Graduate Catalog

2008-09 Academic Year

Department of Public Administration

Main Departmental Office
Wooten Hall, Room 366
1155 Union Circle #310617
Denton, TX 76203-0617
Fax: 940-565-4466


Web site:

Robert L. Bland, Chair

Robert L. Bland, MPA Program Coordinator

Amy Thompson, Internship Coordinator

David McEntire, PhD Program Coordinator

Graduate Faculty: Andrew, Arlikatti, Benavides, Bernick, Bland, Dicke, Kendra, Krueger, McEntire, Rozdilsky.

The Department of Public Administration offers a graduate program leading to the following degrees:


The faculty in the Department of Public Administration pursue an active research program that focuses on policy and administrative issues of concern to government. The department maintains an emphasis on issues of concern to city and county management, including economic development and growth management, executive recruitment, personnel management, municipal debt acquisition, health policy and administration, emergency and disaster planning, county government organization and management, state government administration, career paths of city managers, intergovernmental management, public/private partnerships, city managers as policy-makers, capital spending for infrastructure, and property tax policy and administration.

Books authored, co-authored or edited by the faculty include Disaster Response Recovery: Strategies and Tactics for Resilience; A Revenue Guide for Local Government; Introduction to Homeland Security: Understanding Terrorism with an Emergency Management Perspective; Texas Politics; Budgeting: A Guide for Local Governments; and The Effective Local Government Manager.

The department's research is supported by grants from within the university as well as grants and contracts with local and federal government, other universities and professional associations. The department also supports the Center for Public Management, which provides contract research, training and technical assistance to local governments throughout Texas and the Southwest, and occasionally provides part-time employment opportunities for qualified graduate students.

Degree Programs

Master of Public Administration

More than 1,000 alumni of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program work in the public sector as well as the private and nonprofit sectors. The curriculum in the MPA program emphasizes a combination of courses and practical experience leading to entry-level management positions for students beginning their professional careers and job advancement for students already in government service. All faculty members have professionally relevant experience and are involved with a number of professional associations.

Current information may be obtained by accessing the department's web site at

The MPA degree at the University of North Texas is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) [1029 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20005; 202-628-8965]. The curriculum conforms to NASPAA standards.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the MPA program enter a wide range of careers in government and the nonprofit sector, and, to a lesser extent, in business. The greatest employment opportunities are in city and county government, primarily because of faculty ties and an extensive alumni network in management positions. A growing number of graduates, however, serve in state and federal government, and in nonprofit organizations. A few serve in administrative positions in other countries. Graduates of the MPA program at UNT work in management positions in such areas as city management, disaster and emergency response, budgeting and finance, human resources, utilities, planning, public safety and public works, evaluation and auditing, and in administrative positions in such nonprofit organizations as Habitat for Humanity, chambers of commerce and the United Way.

Students without prior government experience are required, in most cases, to complete an internship for which they receive 6 hours of credit. The department assists students in locating internship positions as well as full-time employment.

Admission Requirements

All general admission requirements to the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies, as outlined elsewhere in this bulletin, must be fulfilled, including minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and grade point requirements. Application must first be made to the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies through the office of the graduate dean. Once the student is admitted to the graduate school, the application will be reviewed by the department for admission to the MPA program. Applications to the MPA program are reviewed throughout the year.

The Master of Public Administration program uses a holistic review process for reviewing applications for admission. The application packet includes official transcripts for all college work (from which a grade point average is computed), GRE scores (verbal, quantitative and analytical writing), three letters of recommendation from persons capable of evaluating the applicant's potential for graduate study, an essay describing the applicant's career objectives and explaining how an MPA degree will help achieve those objectives, and a current resume.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 42 hours of graduate credit for pre-career students is required. For students with up to three years of full-time management experience at the time of admission, the number of required hours is reduced to 39; for students with more than three years of mid-level managerial experience, 36 hours of graduate credit are required. These program length requirements are distributed as follows:

1. 24 hours of required course work in public administration;

2. a 6-hour internship for most pre-career students (the 6 hours of intern credit is not available to those in the 39- or 36-hour programs); and

3. the remaining hours selected from a variety of electives or as part of a specialization appropriate to the student's interests. Specializations supported by the MPA program include local government management, emergency management, financial management, nonprofit management, and personnel management.

In addition to the course requirements, students must pass a written comprehensive examination or an oral examination in conjunction with a master's thesis defense. Students selecting the written examination option must take an examination covering the core courses and areas included in the MPA degree program. The examination may be taken after completion of 30 hours of course work. Students selecting the thesis option must complete 36 hours of course work plus a master's thesis for which 6 hours of credit will be granted. For pre-career students completing a thesis, a public service internship is required and the degree program is extended to 48 hours. The thesis option is especially appropriate for students planning to pursue a doctorate after completing the MPA.

