Programs by Campus


Public Affairs

School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Departmental E-mail: speainfo [at] indiana [dot] edu

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(Please note that when conferring University Graduate School degrees, minors, certificates, and sub-plans, The University Graduate School’s staff use those requirements contained only in The University Graduate School Bulletin.)



Degrees Offered

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs; Doctoral Minors in Non­profit Management, Public Management, Regional Economic Development, and Urban Affairs.

Doctor of Philosophy in Public Affairs

The Doctoral Program in Public Affairs was created to take advantage of the unique strengths of SPEA’s interdisciplinary faculty and research programs, both of which have earned wide recognition from peer institutions, national and interna­tional agencies, and professional groups. The curriculum equips students with the necessary skills for independent research and analysis of problems, issues, and solutions in government and the nonprofit sector in the following four major fields:

  1. Public Finance: the theory and practice of fiscal administra­tion, including public budgeting, revenue administration, and financial management;
  2. Public Management: the design and operation of govern­mental institutions, including strategic/operations manage­ment and interrelationships between public and private organizations; 
  3. Public Policy Analysis: research methods and quantita­tive techniques for policy analysis, including the content, design, and evaluation of public programs; and 
  4. Environmental Policy: the study of and contribution to public policies that affect the environment, both domestic and international, including legal, economic, and other policy tools and approaches.

Instead of being grounded in a traditional academic discipline, each of the fields has developed from several theoretical litera­tures applied to real-world public affairs problems. Although re­search is grounded in the social sciences, the context of inquiry reverses the normal research process. Instead of beginning with questions originating with discipline-based scholarship, the research process begins with public problems and issues. The research challenge, then, is to match available tools of inquiry to the research opportunities presented by problems.


Students apply to the School of Public and Environmental Affairs; those accepted are recommended to the University Graduate School for formal admission into the Ph.D. program. Application materials can be found at Applicants to this program must have completed at least a bachelor’s degree. Prospective students are required to submit (1) a statement of purpose, which should be as specific as possible and preferably should refer to potential research mentors by name; (2) official results of the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE); (3) official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate work completed; and (4) three letters of recom­mendation. Applicants whose native language is not English must also submit results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Progress Review Committee

Early in the student’s program, but in no case later than the third semester in the program, the student must form a progress review committee. The committee consists of four to five members and includes at least one faculty member from each of the student’s two chosen major fields of study and also a representative of his or her minor field. The committee members act as mentors and help monitor the selection and fulfillment of program requirements. The chairperson of the committee serves as the student’s principal advisor.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in Public Affairs degree requires the completion of at least 90 credit hours in advanced study and research beyond the baccalaureate. Typically, two-thirds of the 90 credit hours are taken in formal course work and one-third in thesis credit. Students completing a Master’s in Public Affairs or similar de­gree may be allowed to transfer some of their graduate course work (30 hours maximum) if approved by their Progress Review Committee, though a prior Master’s degree is not required for admission.

Core Requirements

The following three courses are required for all Public Affairs students:

  • SPEA-V 680 Research Design and Methods in Public Affairs (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-M 621 Seminar in Teaching Public and Environmental Af­fairs (2 cr.) This course prepares students for college teaching and their professional responsibilities toward current and future stu­dents. It is taken in a student’s first year in the program.
  • SPEA-P 691 Workshop in Public Policy (0 -1 cr.)

Each student is required to take this zero to one-credit-hour course for credit for three semesters. The workshop provides an experiential base that prepares students to critique research in the field, prepare manuscripts for publication, and to defend new ideas and theories. The course meets once a week for 90 minutes.

Research Tool Skills

Required research skills include a two semester quantitative analysis sequence and two additional elective courses or profi­ciency in a foreign language.

The two-semester quantitative analysis sequence can be ful­filled a number of different ways, including one of the sequences listed as follows:

  • SPEA-V 606 Statistics for Research in Public Affairs I (3 cr.) and

SPEA-V 607 Statistics for Research in Public Affairs II

  • BUS-G 651 Economic Methods in Business I (3 cr.) and

BUS-G 652 Economic Methods in Business II (3 cr.)

