Skills and Coursework

Students participating in the Crisis Simulation as part of the Master of Global Policy Studies curriculum

Skills and Coursework

Curriculum Overview

Students in the major receive a broad education in public affairs and gain the professional training to effectively advance the common good.

Our coursework will equip students with the skills and knowledge to confront complex societal challenges through innovative public policy solutions. 

Our curriculum integrates principles from multiple disciplines, including policy analysis, data analytics, communication and organizational management. This multidisciplinary approach ensures that students develop a comprehensive understanding of diverse perspectives and methodologies relevant to public affairs.

Students in discussion with a map during the Crisis Simulation

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Skills Development

The public affairs major prepares students for professional policy careers by building the following skills:

Policy Analysis

Knowing when to use quantitative or qualitative tools to analyze problems

Data Analytics

Understanding the intricacies of how to work with various forms of data


Discerning how to communicate concisely to specific policy audiences

Organizational Management

Leading, following and working effectively with others in professional settings

A student raises their hand in a classroom


Our curriculum is structured to align with workplace demands and evolving trends in public affairs. The public affairs major’s curriculum builds on three pillars: skills, subject matter expertise and specialization.

Total hours: 120 semester credit hours

Skills-based Coursework

These courses focus on the practical skills needed in the area of Public Affairs, providing a comprehensive curriculum in the following key areas:

  • Statistics
  • Quantitative Methods for Public Affairs
  • Qualitative Methods for Public Affairs
  • Communication for Public Affairs
  • Professional Development
  • Leadership Lab
  • Policy Simulation
Subject Matter Coursework

These courses build the pillar of substance in the major

  • Foundations of Public Affairs
  • Microeconomics
  • Economic Analysis of Public Affairs
  • Analysis of Policy Adoption and Implementation
Specialized Elective Coursework

In addition to the required coursework, students have the opportunity to delve deeper into policy areas of their choice through a robust selection of elective courses. Whether interested in health care, education, energy and the environment, national security, or housing, students can tailor their academic journey to align with their passions and career goals. 

A required minor or certificate program, along with additional elective courses, ensures that graduates emerge as well-rounded citizens with a comprehensive understanding of the broader context in which public affairs professionals operate. This holistic approach equips students with the versatility and insight needed to navigate and impact the complex landscape of public policy effectively.


Specialized Elective Coursework:

  • 5 Public Affairs courses among a list of topical courses on specific policy areas, or advanced policy analysis skills courses
  • 5-6 courses in other departments to complete any minor or certificate program at UT Austin, connecting the skills and substance gained through the major to the student’s broader academic experience
  • 9-10 completely freely chosen elective courses at UT Austin to round out the student’s undergraduate education
students walking on campus in burnt orange