MPA/MPP programs are looking for individuals who can demonstrate a commitment to public service and have appropriate preparation to succeed. Specific requirements and expectations vary from program to program, but the following are likely to increase the chances of being admitted:
- Prior courses at the college level that indicate a general aptitude for subjects such as economics, quantitative methods, and management.
- Strong written and oral communication skills.
- Appropriate work experience related to public service.
MPA/MPP students have a wide variety of undergraduate degrees, including majors in political science, economics, sociology, social work, environmental science, foreign languages, biological sciences, English, health, criminal justice, psychology, history, information technology, art, and many others. Undergraduate students definitely should consider taking at least one economics course and one empirical methods/statistics course if they are interested in the MPA/MPP.
The competitiveness of admission varies greatly across MPA/MPP programs. NASPAA’s Data Center has data on admissions for the larger, comprehensive schools that shows that, on average, such programs are receiving about four applications for every position in the entering class.
Almost all full-time MPA/MPP programs require that applicants take standardized exams such as the GRE or GMAT, and for non-native English speakers, the TOEFL. Degree programs for mid-career professionals may waive standardized exams based on prior work experience and demonstrated expertise.
Costs and Financial Aid
The total tuition for am MPA/MPP ranges from $15,000 for in-state students at many public universities, up to $80,000 at some private universities and for out-of-state students at some public universities. These do not include books, room and board, and personal expenses.
In general, graduate school programs expect that a student will contribute financial resources toward paying for the degree. However, in contrast to business and law schools, most MPA/MPP programs do offer some financial aid that does not have to be repaid. Many MPA/MPP program base aid awards on merit rather than need: applicants who have the strongest preparation may receive the most aid.
MPA/MPP programs provide financial assistance through scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study for students who are eligible. Applicants should search for possible sources of scholarships and financial aid both within the university and elsewhere.