MPA Admissions

Admission into the MPA Program is based on a number of factors which, taken together, will admit applicants who show potential to complete all requirements needed to attain the MPA. However, the core faculty has also instituted a conditional entry into the MPA Program, with stipulations that specific courses be taken by students who marginally meet the admission criteria, especially as they relate to undergraduate GPAs and/or standardized test scores.

MPA admission factors:

The following general requirements for admission to the Master of Public Administration Program:

  • A baccalaureate degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution.
  • A record of strong academic achievement at the undergraduate level. Applicants to the MPA Program are expected to have achieved a GPA of 3.0 or above, based on: (1) the complete record for undergraduate study; or (2) the record for the undergraduate major in public administration or a related field; or (3) the record for the junior and senior years. In exceptional cases, students with an undergraduate average of less than a B may be admitted if strong evidence of ability to complete graduate work successfully is obtained from letters of recommendation, experience in the public sector, or the application essay.
  • Three letters of recommendation from those who can comment on the applicant's academic abilities and performance.
  • A printed essay of approximately 300 words indicating the reasons for wanting to pursue graduate study with particular reference to ultimate career objectives, and also explaining any special circumstances which the student wants to bring to the attention of application reviewers.
  • Applicants who have not studied in English speaking countries are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service.
  • When a student does not meet the criteria for admission, but is assessed by the Office of Graduate Admissions as showing potential promise, the case can be referred to the Program Director(s) for further assessment. The Office of Graduate Admissions sends all such students the Pre-Admission MPAQE Examination. This examination is based on the MPA Qualifying Examination, but is designed to assess the preparation of applicants for MPA coursework. When the applicant returns the examination to the Office of Graduate Admissions, it is referred to the Program Director(s) for evaluation.

Enrollment Management Guides

The MPA Director(s) set each semester a cumulative monthly guideline for program admissions. In the admission process described below, the Office of Graduate Admissions is authorized to admit a number of students not exceeding the cumulative monthly guideline. When the number of students meeting the minimum qualifications exceeds the guideline, the Office of Graduate Admissions is authorized to select students for admission based on their relative merit considering the general criteria specified above. Students who qualify but who are not admitted are deferred until the following month and again reviewed for admission as part of the pool of candidates for that month. At the end of the month when admission applications are closed, the MPA Director(s) assess the remaining pool of applicants to make final determinations in each case.

Admission Process

The admission decision is documented using the MPA Program Application Assessment Form. If the student meets the first criterion on the form - Grade Point Average - and two of the other three criteria on the form - public service, essay, and references - then the Office of Graduate Admissions is authorized to admit the student based on the record. The basis for the decision is documented on the MPA Program Application Assessment Form which remains in the student's file. The admission letter sent to the candidate does not specify any general conditions, but may specify specific conditions such as the need to complete a prerequisite course.

If an applicant does not qualify for regular admission, the MPA Director or MPA-IG Director has the discretion to grant conditional admission. This is done on a case-by-case basis, based on a review of the application file. The Director specifies whether the student it admitted to the MPA track or both the MPA and MPA-IG tracks, and the Director specifies the condition level of the admission as explained below.

In no case is a student to be admitted to the MPA Program without a documented admission decision. The admission decision is documented using the MPA Program Application Assessment Form.

General Admission Statement

All admitted students receive a letter of admission that includes one of the following two statements:

During your first semester, please complete and file the Specialization Selection Form designating your preliminary choice of the MPA or MPA-IG Track and your preliminary selection of a specialization.

Conditional Admission

Students with more significant deficits who nevertheless show potential promise for graduate study may be conditionally admitted. These students receive a "conditional admission letter" stating that:

You may enroll in no more than five courses, with no more than two per semester and one during the summer. Three of the courses must be PAD 700, PAD 702, and PAD 705, and you may enroll in only two other courses unless the Program Director approves additional courses. You must complete PAD 700 with Professor ______, and receive a grade of 3.0 or better. On completion of PAD 700, PAD 702, and PAD 705, you must complete and pass the preliminary comprehensive examination. If you pass the examination and have maintained a 3.0 or better GPA in the 3 5 courses taken and in the three required core courses (700, 702, 705), you will be admitted to full matriculation. Failure to comply with any of these conditions may result in your termination from the program.

As stated in the letter of admission, the conditionally admitted student is required to complete PAD 700 (the introductory course to the Program) with a specific member of the core faculty who closely monitors and evaluates the performance of the student. Students are provided with ongoing feedback as to their performance. If a conditionally admitted student does not attain a grade of 3.0 (B) or better in each of the three specified core courses (PAD 700, 702, and 705), then he/she may be dismissed from the Program after careful consideration of his/her case.

The process is designed to allow students with marginal academic records the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to succeed in the Program. Since most John Jay MPA students come from the New York City area, the overall risk and inconvenience of this approach is less severe than it would be if they had relocated from outside the area.

Assessment of Conditionally Admitted Students

The MPA Program Administrator reviews the status of conditionally admitted students each semester following completion of courses and filing of grades, but before classes begin the next semester. Students who fail to meet the requirements of their condition - for example a student who achieves a B- or C in PAD 700 - is identified and the Program Director decides as to whether the student should be dismissed as specified in the student's admission letter.

Students who fail to comply with admission conditions, or who do not take the qualifying examination on a timely basis, may be placed on academic probation with further limitations on permissions to register for courses. In extreme cases, such students may be dismissed from the program.

Graduate Program Transfer Applications

Students desiring to transfer into the MPA Program from another graduate program at John Jay College complete the transfer application maintained at the Office of Graduate Admissions. The office of Graduate Admissions is authorized to approve transfers of students who meet the following criteria:

  • Students must have a GPA of 3.0 or above in their current program without excessive withdrawals or incomplete courses.
  • The student's original application must meet the current criteria for admission to the MPA Program.

Transfer applications can be referred by the Office of Graduate Admissions to the Program Director(s) for special review and conditional admission.

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