Public Administration and Policy (Urbanism), PhD

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This cohort-based program prepares you to conduct theoretically informed research through the application of analytical social science methods to build knowledge, produce high-quality academic research and inform public action.

The PhD in public administration and policy is a theoretically grounded research degree program designed to prepare students for an academic career. The program is also appropriate for individuals who want to conduct high-level research and policy development in public and nonprofit agencies, foundations and research institutes. It is designed for students who seek full-time study.

The goal is to develop well-rounded, independent scholars who are grounded in the classic and current literatures of public administration and public policy, skilled in research methods, and ready to make a positive and important contribution to the field through teaching and research.

The doctoral program in public administration and policy with an urbanism concentration permits students to draw upon the extensive resources in urban affairs at ASU. As a result, these students are poised for success as productive and active scholars, researchers and teachers upon graduation.

The concentration in urbanism is a mechanism for organizing varied perspectives on urbanism into a collective body of scholarship. The study of public administration is enriched by grounding it in a comprehensive understanding of the characteristics of urban context and the dynamic forces that shape them. The concentration in urbanism leverages the varied interests in urbanism and helps emerging scholars as they attempt to compare, contrast and take stock of urbanism. Working with faculty from across a range of departments and programs at ASU, doctoral students are able to capture the creative tensions that scholarship on urbanism has inspired in order to stimulate a provocative, constructive kind of inquiry.

At A Glance

Public Administration and Policy (Urbanism), PhD

Plan of study

The Plan of study is the required curriculum to complete this graduate level program.

View Plan of Study

Degree requirements

Required Core (24 credit hours)
PAF 601 Advanced Public Policy Seminar (3)
PAF 602 Advanced Research Design for Public Policy and Management (3)
PAF 603 Advanced Economics for Public Administration and Public Policy (3)
PAF 604 Intellectual Foundations of Public Administration (3)
PAF 605 Organization Theory and Behavior Seminar (3)
PAF 609 Advanced Quantitative Methods Seminar (3)
PAF 610 Advanced Qualitative Methods for Public Affairs Research (3)
PAF 620 Public Administration Professional Development Workshop (3)

Concentration (3 credit hours)
GCU 516 Principles of Urbanism (3)

Urbanism Electives (9 credit hours)

Research (6 credit hours)
PAF 792 Research (6)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
PAF 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curriculum Information
When approved by the student's supervisory committee and the Graduate College, this program allows 30 credit hours from a previously awarded master's degree to be used for this degree.

Admission requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a master's degree, in a related field, from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework
  3. completed checklist
  4. written statement
  5. current resume or curriculum vitae
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. samples of research reports or papers
  8. scores on the GRE (verbal, quantitative, analytical)
  9. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL scores to be considered for admission regardless of current residency (the ASU institution code is 4007). This is true even for those who have a master's degree from a United States university. To be considered for admission to the doctoral program in public administration and policy, the applicant's minimum score on a traditional TOEFL test must be 600; the minimum score for a TOEFL iBT must be 100. Applicants with scores below the minimum are not considered. More on the English proficiency requirement is available at

The written statement of educational and career goals must include a discussion of research interests.

The letters of recommendation should be primarily from faculty members. All letters should address the candidate's capacity to successfully complete the doctoral program. They should assess the student's capacity for critical and analytic thought, ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing, and commitment to completion of the program.

Only GRE test scores from within the past five years are accepted, and analytical scores are considered in admission decisions.

All applicants are expected to have completed graduate level statistics and research methods classes before admission. Applicants also are expected to have sufficient formal coursework in public administration to pursue doctoral study in the field. Admitted students are required to take PAF 501, PAF 502, PAF 503, PAF 504, PAF 508 (or their equivalents) and statistics prior to beginning the doctoral core courses. Applicants who are not pursuing an MPA should not take these courses until they consult with the doctoral program director.

Applicants are admitted for fall only. Admission is competitive; a limited number of well qualified applicants are admitted each year. Students should see the program website for application deadlines.

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