Master of Public Affairs Program and Degree Requirements

The Master of Public Affairs program at the LBJ School is designed to prepare leaders with the skills and knowledge to effect meaningful change in government agencies, businesses, and nonprofit organizations.

The School's mission is to develop leaders and ideas that will help our state, the nation and the international community address critical public policy challenges in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. Drawing upon a world-renowned, multidisciplinary faculty, a diverse and talented group of master’s and Ph.D. students, a global network of alumni, and the resources of The University of Texas at Austin, one of the world's leading research universities, LBJ School graduates are uniquely qualified to shape public policy in the 21st century.

Program Structure

The MPAff program is organized so that formal coursework in theory and relevant analytical skills are reinforced with ongoing opportunities for practical application. In order to enroll in the quantitative core sequence, an entering student must have completed either formal undergraduate coursework in calculus and statistics or passed the validation exam. A required internship between the first and second years provides direct contact with the operating realities of government, nonprofits, and advocacy organizations. Students may follow a general program of study or may choose to declare a specialization by focusing the scope of their second-year studies in one of seven policy areas. Students may enroll in the regular MPAff program on a full-time basis or on a part-time basis.

Additionally, the LBJ School has partnered with programs and departments throughout The University of Texas to develop 15 dual degree programs. These programs give LBJ students the option to pair a second complementary master's degree with the MPAff degree and complete both master's degree programs in less time than would be required if they were pursued independently.

General Degree Requirements

The general degree program consists of 48 semester hours, including the following required courses:

  • PA 397: Introduction to Empirical Methods for Policy Analysis
  • PA 393K: Applied Microeconomics for Policy Analysis
  • PA 391: Public Finance Management
  • PA 389D: Communication for Public Affairs 
  • PA 383C: Policy Development
  • PA 384C: Public Management
  • 2 Advanced Analytic Courses 
    • PA 397C: Advanced Empirical Methods
    • PA 393L: Advanced Policy Economics
    • PA 391F: Advanced Public Financial Management
    • PA: 384F Advanced Public Management
  • PA 680 PA and PA 680 PB: Policy Research Project, parts I and II

    Electives should be selected from multiple sections in the following areas:

  • PA 388K Topics Courses: Advanced Topics in Public Policy
  • PA 388L Topics Courses: Advanced Topics in Management
  • Approved elective courses in other UT Austin departments
  • PA 396K: MPAff Internship Course (in cases whereby the internship is completed for academic credit and applied toward completion of elective requirements). The internship requirement, which can be completed for academic OR administrative credit, is typically pursued between the first and second years. The internship requirement may be waived by the graduate adviser in cases whereby the student provides documentation of comparable professional experience.
  • PA 398R: Professional Report (Students pursuing a general program of study may take the 3-hour Professional Report course as an elective; students pursuing specializations or dual degrees are required to complete a Professional Report.)

Dual Degree Programs

Dual degree programs are designed for students who wish to broaden their academic experience and enhance their career preparation by pursuing two complementary master's degree programs. Most dual degree programs can be completed in three years. The dual degree program with MPAff and Law is a four-year program. The blending of subject matter in public affairs and an allied profession or world area concentration is excellent preparation for careers in specialized areas of public affairs.