frequently asked questions

Can I take classes without being admitted to the program?

The School of Public Affairs will allow students to take up to 12 credits (four classes) in the MPA or MPP program as a non-degree student before they must be a fully admitted student. 

Only students admitted to the Ph.D. or other doctoral programs may take Ph.D. core classes (PAF 601, 602, 603, 604). 

In order to register for classes at ASU as a non-degree student, you must fill out a non-degree application. If you are an Arizona resident, make sure to submit the Residency portion of the application (to be considered for in-state tuition). Finally, all students must submit proof of measles immunization requirements (to be eligible to register for classes). In addition to the normal application fee, a $50 nonrefundable late processing fee will be charged for all applications submitted on or after the dates indicated on this web page (click on "Submit the non-refundable application fee").

Can I use transfer courses for the program?

Students with graduate coursework taken at another university may transfer up to 12 credits, provided the courses are approved by the MPA/MPP program director and were not used for another Masters or Ph.D. degree program in which a degree was awarded. To use transfer courses, students are required to have the official transcripts of those courses mailed to the Graduate Admissions office, and provide the School of Public Affairs graduate academic advisor with course descriptions and/or course syllabi.

Where can I find a schedule of classes?

A schedule of classes offered by the School of Public Affairs can be found online.  Undergraduate courses are 400-level and below; graduate courses are 500 and 600-level.  Some classes require pre-requisites.  See our course catalog for a list of courses offered by the School and their descriptions.

What are the requirements for admission? 

Where do I have my transcripts sent? 

Application materials that need to be submitted by mail should be sent to the following addresses.

For graduate students

Graduate Admissions Office
Arizona State University
Interdisciplinary B
PO Box 870112
Tempe, AZ 85287-0112

For undergraduate students

Undergraduate Admission Services
Arizona State University
PO Box 870112
Tempe, AZ 85287-0112

Is the GRE required? 

The GRE is required for all applicants to the MPA and MPP programs regardless of educational background (see GRE waiver below). The GRE test is available through the ASU University Office of Evaluation and Educational Effectiveness and Educational Testing Services. Applicants requesting the GRE be waived in place of other standardized exams (like the GMAT/LSAT) need to submit their scores via email to the graduate academic advisor, Mark Reed, at mbreed@asu.edu

Can the GRE be waived? 

Applicants may have the GRE waived for admission to the MPA or MPP program if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • Have a cumulative OR junior/senior GPA (final 60 credit hours toward completion of an undergraduate degree) of 3.4 or higher (on a 4.0 scale). OR
  • Have already earned a master's or Ph.D. degree. OR
  • Have already successfully been admitted into a master’s degree program in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. This includes programs offered by the School of Social Work, the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, or the School of Community Resources and Development.

The above criteria will be verified via official transcripts or records that have been sent to the ASU Graduate Admissions office. If you know you've met one of the above criteria when completing the online application, skip over the GRE portion of the application.

What’s the minimum GRE score required for admission to the MPA/MPP programs? 

There is NO minimum score required for admission. If your Junior/Senior GPA was a 3.0 – 3.39, you will "most likely" be admitted, unless your GRE score is low or very low. The GRE is used as an indicator of whether the student is ready for graduate-level coursework. Most applicants score in the mid-range or higher. The verbal and quantitative portions of the GRE are scored between 130–170, and the average score falls somewhere around 150-152. The analytical writing section of the GRE is scored between 0 and 6 in half-point increments, and the average is approximately 3.5 (Source: Kaplan Test Prep). If your junior/senior GPA was a 2.99 or lower, GRE scores are reviewed to determine academic readiness.

When is the deadline for admission to the MPA/MPP programs? 

The MPA and MPP programs have a rolling admission deadline, which means applications are accepted and processed throughout the year.  Students can be accepted for fall, spring and summer semesters.  While there is no official application deadline set by the School of Public Affairs,  applications need to be processed and reviewed in a timely manner before classes start each semester.  It is recommended that students have their completed application on file by:

  • November 1: spring admission
  • April 1: summer admission
  • July 1: fall admission

The ASU Graduate College will charge a late application processing fee for applications submitted after certain dates (click on "Submit the nonrefundable application fee").

How do I register for classes?

Before you can register for classes, you need to make certain you have fulfilled the measles immunization requirements.  Students can verify their eligibility status online under Interactive Services.  

After admission, you should check your enrollment appointment on your MyASU. This is the date and time that you can begin registering for the upcoming semester. While you can register anytime from the beginning of your enrollment appointment through the end of the registration period, ASU strongly encourages you to register as soon as possible. Newly admitted freshmen will have their enrollment appointment on the day they attend their Orientation Program. You can sign in to My ASU to view the date and time of your enrollment appointment. Note: enrollment appointments are not required for summer sessions. Consult the Academic Calendar for more information on important dates and deadlines.

Where are the Registrar Sites?