  • ECON-E 572 Statistical Techniques in Economics II (3 cr.) and

ECON-E 671 Econometrics I (3 cr.)

  • POLS-Y 576 Political Data Analysis II (3 cr.) and

POLS-Y 577 Advanced Topics in Political Science (3 cr.)

  • SOC-S 554 Statistical Techniques in Sociology I (3 cr.) and

SOC-S 650 Statistical Techniques in Sociology II (3 cr.)

In addition, students must demonstrate either (1) advanced proficiency in quantitative analysis or specialized research skills by completing two additional courses approved by the student’s Progress Review Committee, or (2) proficiency in a language appropriate to his/her field of study and approved by the Progressive Review Committee. To qualify as language-pro­ficient, a student must take a language proficiency exam from the appropriate language department at Indiana University.

Major Fields

Students select two of the four SPEA Public Affairs major fields (identified below) to prepare for their qualifying examinations. For each field, the student must complete required courses and approved electives.

The fields and the required courses are:

Public Management—The design and operation of government and not-for-profit institutions, including strategic/operations management and interrelationships between public, private, and civil society organizations.

Required courses:

  • SPEA-M 671 Public Organization and Management I (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-M 672 Public Organization and Management II (3 cr.)

Public Finance—The theory and practice of fiscal administra­tion, including public budgeting, revenue administration, and financial management.

Required courses:

  • SPEA-F 666 Public Revenue (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-F 668 Seminar in Public Budgeting (3 cr.)

Public Policy Analysis—Research methods and quantitative techniques for policy analysis, including the content, design, and evaluation of public programs.

Required courses:

  • SPEA-P 664 Seminar in Policy Analysis (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-P 673 Public Policy Analysis and Management Science/Operations Research (3 cr.)

Environmental Policy—Economic, law, politics, and implemen­tation of environmental policies in the U.S. and abroad.

Required courses:


  • SPEA-R 625 Environmental Economics (3 cr.)


  • SPEA-R 645 Environmental Law (3 cr.) or
  • LAW-B 783 International Environmental Law (3 cr.)


  • SPEA-P 710 Topics in Public Policy: Domestic Environmental Policy (3 cr.) or
  • SPEA-P 710 Topics in Public Policy: International Environmental Policy (3 cr.)

Minor Field

Students select a minor field according to their research interests. Students have the option of taking either: an external minor field, and internal minor field, or a self-designed minor field.

  • External minor field. For an external minor field, a three to five-course sequence is negotiated between the student and the Progress Review Committee, following the requirements of the department or school offering a minor. Among the external minor fields chosen by students in the program are Economics, Finance, Political Science, Sociology, Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, Statistics, and Geography. 
  • Internal minor field. For an internal minor field, students may choose any one of the four major fields (public management, public finance, public policy analysis, and environmental policy) or one of four minor fields (environmental studies, nonprofit management, regional economic development, urban and affairs) offered by SPEA. A four-course sequence (12 credit hours) is negotiated between the student and the Progress Review Committee. Students choosing a third major field for their PhD minor must take the required courses in that field.
  • Self-designed minor field. Students have the option of a self-designed minor to provide opportunities for specialized training without requiring the creation and approval of a defined minor field. A four-course sequence (12 credit hours) is negotiated between the student and the Progress Review Committee. Students may combine courses from SPEA and other academic units for their self-designed minor. The University Graduate School must approve a student’s proposal for a self-designed minor field (see the University Graduate School Bulletin).

Courses taken as part of any minor field cannot count toward a major field.

Major Junctures

Progress Review Committee

Each student is assigned an advisor on arrival in Bloomington. If the advisor sufficiently reflects a student’s research interests, the student can request that the advisor serve as chairperson of the student’s Progress Review Committee. The student may also select another professor who is more suited to the stu­dent’s research interests.

