field Area Courses9
Public Administration
Public Budgeting and Finance
Financial Management of Nonprofits
Public Management
Nonprofit Management
Urban Policy and Administration
Sustainability and the Natural Environment
Sustainable Social-Ecological Systems
Environmental Policy
Urban Planning
Land Use Planning
Urban Demography and GIS
Site Planning
Electives 16
UPA Elective Course (3 Credit Hours)
Social Justice-Related Elective Course (3 Credit Hours)
Dissertation Research
Minimum Total Hours60

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.