Admissions for MPA, MAIR and MA Public Diplomacy & Global Communications (PDGC) Programs

Application Materials

  • $75 application fee
  • Personal Statement
  • Resume (preferred) or CV
  • The GRE is no longer required for application to any of our PAIA master's degree programs
    • MPA: GRE recommended*
    • MAIR and PDGC: GRE optional**
  • English Proficiency Exam - TOEFL / IELTS / Duolingo scores (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

*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.

All required test scores must be sent to Syracuse University from the testing service. The code for all standardized exams at Syracuse University 2823. 

Application Deadlines

For full merit-based financial aid consideration, the application deadlines are:  

  • PDGC:  January 15
  • MPA:  February 1
  • MAIR:  February 1

Late applications will be accepted through April for all programs, but late applications will be reviewed for admission only, and we cannot guarantee that they will be considered for university / department merit based aid.  Applications are not considered complete until all materials are received. Any applications received after May will be considered for admission for the next Academic Year.    

Visit our guidelines page for information about the application materials.

Admissions for MPA, MAIR and PDGC Programs

The master's programs Admissions Committees consider 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, MAIR or PDGC 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, 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. For those opting to submit GRE scores, in the past, the median GRE scores of successful candidates averaged:  158 -Verbal, 156 -Quantitative and 4.5 -Analytical Writing.  Median TOEFL scores of those admitted over the past three years have been above 105. We prefer minimum overall scores of English Language Proficiency: TOEFL:100, IELTS: 7.0 and Duolingo 120, and look for balance across all dimensions of each exam.  

Admissions Criteria

Admission to the MPA, MAIR and PDGC 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, MAIR and PDGC 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 these 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.  25% or more 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, MAIR and PDGC 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 “Dual Degree MA International Relations/MA Economics”


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.  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