Professionalize Your Passion to Create Lasting Change

  • More than 35,000 seniors are living in poverty in North Texas. ¹
  • 50.1 million Americans struggle to put food on the table. ²
  • More than 1.5 million youth in the United States are homeless.³

The M.S. in Public Leadership program is geared toward people who want to see change happen. We want to work with students who are driven to serve the underserved, and radically change, minimize or resolve specific social issues. What you learn in class, you will apply as you work closely with organizations throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. You will graduate ready to serve, ready to lead and ready to create lasting change.

At UNT Dallas, the community is your classroom. With each class, you will develop a specific skill set that you will put into practice with a local organization. You may be required to provide financial advice to a non-profit as part of a budgeting course. Other courses may include organizing volunteers or reviewing data trends to plan for growth. One thing is certain, you’ll get your hands dirty as you dig deep into how area organizations work and serve, and learn how to do it better. 

Sample Courses:

  • Public Service and Society
  • Managing Human Resources
  • Leading and Managing Public Organizations
  • Intergovernmental Relations and Management
  • Strategic Planning
  • Citizen Engagement, Advocacy, and Community Leadership

¹North Texas Food Bank,


³Stand Up for Kids

Admission Standards

  • Unconditional Admission: Applicants who meet all the following requirements will be considered for unconditional admission:
    • Minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0
    • Two (2) letters of recommendation
    • Strong, well-written personal essay
    • Non-native English speakers only: TOEFL scores of at least 550 (paper-based), 213 (computer-based), or 79 (iBT) with sectional scores that meet or exceed 22 Writing, 21 Speaking, 20 Reading, and 16 Listening; or, IELTS score of at least 6.5.
  • Probationary Admission: Applicants who do not meet all requirements for unconditional admission will be considered for probationary admission on the basis of the strength of all the listed admission factors. Test scores will not constitute the sole or primary basis for ending consideration of an applicant. Under probationary admission, special course requirements or other conditions may be imposed.
  • Other types of admission decisions pertaining to applicants:
    • Deferred: Applicants who are unable to supply required application materials, or who must complete additional preparatory work before their admissibility can be determined, may be deferred until records are complete.
    • Provisional: Applicants who are unable to supply all required documentation prior to the admission deadline but who otherwise appear to meet admission requirements may be granted provisional admission pending submission of complete and satisfactory credentials before the end of the semester in which they have registered in a provisional status.
    • Denied: Applicants who fail to meet more than one of the admission requirements and for whom there is insufficient basis to justify any other kind of admission will be denied admission. As the admission process is competitive, applicants meeting basic admission requirements who are less well qualified than other applicants may also be denied admission
  • The MS in Public Leadership program requires that a student maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 (B) or better.
  • The master’s program committee will recommend dismissal of a student from the master’s program if the student receives two course grades below C (for purposes of this rule, the lowest grade received in a course is used).
  • Master’s students may not graduate with more than two C’s in their program requirements, although a course may be repeated to raise a grade of C or less.  Master’s students whose academic performance falls below a cumulative 3.0 GPA on all graduate work attempted will be notified by the Office of Graduate Admissions that they have been placed on academic probation.
  • Course work taken at another university by a student on suspension cannot be applied toward the degree program.

Academic Standards

Degree Requirements

The program requires satisfactory completion of a minimum of 39 hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. The degree includes a core curriculum of 27 hours that must be completed by all students.

Core Curriculum (27 hours)

Public Management Courses (15 hours)

  • PLDR 5320 Public Service and Society and Society. 3 hours. Examination of the political, institutional, organizational, ethical, social, legal and economic environments in which public servants and community leaders operate. 
  • PADM 5030 Managing Human Resources. 3 hours. The theory and application of managing human behavior in public organizations. Topics include motivation, supervision, conflict management, workplace diversity and the functions of public personnel systems including job design, analysis, and classification; recruitment and selection; compensation, development, training, and evaluation; promotion and discipline; and employee law. Prerequisite(s): PADM 5010 and PADM 5020.
  • PADM 5400 Managing Financial Resources. 3 hours. Principles of the budgetary process and innovations in budget preparation with emphasis on the role of the budget as a tool for financial control, improving program performance, and policy making. Topics include budget innovation, accounting and financial reporting.
  • PADM 5500 Administrative Research Methods I. 3 hours.  Introduction to methods and techniques of applied research and statistical analysis. Topics include probability, descriptive statistics, estimation, hypothesis testing, contingency table analysis and regression analysis. Prerequisite(s): None.
  • PADM 5510 Administrative Research Methods II. 3 hours. Course in program evaluation focusing on the practical application of appropriate social science research methodology to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of public and nonprofit sector programs and policies. Covers a broad range of topics on how to develop an evaluation plan; design various types of evaluations such as process, impact, cost-benefit, and cost-effectiveness evaluations; and how to manage evaluation projects. Prerequisite(s): PADM 5500.

