Public Affairs PhD

College : Health and Public Affairs Degree :PHD
Department : Public Affairs Option : Dissertation
Program Websites :


The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs provides a unique focus on public administration, planning, policy, and research. The program prepares future scholars and leaders to better recognize and respond to complex social ills which cross traditional disciplinary boundaries. Students may choose from five tracks: Criminal Justice, Governance and Policy Research, Health Services Management and Research, Public Administration, and Social Work.


The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs accommodates the needs of both traditional students and working professionals. All course work is offered in the evening hours and selected courses offer reduced seat time.

Students must complete 60 credit hours beyond the master’s degree distributed in the following manner:

  • a three-course, 9-credit required Public Affairs substantive core
  • a six-course, 18-credit required Public Affairs methodological and statistical core
  • a five-course, 15 credit hour Track Specialization
  • a one course, 3-credit required Public Affairs practicum
  • 15 credit hours of dissertation (minimum)

Students are required to take electives as directed by their track adviser. Students may take a maximum of two 3-credit-hour independent study courses to be used as electives with approval.

Total Credit Hours Required:
60 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Master's Degree

The Public Affairs PhD program curriculum comprises an interdisciplinary core with advanced studies offered in five tracks: Criminal Justice, Governance and Policy Research, Health Services Management and Research, Public Administration, and Social Work. The program has a community-based focus with an emphasis on collaborative relationships across public, private and nonprofit sectors of the community. 

To ensure that all students have the necessary research and quantitative skills, students are required to take a statistical placement exam during the summer semester prior to their entering the program fall semester.  Students demonstrating deficiencies in statistics must complete the Advanced Quantitative Methods in Public Affairs course prior to registering in PAF 7804 Quantitative I: Multivariate Analysis. The 6000 level course will prepare students for the doctoral level statistical sequence and may be included in the student's program of study as an elective.

A maximum of 6 credit hours of Independent Study may be used as electives with adviser’s approval.

Transfer work will only be accepted by the Public Affairs PhD program if taken as part of an approved plan of study for a doctoral program at UCF or elsewhere. A maximum of 6 credit hours taken at the doctoral level may be considered for transfer. The acceptance of transfer credit into the track for Public Affairs specialization or general elective component is dependent upon the approval of the Track Coordinator in consultation with the PAF Director. Transfer work will not be accepted into the PAF substantive or methodological core components.

A grade of B- or better is required in all courses.  Students receiving a grade of "C+" or lower will be required to repeat the course and receive a grade of B- or better prior to taking the Research Proficiency Exam or Qualifying Exam. Any student who receives more than one “C” in their doctoral course work may be dismissed from the program.   

A minimum of 3.0 graduate status GPA and program of study GPA is required to maintain graduate student status and for graduation.  Students with a GPA less than 3.0 may be dismissed from the program. 

Any student who receives an "F" grade in their doctoral course work will be dismissed from the program. 

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

Applicants must choose a track in this program. Track(s) may have different requirements.

Application Deadlines

Public Affairs PhD *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 15Mar 1



The Fall 2018 application deadline has been extended until June 1, 2018.

International Applicants Jan 15Jan 15



International Transfer Applicants Jan 15Mar 1



*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.