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Robert M. La Follette
School of Public Affairs
1225 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706

Telephone:  608.262.3581
Fax: 608.265.3233

Last updated:
September 26, 2013


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the profile of a typical La Follette entering class?

This is the profile of the 2013 class:
Size: 57 students
Number of MPA students: 41
Number of MIPA Students: 16
Number of women: 25
Number of men: 32
Wisconsin Residents: 63%
Out-of-State: 37% (Minnesota, Ohio, Illinois, Nebraska, Connecticut, Texas, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Iowa, California, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, China, Ecuador)
International Students: 2
Age range: 21-56
Average age: 26
Average years of work experience: 3
Average GRE Quantitative: 65th percentile
Average GRE Verbal: 78th percentile
Average Analytical Writing Score: 4.4

May I substitute the GMAT or LSAT for the GRE?

No, you must submit GRE test scores that are no older than 5 years; no substitutions are accepted.

What is public policy analysis?

La Follette Professor David Weimer says in his textbook "Policy Analysis Concepts and Practice" (Weimer, Vining, third edition), public policy analysis is "client-oriented advice relevant to public decisions and informed by social values." Policy analysis requires statistical, evaluation and microeconomic analysis skills which the La Follette program provides.

Does La Follette offer graduate assistanships, fellowships or merit based scholarships?

The La Follette School does offer 8 fellowships and 2-5 scholarships each year to students based on merit.

All applicants that apply on-line before January 1st and have completed admission files are automatically considered for La Follette School Fellowships and Scholarships. These fellowships are awarded based on academic performance, GRE scores, recommendation letters, good fit for a public service career, undergraduate institution, and general experience. Typically they offer a stipend of $11,000 that is  paid in nine monthly allotments of $1.222.22 before taxes. These fellowships also waive non-resident tuition, which can be a substantial tuition savings for those who are not Wisconsin state residents. All Fellows are responsible for resident tuition. Last year two scholarships of about $12,000 each were awarded to 3 students to cover in-state tuition.

Other benefits that are part of a La Follette School Fellowship are a comprehensive health care package, and priority consideration for a second year of financial support in the form of a Project Assistantship, providing a Fellow demonstrates satisfactory academic progress towards the degree. Project Assistantships waive all tuition, provide a monthly stipend in return for  approximately 13 hours of research work a week, most likely under the direction of a professor with a mutual research interest, and the continuation of  the same health care benefit package enjoyed as a Fellow.

What are the institution and department codes for GRE scores?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison institution code is 1846.

Where do your alumni get jobs?

What is your career placement rate?

Does a student have to take both policy analysis and public administration courses?

The La Follette faculty believe that students need skills in public management and policy analysis to be effective administrators and policy analysts. After students take the core courses they can choose to specialize more in management or in policy analysis depending on which electives they choose. A student who prefers to work in non-profit or management might take electives such as Advanced Management, Performance Management and Personnel Management. A student who plans to become an analyst can choose to take electives such as Program Evaluation, Advanced Statistical Methods for Public Policy and Benefit-Cost Analysis.

What jobs do students get after graduation?

Students are hired for positions in various departments of local, state and federal government, higher education, non-profits organizations, and private consulting firms. See 2011 and 2010 graduation information. They work as policy analysts, department managers, non-profit directors, budget analysts, and in many other capacities. See alumni profiles.

What are the prerequisite courses for admission?

For the MPA, recommended preparatory courses are introductory microeconomics, upper level algebra OR calculus and an American government course. For the MIPA recommended preparation courses are introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics, upper level algebra or calculus, equivelent of fours semesters of a of a second language or study/work abroad experience, and a course in comparative politics or international relations. For both programs, students who have not taken a microeconomics course but have strong quantitative skills, may be able to waive the microeconomics prerequisite course.
See Admissions.

Can I apply without having completed the prerequisite coursework?

A student can apply without completing prerequisites coursework. If the application is strong in other ways (for example, strong GRE scores, relevant experience) the admissions committee may decide to admit the student based on other evidence of ability to do well in the program.

Why does a student who wants to be an administrator or work in nonprofit need to study statistical methods and microeconomic analysis?

Leaders in government agencies and nonprofit organizations are called upon to report on the performance of the programs that they manage. They have to be able to showcase the advantages and disadvantages of programs with regard to cost and social value. To make a compelling case for the relative effect of a particular program requires an understanding of basic statistical concepts. Such professional skills are badly needed in the nonprofit area, and La Follette School graduates have an advantage when competing for higher level administrative positions.

