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The University of Texas at Arlington
Graduate Catalog 2002-2004

The School of Urban and Public Affairs


Dean: Richard L. Cole, Ph.D.

501C University Hall | Box 19588 | 817-272-3071 |

Mission and Philosophy

The mission of the School of Urban and Public Affairs is to conduct basic and applied research into urban problems and public policy, to provide services in support of public and nonprofit agencies, and to educate and train students for public service careers.

History and Overview

SUPA was established in 1967 as the Institute of Urban Studies by an act of the Texas Legislature. The institute's mandate was to offer Texas city and county governments and other public agencies high-caliber, university-based research, training and other technical services. In 1990, after significant expansion of its staff and programs, the organization became the School of Urban and Public Affairs. The institute continues to operate as a vital part of the school.

SUPA is the state's only university-based center for applied research and service in urban affairs. It is called upon routinely to study and recommend solutions for problems confronting government agencies, nonprofit organizations and private industry.

During its more than 35 years of existence, SUPA has conducted hundreds of studies on such topics as transportation, housing, child care, public safety, corrections, education, human services and regional governance. Its reports are included in the collections of virtually every major library in Texas and have been adopted as texts at many colleges and universities.

Urban officials view the school, its institute and its Center for Economic Development Research and Service (CEDRAS) as a primary source of information and advice in such matters as computer applications in urban management, home rule charters, redistricting, interlocal contracting, economic development, personnel management, revenue administration, land appraisal, zoning and land-use issues. SUPA is active in training local government officials and in consulting on service projects for governmental agencies worldwide. Urban professionals rely on SUPA for consultation and guidance in accomplishing such goals as urban revitalization, pollution control, conservation, and facility planning and siting.

Though much of its research is done in response to specific requests by particular entities, SUPA makes the results available through its publications to others who find themselves confronting similar situations.

SUPA uses the most advanced computer equipment, data collection and analysis techniques in conducting its research, and its team of more than 20 faculty and staff have rich and diverse educational and cultural backgrounds to draw upon. One distinguishing feature of SUPA is its location in the heart of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, a rich urban laboratory of more than 150 cities with a total population of approximately 4.5 million. This complex urban arena offers a wide array of opportunities for student projects, internships and employment. SUPA faculty, staff and students work on "real-life" urban and public affairs projects in cooperation with city governments, public agencies and nonprofit organizations through the school's institute, CEDRAS.

More than 800 students have earned graduate degrees at SUPA, and many hold key management positions in local governments, public agencies and nonprofit organizations nationwide. Currently, SUPA has a diverse student body of approximately 225 students. Many of these students also hold full- or part-time positions in government, private or nonprofit organizations.


The School of Urban and Public Affairs is one of only approximately 20 in the country having both its Master of Public Administration and its Master of City and Regional Planning programs fully accredited by their respective accrediting agencies.

The Master of City and Regional Planning is accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board which requires graduate planning programs to meet high professional and academic standards. Students enrolled in accredited programs are eligible for certain national APA scholarships, and graduates of accredited programs may qualify for certification by the American Institute of Certified Planners after fewer years of experience than graduates of nonaccredited programs. Also, accreditation qualifies a CIRP program for representation on the board of the Educational Foundation of the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association which provides annual scholarships and other benefits to students in accredited planning programs. The Master of Public Administration degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration which requires public administration programs to meet strict standards for faculty qualifications, curriculum content, admissions and program requirements, student composition and services, budget and facilities. Accreditation enhances the program's national recognition and will open doors and provide opportunities for students applying for Texas-based scholarships and nationwide positions.

SUPA was ranked as one of the best programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report in 2002.

Scholastic Activity and Research Interests of the Faculty

SUPA faculty are actively engaged in research and community service projects that benefit local jurisdictions, public and nonprofit agencies with expertise that is beyond the normal scope of their particular services and resources. Typical projects include revitalization studies for inner-city neighborhoods, development plans for central business districts, economic development strategies for municipalities, interlocal contracting studies, and assessments of service delivery alternatives in communities and school districts.

The broad range of faculty research interests primarily focuses on local issues and provides support for local officials and urban professionals, but it also includes basic research into urban problems and public policy that is published in national journals and used in university texts. Research topics include such urban affairs issues as urban theory, development, management, politics, social welfare policy, social service administration and minority relations; such planning issues as urban design, land use analysis, environmental planning, community service and development, focus group research and group facilitation; and such public administration issues as public management, intergovernmental relations, entrepreneurship in government, education and economic development. Some of the most significant faculty accomplishments are publication of an in-depth study of privatization in public schools which was presented to then Texas Gov. George Bush and the Texas State Board of Education; supervision of a study of the Civic Center District in Dallas that will probably affect the development and future profile of that area; supervision of a study of a neighborhood in Dallas for the Dallas Neighborhood Renaissance Partnership program to ensure that the residents get the improvements they want and need; publication of a collection of essays on economic development strategies appropriate for Texas urban settings; a grant from the Economic Development Administration for a university center; completion of a study for Habitat for Humanity to be used in the revitalization of a Fort Worth inner-city neighborhood; preparation of two sets of manuals for the training of trainers of elected officials in Third World countries for the United Nations; supervision of an APA award-winning student project to help a local community with the development of a central business corridor; assistance to the Fort Worth City Council in reaching consensus on annual budget deliberations; and assistance in recent federal voting rights cases in Tennessee, Texas, Georgia and New Mexico.


Degree Programs

SUPA currently offers four programs of graduate-level study:

Ph.D. in Public and Urban Administration (p. 271)
Master of Arts in Urban Affairs (p. 269)
Master of City and Regional Planning (p. 276)
Master of Public Administration (p. 281)

SUPA participates in dual-degree programs with the schools of Architecture, Nursing and Social Work. It cooperates with the colleges of Engineering and Science in an interdisciplinary program leading to master's and doctoral degrees in environmental science and engineering.

Certificate Programs

SUPA offers certificate programs (as listed below) designed to provide skills and proficiency in highly specialized areas. Students enrolled in graduate degree programs at U.T. Arlington as well as students not enrolled in graduate degree programs are eligible to apply for these certificate programs. Those desiring to enroll in a certificate program but who are not currently enrolled in a graduate program may do so by applying to U.T. Arlington as a special student. Upon completion of all requirements, a certificate of completion is awarded by the University. Information on all certificate programs can be found below.

Certificate in Urban Non-profit Management (p. 283)
Certificate in Development Review (p. 278)
Certificate in Law and Public Policy (p. 270)
Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (p. 278)
Certificate in Urban Journalism (p. 270)
Certified Public Management Program (p. 282)


Expect Great Things!