What are the admission requirements for a Master’s in Public Administration?

While some graduate degrees are designed to aid professionals in business or academia, a Master's in Public Administration has what some believe is an even more noble and just cause behind it as it is to better serve the public good through government and non-profit organizations. With this in mind, there are some public policy schools that hold a higher standard for their applicants who they hope to train to be efficient and effective leaders possessing integrity and character. Here are some of the admissions requirements for several of the best MPA degrees in the nation.

The H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania features one of the nation's best Master's in Public Management programs. Backed by excellent accreditation through NASPAA, this program has been recognized as the 13th best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. While this MPM features a total tuition rate of $40,625, an average early career salary of $84,900 has been reported by some students upon graduating from the university, revealing a very strong return on the investment of education. While the school states it is "looking for applicants who have demonstrated leadership potential and professional competence," admission requirements for this degree include an undergraduate degree from an accredited university, at least three years of professional work experience at the time of enrollment, and basic quantitative skills including a foundation in pre-calculus. The admissions office at Heinz College considers a complete application to include a completed online application form, all official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a current resume, a 1,000-word essay listing background and career plans, and a verification requirement the school deems necessary upon acceptance into the program that involves a background check.

While most public affairs schools primarily list the admission requirements for their programs in an objective and utilitarian manner, the University of Southern California is one institution of higher learning that stresses the importance of a student's intrinsic values and character as an important quality that will determine his or her success in the program. USC's Sol Price School of Public Policy lists the six qualities of a highly successful Master's of Public Administration student as being one who is highly ethical, passionate about helping others, a good listener, a natural leader, one who has a plan, and who desires to make a difference. The school lists an average completion time for this program as being less than two years, while the total estimated tuition rate for this program is $39,984. Prerequisites for this MPA include Statistics and 12 units of undergraduate Social Sciences courses. The admissions office at the Sol Price School of Public Policy evaluates a candidate's potential on a balance of their past by considering grades, professional experience, and community service, the future potential of a student with GMAT/GRE scores and letters of recommendation, and a student's commitment to education and career by reviewing a writing sample. Successful students in this MPA program typically have attained an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 and have produced an above average score on the GMAT or GRE. GMAT scores may be waived for applicants who have at least five years of professional work experience. Students interested in this degree are encouraged to submit a USC Graduate Application with corresponding $90 fee, all official transcripts, test scores, a current resume, three letters of recommendation, a Statement of Purpose, and a USC Scholarship Application Form into the admissions office by three deadlines per year.

Offered through the School of Government & Public Policy, the University of Arizona features a Master's in Public Administration degree which "is designed to combine these two spheres of knowledge and skills in preparing men and women for challenging and rewarding careers in the changing public and nonprofit arenas. The MPA program combines curricular structure, physical facilities, and real-world fieldwork opportunities to foster the managerial skills needed to meet today's greater demands for accountability and effectiveness from public and nonprofit organizations." This MPA is divided between 24-credits of core courses, 12 concentration credits, an internship that accounts for three credits, and a three-credit capstone course. Featuring an affordable tuition rate of just $11,040, an average early career salary of $58,200 has been reported by some graduates of the university, revealing a strong return on the investment of education. The admissions office at Arizona recommends candidates show an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0, and while students are not required to have prior experience in public administration or public policy, they should show analytical, quantitative, and verbal skills up to par with academia at this level. While a GRE score is required for admission, it may be waived for students who have already completed a master's degree or who have at least five years' management experience in a government or non-profit setting. Required materials for acceptance into this program include the completion of an online application, all official transcripts, a statement of purpose, a current resume, and three letters of recommendation.