Frequently Asked Questions
How to apply: Start the process by filing a university application at
You will need to:
- create an account in order to start the application
- enter personal, citizenship and contact information
- choose the appropriate academic program and intended term of admission
- list your previous university education, degrees and degree dates
- enter residency data
- list any awards received, your GPA and GRE scores (all official transcripts and official scores must be sent to SIU Carbondale)
- upload a statement of purpose, a resume and a writing sample
- enter the names and contact information for the three persons who will submit letters of recommendation for you (academic references are preferred)
- pay the application fee
If you have any questions, please contact the Graduate School.
March 1 - Fall/Sum(for assistantship eligibility)
June 1 for all other applicants
December 1 - Spring applicants
The Network of Schools of Public Affairs, Policy, and Administration (NASPAA) accredits MPA degree programs (for information, see http://naspaa.org/accreditation/NS/student.asp). The SIU Carbondale MPA program was reaccredited in 2015 for another 7 years.
What undergraduate background do I need to gain admission?
Any undergraduate degree from an accredited university will be accepted because government and nonprofit organizations engage in a variety of activities and require a variety of skills and knowledge. The goal of the MPA program is to enhance leadership capability in whatever responsibilities a person has or seeks to assume. We do require undergraduate prerequisites in political science or other social science disciplines that have an administrative or policy component.
Do I have to take the GRE?
You are not required to take the GRE. However, students who want to be considered for an assistantship are required to submit a valid GRE score. All other students can be admitted based upon GPA and other factors. The GRE can be submitted by students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement for admission as proof of their intellectual aptitude. In this instance, it has the potential to assist a student’s entry into the program. Keep in mind that if you are using it for this purpose scores lower than 148 on either the quantitative and verbal sections, or 4.0 on the writing section, are considered negative indicators.
Whom should I ask to write letters of recommendation?
The purpose of these letters is to help determine your potential for success in graduate school. If you have recently completed your undergraduate degree, former instructors who know you well are good choices. If not, supervisors or co-workers in business, government or nonprofit organizations make good choices. There are certainly other possibilities, and we will be happy to answer questions about them.
What should letters of recommendation contain?
Writers should tell how they know you and give their relevant organizational positions, e.g. former professor or director of a program in which you worked. They should address as much as the authors know about your intellectual ability, communication ability (oral and in writing), motivation for public service, work habits, dependability, inter-personal skills, and anything else the author believes will affect your ability to succeed in a graduate program and in a public service career. The writers should avoid commenting on any qualities they have not observed.
To whom should the letters be addressed?
They should be addressed to MPA Program or MPA Director.
What should I write in my statement of purpose?
The statement of purpose should outline why you want to pursue a MPA degree and how you see it as being necessary for you in your career. However, there is no “right” answer we are essentially looking for a sense of purpose and the ability to write a cogent statement.
What about financial aid?
Please see the Graduate School website on financial resources, http://www.gradschool.siu.edu/cost-aid/index.html. In addition, we sometimes have assistantships available. You should check with the MPA Field Representative about specific opportunities.
Can I work and attend school part time?
Yes, many of our students do so. Many of them are already pursuing careers in government or nonprofit organizations. We like having a mix of in-service and pre-service students. For this reason we schedule many of our classes in evenings and are moving to offer more online. When we do schedule a class in the afternoon, we make every effort to offer the same course in the evening within a two year cycle.
MPA classes tend to run between 10-15 students, which gives us the ability to provide more individualized attention.
Full-time students (those taking 9 credit hours or more per semester) typically complete the degree in two years; part-time students (those taking less than 9 credit hours) take from three to five years, depending on work and personal obligations.
The following table indicates what percentage of students who enrolled in each academic year graduated within the following number of semesters. A student taking classes full-time, without an extended internship, should complete the program in 5 semesters. For students beginning the program in the fall semester, their program will be: Year 1 Fall, Year 1 Spring, Year 1 Summer, Year 2 Fall, Year 2 Spring, with graduation at the end of the Spring semester. Students entering in the Spring or Summer semesters may have a slightly different timeline, depending on whether they are required to participate in an internship.
Cumulative Percentage of Cohort
|Time to Graduation||AY 16-17||AY 17-18||AY 18-19||AY 19-20||Average|
|Students Initially Enrolled||19||17||23||31||22.5|
|Graduated within 2 yrs||31.6%||52.9%||30.4%||71%||46.5%|
|Graduated within 3 yrs||36.8%||58.8%||34.8%||6.5%||34.2%|
|Graduated within 4 yrs||36.8%||58.8%||43.5%||3.2%||35.6%|
Placement of Graduates?
As mainly a generalist management degree program, our graduates work in a variety of public service settings. MPA students graduating in 2016-2020 were employed in the profession as follows:
- National or central government in the same country as the program: 8%
- State, provincial, or regional government in the same country: 21%
- City, County or other local government in the same country as the program: 35%
- Nonprofit/NGOs internationally oriented: 10%
- Private sector but not research/consulting: 16%
- Obtaining Further Education: 9%