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Application Overview

What we’re looking for

The Penn I-MPA is offered through Penn’s College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS) with support from Penn’s Fox Leadership International (FLI). The faculty welcomes applications from college graduates with four basic background qualifications:

  • A distinguished academic record in any field of undergraduate or graduate study, including liberal arts or business.
  • Evidence of extracurricular, internship, or work experiences that reflect a dedication to helping others.
  • A desire for a successful professional career as an effective and ethical leader in one or more institutional sectors (nonprofit, business, or government).
  • Proficiency in English as well as Mandarin.
    • The Penn I-MPA program is conducted in English, but readings, reports, and certain primary source documents in Mandarin, only some of which have been translated into English, are utilized in several I-MPA courses.

COVID-19 and admissions reviews 

Recognizing the challenges of teaching, learning, and assessing academic performance during the global COVID-19 pandemic, Penn’s admissions committees for graduate and professional programs will take the significant disruptions of the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020 into account when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials as part of their regular practice of performing individualized, holistic reviews of each applicant. In particular, as we review applications now and in the future, we will respect decisions regarding the adoption of Pass/Fail and other grading options during the period of COVID-19 disruptions. An applicant will not be adversely affected in the admissions process if their academic institution implemented a mandatory pass/fail (or similar) system for the term or if the applicant chose to participate in an optional pass/fail (or similar) system for the term. Penn’s longstanding commitment remains to admit graduate and professional student cohorts composed of outstanding individuals who demonstrate the resilience and aptitude to succeed in their academic pursuits.

Application deadlines

The first step toward earning your International Master of Public Administration (I-MPA) at Penn is completing the online application. Your application portfolio, including all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines:

Round 1 Monday, December 14, 2020
Admission decisions available mid-January 2021
Round 2 Monday, January 18, 2021
Admission decisions available end of February 2021
Round 3 Monday, March 1, 2021
Admission decisions available at the end of March 2021

The application for fall 2021 is now open.

If you have any questions about the application process, you can contact our program team by email at any time.

Start your application now >

Candidates under serious consideration are invited to interview with members of the Admissions Committee virtually. Applications are managed by the College of Liberal and Professional Studies administrative and advisory staff. If you have any questions about the application process, you can contact our program team by email at any time.

Application materials checklist

Since all required supporting documents are submitted through the online application system, hard copy material other than official transcripts are not accepted.* Please note that all application materials become the property of the University of Pennsylvania and will not be returned. Remember to retain a personal copy of your application.

*Unsolicited material will not be used for review.

Applications must contain all of the following to be considered complete:

  • Completed online application, including language proficiency in English and Mandarin as indicated on the "Languages” section of the online application
  • Current resume
  • Nonrefundable application fee
  • Application essays (details below)
  • Transcripts from each post-secondary school attended uploaded through the online application system; Learn more about transcript policies and procedures on the transcript submission page
  • World Education Services (WES) or CertiFile verification of international transcripts from institutions outside the United States (details below)
  • Standardized test scores (details below)
  • Three letters of recommendation (details below)

After a complete application is received and reviewed, candidates under serious consideration are invited to interview with members of the Admissions Committee virtually.

All official hard copy transcripts should be mailed to:

The College of Liberal and Professional Studies Admissions
3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

International transcripts from institutions outside the United States

Applicants who have attended a college or university outside the US are required to have a course-by-course credential evaluation (with grade point average and course levels) performed by an outside evaluation service. Credential evaluations will be reviewed by our administrators, and the determination of degree equivalency to US degrees is at the discretion of the College of Liberal and Professional Studies. The following two evaluation services are acceptable:

CertiFile/CollegeNET Document Service: Applicants from international institutions are encouraged to use the CertiFile/CollegeNET Document Service within the College of Liberal and Professional Studies application to request and submit authenticated transcript(s) and other academic documents. This service provides certified documents and course evaluations which are then included as part of your application materials. If using this service, Penn requires the “Evaluation” service at a cost of $190.

World Education Services Inc. (WES): WES must complete a course-by-course evaluation of all post-secondary credentials. The course-by-course evaluation should include the comparability level of your education and list each of your courses along with the equivalent US marks and credit. Please select the WES basic course-by-course evaluation (with grade point average and course levels) and request that WES send your evaluation to Penn College of Liberal and Professional Studies Admissions. The school can be found by searching the University of Pennsylvania and then selecting College of Liberal and Professional Studies. The evaluation becomes an official academic record and sole property of the University upon its receipt. For additional information about the WES application and their review process, please visit the WES website.

Please note that these services charge a fee for the evaluation.

Standardized test scores

Flexibility for international applicants: We recognize that there may be limited testing opportunities for the GRE, GMAT, IELTS, and TOEFL exams in your home country and some applicants will not be able to report scores by the application deadline. If this pertains to you, we encourage you to complete the application to the best of your ability and to include a supplemental statement that explains your circumstances. Your information will be provided to the appropriate admissions committee and your admissions decision will be based on the materials available at the time of review. Please note, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies is accepting at-home GRE and TOEFL test scores and the IELTS Indicator exam scores through the 2020-2021 admissions year. Please visit the specific standardized testing websites for exam options in your home country.

Students need to submit one of the following scores to be considered:

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
    • If submitting GRE scores, request that your scores report is forwarded to the College of Liberal and Professional Studies (LPS), using ETS institutional code 2986.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
    • The minimum TOEFL scores required for admissions consideration are 100 (iBT), 250 (CBT), or 600 (PBT). The TOEFL must be sent from ETS using the institutional code 2986. To locate a testing site near you or schedule an exam, visit the TOEFL website.
    • If you are in an area where access to TOEFL exam centers is impacted, please contact us for alternative options.
  • International English Testing System (IELTS)
    • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is also accepted, and the minimum score for consideration is a 7. You may upload a copy of your IELTS test to the standardized test score section of the application.
  • Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT): Test scores should be uploaded in the English Proficiency Test Score section of the online application.
  • Law School Admission Test (LSAT): Test scores should be uploaded in the English Proficiency Test Score section of the online application.

I-MPA application essays

All applicants to the I-MPA program are required to write an application essay. There are two questions that we expect all applicants to answer when composing the application essay. Please compile all essays together into one document and upload it in the “Personal Statement" section of the application. Number your essays clearly and begin each essay on a separate page.

Essay questions will be seen on ApplyWeb, our online application website.

Letters of recommendation

Each applicant submits three letters of recommendation. Letters should come from individuals in a position to evaluate your professional and academic work, such as a supervisor or professor, and who know of your desire to enter the I-MPA program. Recommendations must be submitted online. For submission instructions, please refer to the “Recommendations” section of the online application.

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