Number 1 Admissions Priority is a Commitment to Public Service

Oct 08 2021
Graduate Admissions Office

SPIA MPA studentsWhat distinguishes the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) is that public service is central to everything it does. “Service leads our admissions process and everything we do at SPIA. The majority of our students and alumni serve their communities,” says Director of Graduate Admissions Steven F. Petric.

“Follow your passions because by doing work you love, you will excel,” Petric advises potential applicants. “We look for excellence and for committed, passionate individuals working on behalf of their communities and toward a more inclusive and equitable world.”

SPIA is committed to training policy professionals who will address the world’s most pressing policy challenges—today and tomorrow. The school offers a Master in Public Affairs (two years) and a mid-career Master in Public Policy (one year), both of which allow students to choose among four fields of concentration and three optional certificate programs.

SPIA added a mandatory course on race, power, and inequality this year—its second such addition—in an effort to better equip graduates for a policy landscape that is evolving. It will be the first course that new students take when they arrive at the school.

Steven Petric

“We seek great candidates from all places and all spaces. A lot of first-generation or lower-income students, for example, don’t think that Princeton is a place for them. We want them to know we are committed to supporting all students. This support goes far beyond admissions. It is baked into all aspects of our programs.” –Steven F. Petric, Director of Graduate Admissions, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University

Furthermore, SPIA offers a unique benefit: the school pays the cost of tuition and health insurance for every admitted student. A need-based stipend to cover living expenses also is available. This practice helps make the school financially accessible to students from all communities. “We work very hard to provide financial packages that ensure students can focus on their studies while at SPIA and on their public service careers after graduation,” Petric says.


Admissions Highlight

Prioritizing Diversity and Tenacity

SPIA values diverse backgrounds and lived experiences in its applicants—individuals who demonstrate a commitment to succeed in their careers despite personal or professional challenges or financial barriers. “Our holistic approach to admissions considers multiple indicators of success beyond those measured on a transcript, to include creativity, tenacity, and perseverance,” Petric says. “A lot of first-generation or lower-income students, for example, don’t think that Princeton is a place for them. We want them to know we are committed to supporting all students.”

Graduate Degree Program Options

  • Master in Public Affairs
  • Master in Public Policy (for mid-career professionals)
  • Ph.D. in Public Affairs

Deadlines for Fall 2022

  • Application: December 1, 2021
  • Financial Aid/Scholarships: Princeton has one application deadline and one admissions cycle. All admitted students receive full financial support for tuition and required fees.
  • Standardized Exam Scores: The GRE is required for the MPA. The MPP and Ph.D. programs are test-optional.
  • Recommendation Letters: Three are required.
  • Application Checklist

Article originally posted in Foreign Policy Guide (FP), 2021