Master of Arts in Public Affairs

The Master of Arts in Public Affairs is designed to provide students with an in-depth knowledge of the American public policy process, thus enabling them to become productive participants in organizations dedicated to the development, implementation, and evaluation of public policies at the local, state, or national levels.  Students will also develop the skills and expertise necessary to contribute to the success of non-profit and for-profit private sector organizations that interact with the public policy system.

The Public Affairs curriculum emphasizes theoretical, practical, and methodological issues using historical, empirical, and normative approaches.  The concepts of public service, sound governance, effective analysis, and knowledgeable evaluation are also fundamental to the program's design, and those who complete it are expected to acquire the relevant skills in quantitative and qualitative analyses.

The Public Affairs program can be completed on a full- or part-time basis, with those who do not yet have experience as a professional in the field typically enrolling full-time and those who have organizational experience and/or who want to shift their present career toward public policy activities typically enrolling part time.  Nevertheless, accommodations can be made on an individual basis.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School and be recommended for approval by the Political Science department's graduate committee prior to admission to the program.  Applicants will be considered for admission with the following minimal requirements:

  • Completion of requirements for an undergraduate degree program from an accredited institution
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0
  • GRE score of 300 (combined verbal and quantitative) and 3.0 (analytical) or MAT score of 410

English Language Ability for International Students

International students are expected to provide English testing scores that meet the following results:

  • A minimum TOEFL (code 1854) score of 550 (paper-based), or 213 (computer-based), or 80 (Internet-based with all sub-scores at a minimum of 18); or a minimal IELTS score with a minimum 6.0 overall bandwidth. 

Required Courses

The Public Affairs program requires a total of 30 hours (with thesis) or 36 hours (without thesis) of formal graduate coursework.  (Students will be expected to complete a statistics course, such as PSC 300, SOC 303 or PY 300, if they have not taken one; this course may be offered at the graduate level.)  Students may also transfer a maximum of 9 hours of graduate coursework from outside of the department (unless pursuing two master's degrees at UAH, in which case, only 6 hours may double-count).  

Of the 30 or 36 total hours, five courses are required: four core courses, preferably taken at the beginning  of the program, and a capstone course taken at the end of the program:

PSC 600
The American Polity
PSC 601
The Public Policy Process
PSC 610
Public Management Professions
PSC 635
Program Evaluation and Methods
PSC 690

PSC 600 provides a comprehensive review of the governmental institutions and processes for the making of public policy; PSC 601 provides an analytical framework for critical thinking about the public policy process; PSC 610 introduces students to public management as a field of study and practice; and PSC 635 provides students with analytical and quantitative tools to understand social science research. PSC 690 provides an opportunity to engage in a final research project that synthesizes the academic content and skills acquired during the program.


To complete the required hours of the Public Affairs graduate program, students must select 21 hours of political science electives, including 6 thesis hours for those writing a thesis.  Students may transfer a combined maximum of 9 hours of graduate coursework outside of the department (unless pursuing two master's degrees at UAH, in which case, only 6 hours may double-count), including from other universities.  

For a full list of courses for the Master of Arts in Public Affairs, visit the UAH Catalog.

View the Catalog