Frequently Asked Questions
Have a question we didn’t answer? Please contact us!
How many students are in the programs?
Depending on the strength of the applicant pool, each year we will matriculate between:
- 80-90 new M.P.A. students,
- 50-60 new M.A. in international relations students (M.A. in IR),
- 10-20 new M.A. in public diplomacy and global communications (PDGC) students and,
- 4-6 new Ph.D. in public administration students.
How internationally diverse are your programs?
Our programs are wonderfully diverse along international lines. With an average of over 20-25 different countries represented in our student body each year, across all three programs.
M.P.A.: Approximately 20-25% of our students are international.
M.A. in IR: Approximately 25-30% of our students are international.
M.A. in PDGC Approximately 20-25% of our students are international.
Ph.D. (PA): Approximately 50% of our students are international.
These numbers vary each year and the admission committee does not target a certain number of international students in the admission process. The criteria for admission are the same for international and domestic students, although international students whose native language is not English must complete the English language test requirement.
I see you offer a PhD in public administration. Do you offer a PhD program in international relations?
No, but a student can enter the M.A. in IR program and follow a pre-Ph.D. track if they are considering pursuing a Ph.D. in the future. We have a specialized program of study to allow for an easier transition if admitted to the Ph.D. in political science at Maxwell. M.A. in IR graduates seeking a career in academic research and teaching may apply to any of the Ph.D. degree programs within Maxwell. Maxwell is home to the social science departments of anthropology, economics, geography and the environment, history, political science, sociology and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in social science. Students should seriously consider which academic discipline they wish to have their tenure home/academic career in when considering a Ph.D. program.
Can I study part-time?
Our executive degrees for midcareer students with seven years of experience (five years for the online program) are offered on a part-time schedule.
Our Ph.D. (PA) program is a full-time residential program. The vast majority of students in the M.P.A., M.A. in IR and M.A. in PDGC degree programs are also full time. These are also residential programs. However, once officially admitted to the M.P.A., M.A. in IR or M.A. in PDGC program, students may opt to complete their coursework on a part-time basis. A few students in each program may elect to do this each year.
Do you have an online or distance-learning program?
In 2017 we launched a fully online Executive M.P.A. The online version of the E.M.P.A. requires five-seven+ years of mid-level management experience for application. We do not currently offer any other online programs in public administration or international relations.
Can I take classes at other schools or departments within Syracuse University?
One of the benefits of graduate study at Syracuse University is the flexibility that allows students to take courses from a variety of disciplines, even those outside of Maxwell. As a school of social sciences, Maxwell allows students to easily seek out and enroll in courses throughout the Maxwell departments of political science, economics, anthropology, geography and the environment, history, and sociology.
Additionally, M.P.A. and M.A. in IR students can take up to 6 and 9 credits respectively outside of the Maxwell School, and E.M.P.A. students can take up to 12 credits outside of the Maxwell School. With approval from your academic advisor, students can transfer in related graduate coursework from another accredited institution, or take graduate courses at Syracuse University's College of Law, the S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, the Whitman School of Management, and the School of Information Studies, among others. The PDGC program is provided jointly between the Maxwell School and the Newhouse School.
Please note: Dual or joint degree students do not have the flexibility of taking courses outside of their primary college(s).
Preparing to Apply
Do you accept transfer students?
While this is rare, there are circumstances in which a student will have begun their graduate studies at another institution and wish to finish them at Maxwell. We will consider all applications for admission to the program, even if the student is currently or was previously enrolled in another program. You will need to file a complete application with the application fee by our deadline.
We can only accept up to 6 credits from another school into the M.P.A. program and up to 9 credits for the M.A. in IR program. Leaving one's current degree program is not a decision to be taken lightly. We expect that a student making this decision is doing so with open communication at their current institution. PDGC and dual degree program students are not allowed to transfer in any credit from an outside institution.
May I take courses as a non-matriculated student?