Organizational Leadership Courses (9 hours)

  • PLDR 5330 Organization Theory and Managing Change in Public Service. 3 hours. Survey of historical and contemporary theories of organizations, human behavior within the organizational setting, and managing change in the public service context.
  • PADM 5900 (Special Problems): Strategic Planning. 3 hours. Theories, current research and practical competencies in strategic planning within the public organization context.
  • PADM 5020 Leading and Managing Public Organizations. 3 hours. Survey of contemporary theories and applications of managing high performance public organizations. Focus on leadership approaches, strategy, decision making, change management, networks and collaboration, privatization, and groups and teams. Prerequisite(s): PADM 5010 (may be taken concurrently).

Electives (12 hours)

Administrative Leadership Concentration

  • PLDR 5355 Leadership in the Administrative State. 3 hours.  This course provides an overview of the administrative state in the 21st century and identifies the competencies needed to lead bureaucratic organizations. Prerequisite(s): PLDR 5320
  • PLDR 5340 Intergovernmental Relations and Management. 3 hours.  The nature and role public leaders play in the American federal system of government, including all levels of government - federal, state, county, municipal, and special districts. Prerequisite(s): PLDR 5320
  • PADM 5550D Seminar in Program Evaluation. 3 hours.  Advanced course in evaluation, performance measurement, and monitoring in the management of government programs. Uses methods of social science to evaluate the effectiveness of government services.  Prerequisite(s): PADM 5510.
  • PLDR 5350 Performance Measurement and Mangement. 3 hours.  An overview and application of the operations and performance management in the public and nonprofit sectors with a focus on impact assessment and efficient service delivery to create public value. Prerequisite(s): PLDR 5320.

Law Enforcement Leadership Concentration

  • CJUS 5000 Criminal Justice Policy. 3 hours.  Methods of policy formulation, implementation and analysis in the criminal justice setting. Selected topics developed for practical research and evaluation.
  • CJUS 5130 Information Policy, Law and Justice. 3 hours.  Critical consideration of some of the public policy, legal and societal justice implications of new information technology such as the Internet.
  • CJUS 5250 Administrative Law and Justice. 3 hours.  Discussion of the legal principles and doctrines applicable to the state and federal criminal justice agencies, including information policy, ethical and liability issues.
  • CJUS 5500D Seminar in Criminal Justice Administration. 3 hours.  Critical application of selected analytical tools in administering justice agencies; studies of the application of human and financial resources, productivity, measurement and enhancement, and organization design, culture and change in the context of criminal justice agencies.

Nonprofit and Community Leadership Concentration (Four courses)

  • PLDR 5335 Nonprofit Leadership and Management. 3 hours. A practical course on managing nonprofit organizations which addresses key aspects such as pubic trust, board development, strategic planning, volunteer management, financial management, financial accountability and transparency. Prerequisite: PLDR 5320.
  • PADM 5550 Program Evaluation. 3 hours. Advanced course in evaluation, performance measurement, and monitoring in the management of nonprofit and government programs. Uses methods of social science to evaluate the effectiveness of government services. Prerequisite:  PADM 5510.
  • PADM 5900 (Special Problems): Citizen Engagement, Advocacy, and Community Leadership. 3 hours.  Examination of key issues impacting quality of life in the U.S (with a special emphasis on Dallas' southern sector), community building strategies, data smart governance, and advocacy plans used  by leaders to address community challenges and improve  civic life. Prerequisite: PLDR 5320.  
  • PLDR 5325  Fundraising Principles & Grant Writing.  3 hours. A practical understanding of advanced concepts, techniques and theories of fundraising for nonprofit and community leaders; including the preparation of an effective grant application
  • PLDR 5355  Performance Measurement and Management.  3 hours.  An overview and application of the operations and performance management in the public and nonprofit sectors with a focus on impact assessment and efficient service delivery to create public value. Prerequisites: PLDR 5320. 

Capstone (3 hours)

  • PLDR 5390 Professional Practice for Public Managers. 3 hours. The Capstone Seminar is designed to demonstrate your accumulated training in Public Leadership in an original group project, subject to the instructor’s approval and under the additional supervision of a faculty mentor. To be taken during the last term/semester of coursework. Prerequisite(s): Completion of all other core courses or consent of department.


Shaniece Miller, Graduate Enrollment Coordinator
Telephone: 972.338.1746

Dr. Larry Terry, II, Assistant Professor
Telephone: 972.338.1590

Dr. Janiece Upshaw,  Program Coordinator& Assistant Professor                                                                                                                                                                                       

Telephone: 972.338.1538   


What students are saying

"The Public Leadership program's mission is to 'professionalize your passion to create lasting change.' I’m excited to professionalize my own passion of serving others to create lasting change."

Tyeshia, Class of 2018

Read Tyeshia's story »