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Master of Public Affairs Specializations

A total of 15 credit hours is necessary to receive certification. Twelve course hours from LBJ flexible core, electives, plus the PR constitute the coursework necessary. Electives may come from both LBJ and non-LBJ course offerings.

Declaring Your Specialization

Students declare a specialization by submitting the MPAff Specialization Declaration Form to the Graduate Program Coordinator in the final semester of study.

Specialization Courses

Consult the faculty coordinator of your proposed specialization to determine which 'elective' courses may count toward the satisfactory completion of the specialization track.

Non-LBJ Electives

Specialization electives chosen from other UT departments must be approved by the faculty coordinator. Use the "Request to Enroll in a Non-LBJ Course" form. Attach all supporting documentation required and turn in the form to the coordinator's administrative assistant. Historical lists are available on the LBJ School's Current Student advising site.

Specialization Descriptions

International Affairs

Faculty coordinator: Kenneth Flamm
The International Affairs Specialization of the Master of Public Affairs program provides LBJ School students the tools and expert knowledge to prepare them for careers in public affairs in our increasingly globalized world, helping them understand the inter-governmental, cross-cultural, and global non-governmental aspects of policy problems. It helps students to understand and solve the challenges presented by local and regional policy issues in countries around the world and builds skills in policy advice and implementation, for example for students who want to work in local policy and public management but not necessarily in the U.S. context. Of course, in our contemporary, globalized world, even seemingly "purely local" issues often spill over to affect other jurisdictions, and the solutions to many local policy and governance problems require attention to broader global perspectives. Issues fall along a continuum that runs all the way to inherently global issues like climate change, so LBJ School students in the MPAff program are welcome to take courses from the Master of Global Policy Studies program as part of this specialization. The flexible curriculum can include courses in national security; international economics, energy and environment; conflict management; political and economic development; and international and non-governmental organizations.

The International Affairs Specialization will host a series of discussions on current topics in international affairs. International affairs faculty will lead many of the sessions, beginning with a short presentation and a set of discussion questions for the group. At other sessions, invited guests will lead the discussions, often based on short selections of their written work that will be circulated in advance. All sessions should be very interactive; they will not be lectures. The entire LBJ School community is invited to participate, but those students pursuing the international affairs specialization are especially strongly encouraged to come.

Natural Resources and the Environment

Faculty coordinator: Varun Rai
The Natural Resources and the Environment specialization provides coursework to support students interested in air, water or land management; energy policy; or minerals policy in the government, nonprofit or for-profit sectors. Courses typically address the relation among humans, other living creatures, and the earth and its chemical, physical and geological processes. This specialization encourages graduate students to use technical, economic, and political information to be effective in policy analysis and policy making within local, regional, state or federal arenas. The specialization builds on the LBJ School common core and flexible core courses and adds four components: five 3-credit-hour courses; a professional report in this area; some field experience; and an oral presentation of research.

Nonprofit and Philanthropic Studies

Faculty coordinator: David Springer
The mission of the Nonprofit and Philanthropic Studies Specialization is to prepare graduates of the LBJ School for leadership positions in nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations.

Students will acquire skills and knowledge in the three pillars of civil society studies:

Nonprofit Studies:
Attention is given to the historical development, management, structure, and operation of nonprofit organizations. The importance of a mission-focus, as well as the legal, ethical, and philosophical underpinnings of the nonprofit sector, combined with analytic and policy issues, are of critical importance in this field of practice.

Courses review the types of philanthropic and charitable organizations, their operational practices, and the legal and philosophic issues that arise from their existence and activities.

Volunteerism and Community Service:
Students explore the role of volunteers and national service participants as agents of advocacy and change, governance and policy development, and service delivery. The role of volunteers, and general community activism within a democracy, as well as the management of volunteers are critical dimensions of this goal area.

