Ph.D. in Public Affairs


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Dear Prospective Ph.D. student,
Thank you for your interest in the Ph.D. program in Public Affairs at FIU. Our Ph.D. program equips you with critical thinking and research capacity on urban and comparative international governance issues. It broadly encompasses public administration, management, policy, and service. It prepares you for research and analytic positions in universities, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The following gives a quick review of the admissions process. For more detailed information, please see the Information Package for Prospective Students and our Informational Video. Our PhD Brochure also gives the highlights of the program. The application deadline for Fall 2019 is January 15, 2019.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.

Milena Neshkova
Program Director
Tel: 305.348.0486

Admissions Requirements

Applicants should generally have a Master’s degree prior to their enrollment, though outstanding applicants with only a baccalaureate degree may also be considered. Admission is not restricted to students with prior course work in Public Administration. The program encourages applicants with diverse academic backgrounds, with preference given to those with grounding in the policy or administrative sciences. Applicants should ideally demonstrate knowledge of American political institutions and fundamentals of social research methods. A prospective student can apply to the Ph.D. program online through the University Graduate School (UGS) website. The entire application must be done online. The application materials required are as follows:

  • FIU Application for Doctoral Programs (completed online)
  • Transcripts (applicant should demonstrate excellence in prior academic work by an earned GPA of 3.5 or better in both undergraduate and graduate degrees from regionally accredited institutions)
  • GRE scores (applicant is expected to have 60 percentile scores in verbal and quantitative sections; FIU’s institutional code is 5206)
  • A personal statement describing the applicant’s background, career goals, and the reasons for pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Affairs; the statement should also indicate how the applicant’s research and career interests fit with those of current faculty
  • A current resume
  • At least one writing sample

Students are generally admitted only for the Fall term. Although the FIU online application system allows for other semesters, the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs does not encourage such admission. Spring or Summer admissions will only be considered under special circumstances. All students living in the South Florida area are strongly encouraged to interview with the Ph.D. Director during the admissions process. Telephone interviews may be arranged for students living outside a 50-mile radius. Foreign applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the English language by presenting a minimum score of a 100 on the TOEFL iBT, which is equivalent to 600 on the paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL PBT). If applicants take the language proficiency assessment administered by the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), a minimum score of 7.0 is desirable.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

To fulfill the Ph.D. degree in Public Affairs, admitted students must complete at least 60 credit hours beyond the Master’s degree or its equivalent (75 total credits). The credit hours include 45 hours of approved course work (including comprehensive examination) and 15 hours of dissertation work after admission to candidacy. In addition, there is a residency requirement of at least 18 semester hours in three consecutive semesters of study during the first year of enrollment, and a minimum of six hours in all subsequent semesters. Successful completion of course work and passing scores on the comprehensive examination are required in order for students to advance to Ph.D. candidacy and present a dissertation proposal. Students are advised to consult the doctoral program handbook for any additional information regarding benchmarks for student progress in grade point average, course completion, comprehensive examinations, and dissertation work. Admitted students may transfer a maximum of 12 semester credits (not included in another degree) from other institutions towards Ph.D. degree requirements, subject to the approval of the Ph.D. Program Committee. Admitted students must demonstrate competence in the following areas: American political economy, advanced statistical and qualitative research methods, international development administration, organizational theory and design, and local economic development and urban management. The Program Director may assign specific coursework to students with deficiencies in any of the above mentioned areas.

Program of Study (Public Affairs)

The Ph.D. program in Public Affairs is a 60 credit hours program. Of this, 45 hours are for coursework as follows: six principal core courses (18 credit hours), two flexible core course (6 credit hours), six specialization elective courses (18 credit hours), and a comprehensive examination (three credit hours). The rest 15 credit hours are for Ph.D. dissertation work. During the first semester of the program, with the assistance and approval of the Program Director, students are required to select a faculty advisor who is a full-time faculty member relevant to the student’s area of research interest. By the end of the first year, students are required to develop a program of study with the assistance and approval of their advisor and the Program Director.


