Apply to the Ph.D. Program in Public Policy | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

Ph.D. in Public Policy: How to Apply

How to Apply for a Ph.D. in Public Policy

Learn more about how to join a community of leaders with a future of making a difference.

Applications Open: Sept. 1
Final Deadline: Dec. 1

Admissions Considerations

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

  • Interdisciplinary research abilities
  • Demonstrated intellectual curiosity
  • Strong background in the social sciences
  • Good graduate-level training in research methods and statistics
  • A coherent research plan and clear vision of how the resources available at The University of Texas and the LBJ School are particularly suited to realizing that research plan
  • Proficiency in written and oral expression in English

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 that he or she will complete the Ph.D. program within four to five years. A master's degree or its equivalent (for example, J.D.) is required for admission.


A master's degree or its equivalent (for example, J.D.) is optional for admission.

Application Process

The ApplyTexas application opens in early September. Please review the online application instructions for more details and fee information. Some U.S. or permanent resident applicants may be eligible for an application fee waiver on the basis of documented financial need.

Application Requirments 


Please review The University of Texas' instructions for submitting your transcripts.

Test Scores 

The GRE is optional but strongly encouraged, and the TOEFL is required of international applicants. We do not accept the IELTS. Visit UT's website for more information about test scores.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required as part of your application. For the Ph.D. program application, we require three academic references. Please review the departmental requirements section for more information about electronic submission of letters of recommendation.

Résumé or CV

After submitting your ApplyTexas application, you will receive access to your MyStatus page. You can upload your résumé or CV directly onto your MyStatus page once you receive access. Please note that it will take at least one to two business days for you to receive access to your MyStatus page after submitting your ApplyTexas application.

Proposal of Study

After submitting your ApplyTexas application, you will receive access to your MyStatus page. You can upload your Proposal of Study directly onto your MyStatus page once you receive access. Please upload a Proposal of Study that describes your interest and motivation for pursuing a research-focused doctoral degree in public policy. Your Proposal of Study should address the following: 

  1. Discuss the research questions that you are potentially interested in exploring for your dissertation research. 
  2. Identify at least two LBJ faculty members with whom you would like to work on this research. 
  3. To the best of your ability indicate the discipline area from the program website that you intend to pursue and briefly explain why your background is well matched to pursuing that area. If you have a preference for an interdisciplinary area, please indicate a set of core theoretical and methodological skills you hope to master and utilize in your future research.   

Writing Sample

After submitting your ApplyTexas application, you will receive access to your MyStatus page. You can upload your writing sample directly onto your MyStatus page. The writing sample (up to 25 pages) can be in the form of an essay, academic or professional report, or published article. 


What to submit:

  • Complete ApplyTexas application
  • Application fee
  • Official transcripts from undergraduate and graduate institutions
  • GRE scores- optional but strongly recommended
  • TOEFL scores (for international applicants)
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Current résumé or CV
  • Proposal of study
  • Writing sample

How to Verify Submission

Verify your application submission by visiting your MyStatus page to ensure we have received all of your materials, and check for additional steps to take after you've applied. The UT Graduate and International Admissions Center can assist with technical issues in submitting your application materials.