Governance and Policy Research This is a Track

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


Admission to this program track has been suspended effective Summer 2015. 

The Governance and Policy Track in the Public Affairs PhD program prepares students to perform high-quality policy-relevant research concerned with governance and public policy issues, primarily those with national and global implications. Students are empowered to provide unbiased, evidence-based information that is directly relevant to real public-policy problems.


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

Students must complete 60 credit hours beyond the master’s degree, including 15 courses (45 credit hours) above the master’s level 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 three-course, 9-credit required discipline-specific specialization
  • a two-course, 6-credit hour electives (may be taken outside the student's discipline)
  • a one course, 3-credit required Public Affairs practicum
  • 15 credit hours of dissertation minimum

Students are required to take a statistical assessment the summer semester prior to their entering the program fall semester. This assessment will be used to determine a student's statistical knowledge and competency. Students that receive a passing score will be exempt from taking a 6XXX level statistics course. Those students requiring the 6XXX level course will meet with the Track Coordinator to determine which course will meet the requirement. Students are required to complete and pass the course prior to registering in PAF 7804 Quantitative I: Multivariate Analysis. The 6XXX level course credit hours 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 specialization and 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 or B- or better prior to taking the Qualifying Exam. Any student who receives more than one grade of “C+” or lower in their doctoral course work may be dismissed from the Public Affairs 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.

Required Courses—45 Credit Hours

Public Affairs Substantive Core—9 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7000 Foundations of Public Affairs: People, Places, Policies and Paradigms (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7230 Strategic Change and Management for Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7317 Social Inquiry and Public Policy (3 credit hours)

Methodological and Statistical Core—18 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7802 Advanced Research Methodology for Public Affairs I (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7804 Advanced Statistics for Public Affairs I: Multivariate Analysis (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7805 Advanced Statistics for Public Affairs II: Survey of Statistical Methods (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7820 Qualitative Methods for Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7325 Policy and Program Evaluation for Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
Advanced Methodology

Choose one of the following courses:

  • PAF 7868 Advanced Statistics for Public Affairs III: Continued Survey of Statistical Methods (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7856 Structural Equation Modeling in Public Affairs (3 credit hours)
  • Pre-approved methodological or statistical course (3 credit hours)

Practicum—3 Credit Hours

At the end of the required coursework, students will take the Practicum in Community-Based Research course (PAF 7947). Led by a professor, the practicum provides students with the opportunity to work within an interdisciplinary team to use their substantive learning and apply their methodological and statistical tools to a real community problem. This experiential learning brings the student out to the community while bringing the community into the university.

Track Specialization—9 Credit Hours

Students are required take the following three courses and attain a "B-" or higher::

  • PAF 7055 Seminar in State and Local Government Policy Research (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7510 Seminar in Policy Evaluation and Performance Measurement (3 credit hours)
  • PAF 7858 Advanced Seminar in Governance and Policy Research (3 credit hours)

Elective—6 Credit Hours

Choose two additional courses from the following courses:

  • PAF 7757 Seminar in Global Governance and Policy Research (3 credit hours)
  • See adviser for appropriate methodological elective (3 credit hours)
  • Directed independent study (3 credit hours)
  • Or other course that will add to the student's course of study. Requires approval of adviser. (3 credit hours)

Dissertation—15 Credit Hours

  • PAF 7980 Dissertation Research

Assignment of Faculty Advisers

Upon acceptance of a student into the program, the PAF Program Director provides students with an initial orientation and a general advising session. The Track Coordinator in conjunction with the PAF Director helps the student throughout the foundation stage of the program, assisting in the clarification of interests and goals and facilitating the introduction of students to faculty and research interests that can advance the student's program of study.  Governance and Policy Research Track students will be advised by the Governance and Policy Research Track Coordinator. The Track Coordinator assists the student in selecting elective courses, finalizing the program of study, and facilitating discussion with faculty members who have similar research interests.  Discussion and review of dissertation topics should take place with the faculty member who has agreed to chair the dissertation committee. The dissertation chair is to be selected by the student prior to commencing the dissertation prospectus.

Qualifying Examination

Following successful completion of all required courses, students are required to pass a qualifying examination. The examination is given following finals during fall and spring semesters. Students are given two opportunities to pass all sections of the exam. Students who fail any section twice are dismissed from the program. Any student who fails any section of the qualifying exam twice will not be readmittted to the PAF program. This policy includes all tracks and/or any masters to PhD program(s) within the PAF program.

Candidacy Status

Students officially enter candidacy when the following has been accomplished:

  • Completion of all course work, except for dissertation hours.
  • Successful completion of the qualifying examination.
  • The dissertation advisory committee is formed and has been reviewed and accepted by the PAF Director.  Members of the committee are to be approved graduate faculty and graduate faculty scholars.
  • Submittal of an approved graduate program of study.
  • Submission of dissertation prospectus to Subsequent results to be within acceptable rating.
  • Successful defense of the dissertation prospectus.
  • All approved documentation has been received by the PAF and Graduate offices.

Equipment Fee

Full-time students in the Public Affairs Program pay a $40 equipment fee each semester that they are enrolled. Part-time students pay $20 per semester.

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 hold a master's degree from an accredited institution, preferably in criminal justice, health, public administration or social work. Applicants who do not have a master's degree in a field directly related to public affairs may be required to take courses at the master's level in preparation for doctoral level study. This preparatory course work requirement will be communicated at the time of acceptance into the program. These courses will not substitute for the doctoral degree requirements and will generally be taken prior to beginning the doctoral level course work. Admission is offered for fall semester only.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements, applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended for both bachelor's and master's degrees.
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
  • A narrative statement of 1000 words or less describing the applicant's educational expectations, career aspirations, level of computer skills, and any special qualifications or experiences that may enhance the overall learning environment of the PAF program.
  • Résumé.
  • A writing sample, i.e., academic paper, report, etc.
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty or professionals who can assess the applicant's ability to succeed in a doctoral program.

Admission to the Doctoral Program in Public Affairs is granted on a competitive basis. Meeting minimum UCF admission standards does not guarantee program admissions. Final admission is based on evaluation of the applicant’s abilities, past performance, recommendations, match to the program, correspondence of the applicant’s career and academic interests with those of the core and affiliated faculty, and potential for completing the degree and making a significant contribution to Public Affairs. 


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.