- 154 (Fall 2019–Master’s students)
- Master of Public Affairs, Master of Global Policy Studies (Both also offer an 18-month Washington DC track); PhD in Public Policy; Executive Master in Public Leadership
- 50 full-time; 3:1 student-to-faculty ratio; LBJ is also home to a Diplomat in Residence and Intelligence Officer in Residence
- Customize career:
- 17 dual degree programs, 14 specializations and 13 affiliated research centers
- Employment sectors:
- International (government, policy and development), intelligence and security, private, nonprofit, government (federal, state and local)
- US News and World Report Rankings:
- Tied at #10 overall; #7 in International Global Policy and Administration; Tied at #10 in Homeland Security and Emergency Management
The Master of Global Policy Studies (MGPS) offers an interdisciplinary and practical understanding of international policymaking. Students receive hands-on training in traditional areas of study—development, diplomacy, security, humanitarian aid—while also understanding how we confront issues such as the emergence of non-state actors, disruptive technologies, cross-border crises, climate patterns and cyber warfare.
Hands-on training opportunities include global crisis simulations and policy research projects. For example, a team of seven LBJ School students was named regional winner of the largest-ever student simulation competition in higher education in March 2019. During the simulation, 585 graduate students from 137 universities around the world worked in teams to manage a theoretical migrant influx from a variety of policy perspectives.
Additionally, global policy students cap off their academic experience with a year-long policy research project. This project pairs teams of students with a client to address a complex policy issue in a real-world context. Students have traveled to Nepal to investigate the challenges involved in reconstructing homes in rural areas damaged by the Gorkha earthquake, and they have also conducted research in India that aims to integrate wildlife and forest conservation with traditional nomadic tribal livelihoods. Fall 2019 projects include topics like disaster risk reduction in the Asia Pacific, militarization in Latin America, rural entrepreneurship in Asia, Central American migration and Mexico’s migratory policy, and emerging policy challenges in Latin America.
The LBJ School is also home to both a Diplomat in Residence and the Central Intelligence Agency’s first resident intelligence officer. The Diplomat in Residence is responsible for seeking and assisting candidates to join the State Department through student programs, career opportunities and other employment. The resident intelligence officer helps to bridge the gap between the intelligence community and academia.
LBJ offers fellowship funding to support students undertaking summer internships for non-profit, non-governmental or governmental organizations that conduct development projects in the developing world. Fellowship recipients have traveled to countries including Nicaragua, Nigeria and Uganda to work on issues like hunger, workforce development and bioremediation efforts.
To receive information directly from the Admissions Department, click here.
Dr. Weaver conducts research on and teaches international development, evaluation methods, and writing for global policy.
How does the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) School equip students to engage with the global policy world?
Students at the LBJ School get hands-on training through projects with leading institutions, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, the United Nations and the State Department. Our students learn a lot of practical skills—ArcGIS, evaluation methods, and grant writing—and have opportunities to intern all over the world. One of our global policy students recently wrote our resident intelligence officer from the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, where she is interning, to share how prepared she felt for her work thanks to her LBJ courses. An alumnus who specializes in Asia and foreign policy works for the Congressional Research Service and says he owes it all to his experiences at the LBJ School.
How do you work with students in your research?
I love working with students in our yearlong policy research projects—the LBJ School’s capstone course. On one trip to Malawi, my students and I worked with international aid donors and the government to gather subnational data on all the aid projects in the country. We geo-mapped the data to create interactive maps that policymakers could use to assess the allocation of aid. In one meeting, a minister of finance looked closely at one of the maps and, with great excitement in his voice, declared, “We’re putting all of resources in the wrong spot! I have to talk to the donors about this!” It was a great moment when we realized our research was going to make a real difference. Our work quickly led to other multimillion-dollar research grants that have directly contributed to international aid transparency and accountability, while providing LBJ students with tremendous opportunities to delve into the complex world of global development finance.
