University at Albany
Kara Pangburn, director of admissions for Rockefeller's Department of Public Administration and Policy (at center), chats with graduate assistants Samantha Baldock and Frank McStay about upcoming admissions events at Rockefeller.

Rockefeller Now Accepts the LSAT for MPA Admissions

"Do you see yourself working for government, a nonprofit, or an advocacy organization? If the answer to that question is yes, the MPA is the degree for you."

  - Kara Pangburn, MPA '06

Question: Why is Rockefeller College now accepting the LSAT (the Law School Admission Test) for MPA admissions?

Kara Pangburn: By accepting the LSAT, Rockefeller is making it more convenient for prospective master of public administration (MPA) students who at one time may have been thinking about going to law school and taken the LSAT in preparation, but have since changed their minds and realized that what they are really interested in pursuing is a career in government or public service. Those applicants don't have to take a second test. We'll accept the LSAT in lieu of the GRE or GMAT.
I've had a number of students call me and say they changed their minds about law school and want to get their MPA and work in the public sector but they've only taken the LSAT. I went through this myself. I took the LSAT and got into law school and realized it just wasn't the right path for me. I ended up having to take the GRE. I remember it being a real burden at the time. It's expensive and it's time consuming to have to take another test. It can also be hard to get a test date. Someone could end up missing an important admissions deadline because he couldn't take a test in time.

Question: Do you have any advice for a student who is thinking about law school but really wants to work for the government someday?

Kara Pangburn: A lot of people go to law school in order to work in government, but the MPA is THE degree for people who want to work in government. An MPA is going to give you the managerial, public finance, and policy analysis skills you need to work in public service. Those are things that just aren't covered in law school. And for good reason. That's not what law school is meant to teach you.
There has been a lot of press lately — in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and recently in Albany's local paper, The Times Union — about job opportunities and placement rates for students who are receiving JDs. They are lower than they used to be. I think that's a reflection on this economy and the changing workforce. There is a demand for different types of professional degrees. There are more students now in law school than there are lawyers in the entire country. The market is getting saturated. A lot of people want to go into public service. Those students who want to be lawyers are the ones who should be looking at law school. But those students who really want to go into public service should consider getting their MPA. It will prepare them for the work they want to do. And it can be earned quicker than a law degree — for much less money, especially at Rockefeller College where tuition is much lower than other similarly high ranked graduate schools of public affairs. Rockefeller is recognized by US News and World Report as one of the nation's top public affairs schools AND it's an incredible bargain! The question to ask yourself is do you see yourself working for government, a nonprofit, or an advocacy organization. If the answer to that question is yes, the MPA is the degree for you.

About the LSAT:

The Department of Public Administration and Policy will accept LSAT scores* in lieu of the 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.

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