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School of Urban & Public Affairs

Undergraduate Degrees

Undergraduate Minors

  • Minor, Urban and Public Affairs
    (with emphasis areas in Public Administration, Urban Affairs and Public Policy, and Urban Planning and the Environment)
  • Minor, Environmental and Sustainability Studies

Graduate Degrees

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

The Institute of Urban Studies was established in 1967 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 1992, after significant expansion of its staff and programs, the School of Urban and Public Affairs was created. The Institute of Urban Studies continues to operate as a vital research and outreach arm of the School of Urban and Public Affairs.

The Institute 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 40 years of existence, the Institute of Urban Studies and the School of Urban and Public Affairs has conducted hundreds of studies on such topics as transportation, housing, local economic development, public safety, corrections, education, human services, child care and regional governance. These reports are included in the collections of virtually every major library in Texas and have been adopted as texts at many colleges and universities.

Students are offered a wide array of opportunities for 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.


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

The Master’s of City and Regional Planning is officially recognized and accredited by the Planning Accreditation Board that accredits North American planning programs on the basis of a strict and extensive set of criteria rooted in planning knowledge, skills, and values. Students enrolled in accredited programs are eligible for certain national 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.

The Master’s of Public Administration degree is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration that 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 reputation and opens doors and provides opportunities for students applying for Texas-based scholarships and nationwide positions.  Public Administration was ranked 74th by U.S. News & World Report in 2014.

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, inter-local 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 planning issues as urban design, land use analysis, environmental planning, economic development, community service and development, focus group research and group facilitation; such public administration issues as public management, intergovernmental relations, entrepreneurship in government, education and economic development; and such urban affairs issues as urban theory, development, management, politics, social welfare policy, social service administration and minority relations.