May 29, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2023 - 2024 
Graduate Catalog 2023 - 2024

Urban Studies and Public Affairs, Ph.D.

This program is not accepting new admits as of the Summer 24 semester.

Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs

Areas of Study

Public Administration
Urban Policy and Development


The Ph.D. program in Urban Studies and Public Affairs integrates urban-related knowledge from a number of academic disciplines. Through disciplinary integration, doctoral students analyze, design, test, and evaluate strategies for urban policy-making and management within the public and private sectors.

Ph.D. Mission and Goals

The mission is to prepare scholars for research, teaching, and reflective practice in positions related to urban studies and public affairs in universities or public-policy organizations. The goals of the program are:

  • To graduate scholars who possess a strong methodological foundation within the field of urban studies and public affairs together with an in-depth knowledge that enables them to recognize, identify, and articulate the frontiers of scholarship in a specialization.
  • To graduate scholars able to construct, execute, and present scholastically sound, independent research of either a theoretical or applied nature that expands the frontiers of knowledge within the field of urban studies and public affairs.


Current faculty information can be located on the Cleveland State University Faculty Profile page.

Financial Assistance

For fullest consideration, GA applicants should submit the School of Urban Affairs GA application and be admitted with degree-seeking status by February 15. 

Student employment opportunities are available to eligible degree-seeking students. Student employment information is available through the CSU Office of Career Development and Exploration.

Admission Information

Students are admitted to the Ph.D. program in Urban Studies in the fall semester only. Students entering the program with a master’s degree are expected to have a grade-point average of 3.5 or better. Both undergraduate and graduate grade-point averages are considered in determining eligibility for admission. Cleveland State also permits students with bachelor’s degrees to enter the program. Bachelor entry-level students must have achieved at least a 3.5 grade-point average in their undergraduate work.

Applicants are expected to have earned a minimum combined 50th percentile on the quantitative and verbal sections of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), plus at least a 4.0 on the analytical writing section. In addition to the application requirements of the College of Graduate Studies, an applicant must submit three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, preferably a recently graded research paper, and a statement of purpose for seeking a Ph.D. in Urban Studies and Public Affairs. Please visit the department webpage for more information at The application deadline is January 31st. Submit all materials via the online application portal or to to Campus 411 All-In-One.

Non-native English speakers who do not have an earned bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited U.S. institution must demonstrate proof of English-language proficiency as indicated under “Admission Requirements for International Students and Permanent Residents” in the Admissions  section of this catalog.

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Degree Requirements

For more information and specific curriculum plans, please refer to the PhD program handbook, online at


Depending on previous graduate course work, Ph.D. students must complete some or all of the following master’s level prerequisite courses before enrolling in core or specialization courses. Those entering with a bachelor’s degree must complete all prerequisites. The PhD program requires completion of a minimum 66 credit hours (excluding prerequisites) from the following areas: core courses (16 credits), specialization area (20 credits), electives (12 credits), a comprehensive exam, and dissertation research (18 credits). Students must earn a grade-point average of 3.0 or better in the following prerequisite courses:

Core (16 credit hours)

Complete a common core of four courses with a grade of B or better in each course.

Specialization (20 credit hours)

Electives (12 credits)

Public Administration Specialization

Urban Policy and Development Specialization

Comprehensive Examination

Upon completion of all course work, students must take a comprehensive examination in the major area of specialization. Upon successful completion of the examination, a student is eligible to begin dissertation research.

Research & Dissertation (18 credit hour minimum)

The dissertation demonstrates the student’s ability to plan and carry through to successful completion a comprehensive research project. The dissertation should contribute to society’s knowledge about the area of specialization chosen.