Master of Public Administration admissions

The M.P.A. program accepts applications for admission to the fall, winter, and spring-summer terms. For a decision on regular admission, the application deadlines are:

  • Fall: July 1
  • Winter: November 1
  • Spring/summer: March 1

A review of completed application packets will begin approximately a month prior to the deadline. Applications completed after the deadline will be considered if space is available; if there is no space available, applicants who meet our qualifications will be admitted for the next available semester.

All applicants (including those transferring from another graduate program at Wayne State University) must complete the graduate admissions application.

Application materials

The following documents must be submitted before applications are considered for admission. Materials can be completed or uploaded via the online application:

  • Certified copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, both undergraduate and graduate
  • Personal Statement, a two to three-page essay describing your educational and professional goals as they relate to the M.P.A. program
  • Optional: Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (see GRE scores below)
  • Optional: Letters of recommendation from instructors and/or employers (see letters of recommendation below)
  • For International Students: TOEFL test scores (see international students below)

Apply for graduate admission

Learn more about:

  • GRE scores

    Applicants with cumulative GPAs below 3.30 (undergraduate or graduate) must submit GRE scores in order to be considered for admission. Undergraduate and graduate applicants with a high overall GPA (3.30 or higher) are not required to submit GRE scores, although they may wish to do so, especially if they are applying for a teaching or research assistantship or a fellowship. All applicants applying for a teaching or research assistantship or a fellowship regardless of their GPA must submit GRE scores in order to be considered.

    The M.P.A. program does not have minimum GRE scores, but scores above the 50th percentile on each aspect of the general test – verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytic writing – are considered to be evidence that an applicant with a cumulative GPA below 3.30 can succeed in the coursework. Currently, those scores are approximately 150 on the verbal and quantitative sections (under the new scoring system) and 4.0 on the analytic writing.

    Information on the testing procedure is available from the Educational Testing Service. There are a number of locations in Michigan where the test can be taken and many available dates on which to take the test.

  • Letters of recommendation

    Letters of recommendation are always welcome but never required. Applicants who do not exactly meet the GPA and/or GRE requirements are highly recommended to submit letters of recommendation. Letters from instructors, particularly those who understand challenging graduate programs, are preferred over those from employers, family friends, etc. The primary purpose of the letters should be to provide further evidence that the applicant can succeed in a rigorous graduate public service program.

  • International students

    TOEFL scores are required for those applicants whose native language is not English. The minimum TOEFL scores are 79 on the internet-based test (iBT) or 550 on the paper-based test (PBT). Other tests accepted are MELAB and IELTS.

    All applicants with a bachelor's degree from a non-U.S. institution must submit an official course-by-course transcript evaluation of that degree completed by World Education Services (WES). For applicants admitted in winter 2018 and beyond, the WES basic fee will be reimbursed on in the second semester's tuition bill if the applicant is admitted and enroll at Wayne State University.

    For more information on requirements for international applicants, please see the Graduate School admissions policies for international student admission requirements. International students are encouraged to contact the Office of International Students and Scholars and the Office of Graduate Admissions early in the process.

Admissions decisions

Admission to the M.P.A. program at Wayne State is selective. The program is the oldest M.P.A. program in the State of Michigan, it holds NASPAA accreditation, and it has a long list of graduates who have gone on to successful and distinguished careers in public and nonprofit management. A few of our more research-minded M.P.A. graduates are admitted to prestigious Ph.D. programs.

The M.P.A. program evaluates application dossiers with one question in mind: Will the applicant successfully complete the degree program? Since the program is academically rigorous and requires a significant commitment on the part of the student and the program, we rely upon multiple sources of information for admissions decisions. The decision for applicants is based upon a review of all of the application materials by M.P.A. faculty.

In particular, we examine the previous academic record of the applicant, as gauged by the grade point average in undergraduate or previous graduate course work. We also examine the strength and relevance of the curriculum. The personal statement provides an opportunity for applicants to demonstrate that they can write competently, but perhaps more importantly, that they are committed to public service. Finally, scores on the Graduate Record Examination may help in cases where the GPA of the applicants may not adequately reflect the likelihood of success.

Paths to admission

Admission to the M.P.A. program is selective. Applicants who are not admitted to the M.P.A. program because of their qualifications do not meet the program's admission criteria may wish to consult with the program director. The director can advise whether or not the applicant should consider reapplying to the program after improving their qualifications (e.g., taking post-baccalaureate course work without M.P.A. program credit; retaking the GRE; securing additional letters of recommendation; rewriting and resubmitting a personal statement). Students admitted through this path will meet with the director before enrolling for courses for the first 12 credits.

Tuition cost

The cost of a graduate degree is something prospective students should consider carefully before embarking on the journey. The tuition and fees are subject to a variety of variables, and Wayne State University has provided this handy tuition calculator to help prospective students generate the data they need to make their decisions. As of fall 2021, the itemized tuition rates and fees per credit hour are:

Items In-state Out-of-state
Credit hour rate $705.01 $1,527.07
Student service per credit hour fee $56.69 $56.69
Registration fee $328.01 $328.01
Total costs per credit hour  $1,089.71 $1,991.77

Source: WSU tuition and fees charts

Financing options

Financial Aid

Graduate students may be eligible for loans and work-study through the Office of Student Financial Aid.


The Wayne State University scholarship application lists scholarships available to students through their specific colleges and the Office of Student Financial Aid.

The M.P.A. program awards three scholarships: The Alfred M. Pelham Award, the Dr. Daryl J. and Constance R. Delabbio Public Service Endowed Scholarship, and the Master of Public Administration Annual Scholarship. These competitive awards are usually presented at the Lent Upson Lecture and reception, traditionally held in the spring. Students are notified of the opportunity to apply.

Graduate student funding and fellowships

The Graduate School provides a number of graduate funding opportunities for students.

The Department of Political Science has a limited number of teaching assistantships that offer stipends and tuition remission. Graduate students must apply by March 1 in order to be eligible for the next academic year.

Apply for a graduate teaching assistantship

The M.P.A. program partners with Michigan Municipal Executives for the Local Government Fellowship program – a year-long program where funded students work at a local community. Students are notified of the opportunity to apply.