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Ph.D. in Public Policy Program Admissions

Admissions and Deadline

The admissions application for the fall semester opens by September 1st.  The review process occurs in early January when the LBJ School's Doctoral Admissions Committee reviews completed files and admitting applicants. The deadline for receipt of applications is December 1. Early application is advised. Spring applications are not accepted.

Admissions Requirements

Applications are invited from individuals with superior academic records and a demonstrated commitment to public policy research. Professional work experience is recommended. Only candidates who are judged to have the motivation and intellectual potential for sustained and sophisticated policy research will be admitted to the program. An applicant's record must also show significant likelihood he or she will complete the Ph.D. program within four to five years. A master's degree or its equivalent (for example, JD) is required for admission.

A number of considerations (in no particular order) consistently prove to be highly desirable in making positive admissions decisions:

  1. interdisciplinary research abilities;
  2. intellectual curiosity and wherewithal;
  3. strong background in the social sciences;
  4. good graduate-level training in research methods and statistics;
  5. a coherent research plan;
  6. a clear vision of how the resources available at the University of Texas and the LBJ School are particularly suited to realizing that research plan;
  7. proficiency in written and oral expression in English.
  8. In addition, the admissions committee finds helpful a statement from the applicant regarding his or her medium to long-term career goals and how a doctorate will assist in achieving those goals.

Application Process

The application process varies depending on the applicant's current status.

  • If you have never been enrolled in a graduate program at The University of Texas at Austin, go to the ApplyTexas application and follow the instructions.
  • If you are currently enrolled in a graduate program at UT Austin, you will apply only to the LBJ School. You must follow the instructions for a "Change of Graduate Major".

Supplemental Application Materials and Documents

All supplemental documents must be uploaded to the applicant's file here or here.  Applicants will have access to these pages after the online application or Change of Major form is submitted.  Documents can not be deleted once they are submitted, so it is important that the content and format of the documents are in their final versions. Applications are processed electronically, so sending ANY materials in by paper mail will cause a significant delay in processing your application.

1.  Transcripts: 1) Obtain an original paper transcript from your previous 4-year institutions (2-year college transcripts are not required). Transcripts from US colleges or universities must have been produced by the sending institution within the past calendar year. 2) Scan your transcript and upload it to your application 3) Keep your original transcript. If admitted, you will need to mail the original transcript(s) that matches the one(s) you scanned and uploaded to your application. The scanned file must be in PDF format. Please read the detailed instructions available on the GIAC webpage. NOTE: It is highly recommended to send your transcripts through the online uploading system described above. Paper transcripts will cause a significant delay in processing your application. Electronic grade reports from your previous institution's website are not acceptable. They must be scanned copies of the original paper transcript. 

2.  Required Test Scores: The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants. Information about taking the GRE is available from the Educational Testing Service. When taking your exam(s) you should indicate that you want the results sent to the University of Texas at Austin. The University of Texas code is 6882. The university will accept either the old GRE or the new format, which will be administered beginning in August 2011. The LBJ School admissions committee uses percentile scores in their evaluations, so submitting a score from the new exam will have no effect on your application.

  • International students whose native language is not English are also required to submit the Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL), unless they graduated from a four-year college or university in the United States or other English speaking country. The LBJ School does not accept the IELTS test. Information about the TOEFL is available here.
  • International applicants may be contacted to schedule a telephone interview as part of the admissions process, at the discretion and expense of the LBJ School.

Note: GRE score results must be fewer than five years old at the time of submission to be considered valid. TOEFL scores must be fewer than two years old at the time of submission. More information regarding required tests can be found here.

3.  Letters of Recommendation: Three recommendation letters are required. When completing the online application you will have an opportunity to provide the names and email addresses of your recommenders. Upon submission of your application, your recommenders will be sent an email which contains information for them to submit their letters through an electronic system or to directly upload their written letter to your application file. Additional recommenders may be added by visiting the Application Status Check page. Click on the link that says "Manage your recommendation requests", which is located under all of your recommenders names.  If you failed to enter your recommenders' names and email addresses on the online application, you must do so by sending an email with that information to Alternatively, recommenders may submit their letters directly to the LBJ School via email ( or by postal mail. These two methods are not recommended as they may cause an extensive delay in processing your application.

4.  Current resume or CV: Upload your current resume or CV here. The system will only accept documents that are in PDF format. You should include your name and page number on each page of your resume.

5.  Statement of Purpose Essay: Your essay should be uploaded to your online file using the same method described for the resume/CV.  Do not submit your essay using the application form. A document in standard essay format is required. There are no specific, strict formatting requirements (font, length, spacing, etc.), but please try to keep it under the equivalent of three double-spaced pages in normal 12-point font.

6.  A proposed program of study of no more than 2 single-spaced pages identifying specific areas of research, potential dissertation topics, types of courses that would fit into your overall plan, and the works of individual professors that seem most relevant to your policy interests; uploaded by applicant. Upload this document in PDF format to your file using the links posted above.

7.  A writing sample in the form of an essay, academic or professional report, or published article. Up to 25 pages; uploaded by applicant. Upload this document in PDF format to your file using the links posted above.


Applicants who are currently enrolled in another graduate program at UT-Austin or who have been enrolled in a graduate program at UT-Austin in the past must apply using the Change of Major form. Additionally, all supplemental materials (resume, essay, PDF of transcripts) must be emailed to the Admissions Coordinator at Recommenders should also email their letters directly to this email address. Please provide it to them. This DOES NOT apply to current or former UT-Austin undergraduates, who should follow the regular online application and document upload method.