At the end of the first year, the student develops a Progress Review Committee. The committee, in cooperation with the student, defines program objectives, supervises the selection and completion of the minor field, monitors overall progress to­ward completion of course work requirements, and administers the qualifying exams. Members of the Progress Review Com­mittee should be scholars who know the student’s academic record and who are recognized experts in the fields in which the student will stand examination. The committee will consist of four to five members chosen by the student in consultation with the director of the Ph.D. program. At least one member of the Progress Review Committee will be chosen from each of the student’s two major fields. It is required that one member of the Progress Review Committee be a non-School professor and represent the outside minor.

Third-Semester Review

During the third semester, each student holds a third semes­ter review meeting with the Progress Review Committee. The purpose of the meeting is to reach an agreement between the student and the committee about the character and status of the student’s program. This meeting also serves as a formal evaluation of the student’s performance and prospects and includes a presentation of a research paper prepared by the student.

Before the meeting of the Progressive Review Committee, the student develops a Progress Review Statement. The statement needs to include background professional and educational information, course work completed and planned in each con­centration and for basic and advanced tool skills, and tentative dates for taking qualifying exams and a discussion of a pro­posed dissertation topic. Once approved by the committee, the statement serves as a contract for the completion of degree requirements.

In the progress review meeting, the committee members review the student’s record of past and planned courses, the likely dissertation topic, and the quality of the research paper and its presentation. The committee determines whether the proposed program of courses will prepare the student for the examinations to be taken at the end of the course work as well as for the dissertation.

The principal objective of the research paper is to allow the faculty to judge whether the student has the ability to com­plete all requirements for this research-oriented degree in a timely fashion. Thus, of most importance will be that the paper demonstrates the student’s ability to carry out reasonably inde­pendent research and write the results in a well-reasoned and coherent fashion. The paper should also demonstrate that the student has a good command of the literature in the area and has the ability to use appropriate research methods in carrying out the analysis. It is anticipated that the progress review paper will be a revision of a substantial research paper prepared to fulfill a requirement for a regular course. (The student can, however, submit an entirely new paper to fulfill this require­ment.) The paper should be of a quality warranting presenta­tion at a professional society meeting.

Qualifying Examinations

Students are required to sit for qualifying exams in their two major fields. SPEA field exams employ a standard format for all students in a field and are offered at predetermined times each year. Each exam is administered by a team of faculty and organized by an exam coordinator for each field. Students will receive a high pass, pass, qualified pass, or a fail for each of the two exams. Students receiving a qualified pass will be asked to re-take portions of the exam, or complete an oral examination. Upon completion of the exam, signatures of the Committee members and Program Director are required on the Report of Preliminary Examination Committee form. If there is an exam requirement in the minor department, then you must also complete a third exam.


After filing for candidacy status, the doctoral candidate forms a Research Committee consisting of at least four faculty mem­bers, including one representative of the candidate’s minor field. This committee may be but is not necessarily identical to the Prog­ress Review Committee. The selection of Research Committee members should reflect the dissertation topic and the expertise of the faculty chosen.

The candidate prepares a dissertation proposal to present and defend in a meeting of the Research Committee. The Research Committee reviews the research proposal and requires changes as needed.

Once the dissertation research is completed, the candidate defends the thesis in an open oral examination meeting. The Research Committee is ultimately responsible for determining whether the dissertation is acceptable.


The Ph.D. Office, the director of the program, and individual faculty work hard to ensure that graduates of the program are placed in academic or research organizations. Although the Public Affairs program has only been operational since 1993, graduates have been very successful recently in obtaining such positions. Recent placements include Syracuse Univer­sity, Brigham Young University, University of Colorado, Ohio State University, Florida International University, Georgia State University, Iowa State University, the U.S. Department of Labor, National Taipei University, and Yonsei University in South Korea.

Ph.D. Minor in Nonprofit Management (12 credit hours)

Students in a Ph.D. program at Indiana University may select nonprofit management as an outside minor.

The nonprofit management minor enables students to broaden their field of study by enhancing their knowledge of manage­ment and governance issues in the nonprofit sector. Students pursuing the minor in nonprofit management are able to develop and address research agendas incorporating questions related to nonprofit organization and their management.

