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Frequently Asked Questions

The Frequently Asked Questions on this page are organized by their target audience. Please browse the general questions as well as the questions specific to your program of interest.

General Applicant Questions 

How do I apply?
You must apply using the University’s online application system.  You can find this online application at

May I opt to submit a paper-based application?
The answer is no.  Unless you are applying from a country or region that has little or no access to the internet, you must apply using the University’s online application system at

What is a pin and how do I get one?
A pin is a randomly assigned identification number that will allow you to login to the University’s online application system.  It is important to keep your pin in a safe place as you will need to use it throughout the application process.

What if I am not ready to submit an application?
You may begin the application process at any time, even if you are not ready to submit all of the required materials.  The online system allows you to login as often as you like to update and/or change your application.  Only after you submit your completed application (including the application fee) will the application and supplemental materials be reviewed.

How do I submit letters of recommendation and transcripts?
Letters of recommendation may be submitted through the University’s online application system.  Once you have signed in to your online application, you will be asked to input the names and contact information of your recommenders.  Your recommenders will then be contacted electronically and given a personal access code and password to log in to the system and enter their recommendation.  If a recommender prefers to submit their letter of recommendation in hard copy, he or she should mail a sealed and signed official letter to the Graduate Admissions Office, including the Recommendation for Graduate Study Form.

You may upload unofficial transcripts into the University’s online application system.  However, you must also send a sealed, official transcript to the Graduate Admissions Office.  The transcript can come directly from the school or you can mail it (unopened) to the University.
The street address for the Graduate Admissions Office is:1400 Washington Ave., UAB 121, Albany, NY 12222

What is your GRE/TOEFL code?
Applicants should use code 2532. 

Can my work experience substitute for the GRE requirement?
The Department of Public Administration and Policy will consider GRE/GMAT waiver requests from MPA applicants who possess 5 or more years of relevant full-time professional work experience. Those who wish to be considered for an assistantship or scholarship must submit a GRE or GMAT test score. Applicants will be required to submit a waiver application in addition to their regular application materials. This waiver application should contain a current resume and the waiver questionnaire for consideration by the Department's admission committee. Meeting the conditions listed above is not a guarantee that a waiver will be granted. Applicants may be required to participate in an interview before final decision is made.  Note: This applies to MPA Applicants Only.

Do you offer conditional admission pending higher GRE/TOEFL scores?
No, we do not offer conditional admission.   

I missed the admissions deadline, can I still apply?
If you are an applicant to the MPA program and miss the February 1st deadline, you will not be considered for an assistantship or scholarship. You may continue to apply for admission until June 15th. If you are a PhD applicant and missed the December 31st deadline, we cannot guarantee that you will be considered for funding. However, we will continue to review applications until the cohort is filled. 

Can I defer admission and if so, for how long?
Yes, admission may be deferred for up to one year without having to reapply to the program. Please click on the Confirmation of Acceptance link within your official admission letter (in the online application system) and fill out the appropriate information. Then click on the "Term Change Deposit Form" link within the Confirmation of Acceptance form. If this link doesn't work, you can go there directly:

Do you have any information sessions (open houses) scheduled for
prospective students?
Information sessions are offered in the fall and spring. Please check the events calendar for more information. We are also happy to set up campus visits on an individual basis. 

Do you offer summer courses?
A limited number of core MPA courses are offered during the summer session. We generally do not offer any doctoral courses or upper-level electives during the summer. 

Can I apply for/begin taking classes in the summer?
We do not accept applications for the summer semester. 

MPA Applicant Questions 

What is your minimum/average GRE score for the MPA program?
The Department does not have official minimum scores. Average GRE scores for admitted MPA students are the 60% percentile for quantitative and 55% percentile for verbal. The average score on the writing section is 5.0. Those averages are much higher for funded students.

What is your minimum GPA requirement?
The Department does not have an official minimum GPA. The average undergraduate GPA for accepted MPA students is 3.65 out of 4.0.  

What is your average GMAT score?
Because we receive relatively few GMAT scores, the percentile is considered rather than the raw score. Accepted students have generally scored above the 60th percentile. 

Can I submit LSAT scores instead of GRE scores?
Yes, the Department will accept LSAT scores in lieu of GRE or GMAT for MPA applicants.  Applicants who wish to apply using LSAT scores* should contact the Admissions Office at for submission information. Please visit Admission Requirements & Deadlines for MPA admissions deadlines and requirements.

*The LSAT may be accepted in lieu of GRE scores when an applicant has taken two or more quantitative courses at the undergraduate level and earned a B or better average in those courses. Scores must be less than five years old. Please contact the department at regarding details and course approval.

What is the percentage of international students in program?
The percentage of international students in the MPA program varies between 40% and 45% each year. Approximately 75% of PhD students are international students.

Can I complete the MPA program part time?
Yes, students in the MPA program can take classes on a full-time or part-time basis. Regardless of your intent to be a full-time or part-time student, the same application form is used. 

Can I work full-time while completing my MPA degree?
Yes, many of our students attend the MPA program part-time while working full-time. Our MPA courses are offered almost exclusively in the evening, meeting once a week from 5:45 to 8:50 pm. 

How long is the MPA program (on full time and/or part time basis)?
The MPA program takes two years to complete on a full-time basis. Part time students have up to six years to complete their MPA degree. 

