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Professional Master's Programs

Midcareer Executive Programs

All executive M.P.A. and executive M.A. in international relations programs (including in Washington, D.C.), except the online program, offer rolling admissions and have the following application deadlines:

  • Fall start: July 1, then rolling
  • Spring start: November 1, then rolling
  • Summer start: May 1, then rolling
Four Maxwell students standing together by a railing
Student working on a laptop

Executive Master of Public Administration Online (apply through separate application)

  • July 31 for September entry
  • November 6 for January entry
  • February 6 for March entry
  • May 8 for July entry

Doctoral Program

  • Ph.D. in public administration: January 15

Certificates of Advanced Study

  • Varies - please inquire with the individual CAS administrator

We’re here to help.

For expert guidance on how to complete a successful application to any of our graduate programs, please click the link to schedule a one-on-one appointment with an admission counselor.

Schedule an Appointment

Application Materials

The following materials are required of all applicants. After reviewing this information, please consult your specific program of interest page for additional details.

  • Application and $75 application fee**
  • Personal statement
  • Résumé (preferred) or CV
  • The GRE: is no longer required for application to PAIA master’s degree programs but is recommended for applicants to the M.P.A. program. It is required for applicants to the doctoral program. See program pages for specific guidance.
  • English proficiency exam (international students only): TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts are not required at the time of application, but will be necessary to enroll in the program.
  • Letters of recommendation: Three (3) letters of recommendation from a current or previous faculty member or professional supervisor are required for the Ph.D., M.P.A., M.A. in international relations, and public diplomacy and global communications programs; two (2) for our executive master’s programs (executive M.P.A. and executive master’s in international relations).


**Applicants seeking an application fee waiver based on their participation in a relevant organization/program or for financial hardship reasons must submit an application fee waiver request. Learn more about which groups are eligible and the process for requesting a waiver on the Maxwell graduate admission website.

Personal Statement

The personal statement is the most critical component of the application. It should answer the following:

  • Why are you interested in the specific degree program at Maxwell?
  • What is motivating you to enter public service? What factors, experiences, curiosities are underpinning your pursuit of graduate study?
  • What are your academic and professional goals?

Résumé (preferred) or CV

A résumé should include the following elements:

  • employment history and volunteer or community service experiences;
  • academic honors, accolades, scholastic recognition and publications;
  • leadership roles and membership to professional associations;
  • special professional and academic skills or experiences and;
  • foreign language proficiency or abroad experience.

International relations applicants should highlight language skills and experiences abroad.

Letters of Recommendation

For students who have only recently completed their undergraduate degree, two letters should come from faculty members with whom they have studied, with one from a supervisor from a professional work/internship setting. 

For students with several years of experience, at least one academic reference is preferred (not required), along with two letters from professional work supervisors.

U.S. Transcripts

Please submit transcripts from all colleges/universities attended. 

  • Unofficial transcripts are accepted for admission consideration but must include all details found on official transcripts.
  • Upon admission, official transcripts are required.

International Students: English Language Proficiency Exam

International students whose native language is not English must submit an English Language Proficiency (ELP) exam score directly from the testing agency. The following minimum scores for English Language Proficiency will be accepted:

  • TOEFL: 100 (92 for executive master’s degrees)
  • IELTS: 7.0 (6.5 for executive master’s degrees)
  • Duolingo: 120 (110 for executive master’s degrees)

Note: A test of ELP can be waived for students who attended a college/university for a minimum of four years where the primary language of instruction was English. 

International Transcripts

Official or notarized translations are required for transcripts that are not in English.

Students from outside the U.S. must complete a degree comparable to a four-year U.S. undergraduate degree to be eligible for all master's programs.

The PAIA Department will also accept a World Education Service credential evaluation report stipulating that a three-year degree completed elsewhere is equivalent to a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree. This is at your own cost.

Application Fee Exceptions

For the below individuals, the application fee is automatically waived when you submit your application. You do not need to do anything additional.

  • U.S. Veterans / Active Duty U.S. Military Personnel 
  • International Fulbright Scholars: IIE/AMIDEAST/LASPAU
  • McNair Scholars (please submit a letter of recommendation from your faculty research mentor)
  • Syracuse University undergraduate students and alumni

Application Fee Waiver

Applicants seeking an application fee waiver based on their participation in a relevant organization/program or for financial hardship reasons must submit an application fee waiver request. Learn more about which groups are eligible and the process for requesting a waiver on the Maxwell graduate admission website.

Standardized test and pencil

Standardized Test Guidance

The GRE is no longer required for admission to any of the Public Administration and International Affairs Department degree programs including M.P.A., M.A. in international relations and M.A. in public diplomacy and global communications. However, it is recommended for the M.P.A. program. Benchmark scores for a strong M.P.A. candidate are:

  • 158 Verbal
  • 156 Quantitative 
  • 4.5 Analytical Writing

The admission team looks at each candidates qualifications holistically to determine whether they will be successful in the program. Successful applicants have had scores lower and higher than the above.

Submitted test scores must be sent to Syracuse University from the testing service. Our institution code for the GRE and TOEFL exams is 2823. 

Public Administration and International Affairs Department
215 Eggers Hall