Course Requirements

The doctoral student must secure an advisor from the faculty of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA). The faculty advisor will serve as the representative of SPEA in all examinations and other requirements of the student’s Ph.D. program that pertain to the minor.

The minor in nonprofit management requires 12 credit hours of courses approved by the advisor. Three of the four courses must be SPEA courses. The additional course may come from SPEA or from any of a variety of disciplines relevant to nonprofit management. Some examples of courses appropriate for the SPEA minor in nonprofit management are listed below.

Special Requirement for 500-level Courses

Students taking a 500-level course (and M602) are required to show that they have completed doctoral-level work in conjunc­tion with the course in order to count the course for the minor. Students must alert the instructor to their doctoral status and request additional/alternative assignments. If the instructor is unwilling to do this, the student should select a different course in conjunction with the candidate’s advisor.

A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 (B) must be attained in all courses used for the minor.


  • SPEA-N 521 The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-N 522 Human Resource Management in Nonprofit Organizations (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-N 523 Civil Society and Public Policy (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-N 524 Civil Society in Comparative Perspective (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-N 525 Management in the Nonprofit Sector (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-F 526 Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-N 558 Fund Development for Nonprofits (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-P 562 Public Program Evaluation (1-3)
  • SPEA-M 602 Strategic Management of Public and Nonprofit Organizations (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-M 672 Public Organization and Management II (3 cr.)
  • SPEA-V 685 Research Seminar in Management (3 cr.)
Ph.D. Minor in Public Management (12 credit hours)

Students in doctoral programs at Indiana University may, with the consent of their advisory committee, select public manage­ment as an outside minor.


  1. The doctoral candidate must secure an advisor from the faculty of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. The faculty advisor serves as the representative of SPEA in all examinations and other requirements of the student’s Ph.D. program that pertain to the minor.
  2. The student must take at least 12 credit hours of SPEA graduate-level courses in public management. The choice of courses must be approved by the advisor.
  3. A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) must be maintained.
Ph.D. Minor in Regional Economic Develop­ment (12 credit hours)

The minor field in regional economic development involves study in the topics facing regional planners, de­velopmental specialists, and researchers; and an introduction to the body of knowledge in regional development and urban policy. The study of regional economic development and urban policy broadens students’ perspectives, and students may apply this knowledge to a research agenda that incorporates regional developmental and urban policy questions. The student is expected to have studied both micro- and macroeconomics before beginning the minor program.

  1. The director of the Institute for Development Strategies serves as minor advisor. The advisor ensures that prereq­uisites have been met and certifies that the candidate has met the requirements of the minor. An examination may be required at the discretion of the advisor.
  2. The candidate must take at least 12 credit hours of ap­proved courses, which must include 2 core courses and 6 credit hours of electives. The core curriculum consists of SPEA-V 622 Urban Economic Development and SPEA-V 669 Economic Development, Globalization, and Entrepreneur­ship. This course is cross-listed as GEOG-G 817 Seminar in Regional Geography. The elective courses may come from a variety of disciplines, and must be selected in consultation with and approved by the student’s minor advisor. One of the two electives may be outside of SPEA.
  3. A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) must be maintained.
Ph.D. Minor in Urban Affairs (12 credit hours)

Students in doctoral programs at Indiana University may, with the consent of their advisory committee, choose urban affairs as an outside minor. The minor is flexible and is designed by students and their advisors in accordance with students’ needs.


  1. The doctoral candidate must secure an advisor from the faculty of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. This faculty advisor serves as the school’s representative in all examinations or other minor program requirements of the candidate’s Ph.D. program. The advisor determines the character of the minor examination (if any), participates in the candidate’s oral examinations, and certifies that the candidate has met the requirements of the minor.
  2. The candidate must take at least 12 credit hours of gradu­ate-level courses related to urban affairs. The selection of courses must be approved by the candidate’s SPEA advisor.
  3. A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (B) must be maintained.

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