Is work experience a requirement for the MPA program?
Work experience is not required for admission to the MPA program. However, any previous work or internship experience will be considered during the application review process. 

Do you provide assistantships or financial support for students?
Yes, students may be considered for assistantships and scholarships within the Department.  These are decided primarily based on merit.  Please fill out an application for Graduate Assistantship/Fellowship and submit it through the online application system.  Applications must be received no later than February 1st to be considered for funding.

Should my letters of recommendation be strictly academic or are professional recommendations acceptable?
It depends on your experience. If you are a current undergraduate student or recent graduate, we would expect at least one academic recommendation. However, we understand that working professionals may only have access to professional references. We suggest that you choose the recommenders that can best speak to your preparedness for graduate school. 

How many graduate credits can I transfer in from another institution?
A maximum of 24 graduate credits can transfer into the MPA program. Courses are considered for transfer on a case by case basis. 

PhD Applicant Questions 

Can I enroll in the PhD program on a part-time basis?
While PhD students may complete a portion of the program part-time, at least two semesters must be completed in full-time residency. For additional information, please reference the graduate bulletin.

What is the average time to completion for your PhD program?
Most of our students complete the PhD program in 5.5 years.  The University requires students to complete all requirements for a doctoral degree within eight calendar years from the date of initial registration in the program. 

What is your minimum/average GRE score for the PhD program?
The Department does not have official minimum scores. For PhD students, the average quantitative score is 700. Verbal scores range from 450-700, so TOEFL scores are considered along with the GRE verbal score for international applicants. On the writing section, the average score for accepted PhD students a 4.5.   

What is your minimum GPA requirement?
The Department does not have an official minimum GPA. The average undergraduate GPA for accepted PhD students is 3.41 and the average graduate GPA is 3.78. 

I don’t know exactly what I plan to research for my doctoral dissertation.  Can I still apply to the PhD program?  What should I say in my Statement of Background and Goals?
We don’t expect you to know exactly what your dissertation topic will be when you enter the PhD program. It is more important to identify your area or field of interest (see the PhD manual for program fields) and how the department and its faculty are aligned with those interests.  Please see the special instructions for the Statement of Background and Goals.

International Applicant Questions 

Do I need a US master's degree before applying for the PhD program?
No, your degree does not need to be from a US institution. To be considered for admission to the PhD program, you must have at a minimum, completed a degree program equivalent to a US Bachelor's degree. 

What is the percentage of international students in program?
The percentage of international students in the MPA program varies
between 10 and 15% each year. Approximately 75% of PhD students are international students. 

What is your minimum/average TOEFL?
The University's minimum TOEFL score is 79 (ibt). No applications will be accepted with a TOEFL score below the minimum. For accepted MPA students, the average TOEFL score is 95, however, students will not be considered for funding with a TOEFL (ibt) score below 100. 
PhD applications will not be considered for funding with a TOEFL (ibt) score below 100. 

Do I still need the TOEFL if I have studied at a US or English
speaking institution abroad?
TOEFL or IELTS scores are not required for students who previously have been enrolled for a minimum of two full-time semesters in a US college or English speaking institution. 

Do you accept IELTS in lieu of TOEFL?
Yes. The university's minimum bandwidth score for graduate admissions is a 6.5.
A score of 7.0 or higher is required to be considered for funding. 

Do you provide assistantships or financial support for international students?
Yes, international students are considered for assistantships and scholarships within the Department.  These are decided primarily based on merit. 

Certificate Program Questions 

What is the benefit of a graduate certificate?Graduate certificate programs are a great way to develop new skills without the time and financial demands of a master’s degree.  Certificate programs at Rockefeller College are very flexible, offering evening classes and opportunities for part-time study.

Who typically enrolls in a graduate certificate program? 
There are three distinct audiences: 1) recent undergraduates who wish to explore graduate study options; 2) students enrolled in a master’s degree at UAlbany who choose to add another credential; 3) mid-career professionals who are looking to develop a new skill set, refresh current skills, or pursue a new career path.

How many credits are required and what does it cost?
All certificates are 20 credits. For a New York State resident, the total cost of the certificate is $7,820, or $1,564 per class.

Can I apply credits earned in a certificate program toward another advanced degree?
Yes.  Because the classes taken in a certificate program are masters-level courses, they can transfer into other graduate programs.  If you enter the MPA program at Rockefeller College after enrolling in a certificate program, all certificate courses may transfer into the master’s degree.

Will I qualify for financial aid?
Yes! Because graduate certificate students are matriculated students, you would be eligible to apply for federal and state loans.

What are the requirements for admission?
You must have completed a bachelor’s degree to enroll in a graduate certificate program.  There are no prerequisite courses for the certificates.

What materials will I need to apply?
You will need to supply official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate study to date.  In addition, you will be required to submit a professional resume and a short statement of goals.  GRE scores are not required for admission.

What are the deadlines to apply?
The application deadline for fall is July 15.  The deadline to apply for spring is November 15.

Can certificate study be completed in one semester?
Generally, no. The certificate requires 20 credits for completion (5 courses) which can be completed in two semesters of full-time coursework or extended over several semesters of part time study. 

If I’m applying to a Certificate Program, should I fill out a Degree Application or a Nondegree Application?
Please use the Degree Application to apply for a graduate Certificate Program.  Certificate students are considered to be “matriculated” students at the University at Albany.