fbpx What We Look For | Harvard Kennedy School

The Master in Public Administration (MPA) Program equips students like you—who have prior work experience and have taken graduate-level courses—with the skills, perspectives, and nuanced understanding to be effective leaders in solving public problems.

What do we look for in our MPA students?

First of all, a minimum of three years of full-time professional experience by September 1 of the year you would enroll in the program.

There are also key academic requirements you must meet to be considered for the MPA Program:

Strong academic record

  • A bachelor's degree
  • Completion of at least four qualifying graduate-level courses similar to those in the Master in Public Policy core curriculum (including at least two courses that are quantitative in nature) or a relevant graduate degree. Qualifying graduate-level courses may include: economics, financial management, international business, international development, management, mathematics, physical science involving math (chemistry or physics, for example), politics and advocacy, or quantitative analysis and statistics.

If you already have a graduate degree, those that typically qualify for MPA consideration include:

  • Master of Accountancy
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Finance
  • Master of International Business
  • Master of International Development
  • Master of International Economics
  • Master of Quantitative Methods
  • Master of Science in Engineering

Competitive GRE or GMAT scores
Read our standardized test score policy for exceptions.

TOEFL/IELTS
If English is not your native language or your undergraduate degree program was not conducted in English, you must submit your Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS academic test only), or Cambridge English test score with your application. 

To submit a competitive application, you must meet the minimum overall test score and sub-scores listed below in a single test sitting: 

  • 100 on the internet-based TOEFL (iBT) either in-person or on the Special Home Edition with a minimum of 25 on each section
  • 630 total score on ITP Plus with a minimum of 65 on each section
  • 7 overall band score on the IELTS with a minimum of 7 on each section
  • 185 on Level C1 or Level C2 proficiency on the Cambridge English with a minimum of 185 on each section

Letters of recommendation
We look for strong recommendations from individuals in academia or other professional sectors who know you well and can tell us about your qualifications for our program.

You must meet both our work experience and academic requirements to be considered for admission.