WWS Blog

Countdown to our application deadline - December 1, 2018! Are You Well-Positioned for Graduate Study at the Woodrow Wilson School?

Nov 1, 2018
Published by:
Graduate Admissions Office

T-minus one month until our Fall 2018 application deadline: December 1, 2018. We have enjoyed meeting many of you on the road, and have likewise delighted in engagement with interested applicants through our online platforms and calls to our admissions team. Thank you for your interest in our degree programs

The Woodrow Wilson School strives to be a diverse and inclusive community. We admit students from all walks of life and from a variety of backgrounds. The Admissions Committees take a holistic approach to evaluating candidates for admission. Our admissions process is robust, and we consider all aspects of each file individually. In fact, each file is thoroughly read and many will be read by four to six different people. All files must be approved by the full committee, comprising WWS faculty, administrators and admissions professionals. While no one factor is necessarily determinative, this post seeks to underscore some of the key qualities we look for in applicants to our graduate degree programs at the Woodrow Wilson School.
  • We seek to enroll students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to public service—this includes government and military service, not-for-profit and foundation work, and efforts across the local, national and international levels, respectively. We do not have a “typical” profile in this regard, please highlight your own public service commitment and explain the motivation behind it.
  • We weigh the depth of commitment to a career of public service by evaluating both volunteer and professional accomplishments. While we understand there is scope to work on public service initiatives in the private sector, your public service angle should be crystal clear.
  • Your personal statement should state why you are applying by focusing on your accomplishments, leadership, and career goals. It should also help us to understand how the Woodrow Wilson School will help you to achieve your career goals.



  • The strongest candidates have worked in either the public or non-profit sectors for two to five years prior to applying for the MPA program and a minimum of seven years for the mid-career MPP program. If you have any gaps in your employment history, please attach an addendum that clearly and succinctly explains them.
  • A significant emphasis is placed on careers in the public and non-profit sectors. Therefore, the trajectory of your career in those fields should be articulated in your personal statement and supported by your resume and recommendation letters.
  • We are seeking those who demonstrate leadership in public and international affairs, policy, sustainability, and contribution to the public good. Many, but not all, of our students have a strong commitment to a particular policy area; most have distinguished themselves on some level through their professional accomplishments.
  • We want a clear idea of your intended career trajectory—where are you headed? And while this certainly can change, we will look at the impact you have had in your professional experience to-date.



  • Applicants should demonstrate preparation for the core curriculum by showing a strong foundation in mathematics, statistics, and economics. This is often demonstrated through university courses and the quantitative section of the GRE. If you have been out of school for a while, or if you do not have as quantitatively strong undergraduate transcript, some applicants have opted to take statistics and economics courses at a local community college or through an accredited online program (note: this is not required).
  • The quantitative section of the GRE is often viewed as a signifier of your preparation for the Woodrow Wilson School, especially for our MPA program. Please see our viewbook for a breakdown of our GRE scores for the last three years. It is but one factor among all aspects of a file that we look at. The GRE is not determinative in isolation, but it is not unimportant, either. Please take the test seriously and do your best!
  • Strong writing skills are also important, so take time with your essays. Be sure to edit and triple check your admission statements. (Please use the correct names of the school and degree program to which you are applying.)
  • If there are any aspects of your application that warrant explanation or additional context, please write a separate, succinct, fact-based explanation as an addendum.



  • Don’t chase references with lofty titles because you think their position is impressive to us - we don’t care. We want to see sincere letters from faculty, administrators, and professionals with whom you’ve worked and who know you. 
  • Educate your references on the program to which you are applying at the Woodrow Wilson School. Let them know specifically why you are applying here and your plans post-graduation. You may want to highlight for them a few of your strongest characteristics as well as areas of impact they have seen.
  • Please do not send additional recommendation letters; we ask for three, and three is all we require—sending more than three LORs will not help your chances of admission.



  • The variety of work experience, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, gender, geographic location, ideological ascription, and numerous other dimensions enhances the quality of the educational experiences of all of our students, and supports our goal of creating a diverse cadre of policy professionals.
  • We try for a balance between our four fields; the 2016-18 MPA cohorts (upon enrollment) break down as follows: international relations (24%), international development (24%), domestic policy (32%), economics and public policy (20%).
  • Over 100 different undergraduate institutions are represented in the MPA classes from 2016-18—from around the United States and around the world, both public and private, large and small!
  • Additional information regarding the precise breakdown of each of our degree programs from 2016 to 2018 can be found in our online viewbook; some highlights include:
    • 44% of MPA students had 5+ years of work experience
    • 53% of MPP students had 10-14+ years of work experience
    • 43% of our domestic students in the MPA cohorts self-identify as students of color
    • 31% of our domestic students in the MPP cohorts self-identify as students of color
    • 20% of our enrolled MPA students are international students
    • 32% of our enrolled MPP students are international students



  • 100% of our students are fully funded for tuition and fees by the Woodrow Wilson School. We invest in you so you can invest in others.

Photo Credit: Steven Petric, Woodrow Wilson School