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 application deadline is January 17, 2023 for all applicants, including Brown seniors. Please note that Brown's program begins in early June. We do not offer entry at other times.

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
  • GRE scores are optional; GMAT scores may also be submitted
  • A quantitative resume is required for applicants who do not submit official GRE scores; find a sample quantitative resume here
  • Personal statement: Your 600-800 word statement should outline why you have decided to pursue graduate work in policy. Discuss your interest in the policy field with specific focus on the policy area you are most interested in pursuing and how study at Brown will further 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

Will GRE scores be required for the next application cycle?

GRE scores are optional. Applicants who do not submit official GRE scores are required to submit a quantitative resume.

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 (such as/not limited to academic, professional, extracurricular, service, and/or 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 under 1500 words in length.

Should I submit a quantitative resume?

Applicants who do not submit official GRE scores are required to submit a quantitative resume. Applicants who submit GRE scores are encouraged to submit a quantitative resume to provide more context regarding their preparation for the program. Find guidance and a sample quantitative resume here.

Is there funding available?

Yes, the program offers merit-based funding to all accepted students, including international students. 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 U.S. applicants who submit the FAFSA by April 15. 

Are there any academic prerequisites? 

We value students from diverse background and perspectives. Work experience is not required to apply, although many incoming students have two or more years of work experience. To ensure your success in the MPA program, and the quantitative core in particular, we strongly encourage students to consider their mathematical fluency and take additional preparatory steps if their undergraduate coursework did not include algebra or pre-calculus. General fluency with the algebraic representation of math will be helpful in letting students focus on new material for the first summer courses. Incoming MPA students should be prepared for a rigorous program with a focus on these three areas:

  • Algebraic manipulation, e.g. knowing that [X/Y + X/(X+Y)] = (X^2 + 2XY)/(Y^2 + XY)
  • Graphing and Data (e.g. histograms, scatterplots)
  • Calculus, with a focus on knowing how to take derivatives of a few simple forms

There are many online courses or less-formal YouTube videos (e.g. Khan academy) that go through each of these concepts. The program also has a math prep module in May to help assess student’s math abilities and bring them up to speed. It should be noted, however, that the May module will not focus on algebraic or calculus skills. It is very useful for students to have an understanding of how to use Excel. 

Is work experience required to apply?

Work experience is not required to apply. About half of the students in each cohort will have work experience.

What GRE scores and GPA are required for admission?

Each application is assessed holistically: All requirements to apply — the essay, recommendations, option GRE scores, quantiative resume, 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, residential program. The program is not available part-time or online. Starting in Fall 2021, classes will be held on campus only. 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 in early June due to the sequential and accelerated nature of the program.

FAQs: International Applicants

What is the final deadline to apply?

The deadline for all MPA applications, including for international applicants, is January 17, 2023. Review of applications begins immediately following this deadline, including full consideration for merit aid scholarships. Any admitted international students requiring a visa will need to complete financial certification for the issuance of the relevant official documentation. Full guidance and timeline information will be provided with the letter of admission in these cases.

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?

All applicants must provide, at a minimum, unofficial transcripts of all past or current post-secondary institutions attended.
Brown requires verified transcripts if:

  • You have attended or are completing a degree at a post-secondary institution outside of the United States AND
  • You are admitted to the MPA program AND
  • You accept your offer of admission.

We only accept WES evaluations. 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?

Applicants will be notified in mid-March. While we make every effort to adhere to release dates, delays may occur. 

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.

My recommender has not received the link to submit my recommendation. What should I do?

Email masters_admissions@brown.edu with your reference number, the recommender's name and email and we will manually resend the link. Notify your recommender that the link has been resent — they should check their spam/junk folders just in case. If the recommender still does not receive the link you should email masters_admissions@brown.edu with an alternative (personal) email address.

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.

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.