Admissions for PhD PA Program

Admission to the Ph.D. Program in Public Administration is highly selective. We are looking for students with strong academic records and professional experience in management and policy research, who have a commitment to develop the research skills necessary for successful careers in academic or policy research organizations.

Applicants must have a clearly outlined research agenda that is compatible with the research being  completed by one or more faculty members in PAIA. Strong candidates for whom we do not have a probable faculty mentor are not admitted, as this mentoring component is essential to our PhD (PA) program. The academic profile and potential to be a solid researcher and analyst are critical for admission at the PhD level. Our PA PhD program only admits applicants who are seeking careers in academic research and teaching.

Students admitted to the PhD programs in recent years have had median GPAs above 3.88 and GRE test scores of 159-V, 163-Q and 4.5- AW. 

Graduate Experience

Applicants must have completed a Master of Public Administration or a related field, or have the equivalent graduate credits, to enter the Ph.D. program. We have admitted students from a diverse range of related fields, including those with degrees in economics, demography, environmental studies and engineering. Applicants lacking coursework in selected foundational areas may be required to take courses in these areas while enrolled in our Ph.D. program.

Students must have either completed the equivalent of the prerequisite courses listed below (all of which are required for the Maxwell MPA degree), completed the appropriate courses after they enter the Ph.D. program, or received a waiver from the Ph.D. committee.

  • PAI 712: Public Organizations & Management

  • PAI 721: Introduction to Statistics

  • PAI 722: Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy Analysis

  • PAI 723: Managerial Economics for Public Administrators

  • PAI 734: Public Budgeting

  • PAI 755: Public Administration and Democracy

Application Deadlines

Deadline: February 1

Only complete applications (including required official test scores) will be reviewed for admission and financial aid. Students must apply by the February 1 deadline for consideration.

Application Materials

  • Graduate School application

  • $75 application fee

  • Personal Statement

  • Resume or CV

  • GRE or GMAT score submitted via ETS

  • TOEFL score (international students only)

  • Official Transcripts

  • Three Letters of Recommendation

All GRE and TOEFL test scores must be sent to Syracuse University from ETS. 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.

Visit our guidelines page for information about the application materials.

Where to Apply

Apply online using our online application.

Internal Application

Applicants who are already graduate students at Syracuse University should complete an internal application instead of the online application. Please visit the Public Administration Office for more information or contact us via e-mail at paia@maxwell.syr.edu.

Frequently Asked Questions

My master’s degree is not in Public Administration or Public Policy. Can I still apply?

Yes. We have admitted students with degrees in economics, demography, environmental studies and engineering. Applicants lacking coursework in selected foundational areas (e.g., managerial economics, public budgeting) may be required, or advised, to take courses in these areas while enrolled in our PhD program.

Is funding available?

All admitted students are offered a financial package that covers all tuition costs as well as four years of a cash stipend. Summer funds, and academic-year support beyond the fourth year, are available through a number of competitive sources.

Although funding beyond the fourth year is not guaranteed, students are able to apply for TA positions throughout the school to help support additional time of study if needed.

I am an international applicant.  Do I need to complete the section on availability of funds for the first year of the program?

Because we fund all of our admitted PhD students, filling out this section is not required.

Is a TOEFL score required?

TOEFL scores are required for all applicants for whom English is not the first language. However, we are willing to waive this requirement for applicants with at least four years attendance at English-language university. Applicants for whom English is not the first language should ask the people writing recommendations to address the applicant’s language skills. This is especially important for applicants who do not supply a TOEFL score.