Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs


Current Brown students: see the 5th-Year MPA page for application requirements.

FAQs: All Applicants

FAQs: International Applicants

FAQs: After You Have Submitted Your Application

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 401-863-9960.

FAQs: All Applicants

What is the deadline to apply?

The early application deadline is December 11, 2020. Students who know that Brown is a top choice should apply early. Decisions for early applicants are released in early February 2021. Early application decisions are non-binding.

The regular application deadline is February 1, 2021. Decisions from this poll are released in mid- to late-March. Due to visa requirements, international applicants should apply by February 1.

What materials are required to apply?

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
  • For the upcoming admissions cycle, official GRE scores are optional; GMAT scores may also be submitted
  • 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 $100

Do I fill need to fill out a GRE waiver request if I don't want to submit scores?

No, you do not need to request the waiver. The waiver is for other master's programs that require GRE scores. GRE scores are optional for the MPA program this year.

Are early application decisions binding?

Early application decisions are non-binding.

How long does it take to receive my GRE scores?

Allow up to four weeks for scores to transmit from ETS and be uploaded into Brown's system. Please note that GRE scores are optional for this admissions cycle.

What should my personal statement say? How long should it be?

Your statement should outline why you have decided to pursue graduate work. Discuss your 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. Your statement should be 600-800 words in length.

Should I submit a quantitative resume?

In addition to or especially in the absence of GRE scores (optional for the 2020-21 cycle), a quantitative resume gives the admissions committee a sense of an applicant’s quantitative ability and potential. Find guidance and a sample quantitative resume here.

Is there funding available?

Yes, the program offers merit-based funding. A decision about funding start with a student's admission file. For full consideration for merit-based financial awards, the application must be complete, including all supplemental materials (unofficial transcripts, TOEFL scores, and if applicable, GRE scores). There isn't any additional paperwork to fill out. 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. 

Are there any academic prerequisites? Is work experience required to apply?

There are no academic prerequisites. However, prior exposure to courses in economics and statistics are of great benefit to incoming students. Work experience is not required to apply, although many incoming students have two or more years of work experience.

What GRE scores and GPA are required for admission?

Each application is assessed holistically: In addition to GRE scores (optional for students applying to matriculate June 2021), the other requirements to apply — the essay, recommendations, transcripts, and resume — all factor into whether a student is considered suitable for admission.

Do you offer a part-time program or online courses?

Brown’s MPA program is an accelerated, full-time program. Normally residential, the program is available remotely to students during academic year 2020-2021 due to the coronavirus. A determination about academic year 2021-2022 has not yet been made. Decisions about remote vs. in-person learning will be made based on federal and state guidelines. For up-to-date information about Brown University's response to the coronavirus, see https://healthy.brown.edu/.

Is it possible to begin the program in the fall or spring?

No. All students must begin the program early June due to sequential and accelerated nature of the program.

FAQs: International Applicants

What is the final deadline to apply?

Due to visa requirements, international applicants should submit all application materials by February 1, 2021.

What is the minimum TOEFL or IELTS score for admission?

The minimum score for admission consideration is 100 on the Internet-based test. For IELTS, the minimum overall band score is 7.

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 after an offer an admission and prior to matriculation into the program. Applicants must provide transcripts for all previous institutions attended, and those from institutions not in the countries listed above must be verified. Applicants should use WES for these reports. Please request the course-by-course report

Does Brown accept applicants who hold a three-year undergraduate degree?

Yes, we accept applicants who receive a bachelor’s degree through an accredited college or university with a three-year bachelor’s program.

FAQs: After You Have Submitted Your Application

When will I receive a decision about my application?

Decisions for early applicants are released in early February 2021. Applicants who meet the regular deadline will be notified in mid-March. While we make every effort to adhere to release dates, delays may occur. Early applicants may be added to the regular application pool and be notified of a decision in March.

Can I add or delete materials after I submit my application?

No, it is not possible to add or delete materials to your application file after you have submitted your application.

My test 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. If it has been more than one month since you ordered your scores, contact ETS and verify that the scores were transmitted properly to Brown’s Graduate School. For GRE scores, Brown’s code is 3094 and the department/major field code is 2204. The TOEFL code for Brown is 3094.

How do I request a waiver for the TOEFL/IELTS requirement?

If you earned a bachelor's degree from an English-speaking institution, most likely you qualify for a TOEFL/IELTS waiver. Waivers are granted within the application system.

When do I send my official transcript?

Official transcripts are required upon matriculation into the program and are due only after a student has officially enrolled in the program.