No, the Public Administration and International Affairs Department does not allow non-matriculated students to register for PAI classes. This ensures that all students enrolled in these courses have met our admission criteria and are committed to their academic program of study. Please note this a department policy, not a school-wide policy and you should contact the other departments within the Maxwell School to see if you are able to enroll in graduate coursework as a non-matriculated student in their disciplines.
Do you have any special requirements for international applicants?
There are no additional requirements for international applicants, but please see the FAQ answers regarding the TOEFL, IELTS and Duolingo exams; foreign document translation and funding documentation.
Do I need to have my foreign documents translated?
Yes. All foreign documents such as official transcripts and letters of recommendation, must be translated by an official translator and notarized as authentic translations by a notary public.
Do I need to submit funding documentation?
International students are required to submit proof of sufficient funding for one year of study. Each year this amount changes. Proof of funding must be provided on official bank letterhead and in U.S. dollars in order for an offer of admission to be deemed official by the University so that an I-20 document can be processed.
We advise applicants from overseas to allow for difficulties in communication, as well as delays in the delivery of mail, both to and from the Admissions Office. This can cause problems, especially as deadlines approach. The University cannot make an official admission decision until proof of funding (through a combination of personal, third party funds or university resources) is provided. The department's financial aid process will take place in mid-March of each year.
Do you offer financial aid to international students?
Yes, we offer financial assistance to all admitted students. International students are considered on the same basis as domestic applicants. All admission and financial aid decisions are merit-based. Please check the box on the application asking for merit-based financial aid consideration.
Can I apply for a graduate assistantship (GA) position?
Ph.D. (PA) students will be provided a faculty mentor and four years of GA funding with admission. For M.P.A., M.A. in IR and M.A. in PDGC students, full-time and part-time graduate assistantship (GA) positions are awarded to select incoming students. These are generally one-year awards, even for the 16-month M.A. in IR, 18-month M.A. in PDGC or dual-degree students, as these students are typically away from campus in their second year and unable to meet the associate work requirement of a GA position.
Other financial awards are available for future terms of off-campus study. If a student is not selected for a GA during the awards process (mid-March) they may apply for open positions over the summer, after or just prior to their arrival on campus. If funds allow, open GA positions are made available to all students via an internal application process over the summer of early fall.
Is it possible to receive a full fellowship for my first year?
While we have several full funding fellowships, these are not the norm. Students should expect to contribute to the costs of their education and to fund a portion of their graduate study in the M.P.A., M.A. in IR and M.A. in PDGC programs. The cost of living, shorter program duration, as well as the opportunities for second year abroad funding (M.A. in IR/M.A. in PDGC), still make Maxwell a very cost effective choice for an exceptional graduate learning experience. Please see admission/finances for more detailed information on our awards process and costs of the program.
Submitting an Application
Do the application materials need to be postmarked with the date of the deadline?
No. All of the mentioned components of the application need to be received in the Syracuse University Graduate Admissions office by the deadline in order for your application to be complete. We do not guarantee that applications submitted late will be reviewed. The review of late applications is subject to the discretion of the admission committee.
I have a question about filling out the online application, who do I contact?
Ken Dwyer: for the M.P.A., M.A. in IR, M.A. in PDGC, and Ph.D. programs
Margaret Lane: for the E.M.P.A., E.M.I.R. and E.M.I.R. in D.C. programs
Admissions@onlinempa.syr.edu or 866-376-3167: for the online E.M.P.A. program.
If I want to apply to a joint program, do I submit two applications?
The following New York State-approved joint degree programs have their own program code on the application and you will only need to fill out one application. Please select the joint program from the drop down menu on the application for the following:
M.P.A./M.A. in IR - term applying to must be summer
M.A. in IR/M.A. in economics - term applying to must be fall
If you apply to any other combination of graduate programs, you have to submit one application for each program, with one set of supporting documents.
