Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Admissions FAQs

How do I apply?

The application for admission to the class of 2020 is open. Fill out the online application and submit the following:

  • Transcripts from all post-secondary education; international students please check our transcript verification policy below
  • 3 letters of recommendation (at least one academic if you are a current undergraduate)
  • Updated resume
  • GRE scores (no waivers, GMAT not accepted)
  • Personal statement: Please give your reasons for deciding to do graduate work in the field you have chosen. Include in your statement any past work (study and research) in your chosen field, your plans for study at Brown, including issues and problems you want to address, and your professional goals.
  • International students who have not earned their bachelor's degree at an English-speaking institution are also required to take the TOEFL or IELTS exam. The TOEFL code for Brown is 3094. Find more information about language proficiency requirements, including how to submit IELTS scores, on Brown's Graduate School website.
  • Application fee of $75

Current Brown students: see this page for application requirements.

Do I need transcript verification as an international applicant?

With the exception of applicants who have previously attended an institution in Canada, the UK, or Australia, all international applicants must provide verified transcripts before they can be offered admission by the Graduate School. Applicants must provide transcripts for all previous institutions attended, and those from institutions not in the countries listed above must be verified. Applicants may use CertiFile or WES for these reports. Please request the course-by-course report. Only after receipt of these materials can applicants be offered admission by the Graduate School.

Are there any academic prerequisites?

No. However, prior exposure to courses in economics and statistics are of great benefit to incoming students.

Is there funding available?

For full consideration for merit-based financial awards, your application must be complete, including all supplemental materials (unofficial transcripts, GRE and TOEFL scores).

Nearly all matriculated students receive some level of merit aid. Student loans are also available through our Office of Financial Aid to eligible applicants who submit the FAFSA by April 15. 

Other common questions

My GRE (or TOEFL) scores are not showing up in my application file. When will they appear?

It can take four or more weeks for scores to transmit from ETS and to be uploaded into the Graduate School application system. It is best to order your scores to be sent to Brown well before the application deadline.

How does merit aid work?

Merit based funding starts with a student's admission file. The admissions committee will read a student's entire file and grant a merit-based financial award based on that information. There isn't any additional paperwork to fill out.

I am an international student and I completed my undergraduate degree at an English-speaking institution. Why does my application file say that it is incomplete because I need to submit TOEFL/IELT scores?

Our system is not "smart" enough to realize you don't need these scores — it flags all non-U.S. applicants as requiring TOEFL or IELTS scores. If that is all that is "missing" in your application file, your application is complete. You would be contacted if any additional materials are needed.

The MPA vs. MPP?

Look around at MPP and MPA programs and you will find many variations. Even MPA degrees exist as master of “public affairs” or “public administration” degrees. At Brown, we have synthesized the most vital curricula related to policy and leadership into our one-year Master of Public Affairs degree. Students interested in gaining further quantitative training may use elective courses and professional workshops to acquire those skills. 

Still have a question?

If you have a question that isn't answered here, feel free to contact us at watsonmpa@brown.edu, or call us at 401-863-2201.