Principal Core Curriculum (18 credits)

  • PAD 7277 Public Administration and the American Political Economy
  • PAD 7155 Organizational Development and Change in Public and Nonprofit Organizations
  • PAD 7703C Empirical Methods in Public Administration
  • PAD 7705 Applied Quantitative Analysis I
  • PAD 7707 Applied Quantitative Analysis II
  • PAD 7055 Scope and Theory of Public Administration

Flexible Core Courses (6 credits)

  • PAD 7808 Economic Development and Urban Management
  • PAD 7865 Development Administration
  • PAF 7002 Foundations of Policy Analysis
  • URS 7644 Managing Public Financial Resources
  • URS 7380 Contemporary Management Issues and Problems

Specialization Courses (18 credits)

Students are required to take six courses in an area of specialization to be designed with the advisor. Six of these courses must be at the 5000, 6000, or 7000 level and may be taken within the University. These specialization electives may also be especially designed courses developed in conjunction with the student’s faculty advisor and with approval of the Ph.D. Director. Specialization areas may include subfields within the realm of public affairs (e.g., public budgeting and financing, human resource management; local government policies, urban management, international and comparative public administration, etc.) or may involve cognate disciplines (such as health services administration, criminal justice administration, environmental management, etc.). At least three hours must be URS 7926 (Supervised Readings), taken in conjunction with comprehensive examination preparation. In developing a specialization and program of studies, a student may consult with the faculty advisor, appropriate faculty members in public administration, as well as others related to the student’s area of interest. If the student’s principal area of interest is in a cognate discipline outside of the Department of Public Administration, the student and Ph.D. Director should consult with appropriate faculty in designing the program of studies. With the help of the Ph.D. Director, the student is required to identify an appropriate Ph.D. Dissertation Committee Chair and Co-Chair (if required), both of whom may or may not be the same as the faculty advisor. The Chair or Co-Chair should have substantive expertise in the student’s area of research interest. The Chair must be a faculty member with Dissertation Advisor Status.

Comprehensive Examination (3 credit hours)

Subsequent to completion of course work, students are required to pass a two-part comprehensive examination. The first component of the comprehensive examination is a one-day long written examination testing for knowledge of the Ph.D. core and related materials. The second component is the submission of a research proposal that will likely form the basis of the students’ dissertation work after advancing to Ph.D. candidacy. Students who fail the Comprehensive Examination on the first attempt must retake the examination at its next offering. Students who fail the examination twice will be automatically dismissed in accordance with general FIU policy.

Dissertation (15 credits)

Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examination, a student should select their Ph.D. Dissertation Committee with the help of their Ph.D. Dissertation Committee Chair. The student should then finalize their dissertation proposal in consultation with the Committee. Students are expected to defend their dissertation prospectus before the end of the first semester subsequent to passing the Comprehensive Examination. Upon the public defense and approval of the proposal, the student will initiate formal work on the dissertation. Students should contact FIU’s Institutional Review Board to ensure that their research meets the protocol for human subjects research before initiating their fieldwork. Then, the student is expected to make appropriate progress toward completing the dissertation, and to enroll continually (at least six credits per semester) until the degree is completed. Upon completion of the dissertation, the student should formally defend the research at a meeting conducted by the Ph.D. Dissertation Committee. The Ph.D. in Public Affairs degree will be awarded upon a positive recommendation of the Committee and compliance with all policies and procedures required by the University.

Award of Master’s Degree to Ph.D. Candidates: Under certain circumstances, students directly admitted into the Ph.D. program following completion of their bachelor’s degree, may be awarded a master’s degree in public administration. To be eligible, a student must complete core requirements in the master’s program. Upon certification by the student’s faculty advisor that this requirement has been met, the Ph.D. committee will approve the award of the master’s degree upon passing of comprehensive examinations.

Cost of Attendance

The cost of attending the Ph.D. program at FIU depends on whether you are a Florida resident or not. Florida residents have to pay lower tuition costs as compared to non-Florida residents. You must also take into account the living expenses, if you are coming from out of the state. The Graduate Tuition and Fees for the Academic Year 2018-19 are as follows: the tuition per credit hour is $455.64 for Florida residents, and $1,001.69 for non-Florida residents. A full time student would take 9 credit hours during Fall and Spring semesters, and 6 credit hours during Summer semester. There are additional fees for photo ID, health, athletic, and parking which total $885.60 during Fall, $875.60 in the Spring, and $642.41 during Summer. A photo ID fee of $10 is charged in Fall semester. The total tuition and fees cost for the year would be $13,338.97 for Florida residents, and $26,444.17 for out of state students. International students would normally be assessed the out of state tuition fees. The total costs for full time international students (with out of state tuition rates) is estimated in the FIU’s Declaration and Certification of Finances Form. Further resources on estimating costs of attendance:

  • FIU’s Declaration and Certification of Finances form: This form gives the annual estimate of graduate costs, including maintenance, books and supplies, and medical insurance (the form is used for international students to demonstrate financial capacity to carry out their studies at FIU).