Fall Deadline January 1
Spring Deadline This program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline This program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Applicants for the MPA program should submit official transcripts showing undergraduate performance with at least the equivalent of a 3.0 G.P.A. (on a 4.0 scale), three references, a statement of purpose, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, and a resume. Prerequisite courses include: ECON 101 Principles of Microeconomics, PSYCH 210 Basic Statistics for Psychology or  MATH 221 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 1 or MATH 222 Calculus and Analytic Geometry 2 or STAT 301 Introduction to Statistical Methods or  SOC/​C&E SOC  360 Statistics for Sociologists I, and POLI SCI 104 Introduction to American Politics and Government. Applicants without this background may be admitted with the understanding that these courses will be completed before beginning the program.

Every applicant whose first language is not English and whose complete four-year undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB). The applicant must provide at least one of these minimum standardized test scores: TOEFL computer-based test score 237, TOEFL internet-based test score 92, IELTS score 7, or MELAB 82. Even if a student has the minimum score, the program can require the admitted applicant to take the on-campus ESL exam and register for any recommended English-as-a-second-language course(s) in the first semester of graduate study.

The La Follette School of Public Affairs only admits for the fall semester. The priority deadline for admission is listed above in the table. Applications are accepted after this date on a rolling admission basis, but there is no guarantee that space in the incoming class will be available.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

La Follette School fellowships and assistantships are offered on a merit basis to select public affairs and international public affairs applicants who submit all application materials by January 1. Need is considered for some scholarships, so submitting a FAFSA by December 1 is also recommended. 

Please refer to the Funding and Financial Information section of the La Follette School website for more information (www.lafollette.wisc.edu).​

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No Yes

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement MPA: 42 credits

MPA with accelerated track: 36 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement MPA: 16 credits

MPA with accelerated track: 36 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (21 out of 42 total credits) must be completed in graduate-level coursework. For MPA accelerated track, 19 of 36 must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Students must earn a BC or above in all core curriculum coursework. A grade of C is the minimum grade permitted in elective courses that count toward a La Follette School degree.
Assessments and Examinations n/a
Language Requirements No language requirement.

Required COURSES

Students must complete 42 credits, including six core courses, a one-credit professional development seminar, plus eight elective courses. An internship can count for up to three elective credits. The program generally takes two years.

Six required courses are the foundation of the MPA degree program:

Required Courses
PUB AFFR 800 Public Affairs Professional Development Workshop1
PUB AFFR 818 Introduction to Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis3
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  874 Policy-Making Process3
PUB AFFR 880 Microeconomic Policy Analysis3
PUB AFFR 873 Introduction to Policy Analysis3
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  878 Public Management3
PUB AFFR 869 Workshop in Public Affairs3
Recommended Electives in Public Affairs
Students build proficiency beyond the core requirements through elective courses, including:
PUB AFFR 819 Advanced Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis3
PUB AFFR 827 Administrative Internship1-3
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI  871 Public Program Evaluation3
PUB AFFR/​A A E/​ENVIR ST/​POP HLTH  881 Benefit-Cost Analysis3

 Recommended Two-Year Plan of Study

Recommended progression
Fall Year One
PUB AFFR 800 Public Affairs Professional Development Workshop1
PUB AFFR 818 Introduction to Statistical Methods for Public Policy Analysis3
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  874 Policy-Making Process3
PUB AFFR 880 Microeconomic Policy Analysis3
Spring Year One
PUB AFFR 873 Introduction to Policy Analysis3
PUB AFFR/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  878 Public Management3
Spring Year Two
PUB AFFR 869 Workshop in Public Affairs3

Public Affairs And Urban and Regional Planning (MPA/M.S. URPL) 

The La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture offer a double degree Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning and a Master of Public Affairs. Students completing the double degree must follow the double degree plan. The Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture requires 45 credits for the Master of Science in Urban and Regional Planning. The La Follette School requires 36 credits for the Master of Public Affairs. Per UW-Madison Graduate School policy, an overlap of 25% of credits is permitted (9 credits can count toward both degrees). Students can graduate with both degrees by completing 72 credits in three years. 