Registration is conducted online via your MyASU. If you need to talk to the Registrar's Office, they are located/can be reached at:

Downtown campus
Phone: 602-496-4372 
E-mailregistrar@asu.edu 
Location: University Center Building, Room 130
Mailing Address: 411 N. Central Phoenix, AZ 85004 
M-F, 8AM-5PM

Tempe campus
Phone: 480-965-3124 
E-mailregistrar@asu.edu 
Location: Student Services Building, Room 140 
Mailing Address: PO Box 870312 Tempe, AZ 85287 
M-F, 8AM-5PM

Information on registrar sites at the other ASU campuses can be found here.

When do classes begin?

The university academic calendar can be found here. Please note intensive courses will have different starting dates than the regular semester, check the school's class schedule for dates for the intensive courses.

Will I be able to take classes while working full-time?

Most of our students in the MPA, MPP and graduate certificate programs work full-time while going to school. The majority of our classes are offered in the evenings from 6 - 8:45 p.m. Many undergraduate students work full-time as well. SPA classes are scheduled to meet the needs of both working adults and full-time students.

See the class schedule for class locations and formats. Many classes are offered online (iCourses), and in the weekend-intensive format.

How many credits should I take each semester? What is full-time status?

Graduate students: Full-time status is nine credits (three 3-credit classes). Students who do not work or work part-time typically take 3-4 classes per semester and complete the MPA/MPP in two years or less. Students who work full-time typically take 1-2 classes per semester and complete the MPA/MPP in about 3 years.

Undergraduate: 12 semester hours is considered full-time for financial aid purposes. Most full-time students take 12-15 credits per semester. Part-time students who work typically take 6-9 credits per semester.

What are the modes of instruction for classes?

Classes for the MPA degree are taught in three modes:

  • in-person: one evening per week, 6 - 8:45 p.m.
  • iCourses (internet)
  • weekend-intensive format

Each semester, MPA courses are taught in one or more of these formats. The MPA degree is not an ASU Online degree, but students seeking an online experience will find most core courses offered online each semester, and all core courses will be offered in an online format at least one semester each year. Careful class scheduling in consultation with the graduate academic advisor will ensure timely graduation

Weekend-intensive courses: In addition to the classes offered during the traditional 15-week semester, some classes are taught in a weekend-intensive format. Generally, weekend-intensive courses are offered through a two- or three-weekend format. Class will meet over the weekend twice or three times during a semester.  Because of the structure of the class, students will usually be sent a syllabus at the beginning of the semester and be expected to come prepared for the first class meeting (i.e., with text(s), completed reading/assignments).  Following the first weekend, students will be expected to complete the assignments/readings for the second class meeting.

Please note that although weekend-intensive courses will have different starting dates than the regular semester, students must follow the university semester calendar for important dates such as registration, drop/add, tuition refunds, and course withdrawals even if the intensive class has not yet met for the semester.

Once I'm admitted, do I have to register each semester?

undergraduate students
If you are an undergraduate degree-seeking student who previously attended ASU but have not been enrolled at ASU for one or two consecutive fall or spring semesters you are eligible to return through "Quick Re-entry." You do not need to submit a new application or application fee. You may sign in to My ASU and register for classes. Note that you may have "hold" or "to do" items listed on your MyASU that you need to complete before you are able to register for classes. F1/J1 students are still responsible for all SEVIS requirements and should check with the International Students and Scholars Office at ASU.

If you are not eligible for Quick Re-entry (i.e., because you have not been enrolled at ASU for three or more semesters, completed your academic program or were academically disqualified), you must apply for readmission. An applicant for readmission must have an ASU GPA of 2.0 or higher, depending on the ASU school or college. Students who do not meet this GPA requirement may appeal. In these cases, the completed application for readmission may be subject to a due date that is earlier than the application deadline.

graduate students
Once admitted to a graduate degree program or graduate certificate program, students must be registered for a minimum of one credit hour during all phases of their graduate education, including the term in which they graduate. This includes periods when students are engaged in research, conducting a doctoral prospectus, working on or defending theses or dissertations, taking comprehensive examinations, taking Graduate Foreign Language Examinations, or in any other way utilizing university resources, facilities or faculty time.

Registration for every fall semester and spring semester is required. Summer registration is required for students taking examinations, completing culminating experiences, conducting a doctoral prospectus, defending theses or dissertations, or graduating from the degree program. 

To maintain continuous enrollment, the credit hour(s) must:

  1. Appear on the student’s Plan of Study, OR
  2. Be research (592, 792), thesis (599), dissertation (799), or continuing registration (595, 695, 795), OR
  3. Be a graduate-level course.

Grades of “W” and/or “X” are not considered valid registration for continuous enrollment purposes. “W” grades are received when students officially withdraw from a course after the drop/add period. “X” grades are received for audit courses. Additionally, students completing work for a course in which they received a grade of “I” must maintain continuous enrollment as defined previously. Graduate students have one year to complete work for an incomplete grade; if the work is not complete and the grade changed within one year, the “I” grade becomes permanent. Additional information regarding incomplete grades can be found at https://www.asu.edu/aad/manuals/ssm/ssm203-09.html.

Graduate students planning to discontinue registration for a semester or more must submit a Request to Maintain Continuous Enrollment form. This request must be submitted and approved before the anticipated semester of non-registration. Students may request to maintain continuous enrollment without course registration for a maximum of two semesters during their entire program.

