General Application Requirements

Admission requirements for prospective graduate students at Portland State vary by program and certificate. Please note that admission requirements for any program or certificate have to be met in addition to Portland State’s minimum admission requirements.

Start by understanding which admission requirements you will need to fulfill in order to be considered for your program of interest, in addition to Portland State’s minimum standards.

Once your application is submitted and finalized, you will be able to check the status of your application online. As soon as the decision has been made, you will receive a notice via email and will be able to access the corresponding letter online.

Ph.D. in Public Affairs & Policy Admission Deadlines

Application Opens September 2020
Priority Application Deadline December 1, 2020
Application Deadline  December 31, 2020
Late Application Deadline April 2021
Scholarship Application Opens  October 2020
Scholarship Application Closes  February 2021

Ph.D. in Public Affairs & Policy Application Requirements

Due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GRE requirement is waived for Fall 2021 applications. GRE scores submitted will not be considered during application review.

Doctoral students are admitted to begin in the fall of each academic year. Applications are due on December 31 for admission in the following year. An early admissions deadline of December 1 is offered for outstanding candidates seeking early admission. A late admissions deadline of April 30 is offered for applicants in compelling cases.

In general, students pursuing the PAP degree on a full-time basis would be expected to complete the degree in five years. While the PAP program is open to students with a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds. Most students enter with a master’s or law degree, but the program also admits students without graduate degrees, especially if they have substantial professional experience in fields related to public affairs and policy.

Candidates interested in the Economics and Public Policy track are expected to meet the same criteria as candidates entering the economics masters program. In evaluating admissions files, the PAP Committee considers many factors. Among them are a demonstrated capability for high-level academic research and participation; evidence of a clear professional aim and career pathway; and fit with program goals and faculty.


Applicants submit a single application that consists of materials for the University’s Office of Admissions and for the PAP Program. All of the materials are fully online. These include: 

  • University Application for Graduate Admission.
  • One transcript from each college attended.
  • Official TOEFL scores if the applicant does not speak English as a native language or has not received a graduate or undergraduate degree in an English-speaking territory. The test date may not exceed two years from the planned date of admission unless the student has been resident in the U.S. since then.
  • Three letters of recommendation from individuals who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for success in the program.
  • Personal essay (about 1000 words) addressing:
    1. Career aspirations and purpose in the doctoral program.
    2. Your most substantial academic or professional accomplishments.
    3. Your intended areas of focus within PAP.
    4. Whether doctoral studies will be pursued on a full- or part-time basis.
  • Academic or policy-oriented writing sample.
  • Curriculum vitae or résumé.
  • $65 non-refundable application fee.
  • Application for Graduate Assistantship (optional).

Master of Public Policy Admission Deadlines

Application Opens September 2020
Priority Application Deadline  January 2021
Late Application Deadline May 2021
Scholarship Application Opens October 2020
Scholarship Application Closes February 2021

Master of Public Policy Application Requirements 

Due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GRE requirement is waived for Fall 2021 applications. GRE scores submitted will not be considered during application review.

Masters students are admitted to begin in the Fall of each academic year. The regular application deadline is January 31st, though late applications will be considered in exceptional circumstances. Students applying by the January 31st deadline will receive priority consideration for merit-based financial aid.

The Masters of Public Policy program is cohort-based and designed as a 2-year full-time degree (longer if part-time) that prepares ambitious change leaders for a professional career in public policy. Ideal candidates will have a demonstrated interest in public policy issues and a clearly articulated set of professional goals.

The program requires candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college who achieved a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework or a minimum 3.1 GPA in graduate coursework. Students are expected to complete a college-level statistics course prior to or at the beginning of their enrollment and to have a functional knowledge of the workings of the American government. 


Applicants submit a single application that consists of materials for the University’s Office of Admissions and for the MPP Program. All of the materials are fully online. These include: 

  • University Application for Graduate Admission.
  • One transcript from each post-secondary institution.
  • Official TOEFL test scores if the applicant does not speak English as a native language or has not received a graduate or undergraduate degree in an English-speaking territory. The test date may not exceed two years from the planned date of admission unless the student has been resident in the U.S. since then.
  • 500 to 1,000-word Statement of Intent:
    The statement should address:
    1. Your professional goals.
    2. Your planned field of specialization. Please see the list of specializations.
    3. Your desired employment sector.
    4. How the MPP furthers your professional goals.
  • Three recommendation letters from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic and/or professional capabilities.
  • A current résumé or curriculum vitae.
  • $65 non-refundable application fee.