The MPA program seeks to include individuals from many different backgrounds. A majority of students have had undergraduate degrees in the social sciences, especially in political science, but applicants have been accepted with many other majors, ranging from agriculture business to engineering. The MPA program consists of more than 50 students, though the program size varies slightly from semester to semester. The program admits up to 25 students per year, with minority groups, women, and foreign nationals well represented. We encourage ethnic and racial diversity in the program and we try to balance the number of full-time and in-service students, most of whom attend school part-time.
Prospective graduate students are expected to have a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average during their last two years. Preference is given to applicants who demonstrate a clear commitment to public service. Applicants interested in entering the program are expected to have taken courses in the following areas:
- American Government and Politics
- Public Administration
- Statistics and/or Research Methods
Preparation in the above areas (as demonstrated by successful completion of undergraduate or graduate courses, or comparable work experience) is not required for admission. However, applicants with inadequate preparation in any of these areas will face conditions on their admission. Specifically, they will be required to take courses in those areas and may face some restrictions on when they are able to enroll in certain MPA core courses. Specific conditions for admission are explained in the letter from the MPA director in which the student is notified of admission to the program.
Applications are accepted year-round, although it is strongly recommended that students planning on seeking financial assistance apply two semesters (excluding summer) prior to their admission semester. The NMSU Graduate Catalog lists application deadlines for each semester and session. Given the scheduling of courses, completion of all degree requirements in a two-year period cannot be guaranteed for students starting in the spring or summer semesters.
Admission to the MPA program involves the completion of two separate application forms. The first is an Application for Admission to the Graduate School. The second is an Application for Admission to the MPA Program. Both applications should be completed and submitted at the same time. Deadlines for submission of all application materials are listed in the Graduate Catalog. Students seeking admission to the joint MPA/MCJ degree must also apply to the Criminal Justice department directly.
Applications for admission are normally reviewed year-round by as many MPA core faculty members as possible, with decisions made by a committee of no fewer than three MPA faculty members. The committee considers a variety of factors in making this decision, one of the most important of which is the candidate’s commitment to public service. Other factors include previous academic performance, preparation for studying public administration, work experience, standardized test results (if available), writing skills, and letters of reference.
The committee may set restrictions on which core courses can be taken and in what sequence, based on the student’s preparations in the following areas: American government, public administration, economics, accounting and statistics/methods. Students will be informed of any such conditions in the same letter in which they are notified of admission to the program. Students required to take additional courses may not be able to complete the program in the normal two-year cycle.
Candidates with incomplete applications (missing letters of reference, no writing sample, etc) will be denied admission to the MPA Program without prejudice. In many instances such applicants will qualify for unclassified admission status in the Graduate School. Unclassified students may enroll in graduate classes and can seek admission to the MPA Program at a later date when a complete application is available for review. There is no guarantee that students who pursue this option will be admitted to the program. If admitted, no more than nine (9) credit hours of graduate course work may be transferred from unclassified status to the MPA Program.
After review by the Admission Committee, the applicant will receive two letters. One will be from the Dean of the Graduate School summarizing the outcome of the review process. The second will be from the MPA Director addressing any specific issues pertaining to an individual’s application. Students denied admission may pursue reconsideration of the decision using the procedures explained in the letter from the MPA Director.