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Key Elements for Admission

Master of Public Policy (MPP)

A Commitment to Public Policy

GSPP’s goal is to admit those applicants who can get the most from the GSPP master’s program and who will use what they learn to be active participants in the formulation, adoption, and implementation of better public policy. One of the applicant’s goals should be to convince the admissions committee of this commitment. This can be reflected in the quality of work experience or the statement of purpose.


Students at GSPP represent a wide range of academic backgrounds. Most students have degrees in social sciences, with a smaller number having undergraduate majors in humanities, biological or physical sciences, mathematics or engineering. Some students already have advanced degrees. GSPP does not require prior quantitative training; however prior course work in introductory statistics or first-year calculus, and introductory economics, is strongly recommended.

Writing and Analytical Skills

How students approach problems and the ability to write clearly and coherently is instrumental in public policy analysis. The committee will pay close attention to the applicant’s statement of purpose and GRE analytical writing score.

Standardized Tests

All applicants are required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) general test. GRE scores dated before August 2013 are no longer valid. The LSAT and GMAT cannot be substituted for the GRE. To assist you in preparing to take the GRE, free GRE Preparation Tests are now available online. All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). We will only accept TOEFL tests administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) and reported directly by the TOEFL office. TOEFL scores are valid for two years after the test date. For Fall 2019, TOEFL tests taken before June 1, 2017 will not be accepted even if your score was reported to Berkeley. To send an official score report, the institution code for Berkeley is 4833. More information about evidence of English language proficiency, including qualifying for an exemption, can be found here.

Three Letters of Recommendation

The most helpful letters of recommendation are from persons who have supervised the applicant’s work in either an academic, employment or community service capacity, and who can evaluate the applicant’s intellectual ability, creativity, initiative, leadership potential, and promise in the field of public policy analysis and management. Three letters are required to complete the application, however, we will accept a maximim of four letters.

Background and Life Experiences

GSPP recognizes that a student population that reflects the most diverse state in the country is key to the continued study of current, relevant social issues and policy problems. We are looking for people who are dynamic and driven, representing diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and life experiences, particularly those who wish to develop the tools and skills necessary to change our world for the better.

The Value of Work Experience

Applying to the program with at least three to four years of relevant full-time work experience is strongly encouraged. Although GSPP does not require work experience for admission, typically each entering student has had at least three years of relevant work experience. GSPP believes work experience adds tremendous value to class discussions and helps students to develop a context for problem solving and policy analysis.