Public Management and Leadership

Faculty coordinator: Kevin Bacon
The mission of the Public Management and Leadership Specialization is to enhance the ability of graduates of the LBJ School to manage and lead ethically and effectively in public organizations. Our target audience is students who intend to pursue managerial or staff positions in these organizations. The specialization will provide students with an understanding about the key characteristics of both formal and informal organizations, the nature of bureaucracies, and the role of the individuals in organizations. The coursework is designed to develop overall skills of leadership and management as well as specific knowledge and skills in various aspects of management and leadership.

The management components include strategic planning; managing human resources; budgeting and financial planning; resource acquisition; accounting, reporting, and others forms of accountability; program evaluation; auditing; financial analysis; procurement; information management; and financial and administrative controls.

In the area of ethical leadership the components include: understanding and influencing individuals; forming and leading work teams; organizational and national culture; leading change; establishing a compelling and meaningful vision; creating and maintaining an ethical work environment; developing oneself and others for leadership; communicating clearly and persuasively; thinking critically, analyzing complex and diverse concepts, and using reasoning, judgment and imagination in complex new leadership situations; using power and influence; motivating others; and resolving conflicts.

Social and Economic Policy

Faculty coordinator: Cynthia Osborne
The specialization in Social and Economic Policy encompasses substantive areas of inquiry related to social policy, economic policy, and the intersection between the two. The certificate program is intended for LBJ School master’s students who have central interests in problems of health, education, and welfare as they relate to inequality, segregation, security, justice, population aging, immigration processes, gender, and labor market segmentation in the United States. It addresses a broad range of critical social issues confronting communities in the context of economic globalization.

Among the topics covered in the courses that count toward this specialization are health care policy, poverty policy; gender and health, politics of health, border health, poverty, American social policy, global health, civil rights and race, criminal justice policy, education policy, labor and workforce policy, family policy, housing and community development, central banking and politics, fiscal and intergovernmental issues, trade and economic integration, policies in an aging population, and urban and regional economics.

Students are required to complete 15 credit hours to receive certification. These include 12 course hours from LBJ School flexible core and electives, plus 3 course hours for the Professional Report. Electives may come from both LBJ School and non-LBJ School course offerings.

Technology, Innovation, and Information Policy

Faculty coordinator: Kenneth Flamm
Policy areas this specialization covers include research and development; the application of technology to economic and social needs (including energy, the environment, health, education, and national security); innovation; high tech industrial development; technology-oriented development strategies; intellectual property, information, and information security policy; distribution and dissemination of digital information and cultural content; technology as a tool in governance; community and regional development; and effects of technology on social, economic, and political outcomes.

LBJ-affiliated faculty available to read PRs include Auerbach, Flamm, Gholz, Greenberg, Inman, Slatin, Spence, Stolp, and Wilson. Faculty in other schools offering courses approved for this area, and available to work with LBJ students include Doty (Information), Strover (Communications), Moore (Architecture), Oden (Architecture), and Allison (Business). Several LBJ School faculty are associated with the UT Graduate Portfolio Program in Communication, Information, and Cultural Policy, and most courses offered through this portfolio program will also count toward the LBJ TIIP specialization area. (See Professors associated with this portfolio program who may also be available to serve on PRs include Dempster, Daly, Sinha, Stein, Dillon, Harmon, Phillips, and Straubhaar. A number of LBJ faculty work with the IC2 Institute, which provides some resources supplementing LBJ activities in this area. Information on the IC2 Institute may be found at

Urban and State Affairs

Faculty coordinator: Sherri Greenberg
The LBJ School of Public Affairs recognizes the importance of urban and state affairs through its teaching, research, and outreach activities. In the Urban and State Affairs Specialization, students have the opportunity to study the public policy and governance issues in the cities and regions of Texas, the U.S., and abroad and thereby prepare themselves for professional careers in the public and non-governmental sectors. Students in this specialization may wish to avail themselves of courses in the Community and Regional Planning Program and the Department of Geography. There are several research units at the LBJ School and elsewhere on campus that conduct research on urban and state affairs.