Graduate coordinators for both programs have sample curricular plans that they will share with prospective or current students to assist with successful completion of all degree requirements. 

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 12 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. This work does not appear on UW–Madison transcript nor count toward graduate career GPA.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Up to 7 credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree. This work will not appear on the student’s graduate transcript. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

ProbatioN

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

Every graduate student will have one faculty advisor in addition to the Admissions and Advising Coordinator to support their academic progress.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

MPA: Credit load by term varies. Students typically take 10 credits in their first semester in the program, increasing to 12 credits for the next two semesters so that they can plan a lighter load of 9 credits when in their final spring semester due to demands from their workshop course. Students need advisor approval to take 15 credits.

MPA with accelerated track: 12 credits

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.

Other

n/a

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Program Resources

PUBLIC AFFAIRS CAREERS

Career development is an integral part of the La Follette School experience, and data show extremely high percentages of employment three to six months post-graduation. The La Follette School offers:

  • Visits with local employers as well as regular trips to Washington, D.C. and Chicago
  • Networking opportunities
  • Career development seminars with public affairs professionals
  • Connections with alumni mentors

The career services coordinator works with students one-on-one to develop essential skills, such as interviewing, writing strong cover letters and resumes, and researching internships and permanent employment. During the first-semester course Professional Development Workshop, students also create an individual plan and portfolio that help them proactively move toward their academic and career goals.

La Follette School alumni work in all levels of government, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector. Popular positions include policy analyst, consultant, executive director, research analyst, project manager, and government liaison. MPA alumni have held positions with these agencies, organizations, and businesses:

  • Congressional Research Service
  • Deloitte
  • Duke Margolis Health Policy Center
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Grant Thornton
  • National Council on Crime and Delinquency
  • Oregon Legislative Fiscal Office
  • UW–Madison Center for Education Research
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services
  • Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau

Please refer to the Career Development section of the La Follette School website for more information (www.lafollette.wisc.edu). 

  1. (Knowledge) Demonstrate understanding of major current and past policy debates, research findings, and analytical methodologies in each of the following core areas: microeconomic policy analysis, quantitative tools for policy analysis, policy analysis, the policymaking process, and public management.
  2. (Knowledge) Demonstrate critical thinking skills. They will retrieve and examine the policy literature and evaluate evidence for and against hypotheses, identify knowledge gaps, strengths and weaknesses in existing literature, synthesize knowledge, and develop conclusions.
  3. (Applied Research Skills) Read, comprehend, and effectively summarize policy research and policy-relevant academic research.
  4. (Applied Research Skills) Effectively summarize data for a general (non-academic) or policy audience.
  5. (Applied Research Skills) Demonstrate competency in methods of inferential statistics including those associated with multivariate regression models.
  6. (Professional and Ethical Conduct) Identify and appropriately respond to scenarios involving the ethical and professional responsibilities of public administration.
  7. (Professional and Ethical Conduct) Demonstrate the ability to maintain human subjects protections when designing studies, collecting data and reporting results.
  8. (Professional and Ethical Conduct) Know and adhere to high levels of professional conduct, ethical decision-making and legal and regulatory compliance.
  9. (Professional and Ethical Conduct) Demonstrate the ability to maintain fidelity to objective social science-based research methods.
  10. (Communication) Communicate in clear written language: a real-world policy problem, relevant scholarly studies and practical applications, a policy-analytic method to investigate the problem, and client-oriented advice to mitigate the problem.
  11. (Communication) Communicate substance of point 1 highly concisely and in language understandable to a non-specialist.
  12. (Communication) Communicate substance of point 2 orally.
  13. (Professional Skills and Career Preparation) Develop effective job-seeking tools and utilize job-seeking techniques.
  14. (Professional Skills and Career Preparation) Complete high quality group projects, including demonstration of effective project management and teamwork.

Faculty: Blank, Chinn, Collins, Copelovitch, Durrance, Edwards, Fletcher, Garcia, Halpern-Meeking, Jacobs, Johnson, Koellinger, Lei, Milton, Nemet, Pevehouse, Schmitz, Smeeding, Teodoro, Wallace, Wang, Weimer, Wolfe, Yackee (director).