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.

The following applicants do not need to do anything. The application fee is automatically waived when you submit your application.  

  • US Veterans / Active Duty US Military Personnel 
  • International Fulbright Scholars:  IIE/AMIDEAST/LASPAU
  • McNair Scholars (But, please submit a Letter of Recommendation from your faculty research mentor)
  • Syracuse University undergraduate students and alumni
  • Syracuse University Employees

Applicants in the following categories, must fill out the fee waiver request form to obtain a unique fee waiver code: 

  • Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellows & Finalists 
  • Thomas R. Pickering International Affairs Fellows & Finalists
  • Formerly/Currently serving US Fulbright Grantees
  • Returned US Peace Corps volunteers 
  • PPIA - Public Policy and International Affairs Fellows (Please submit your JSI evaluations with your application)  
  • Current and Former CHCI (Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute) Fellows and Interns 
  • Current and Former CBCF (Congressional Black Caucus Foundation) Fellows and Interns
  • Teach For America & Teach For All Program Alumni
  • GEM Fellowship Applicants

For all other applicants, 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 and MA Public Diplomacy & Global Communications (PDGC) programs should highlight any international experiences and language skills on their resume.


Do I have to be fluent in a foreign language?  Only 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 Test Requirements:  GRE / GMAT  and English Language Proficiency Exams 

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

The GRE / GMAT exam is no longer required for application to any of our Master's degree programs.  

  • MPA  - GRE recommended* 
  • MA International Relations - GRE optional** 
  • MA Public Diplomacy & Global Communications (PDGC) - GRE optional**
  • All Executive Education Masters programs - GRE not required  

*Applicants to the MPA program must demonstrate adequate quantitative, analytic, and writing aptitude and preparation to be admitted. These requirements can be evidenced by successful completion of coursework in relevant content areas and/or by adequate performance on the GRE or GMAT exams.

**The GRE is optional for applicants to the MAIR and PDGC programs. GREs may provide evidence of an applicant’s quantitative, analytic or writing ability, and thus, will be considered for those applicants who choose to submit them.

English Language Proficiency (ELP) Exams for International Students - TOEFL / IELTS / Duolingo

International students from a non-English-speaking nation must submit an English proficiency exam score. A test of ELP 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.  Tests of English Language Proficiency from other testing services may be submitted in lieu of a TOEFL / IELTS / Duolingo.  Please contact to see if alternate exams are acceptable. 


Unofficial transcripts are allowed at time of application, but official transcripts will be required for matriculation into the program. One set of official transcripts is required from every college and/or university where undergraduate coursework was completed toward a degree, once you begin your studies, at SU, including a degree bearing transcript for your BA/BS degree.      

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 all master's 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, MAIR and PDGC degree programs. 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, it is still preferred (but not required) that at least one academic referee, with the two other letters from professional work supervisors.  

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.