Joint applicants with the College of Law (COL) are required to submit both the Maxwell application and the COL application. Alternatively, first-year COL students may apply internally to either the M.P.A., M.A. in IR or M.A. in PDGC degree programs. In this case, an internal application process is followed. Admission to the joint program from first-year COL students can sometimes be limited (depending on the number of internal applications received in a given year). Therefore, if you wish to ensure your admission in the joint degree program, prior to accepting a COL admission, it is to your advantage to apply at the same time and complete both admission processes.
Should I send in a writing sample?
No. We do not request a writing sample and will not take this into consideration in our review of your application.
How do I find out if all my application materials have been received?
An automated application checklist will show materials received via the applications portal. If you still have a concern, you may contact the admissions coordinator Ken Dwyer.
Waiting for and Responding to an Admission Decision
When do you mail decisions?
M.P.A., M.A. in IR, M.A. in PDGC: mailed from January - March
We review applications for our M.P.A., M.A. in IR, and M.A. in PDGC programs from January - March. Notice of the admission decision begins in mid-January. We will follow up all notices of admission with a packet of information about the program admitted to, our admitted student visit days, and information helpful as you consider the offer of admission.
E.M.P.A., E.M.I.R.: rolling admissions and notifications
E.M.P.A. online: rolling admissions and notifications
Ph.D.: generally by the end of February
Can I get an early decision?
There may be a rare case that an applicant needs an admission decision prior to January 1. Please contact Associate Director of Admission and Financial Aid Stephanie Worden. If there is a compelling need for an early decision we will try to assist.
Can I defer my admission offer?
Admitted applicants may defer enrollment for up to one year*. Dual degree applicants will need to seek approval of both degree programs. In order to be considered for deferral, an admitted applicant must 1) accept the offer of admission, 2) submit the program deposit, and 3) request a deferred entrance for one year.
Admitted applicants can request a deferral by submitting an email request to the associate director of admission and financial aid outlining their reason for seeking deferral. Emails requesting deferral must include the following text: “I understand that a $500 nonrefundable tuition deposit is required and if I fail to enroll in the semester agreed upon, regardless of the reason for not enrolling, both my deposit and my admission offer will be forfeited.” The only candidates who should consider deferral are those who are absolutely certain they can guarantee their enrollment in one year and who are willing to risk losing the deposit if their plans change.
The admission committee looks very favorably upon reapplications from candidates who were previously offered admission, and although there is no guarantee of readmission in a future semester, the likelihood is strong. The applicant will need to complete an entirely new application, resend all applications materials, and pay a new application fee to be considered for admission in a subsequent year.
* We have a partnership with Teach For America that allows for a two-year deferral. Admitted applicants, also selected to serve in Teach For America, are the only applicants who can be granted a two-year deferral to allow their participation in this program.
Do you use a waitlist?
No, we do not utilize a waitlist for admission decisions. All applications are reviewed and judged according to their merits. A decision is then forwarded to the applicant. There are instances in which secondary faculty reviews are required for a final decision. This may delay an admission decision as this secondary review committee meets only periodically and toward the end of the admission cycle.
May I appeal my admission decision?
No, we will not reconsider applications during the admission season once a decision has been made. Our admission review process is quite thorough and taken very seriously. Students may re-apply after being denied admission, but we will look for evidence that they have remedied the factors leading to their denial. You will need to submit a new application with all documents and pay another application fee.
I was accepted but I declined my offer. Can I reapply?
If you were admitted but declined the offer, you may reapply, but will need to refile all documents, and pay another application fee.
What sort of computer facilities does Maxwell offer?
Please visit Maxwell’s Information and Computing Technology group’s website for more information.
Is student housing available?
Please visit Syracuse University's resources on graduate student housing.
When do I need to submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Financial Aid)?
It is best to submit your FAFSA to the federal government as soon as you are able. Each year the Department of Education begins to take FAFSA forms on January 1. For more information on financial aid, please visit the financial aid page.
What is your FAFSA school code? The Syracuse University FAFSA code is 002882.
Have a question we didn't answer? Please contact the admission support team at PAIA@syr.edu.