Most recently, I worked with students to develop an online, open-source advocacy toolkit for groups working toward the UN sustainable development goal to end global hunger, improve nutrition, and enhance food security. While learning how to use Python and R Shiny App required a steep learning curve, the students developed deep familiarity with policy advocacy and how to influence Congress on these critical global issues
What makes the LBJ School stand out?
The LBJ School provides an extraordinary number of fellowships, in addition to the lowest tuition rates—by far—of any top ten policy school. This includes numerous fellowships to support professional development and internships around the world, as well as research and teaching assistantships. On all counts, the LBJ School provides the best value. We offer a top-tier education and outstanding career placement records in foreign service, federal and state agencies, international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, and the private and philanthropic sectors. Students are taught by world-class faculty and mentored by an alumni network over 4,300 strong.
Find @thelbjschool on social media.
Joshua Busby is the author of the recent Foreign Affairs article “Warming World: Why Climate Change Matters More Than Anything Else” (July/August 2018).
What is your program’s philosophy about teaching and world affairs?
While scholars fear that expert opinion has been devalued, skilled practitioners are needed now more than ever before. The next generation of policy professionals could define whether humanity rises to the many challenges facing the world. That is why our training mission is so important.
How is the LBJ School preparing for both old and new challenges?
Our first semester course in the Master of Global Policy Studies program, the Nature of the International System, provides students with a conceptual architecture to understand enduring features of world politics like international conflict, competition, and cooperation. We also bring in new topics such as climate change, pandemics, and disruptive nationalism.
Our faculty cover a range of these newer issues. I teach environmental security and courses on global environmental and health governance. My faculty colleagues are leading scholars in areas such as international aid evaluation and transparency, food security, China in the developing world, civil conflict, and Asian security and missile defense.
With the return of geopolitical tensions, we are also a leading school for grand strategy and the role of history. Scholars and practitioners bring rich historical knowledge and practical experience to courses like Policymaking in the Global Age and Foreign Policy Strategy and Decision-Making.
Students also participate in a year-long research course for a professional client, which often involves some travel. For example, I partnered with the Congressional Research Service on a course on global wildlife conservation, sending students to Washington, DC, China, and Tanzania.
Does the LBJ School have specific programs and centers?
We are affiliated with world-class centers of excellence and innovative programs, including the Strauss Center for International Security and Law, the Clements Center for National Security, and Innovations for Peace and Development (IPD).
The Strauss and Clements Centers publish the Texas National Security Review in partnership with the website War on the Rocks. Students can get involved. The two centers also host the Intelligence Studies Project. The CIA recently selected the LBJ School as the only policy school in the nation to host a visiting intelligence officer. The Cybersecurity Studies program at Strauss also cross-trains students in policy and law. Furthermore, Strauss hosts the Mexico Security Initiative, which examines cutting-edge policy issues including the experience of Central American migrants.
IPD, a multidisciplinary program, has done pathbreaking work on open data, involving dozens of students to bring innovative methods like GIS to bear on conflict, foreign aid, and poverty alleviation.
We recently opened the new China Policy Center, a laboratory for the study of contemporary U.S.-China relations.
The LBJ Washington Center also offers an eighteen-month course of accelerated study and work focused on both domestic and international federal policymaking.
Why should students come to Austin?
Tuition is affordable. Austin is justly famous for its year-round outdoor culture, lakes, start-up and music scenes, booming economy, and much more. A border state, Texas is center stage for many of the world’s high-stakes issues such as trade, immigration, energy, and the environment. We share the vast resources of UT Austin, a Tier I public research university, and a presidential library. High-level officials and leading scholars from around the globe make us a destination for important dialogue.
How are you preparing students to succeed in an uncertain global environment?
Unpredictability has always been a defining characteristic of global affairs. We teach students to not only expect uncertainty but also to capitalize on it and use it as an opportunity for transformational change. That is only possible if one understands the roots of changes taking place, so we instill in our students a truly global outlook—one that does not take the U.S. perspective as universal. Our students study the opposing vantage point, question assumptions, and plan for the unexpected, which builds resiliency in times of flux.
How relevant and contemporary is the curriculum and learning environment?