Having an approved Request to Maintain Continuous Enrollment by Graduate Education will enable students to re-enter their program without reapplying to the university. Students who do not register for a fall or spring semester without an approved request are considered withdrawn from the university under the assumption that they have decided to discontinue their program. Students removed for this reason may reapply for admission to resume their degree program; the application will be considered along with all other new applications to the degree program.

A student with a Graduate Education approved Request to Maintain Continuous Enrollment is not required to pay tuition and/or fees, but in turn, is not permitted to place any demands on university faculty or use any university resources. These resources include university libraries, laboratories, recreation facilities or faculty time.

When should I file my program of study?

MPA and MPP students are required to have an interactive program of study (iPOS) on file before registering for the capstone class. The Graduate College requires students to submit their POS online when 18 credits have been scheduled. Students must complete all required core courses before registering for PAF 509 or PAF 579.  Any exceptions to MPA or MPP policy must meet with MPA/MPP Director permission.  The program of study is filed online at through My ASU.  If for any reason a student must make changes to the program of study, a petition to the Graduate College must be filed.  Program of study forms should be completed with the consultation of the advisor. View instructions on filing your iPOS.

Ph.D. students must set up a program of study committee after passing the screening exam.  The committee determines which courses the student will take to fulfill the areas of specialization.  The interactive program of study (iPOS) is filed online at through My ASU. The program of study must be approved by the program of study committee, the doctoral director and the dean of the Graduate College. View instructions on filing your iPOS.

In what order should I take my classes?

Any student who has been admitted without meeting minimum competencies (American Government-related course and Statistics course) needs to complete those courses within their first semester of admission. Once those are met, most MPA and MPP students begin with the introductory core classes: PAF 501 and PAF 503.  If taking 3-4 classes your first semester, also take PAF 504 and PAF 507 or 508).  

MPA prerequisite chains:

  1. PAF 501 is a pre-req for PAF 502
  2. PAF 504 is a pre-req for PAF 505 and 506
  3. PAF 501 - 508 are pre-reqs for PAF 509. 

MPP Prerequisite chains:

  1. PAF 501 is a pre-req for PAF 502 and PAF 541
  2. PAF 502 is a pre-req for PAF 573
  3. PAF 504 is a pre-req for PAF 505 and PAF 570
  4. PAF 505 is a pre-req for PAF 540
  5. The nine core courses preceding PAF 579 are pre-reqs for PAF 579. 

Ph.D. students must complete the core classes within their first years in the program.  Other courses are taken upon the recommendation of the student's program of study committee and/or the doctoral director.  See more information on the Ph.D. curriculum. 

What is the value of the MPA and MPP degree?

In today’s competitive job market, holding a master’s degree is a valuable tool to have when marketing yourself and to a good-paying career. And if you’re already in a job you enjoy, an advanced degree can put you in a better position for promotions, better pay, and recognition within your organization or among your peers. Read more in a Governing article (March 2013).

How about an internship?

For information regarding internships, read over this web page carefully - https://spa.asu.edu/content/internship 

What kind of job will I be able to get when I graduate?

Graduates of public affairs programs have a wide range of skills. They are prepared for many different jobs yet they have something in common. They understand the challenge, anticipate the excitement and accept the responsibility that comes with managing the public sector.  The purpose of a graduate program in public administration is to prepare individuals for positions of leadership in the public sector. The core curriculum covers the following areas: 

  • Political and legal institutions and processes 
  • The economic and social systems and forces 
  • The organizational and managerial skills and practices 
  • Concepts and techniques of financial administration 
  • Techniques of analysis, including quantitative, economic and statistical methods and computer systems 

These core elements constitute the building blocks for a diverse field of study. The choices range from city management and international affairs to personnel administration and strategic planning. Visit the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration to find out more about careers in the public service.

The SPA Career Center offers individual career coaching including career goal planning, job search tips, resume and cover letter critiques, and job negotiation strategies. The career center manager also works with local employers to identify job and internship openings and to offer networking and professional development opportunities.

How do I apply for graduation? 

The following steps are required by all graduating students to complete the graduation process. For more information, see the Registrar's Graduation page.

  • Register for your final semester of classes.
  • Be sure all degree requirements will be completed prior to the degree conferral date.
  • Graduate students must have an approved plan of study on file. Be sure to complete any needed course changes.
  • See Graduate Students Graduation Deadlines and Procedures for additional information.
  • Undergraduate students be sure to review your Degree Audit Report regularly.
  • Apply to graduate online from MyASU (from Graduation tab in My Programs and Degree Progress).

Graduation Deadlines: 

  • May: February 15
  • August: June 15
  • December: October 1

If I graduate in the summer, can I participate ("walk") in the May ceremony?

If you plan to attend the university commencement ceremony or an individual college convocation in May but have additional coursework to complete over the summer sessions (12 credits or less), follow these instructions:

Names of August graduates appear in the fall commencement book, but may choose to participate in either the spring or fall ceremony

For more information see the following websites: