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USF School of Public Affairs Graduate Admissions

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Our faculty of diverse, interdisciplinary scholars and former practitioners are committed to your success.

Join us in our mission of to prepare leaders in public administration and urban planning. Apply today!


Admission Requirements


For full consideration, your completed application should be received by February 15 (for the Fall semester) or October 15 (for the Spring semester).

Masters of Public Administration
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning
Graduate Certificates
International Students

Masters of Public Administration


Admission into the MPA program is based on recommendations by SPA faculty members on the admissions committee. The committee assesses applicants’ overall potential to complete the MPA degree and pursue a career in public or nonprofit administration based on the requirements below.

General admission criteria include GRE scores, performance as an undergraduate student, practical/work experience and letters of recommendation. These are submitted online as a part of the general application. The applications are reviewed by the Graduate Admissions office and then passed along to the School of Public Affairs. Any questions about receipt of materials should be directed to Graduate Admissions.

The purpose of your admissions packet should be to put together the strongest possible case for your admissions. Our faculty are reviewing your materials for evidence that you will succeed in graduate school, and that the study of public administration is well suited to your interests and career goals. Failure to provide the requested information as described below won’t prevent you from applying but it may reduce the odds of your admission.

Submission requirements include:

  • Undergraduate transcripts confirming a bachelor’s degree was earned from a regionally accredited university.  An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 across the undergraduate years is preferred, and a minimum of 3.0 in the student’s junior and senior years of study is a requirement for admission.
  • GRE results. GRE test results are required, with recommended scores of 60% Verbal and 25% Quantitative (approximately 154/144).  The GRE may be waived under special circumstances under the discretion of the admissions committee.

    GREs are generally waived for all applicants meeting these conditions:

    • Applicant already possesses a graduate degree from a regionally accredited university
    • Applicant has a 3.25, or higher, undergraduate GPA
    • Completion of the USF Graduate Certificate in Public Management, or Graduate Certificate in Non-profit Management) with a grade point average of 3.5/4.0 or better in the Certificate with no certificate course grade less than a B

    GREs may sometimes be waived for applicants who do not meet these criteria but who have extensive (e.g. five years or more) senior level management experience. Applicants in this situation are required to request the GRE waiver, with an explanation, as part of the Letter of Intent (see below).

  • Two letters of recommendation: The most useful letters are those written by undergraduate or graduate instructors who can write specifically about the applicant’s academic performance and potential. If you have been out of school for a while and can no longer get a letter from a faculty member, you can substitute letters from work supervisors. These, however, should focus on those skills that are likely to translate to success in graduate school. Ask your letter writers to comment, for example, on your analytical abilities, your communications skills, and your ability to understand complex concepts. In all cases, letters that discuss your qualifications in specific detail are much more helpful than those that include more generic assessments.
  • Statement of intent: This 500 – 700 word statement should clearly describe the applicant’s academic and (if relevant) professional background, as well as articulate his/her interest in the field of public administration. Applicants should express the specific academic goals they would like to pursue within the public administration program. We understand your career goals might change during your studies, but we want to ensure that your current goals and interests will be well-served by the MPA program. The clearer and more specific you can be about how MPA studies will advance your personal and professional goals, the better our faculty is able to assess your qualifications.
  • English Proficiency (if applicable): International applicants from non-English speaking countries must provide a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 taken within 2 years of the desired term of entry or a minimum TOEFL score of 79 (internet-based test) or 550 (written test). More Information

Applicants lacking the background necessary for graduate study in the MPA Program may be asked to take additional undergraduate courses prior to admission, or to enroll in graduate courses as a non-degree seeking student.

For further information please contact:
Annie Valdez, Academic Program Specialist
Phone: (813) 974-7861
Email: annievaldez@usf.edu

Masters of Urban and Regional Planning


Masters of Urban and Regional Planning applicants must provide general admission requirements and program-specific requirements.

General admission criteria include GRE scores, performance as an undergraduate student, practical/work experience and letters of recommendation. These are submitted as a part of the general application.

Submission requirements include:

  • Undergraduate transcripts confirming a bachelor’s degree was earned from a regionally accredited university. All undergraduate fields are welcomed to apply. The core curriculum is designed to give everyone an understanding of basic planning issues, irrespective of academic preparation.
  • GPA and GRE Scores. Students must have a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (on a 4-point scale) over the last 60 (upper division) credit hours of undergraduate work. The GRE is required, and scores, including the analytical writing component, will be evaluated in the context of the other application components. Applicants with a GPA above 3.25 are exempt from submitting GRE scores, but may want to consider taking the GRE to be competitive for funding opportunities.
  • Letter of intent, clearly describing the applicant’s academic and (if relevant) professional background, as well as articulate his/her interest in the field of planning. Applicants should express the specific academic goals they would like to pursue within the planning program. The letter of intent would generally be 1- 3 pages long.
  • Two letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a faculty member familiar with the applicant's academic performance and potential. Refereees should write, sign and mail all letters of recommendation directly to the MURP director. Letters of reference that are not signed or are sent by the applicant shall be rejected. 

Dr. Mark Hafen, Director of Urban and Regional Planning
University of South Florida
School of Public Affairs
4202 E. Fowler Ave., SOC 107
Tampa, FL 33620
Phone: (813) 974-0477
Email: mhafen@usf.edu


International Applicants


  • English Proficiency: TOEFL/IELTSM
    International applicants from non-English speaking countries must provide a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 taken within 2 years of the desired term of entry or a minimum TOEFL score of 79 (internet-based test) or 550 (written test). More Information
  • Foreign Transcripts
    See USF Office of Admissions