Admissions Requirements

To be accepted into MPA@UNC, prospective students must have an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited university or internationally equivalent bachelor’s degree, typically earning a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher.

Applicants must also submit standardized test scores for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). Applicants must have taken one of these exams within the last five years to be considered. Scores for the GRE exam are preferred.

  • The standardized test waiver may be waived for candidates who have completed an advanced degree such as a Masters, J.D., or Ph.D. Please contact your Admissions Counselor to get instructions on how to apply for the GRE test waiver.
  • Prospective students may be eligible for access to a free, self-paced Princeton Review GRE or GMAT prep course (retailed at $499). For more information on the course, speak with an admissions counselor by requesting information or starting your application now.

Students must complete a three-credit course in American Government and Policy. If they have not taken this course at any point in their academic history, their admissions counselor can advise them on institutions offering a valid course, including a self-paced online version. Students must fulfill this requirement prior to registering for their second term.

Although work experience in a public service profession will enhance an application, it is not a requirement for admission to MPA@UNC.

Application Deadlines

The UNC MPA online format offers students four start dates per calendar year (January, May, August, and September). Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis.

January 2023
September 20, 2022
October 18, 2022
November 9, 2022

Application Requirements

MPA@UNC offers a convenient online application process. To complete the application, you will need to submit:

  • Online application, including a statement of purpose and résumé
  • Unofficial transcripts from all postsecondary institutions attended, including graduate studies (official transcripts will be required upon admission)
  • Three letters of recommendation from references who can evaluate your qualifications for our program
  • Official scores for the GRE, LSAT, or GMAT (submitted by ETS, LSAC, or GMAC) no more than five years old (requirement might be waived for applicants who have completed an advanced degree).
  • English language proficiency scores from TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic (required for applicants without English as a native language or if their undergraduate degree was completed in a country where English is not the primary language of instruction)
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $95 (see below for fee waiver eligibility)

Detailed instructions for submitting the required documents can be found in the online application and are also outlined in the information below.

Statement of Purpose

In the online application, you will be asked to provide a statement of purpose responding to the question, “Why do you want to earn an MPA from UNC-Chapel Hill?” In one to two pages, you should address your professional goals, experiences leading you to consider a career in public service, and why MPA@UNC would be ideal for you.


You will need to upload unofficial copies of your transcripts from all institutions you have attended into your application. If you do not have unofficial transcripts, you will need to request copies of your transcripts from the school(s) to be sent directly to you. You can then upload them into the application or scan them and e-mail them to your admissions counselor.

Résumé or Curriculum Vitae (CV)

You will be asked to upload a current résumé or CV, listing any relevant professional and academic experience, including volunteer work and honors and awards received.

Letters of Recommendation

You will need to provide contact information for three persons qualified to evaluate your academic and professional qualifications. These should be individuals familiar with your academic achievement who can address your potential for success in this particular academic setting. If you have been out of school for a number of years and are unable to provide contact information for former professors, you may identify other individuals who can address your achievement and potential. We advise against personal references or generic letters of recommendation such as those provided by campus career planning and placement offices. Again, although work experience in a public service profession will enhance an application, it is not a requirement for admission to MPA@UNC.

The references you identify will be sent an e-mail with instructions for submitting your recommendations online.

Prerequisite Course

MPA@UNC requires all incoming students to successfully demonstrate a working knowledge of the fundamentals of American Government. The American Government prerequisite course ensures that MPA students begin the program with a solid understanding of government at the local, state, and federal levels.

Upon admission to the program, the Director of Admissions will review your application to determine if you have met the prerequisite requirement and notify students who have not. Students must have taken an acceptable course and received a passing grade as part of this review.

If a student has not met the prerequisite requirement upon admission, there are two options available:

  1. Our online Introduction to American Government course is free for enrolled students. Access to the course will be granted within one week of paying your enrollment deposit.
  2. Complete an American Government course at any accredited university. Please note that American History, Introduction to Politics, and Western Civilization courses do not meet the prerequisite requirement for American Government.

MPA@UNC students must fulfill the prerequisite requirement before registering for their second term or they will not be permitted to register for future terms. The admissions director will notify you whether or not your prerequisite has been approved.

Test Scores and Transcripts

You must submit scores from the GRELSAT, or GMATTest requirement might be waived for applicants who have completed an advanced degree. MPA@UNC’s reporting code for the GRE is 5816; our reporting code for the GMAT is D40-55-95. The unofficial scores are required for an application, and official scores are required if/once enrolled. Standardized test scores are valid for five years after the testing year in which the applicant tested (July 1–June 30).

Applicants whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree was completed in a country where English is not the primary language of instruction will also need to submit scores from the TOEFLIELTS, or PTE Academic.

Test Waiver and GRE Prep Course

In certain instances, when a student has completed an advanced degree and demonstrated verbal and quantitative success through graduate level coursework, they may request a standardized test (GRE/GMAT/LSAT) waiver.

Students who do not qualify for a standardized test waiver may be eligible for a free, self-paced Princeton Review GRE or GMAT test prep course. Please contact an admissions counselor or request information to discuss these options further.

Personal Interview

After a preliminary screening of applications, the MPA Admissions Committee will select finalists to be invited for virtual interviews on a rolling basis. The personal interview provides the admissions team with a well-rounded understanding of your background, accomplishments, and career goals.

Application Fee

The application fee for MPA@UNC is $95, which is nonrefundable. Many of our applicants also qualify for an application fee waiver.

Application Fee Waiver

You may qualify for a waiver of the application fee if you are:

  • Able to attend any of our online information sessions
  • A full-time, permanent employee of UNC-Chapel Hill
  • A current McNair Scholar who is enrolled in a degree-seeking program in the semester immediately preceding the academic term for which they are applying
  • A U.S. citizen meeting certain need-based eligibility requirements
  • Participants in The Graduate School’s Summer Undergraduate Pipeline (SUP) program in conjunction with specifically recognized UNC-Chapel Hill Summer Undergraduate Research Programs. Full listing found on the link below.
  • A current Gates Millennium Scholar who is enrolled in a degree-seeking program in the semester immediately preceding the academic term for which they are applying

Please note that you must submit the waiver request as part of the online application process. Upon receipt of the request, the Admissions Office will review the materials and mark the application as “paid” or contact you for additional information/payment. If you are requesting a waiver, please do not submit an application fee pending the outcome of your request, as UNC cannot reimburse application fees once paid.

For more information on qualifying for a waiver and submitting the appropriate documentation, please visit the Application Fee Waivers web page.