At the LBJ School, we prepare students by constantly adapting our curriculum to incorporate new tools, methodologies, and ways of thinking. Specifically, students pursuing our Master of Global Policy Studies (MGPS) degree are well-versed in the traditional areas of study—development, diplomacy, security, humanitarian aid—and they understand how modern forces change how we confront issues such as the emergence of non-state actors, sustainable development, climate patterns, and cyber warfare. We put a strong emphasis on experiential learning, in which students study policy through real-world exposure and practice, including participation in a year-long policy research project funded by an external client.
Students have the unique advantage of accessing the vast resources of The University of Texas (UT) at Austin, a Tier 1 research institution. MGPS students are afforded ten dual degree options, choose from existing specializations, or design one based on their personal career trajectory. They especially benefit from the LBJ School’s affiliations with the Clements Center for National Security and the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law, both of which integrate expertise from across UT as well as from the private and public sectors to tackle pressing global security challenges. Notably, LBJ is host to UT’s new China Policy Center, a laboratory for the study of contemporary U.S.-China relations. Our Latin America working group investigates the most serious issues facing the region over the next decade, with Texas a gateway to this region of the world. We continue to see high-level officials from Washington, DC, and around the globe make us a destination for important exchange and dialogue. In the last two years, we hosted a secretary of state, secretary of defense, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, Federal Bureaus of Investigations director, director of national intelligence, and several U.S. senators.
How do you connect students to jobs in their desired fields?
Our faculty include world-renowned scholars and former senior officials in the departments of state and defense, the National Security Council, U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Bank, and more. In recent years, students have taken jobs at the U.S. State Department and the Defense Department, the CIA, the U.S. Senate and House Armed Services Committees, the World Bank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Brookings Institution, the Atlantic Council, prominent nongovernmental organizations, and nonprofits.
Whether through our faculty, LBJ’s Washington Center in DC, Austin’s burgeoning global community, or through our engaged alumni network numbering over 4,100 on the world stage, our students are exposed to the full range of professional possibilities.
How is your curriculum addressing the most pressing global issues today?
The LBJ School has a unique legacy of tackling the most complex policy problems of our day by creating innovative approaches that make a difference not just within the walls of academia, but also in the public and social dialogue of our world. Our curriculum is agile, geared towards a shifting global landscape and identifying new challenges as they emerge. We adapt our programs so that our students acquire the skills and expertise to move directly into the global arena and to make substantive contributions to policy debates.
It is critical that our students anticipate the implications of blending national and world policies. We build analytic skills to develop policy that transcends borders, and we teach the power of interdependencies among international intelligence, aid, security, health, diplomacy, development and research.
How do you teach students a global perspective to problem solving?
Policy analysis and high quality research inform problem solving. The LBJ School prides itself in advancing scholarship that does not focus on one methodology or discipline, but rather fosters an approach that exposes the cycle and context of policy, including analysis frameworks, recurring tensions around persistent policy debates and the creation of feasible options ready for implementation. We teach our students to stretch intellectual boundaries and to examine and appreciate the importance of diversity of thought, politics, race, gender, geography and socioeconomics. Energized by ideas and enriched by diversity, our students can enter any job in the world arena with the knowledge and practical experience to be “at the table” when policy is formulated.
What role does location play in preparing students for careers in today’s global environment? Is there a benefit being in Texas?
Location matters when choosing where to study the public sphere, and there is no better place in the nation to see real-life policy implications than Austin, Texas. This dynamic capital city provides a complete governmental learning laboratory where innovations are occurring at a rapid pace in key policy areas such as trade, natural resources, security, development, technology and immigration. The LBJ School shares the vast resources of the University of Texas at Austin, a Tier I research university, providing us with interdisciplinary richness. And our students have the ability to study and work in Washington, DC, where we recently opened our new LBJ Washington Center. With a population of over 27 million, the longest foreign border in the U.S. and close proximity to Mexico, Central and South America, Texas is a powerhouse, serving as a gateway to diverse international and global policy communities. The world and its challenges are at our doorstep at the LBJ School in Austin.