Curriculum options are adapted to the needs of both pre-career and in-career students. Selected courses are offered off campus at the City of Carrollton Service Center. Additional program information is contained in the MPA Student Handbook. The student is responsible for obtaining a copy of the document from this department and for knowing its contents.

Financial Assistance

A number of financial assistance programs are available to students in the MPA program. Each year the department awards to entering MPA students up to five Hatton W. Sumners Fellowships, each of which provides a $12,000 stipend paid over 16 months plus $4,500 toward tuition. For the first 12 months of their appointment, Sumners Scholars work 10 hours each week as research assistants for a faculty member. Other financial assistance available to students includes Alumni Scholarships worth up to $3,000 each for tuition and fees and the E. Ray Griffin Alumni Scholarship for tuition and fees. Outside funding is sometimes available to qualified students from the North Central Texas Council of Governments. Under current rules, nonresidents of Texas receiving at least $1,000 per year in scholarships qualify for in-state tuition.

Doctor of Philosophy

The PhD in public administration and management is designed primarily for those interested in scholarly careers as researchers and teachers. The PhD program emphasizes theory, methods and research in the field to enable its graduates to become effective teachers and contribute to the development and dissemination of public administration knowledge. The degree program also prepares graduates to pursue other careers in the public, private and non-profit sectors. Since students entering the PhD program are expected to have satisfied the requirements for a master's degree, the curriculum for doctoral students emphasizes analytic tools and theoretical issues confronting the study and practice of public administration.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the PhD program is a two-tiered process. Applicants must first gain admission to the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies, and then to the PhD program. (Please see and contact the PhD coordinator for application deadlines.) Students who apply to the PhD program must either have completed a master's degree or take prerequisite courses after entering the PhD program. Admission to the program is based on an assessment of the applicant's academic ability and potential to meet the demands of a rigorous graduate program. Each application is considered using multiple criteria, including the student's cumulative academic performance and potential. Admission to the PhD program requires the following:

1. a master's degree, preferably in public administration or a related field, from an accredited college or university;

2. admission to the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies (;

3. a grade point average (GPA) on the last 60 hours of college work of 3.2 or higher on a 4.0 scale;

4. satisfactory scores for all three parts of the GRE General Test (verbal, quantitative and analytical writing);

5. a minimum of three letters of recommendation (at least two of which must be from former professors);

6. an essay written by the applicant describing career objectives; and

7. a current resume showing all relevant work experience and credentials.

International students must also satisfy the proof of English proficiency requirement set by International Admissions.

Official transcripts and test scores must be sent directly to the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies by the institution and ETS, respectively. Letters of recommendation, the resume and personal statement can be sent directly to: PhD Coordinator, Department of Public Administration; 1155 Union Circle #310617; Denton, TX 76203.

Degree Requirements

The PhD program requires a minimum of 90 credits of course work, including up to 24 credits earned in the process of completing the MPA degree or its equivalent. All students who enter the PhD program must either (a) have already completed courses required for the MPA degree or (b) take appropriate prerequisite course work, specified by the PhD coordinator, prior to admission to the program to ensure basic competence in public administration. PhD students are expected to complete course work in the following areas:

1. MPA core or equivalent in transferred courses (24 hours),

2. substantive core (9-12 hours),

3. research tool (12 hours)

4. two specializations (minimum of 24-27 hours),

5. directed research (6 hours), and

6. dissertation (12 hours).

Additional program information is contained in the “PhD Degree Program Handbook” available from the PhD program coordinator or from the web site (

Qualifying Exam and Dissertation

Once all course work (excluding dissertation hours) has been completed, the student then must pass a comprehensive qualifying examination. This consists of three sections: two written exams taken on site covering the core public administration courses, a written take-home exam in one field of specialization (offered in the PhD in public administration and management), and an oral examination. Successful completion results in the student's admission to candidacy for the PhD degree. Students then enroll for a minimum of 12 dissertation hours.

The doctoral candidate must submit a dissertation that contributes new knowledge to the field. The dissertation is prepared under the supervision of the major professor and a committee in accordance with the guidelines of the Toulouse School of Graduate Studies. The topic of the dissertation is selected by the student and approved by the PhD coordinator. The student qualifies for graduation once the student has defended his or her original work before the dissertation examination committee.

Emergency Administration and Planning

A Bachelor of Science with a major in emergency administration and planning is offered at the undergraduate level (see the Undergraduate Catalog for description).

Courses of Instruction

All Courses of Instruction are located in one section at the back of this catalog.

Course and Subject Guide

The “Course and Subject Guide,” found in the Courses of Instruction section of this book, serves as a table of contents and provides quick access to subject areas and prefixes.

Graduate Admissions

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