Admissions for MPA and MAIR Programs

Application Materials

  • $75 application fee
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume (preferred) or CV
  • GRE or GMAT score submitted from the testing service
  • TOEFL score (international students only)
  • Transcripts - Official transcripts are not required at time of application, but will be necessary for matriculation into the program.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation

All GRE and TOEFL test scores must be sent to Syracuse University from the testing service. The code for the GRE/TOEFL exams is Syracuse University 2823. 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 application deadline is Feb 1 of each year for admission with full merit-based financial aid consideration. Late applications will be accepted through April, but those received later will be reviewed for admission only, and we cannot guarantee that they will be considered for university / department merit based aid. 

Visit our guidelines page for information about the application materials.

Admissions for MPA and MAIR Programs

The MPA and MAIR Admissions Committee considers the entire profile of a candidate when reviewing his or her file for admission. A candidate’s past academic performance and professional profile, along with their letters of recommendation and personal statement are carefully reviewed and considered critical to a candidate’s successful application.  We value work experience, internships, and volunteerism in relevant fields. These are solid indicators of success in our program.

A strong MPA or MAIR candidate will have relevant internships or post undergraduate work experience, strong undergraduate coursework in economics and other social science disciplines, a clear understanding of their career goals as they relate to this field of study and an appreciation of the program here at The Maxwell School.  For the MAIR program, students will need to demonstrate proficiency in a second language in order to graduate, so prior exposure to language study is looked for in applicants as is international exposure in general.  
While we do not have strong cut-offs in regard to the GPA and GRE scores, it may be helpful to know that students admitted to the MPA and MAIR programs over the past three years have had median GPAs around 3.5 and median GRE scores of 158 -Verbal, 155 -Quantitative and 4.5 -Analytical Writing.  Median TOEFL scores of those admitted over the past three years have been above 105. 

Admissions Criteria

Admission to the MPA and MAIR programs at the Maxwell School is highly selective. We are looking for students who demonstrate:

  • a strong commitment to the public good,

  • an understanding of the professional nature of the field with clearly identified career goals aligned with our schools mission, and

  • an ability to handle graduate level coursework.

Our graduates seek careers which have meaningful impact in their community (no matter how narrowly or broadly they define "community").  This public service ethos is an exceptionally important aspect of our Maxwell community, with the added recognition that public service careers exist in a variety of sectors: in all levels of government, non-profits/NGOs, international and multinational organizations and the related private sector.

Quantitative Skills

Students interested in the MPA and MAIR programs are not required to have completed specific courses in mathematics, economics, or statistics in order to apply. However, due to the rigorous analytic component of our MPA and MAIR programs, applicants should have a strong quantitative background.

Applicants lacking this background are encouraged to remedy this deficiency prior to application. Past applicants have found courses in intermediate microeconomics, intermediate macroeconomics, and introductory statistics to be helpful preparation.

Once admitted, all newly arriving students will take a Quantitative Skills assessment test on to review key algebraic and geometric principles before registering for classes.

Student Profile

The median age of students beginning our programs is 26. The majority of our students, about 80 percent, have two years or more of professional work, internship, or volunteer experiences related to their career goals, as well as a solid understanding of the professional nature of these fields.

Women generally outnumber men in our programs (55% to 45%).  20-30% of our incoming students are international, representing 20 or more countries each year.  20-25% of our US students identify as persons of color, and each entering class will have students from the majority of all 50 states.  

Diversity is a cornerstone of our admissions process, we therefore invite applications from committed individuals from all over the world and strive for a diverse student body.  Our faculty and staff are committed to providing a supportive, yet challenging environment, welcoming of all backgrounds and perspectives, and in which students will feel a sense of community, acceptance and tradition.    

Acceptance Rate

We typically receive about 500 - 600 applications each year for the MPA and MA IR programs.  The average acceptance rate for both programs is about 50%. We generally receive 80-100 applications for the PhD and admit 6-8 students annually. 


Students wishing to undertake the dual course of study submit one application to the dual degree program.

When asked "To which program and degree do you intend to apply?" on the online application form, please select "Public Diplomacy (Public Relations, M.S. and International Relations, M.A. *joint program)" which can be found as an option under The Maxwell School or The Newhouse School.


Students wishing to undertake the dual course of study submit one application to the dual degree program.

When asked "To which program and degree do you intend to apply?" on the online application form, please select “Dual Degree MA International Relations/MA Economics”


Students wishing to undertake the dual course of study combining a JD with either an MPA or an MAIR must gain admission to both PAIA and Syracuse University’s College of Law. Students interested in this program need to complete both the GRE and the LSAT exams.

Students must gain admission to both PAIA and SU's College of Law and complete the entire first year of their JD prior to matriculation into the PAIA degree. Alternatively, the PAIA accepts applications from first-year SU College of Law (COL) students; these students do not need to submit GRE scores. First-year COL students should visit the SU College of Law Admissions Office for complete instructions for applying as an internal applicant to this program. Students must apply before February 1 of their first year to be considered. Students beyond their first year are not eligible.  

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Mailing Address

Supporting materials for all programs, such as transcripts and TOEFL scores, may be sent to:

Enrollment Management Processing Center
Syracuse University
Graduate Admissions Processing
716 East Washington Street
Suite 200
Syracuse, New York 13210-1572