Can I study a specific type of policy like education policy or environmental policy?

Students take the core required courses and acquire skills that will allow them to work in a variety of types of administration and policy. Students can tailor their studies to develop a focus on one or two types of policy such as health, education, social and poverty, environmental, trade & finance, security, and international development policy. They do this by carefully selecting electives offered by public affairs faculty and by other departments on campus. See focus fields.

Do you have dual degree programs?

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison a dual degree means a program is the combination of one professional degree and a graduate degree such as Law and public affairs. Students may also choose to pursue the double degree of the Master's of Public Affairs and an MS in Urban Planning and Regional Studies. To see all of the double degrees, certificates, and how to apply to them please see double degree programs.

What is the application deadline? Is it a postmarked deadline?

Applications must be postmarked on or before January 1 to have priority consideration for admission and for the La Follette School fellowship and other scholarships. All other applications are reviewed on a rolling admissions basis: if there is room in the class applications will continue to be reviewed.

Do you have spring admission?

No, fall admission only.

What do I need to know about the application process?

There are three steps to the application process.

Step 1. Apply on-line to the University of Wisconsin - Madison Graduate School. Complete the online application, upload resume and statement of purpose.

Please refer to the following websites for instructions and information.

Graduate School Checklist

Graduate School Requirements

Graduate School Online Letters of Recommendation Process
Submit three letters at

Of the three references, two should be from faculty members who are familiar with the applicant's academic work.

The statement of purpose can be uploaded to the application or emailed to

A resume can be uploaded to electronic application or emailed to

Step 2
. Send all higher education transcripts directly to:

Admissions Committee, La Follette School of Public Affairs
1225 Observatory Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53706.

One official transcript
from each school is required. Students do not need to send transcripts from institutions at which they took unrelated courses and are not from their BA or BS granting institution.

Step 3. Once you have taken the GRE and/or TOEFL be sure that the Educational Testing Service (ETS) has the code 1846 to electronically submit your scores to the University of Wisconsin.

The Graduate School application asks for major codes.
What are the major codes for La Follette School programs?

MPA is 837; MIPA is 577. Students can apply for up to 3 programs with one application.

Do you provide financial assistance?

La Follette awards fellowships and scholarships to students based on merit. All students including international students are eligible to apply. See Costs and Financial Aid.

Are there special forms for the letters of recommendation?

Follow the Graduate School's online Letters of Recommendation Instructions.

For which degree programs are international applicants eligible?

International applicants may apply for admission into either the MIPA or MPA program. However, international applicants should be aware that their background will be an asset when applying to the MIPA program. Those applicants interested in the MPA program are advised that the MPA program assumes a good knowledge of American government and that MPA graduates generally intend to apply their learning in a U.S. setting.

Is there a separate fellowship form?

No. All applications will be considered for La Follette School Fellowships and Scholarships. Priority consideration is given to applications submitted by January 1.

How can I check the status of my application?

You can check the status of your own application through your UW student center. Your student center information will be sent to you as soon as you submit an application to the graduate school.

How will my application be evaluated?

Applications are carefully reviewed by an Admissions Committee made up of La Follette School faculty and an administrator. The committee looks for evidence of strong academic achievement, relevant experience, and potential for success in the public affairs graduate programs and capacity to do well in a public service career.

When will I receive notification of my admission?

The admissions office will begin sending admission emails and fellowship/scholarship letters in late February. If a letter does not mention a fellowship offer, the applicant should look to outside sources for funding.

How do I arrange a visit to the La Follette School?

If you wish to visit the La Follette School please call 608.262.3581 or email We will arrange for you to meet an advisor, a faculty member and/or set up a time for you to visit a class.

Does the La Follette School have a visit day for accepted students?

Yes. Applicants accepted for entry in the fall will be encouraged to visit Madison and the La Follette School on a visit day in March or April, prior to the notification deadline. Accepted applicants may visit at any time, although the visit day is when faculty are scheduled to meet and talk to prospective students, and when you can meet potential classmates. Students will be notified of the visit day shortly after acceptance.

Are there additional resources on the University of Wisconsin - Madison campus that would be helpful to a prospective graduate student?

The University of Wisconsin - Madison Graduate Student Collaborative offers information and resources online at their websites. These include the Guide to Graduate Student Life and campus-wide events calendars. A list of websites may be found at the UW Graduate site.