LBJ School Dean's Certificate Program | The University of Texas at Austin

MPAff — LBJ School Dean's Certificate Program

LBJ School Dean's Certificate Program

The LBJ School Dean's Certificate program, launched during the 2019–20 academic year, gives students an opportunity to earn an additional credential by exploring in-depth policy areas that are increasingly critical in the public affairs arena. The program combines academic knowledge, analytical skills and practical application to help give students a leg up. The inaugural certificates for the MPAff program are Data Science and Policy Analysis and State and Local Finance.

Dean's Certificate in Data Science and Policy Analysis (DSPA Certificate) 

Today’s policy professionals are expected to have fluency in advanced data analysis to assess efficacy of public policies and inform designs of future policy. LBJ students have the opportunity to develop their analytical capacity through the DSPA certificate pathway.

The DSPA certificate requires students to pass at least three required courses and complete one individual data science project (DSP) that demonstrates proficiency in data science skills. Applicable skills gained include: fluency in modern data science software (e.g., Python, R, STATA), statistical or machine learning methods, how to process large datasets, and data summary and visualization.

This certificate is designed specifically for policy students, so no previous expertise in data science is required - only the aptitude to learn and work hard!

Review the DSPA certificate datasheet below for more information on the certificate requirements.  Please contact Dr. Varun Rai to learn more or pursue the certificate. 


What students say about the DSPA Certificate Program:

"The Data Science & Policy Analysis certificate is an excellent addition to your Master's degree. It's a way to put some solid technical skills onto your resume, and gives you more options upon graduation. Best of all, you don't need to take much of a detour to complete the course requirements, since a number of courses can be combined to earn the certificate. It definitely requires some creativity and determination, and lot's of independent time spent learning the various platforms and programs, but I now feel comfortable using R, Stata, and GIS."  - Geoffrey Carlisle, MPAff ‘23

“Overall, the Dean's Certificate in Data Science and Policy Analysis (DSPA) was a challenging but rewarding way to apply my data skills learned in the classroom. The certificate is a helpful addition to my degree, as it demonstrates concerted and individual effort to acquire new data skills. During the interview process, my current employer asked about my experience conducting data analysis  and I spoke about my DSPA project and coursework.” - Nick Barracca, MGPS ‘21

"Throughout my DSPA certificate project, I was able to work closely with professor Von Hippel by learning new analysis methods such as difference-in-differences techniques, dealing with missing data, as well as improving my R coding skills. I have used this project as a writing sample for job applications, and have been successful in obtaining positions that involve data science and policy analysis." - Guillermo Dominguez Garcia, MPAff 2021


Dean's Certificate in State and Local Finance

State and local governments in the United States are often the primary providers of public goods and services to citizens, funded through myriad government revenues often with the aid of financing from the capital markets. The increased demand for government services combined with the continued reluctance of the public to substantially provide greater resources have challenged these governments' finances. As a result, many state and local governments have turned to novel fiscal policies, emerging financial instruments and/or alternatives to public provision of their traditional activities. The changing nature in the way governments finance and provide their goods and services necessitates better financial acumen among both government finance professionals and private and nonprofit sector specialists that interact, assist and participate in government fiscal and financing activities.

The state and local finance profession has historically suffered a supply/demand problem. That is, there has consistently been a shortage of people with the requisite budgeting/finance/accounting skills to satisfy demand from public, private and non-profit employers. This supply/demand problem results in students who possess these skills to be highly marketable professionals. The jobs that require the skills acquired in this certificate program span all three sectors (public, private and nonprofit) and all three government levels (federal, state and local).

The Certificate in State and Local Finance is open to any degree-seeking graduate student at UT-Austin interested in government finance. It will be especially attractive to LBJ MPAff students as well as dual degree MPAff students enrolled in UT's business, community and regional planning, law and engineering schools. By completing this certificate program, all students will be able to:

  • Understand core public finance issues related to the way governments spend, raise and leverage taxpayer resources
  • Interpret and evaluate basic financial documents to begin assessing the financial condition of state and local governments
  • Evaluate the ways state and local governments access the capital markets to meet their infrastructure and operating budget demands
  • Create a specific project finance plan to address a government's capital or operating needs
  • Analyze how urban economies work and the impact of various policy interventions at the local level
  • Assess rationales for public sector policies and actions to promote local economic development