Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some questions we often get from those considering our degree programs. Please contact martinschool@uky.edu with any additional concerns or questions.

What kind of job will the MPA program prepare me for?

The MPA is a practitioner-focused degree. MPA alumni are working in federal, state, regional, and local government agencies and not-for-profit organizations. Our graduates serve as policy analysts, program managers, budget analysts, researchers, elected officials, program evaluators, community and economic development specialists. Through the core curriculum, students gain experience and knowledge in public management, budgeting, public finance, research and policy analysis, and program evaluation. Specialization classes allow students to fine tune the skills and knowledge they will need in their chosen subfield.

What skills and knowledge are important for me to be successful in the MPA program?

The successful student will have good oral and written communication skills and be able to think analytically.  They will have taken undergraduate microeconomics and college algebra or statistics and be able to use basic computer applications including word processing and spreadsheets programs. 

Do most MPA students enter the program directly after college?

Our graduate students are about equally divided between pre-service individuals who have little or no work experience and those who have previous work experience.

Do you admit students to begin the program in the fall or spring semester?

In general, students are admitted to begin the program in the fall term. Occasionally, a few students are admitted to begin coursework in the spring.

What are your deadlines for application submission?

The Martin School accepts applications for the fall term until July 15 and for the spring term until December 15. However, deadlines to be considered for financial support vary. Visit the "How to Apply" page for more information and contact us with any further questions.

What is an acceptable score for the TOEFL?

To be a competitive applicant, we require a TOEFL score of 550 or above (paper-based test) or 213 or above (computer-based test). Students are expected to complete a great deal of reading and writing in the program. A strong command of the English language is imperative for success, thus we also require the Test of Written English (TWE) with a score of 4.5 or higher.

Can I work while in school?

The MPA/MPP programs are time-intensive. Full-time students can expect to spend 9-12 hours in class per week; this estimate does not include study time (both group and individual), professional development activities, speakers, and other events. We recommend that first year MPA/MPP students not work more than 20 hours per week. Many full-time students do work part-time in internships or graduate assistantships, for example. Students who must maintain full-time employment should discuss their plans with the Student Affairs Officer.

How long will it take me to earn my degree?

Full-time students can complete the MPA/MPPA degreesin two academic years, which includes a full-time internship in the summer between those two years. Part-time students may complete the degree at their own pace, usually three to four years. 

Should I have to temporarily suspend my education for personal or professional reasons, can I come back and complete the program?

Yes. The Graduate School requires that any student complete their Masters degree in eight years. Effective fall 2009, if you are an enrolled graduate student at the University of Kentucky and you sit out for one or more semesters you will need to complete a new application and pay the application fee in order to be considered for readmission. In many instances you can avoid this requirement by requesting a “leave of absence”. In addition to avoiding the application process, this status will allow you to priority register in preparation for your return.

Procedurally, you should contact your Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) to seek approval for the leave prior to the beginning of the semester in question. If approved, the DGS will contact your Graduate School admissions officer who will modify your record accordingly. You may request no more than two consecutive and four total semesters in leave of absence status. Post-qualifying doctoral students are not eligible for the leave of absence.

International students considering a leave of absence are strongly encouraged to discuss their plans with the Office of International Affairs, Department of Immigration Services prior to making a formal request.

What is an acceptable GPA or GRE score?

We do not have a minimum GRE score requirement. The average GRE score of applicants admitted to the program varies from year to year, depending on the pool of applications received. While we consider many elements of an applicant's background when making admission decisions, it is important that applicants have a competitive GRE score.

We realize there are certain limitations with standardized tests like the GRE; however, the GRE gives us a very important comparison among applicants from different schools and majors. Therefore, we encourage you to prepare for the exam, take it as early as possible, and retake it if you do not score competitively.

We expect a minimum GPA of 3.0 but occasionally will make exceptions for extremely special circumstances. We do a whole-file review and consider all aspects of the application. The University's Graduate School requires a 2.75 GPA for entry into a master's program.

What is a graduate certificate in Public Financial Management?

While not a full degree program, a graduate certificate offers the student a focused look through graduate-level coursework in a particular specialty topic, setting him or her apart as a burgeoning expert. There are various flavors of graduate certificates—some complement a Master’s degree or professional degree, for example. The Martin School’s Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management is an independent, stand-alone program. It is not a Master’s degree, but indicates to employers that a professional has had a structured, rigorous introduction to principles of public financial management.