Application Materials Guidelines

Syracuse University Application Fee

A non-refundable, Syracuse University application fee of $75 is required at time of application. Syracuse University allows this fee to be waived only for participants in the programs listed below. Applicants not participating in one of these programs must submit payment of the $75 SU application fee with your application.

  • All Veterans / Army Defense Comptrollership Program
  • Ford Foundation
  • Fulbright Scholars, IIE
  • GEM - Graduate Education for Minorities
  • McNair Scholars (please submit a Letter of Recommendation from your faculty research mentor)
  • Edmund S. Muskie Fellows
  • Thomas R. Pickering International Affairs Fellows & Finalists
  • Project 1000 applicants
  • PPIA - Public Policy and International Affairs Fellows (please submit documentation that you completed your JSI)
  • Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellows & Finalists
  • Syracuse University undergraduate students and alumni

The $75 application fee can be paid by credit card, check, money order, or electronic check.

Personal Statement

The Personal Statement is the most critical component of the application. It should:

  • Address the applicant's understanding of and interest in his or her chosen field.
  • Explain the motivation behind the applicant's desire to enter graduate study in public administration and/or international relations.
  • Outline the applicant's academic and professional career goals.


A professional résumé should outline the applicant's employment history, volunteerism and community service, academic honors and scholastic recognition, publications, leadership roles, membership to professional associations, and other activities related to your career goals.

Applicants for the MAIR program should highlight their international experiences and language proficiency on their resume.


Do I have to be fluent in a foreign language?  The MAIR program requires that you demonstrate intermediate or advanced proficiency in a foreign language in order to graduate. This requirement may be met in any of three ways: 

(1) As a native speaker of a language other than English, with the ability to read and write that language; 
(2) By passing a language proficiency test administered by Syracuse University that shows you are proficient through the Intermediate Level II. This test can be administered while you are on campus by an instructor at the Languages, Literatures and Linguistics program; or 
(3) By successfully completing coursework through the Intermediate Level II (fourth semester) language course at an approved educational institution (such as your undergraduate institution). 
Note that students may pursue a language course at Syracuse University, but language courses taken at the undergraduate level will not count toward credit in your MA IR degree program.  Those students who elect to audit a language course to fulfill this requirement must provide documentation by the instructor that they have met the proficiency level required.

This language requirement is not applicable for the EMIR degree program.

Standardized Tests

The code for all standardized exams being sent to Syracuse University is 2823.

Applications will not be reviewed for admission or financial aid until we receive official GRE or GMAT scores.

All students are expected to submit a GRE score. We will accept the GMAT in lieu of the GRE; the applicant must note this on his or her application.

We accept the LSAT in lieu of the GRE from first-year SU College of Law applicants who are applying to the joint JD/MPA or JD/MAIR programs; we will not accept the LSAT in lieu of the GRE from applicants outside of Syracuse University.

Though students should do as well on these exams as possible, an exceptionally high or low test score will never be the sole reason behind an admission decision. GRE test scores must be sent to Syracuse University from ETS. 

If a GRE score is older than five years and no longer on file with ETS, we will accept an original score report or a notarized copy.

The GRE is not required for application to the Executive EMPA and EMIR degree programs.

TOEFL/IELTS - English Proficiency Exams for International Students

International students from a non-English-speaking nation must submit an English proficiency exam score. The TOEFL or IELTS can be waived for students who attended a school for a minimum of four years where the primary language of instruction was English. TOEFL test scores must be sent to Syracuse University from ETS. 


One set of official transcripts is required from every college and/or university where undergraduate coursework was completed toward a degree. Unofficial transcripts are allowed at time of application, but official transcripts will be required for official matriculation into the program.

Official or notarized translations are required for transcripts in other languages.

Students from outside the U.S. must complete a degree comparable to the four-year U.S. undergraduate degree to be eligible for the MPA and MAIR programs. The PAIA Department will also accept a WES (or WES equivalent) credential evaluation report stipulating that a three-year degree completed elsewhere is equivalent to a four-year U.S. bachelor’s degree.

Transcripts FAQ

I've taken undergraduate- and graduate-level courses at a number of schools. Which transcripts am I required to submit?

For admissions consideration, please submit a copy (official or unofficial) of all transcripts for any college or university attended in which you took courses that were counted toward a degree you earned. If the grades for these courses are printed on your degree bearing transcript, then only that transcript is required. 

For matriculation Syracuse University only needs the official transcript from the institution which awarded your degree.

Letters of Recommendation

Students are asked to submit three letters of recommendation for the MPA and MAIR degree programs. For students who have only recently completed their undergraduate degree, two letters should come from faculty members with whom they have studied. For students with several years of experience, it is still preferred (but not required) that at least one letter comes from an academic source.

Two letters of reference are required for applicants to the EMPA, EMIR and CAS degree programs. 

Letters of Recommendation FAQ

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

Your letters of recommendation should be submitted by individuals who are able to assess your qualifications for graduate study from personal knowledge of your past performance.  We prefer that two letters (unless you are five or more years removed from your undergraduate studies) be from faculty members who had you in class.  For the professionally oriented master's degree programs, at least one letter should come from a supervisor in a professional setting, with whom you have worked closely and to whom you reported.  We will consider internships and volunteer work to be professional experience. Note that letters from personal acquaintances or those who are not familiar with your academic or professional qualifications (regardless of their title) are not helpful to the admissions committee.

Can I have my recommendations sent by my college's letter file service?

Yes, these are acceptable. Please keep in mind, however, that we would like to see at least one letter from an employer. If letters are sent directly to the admissions office by your college, you will not be required to send Syracuse University’s letter of recommendation form.

What if my recommender forgot to use the recommendation form?

It is not necessary that these forms are used as long as the questions listed on the form are addressed in the letter. We strongly advise students to encourage your recommenders to submit their letters online through the electronic application system.