Directions for Applying to the NIU MPA Program

A complete application to the NIU MPA program requires:  

  • Names and email addresses of three references:

Pre-Career: (2) Academic References, (1) Professional Reference
In-Career: (2) Professional References, (1) Academic Reference. 

  • Official test scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) (Required for applicants whose native language is not English). The Division requests prospective students strive to achieve a minimum total score of 100.
  • Transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended.
  • A statement of career goals.

GRE scores and transcripts should be sent to the Graduate School, Northern Illinois University, 223 Adams Hall, DeKalb, IL 60115. Additional materials should be sent to: Division of Public Administration Admissions, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb IL 60115.

Prospective students are encouraged to apply for the Spring and Summer 2012 semesters. Please ensure your materials are received before the listed Graduate School deadlines.

MPA Program

Graduate School

International Student
Grad School Deadlines

Summer Semester

February 1

June 1


Fall Semester

February 1

July 15

May 1

Spring Semester

September 1

December 10

October 1

The Graduate School prefers you submit an application online. Online applications increase response time and ensure the accuracy of NIU records. Online applications over the secure server require a credit card to pay the $40 application fee.  Students with a GRE fee-waiver must obtain and submit a signed copy of said waiver from the Financial Aid department to be eligible for a waiver of the application fee.

During the application process you will be prompted for the email addresses of your references if you would like them to be able to upload their letter of reference electronically. You will also be able to provide your statement of purpose (i.e. statement of career goals) electronically after completing the application.

NOTE: Your career goals statement (also known as the statement of purpose) should be an original essay. In other words, you must avoid copying passages from samples online or elsewhere. The Graduate School will deny admission to any applicant who plagiarizes any portion of a career goals statement. The application fee will not be refunded.

GRE scores, transcripts, applications, and letters of recommendation should be sent to the Graduate School, 223 Adams Hall, Dekalb, IL 60115

Since the MPA program can admit only a limited number of students per term, applicants are advised to submit their completed applications, including all supporting materials, by February 1 for the summer or fall semester, and by September 1 for the spring semester.  Applicants should apply for admission in the year in which they actually intend to enroll. Requests to defer enrollment after an applicant has been admitted will be considered but are granted only on a case-by-case basis.

Standards of Admission

Admission is based upon a combination of past academic performance, letters of recommendation, applicant's statement of goals, and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Current admission guidelines are:

  • Undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.00/4.00;
  • Satisfactory score in each of the three areas tested on the GRE general test;
  • Three letters of recommendation: Pre-career students should request at least two letters of recommendation from previous instructors who can judge their ability to do graduate work. If pre-career students have public sector experience, they should request a letter from an employer who can judge their potential as future public administrators. In-career students should request at least one letter of recommendation from a previous instructor and remaining two letters from public sector employers.
  • A statement of career goals no more than two pages, single spaced. Explain why you are seeking entry to this program, describe your career interests, and explain the ways in which you intend to contribute to public service. Through this essay, help us understand what makes you a unique individual, and what experiences in your life have fostered an interest in public service. Articulation and grammar are very important as this is the faculty's only chance to evaluate your writing skills.
  • Performance in previous public service work will also be considered in admissions decisions. However, primary consideration for admission will be based on demonstrated academic ability and performance.