Public Policy & Administration

Master's in Public Policy and Administration Admission

Below is a list of requirements for admission into the on-campus MPPA program. For specific questions regarding the admissions process, contact an adviser at 312-503-2579.

This program is currently pending U.S. federal agency approval and expected to launch in late 2019. Submit your contact information below to receive additional information about the program and to be notified when the application for admission is open.


Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution or its foreign equivalent. A competitive undergraduate record that indicates strong academic ability is required, though applicants need not have extensive academic experience in public policy. Work experience in the public sector is desirable but not necessary. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required, but strong scores bolster chances for admission. GRE scores and/or new, relevant course work at the undergraduate level are recommended for applicants whose previous academic performance was below a B average.

TOEFL or IELTS scores are not required for students who have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree from an accredited four-year institution or equivalent where the language of instruction is English.

SPS accepts both the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) exam. Tests must be taken no more than two years before the intended quarter of entry. For the TOEFL, applicants must score 600 or higher on the paper-based test, 250 or higher on the computer-based test, or 100 or higher on the internet based test. SPS's institutional code for the TOEFL is 9019. For the IELTS exam, applicants must receive a score of 7.0 or higher.


The MPPA program for full-time international students is designed so that students can complete the program in 12 months (minimum of three classes per quarter, only one may be online). The program begins with a four-week required Graduate Studies Preparation Program.

Please note that courses completed in the certificate program cannot be transferred to the corresponding graduate degree.

Application Checklist

*Admissions interviews will be conducted by invitation only. An invitation to interview means that your application has advanced in the admissions process, but does not imply acceptance. Interviews may be held in person or via Skype/similar services and must be completed April 1 for a Fall program start.

Supplemental Materials

Supplemental materials, with the exception of transcripts, must be uploaded to the online application. Official transcripts may be sent to our Admissions office at or mailed to our Chicago office. Please be sure to include the name of your intended program when addressing transcripts. Applicants will be notified once all materials have been received and the application is complete.

  • One sealed copy of official transcripts from ALL previously attended colleges and universities. Official transcripts must arrive in our office in the original sealed envelope issued by the institution. Northwestern University School of Professional Studies accepts electronic transcripts from U.S. institutions via secure electronic transcript providers. Consult with your institution to see if they are part of a secure e-delivery network. All electronic transcripts should be sent to Please note transcripts are not accepted by fax or email. If you are currently enrolled, please submit an official transcript showing courses in-progress. Applicants with international transcripts must request an official course-by-course evaluation of transcripts from a NACES member such as WES or ECE. A course-by-course evaluation will translate courses, degrees and grades to U.S. equivalency.
  • Two letters of recommendation focusing on academic achievement and ability
  • Statement of purpose
  • A writing sample
  • Current résumé or curriculum vitae

Transcript mailing address:
MPPA Graduate Admissions
Northwestern University School of Professional Studies
Wieboldt Hall, Sixth floor
339 E. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60611-3008

Statement of Purpose and Writing Sample

Applicants must submit a 300-word statement of purpose explaining how the degree program will help them meet their academic and professional goals. Applicants who did not major in public policy or a related field should explain how other academic and nonacademic experiences have prepared them to undertake graduate study in this program.

The writing sample should demonstrate the ability to present ideas and arguments in a manner appropriate to a graduate-level program and should not exceed 10 pages in length. The sample can be an academic paper, a short work-related memo or analysis, or an essay describing a critical public policy issue.

If you submit an academic paper, it should consist of the following:

  • A clearly articulated thesis on a topic drawn from public policy or a related discipline
  • An argument that persuasively supports the thesis and demonstrates an awareness of contrary arguments
  • Documentation of quoted material and acknowledgement of ideas taken from the works of others using an accepted academic style guide

If you submit a work-related analysis of a policy, problem, or program of which you are the sole author it should consist of the following:

  • A clear identification of the organizational issue in need of attention
  • An analysis of the issue and its importance to the organization
  • Well-reasoned action options and your final recommendations

If you are submitting an essay it should be comprised of the following:

  • Describe what you see as one of the most critical public policy issues that faces the nation, your state, or your community
  • Provide a summary of a course of action you advocate to address this issue as if you were serving in a policy-making or administrative leadership role
  • Provide supporting justification for the action you are advocating

Application Tips

The MPPA program is academic and professional, so the ideal student has substantial abilities and experience in both areas. An academic background and research experience in public policy-related areas, such as political science, history, sociology, statistics, is especially desirable. Students with no coursework in such areas should consider taking courses at the undergraduate level before applying. Work experience, even internships, is an advantage. All applicants should be able to demonstrate how they are prepared to succeed in the program and use the degree to advance their professional careers.