Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

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

Applications are accepted for the fall term only. Applications must be postmarked on or before January 1 to have priority consideration for admission, a 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.

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

This is the profile of the 2017 class:
Students: 53
Number of women: 24
Number of men: 29
Wisconsin residents: 51%
States represented: GA, IA, IL, IN, MN, MI, OH, NJ, NY, PA
Countries Represented: Kuwait, China, India, Czech Republic
Age range: 20-35
Average age: 24
Average Graduate Record Examination (GRE) quantitative score: 61st percentile
Average GRE verbal score: 83rd percentile
Average GRE analytical writing score: 81st percentile
Average TOEFL score: 110

Total (First year and Continuing) Students: 114

May I substitute the GMAT or LSAT for the GRE?

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

What do I need to know about the application process?

Applications are accpeted for the fall term only. 

1.  Apply here for the fall term: Application found here at the UW-Madison Graduate School website. 

2. Resume: Upload a current resume to the Graduate School application. If oyu cannot upload your resume email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

3. Statement of Purpose: The statement of purpose provides you the opportunity to demonstrate your motivation to pursue the Master of Public Affairs (MPA) or Master of International Public Affairs (MIPA) and your commitment to a public service career. You can use this opportunity to explain how you might contribute to the diversity of the La Follette community. The essay, no more than two pages, double-spaced, can be sent as an upload to the online application or emailed directly to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

4. Three (3) Letters of Recommendation (submitted online): The admissions committee prefers at least two references from previous professors who can speak to your potential as a graudate student. Recommenders should submit letters through the online application. 

5. Transcripts: Applicants must submit undergraduate transcripts to the Graduate School via the online application. 

6. GRE Scores: All students must submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores before they can be considered for admission. It normally takes two to four weeks for the Educational Testing Service to download GRE scores to UW–Madison. Applicants should plan to take the GRE by early November to make the January priority consideration deadline. The UW–Madison institution code is 1846. The LSAT and MCAT cannot be used in place of the GRE. The GRE must have been taken within the past five years.

7. English as a Foreign Language Testing: Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose entire undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB). TOEFL information can be found at

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

The La Follette School offers eight fellowships and two to five scholarships each year to students based on merit.

All applicants who apply online before January 1 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, résumé, and personal statement.

Is there a separate fellowship application form?

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

Is work experience required for admission?

No, but it is preferred. We admit students directly from undergraduate programs. Our students have diverse backgrounds and an average of three years of experience all levels of government, nonprofits, and private business.

Do I have to submit original transcripts to you?

Applicants will have to upload an unofficial copy of their transcripts to the online application. If you are offered admission and choose to attend La Follette, the Graduate School will request an official copy of your transcripts. If you have attended multiple institutions, you only have to submit a transcript from the school from which you received your undergraduate degree. 

How long should my statement of purpose be?

Your essay should be one to two pages.

Do I have to take the TOEFL?

If your first language is not English and you did not attend an undergraduate institution for which courses were taught in English, you must take the TOEFL, IELTS, or MELAB for admission.

When is the latest I can take the GRE to make the priority application date?

The results of the computer-based tests taken by mid-November should arrive prior to January 1.

What are the major codes for La Follette School programs?

Master of Public Affairs is 837; Master of International Public Affairs is 577. Students can apply for up to three programs with one application.

When can I expect to receive an admission decision?

Decision letters, including information about scholarship awards, will be sent in mid to late February.

Are your syllabi on your website? Where?

You can find most of the public affairs course syllabi on the Courses web page.

I am a student of color. What are the campus resources that may address my needs and interests?

The Multicultural Student Center is a campuswide center that serves as a meeting place and information center for students of color.

I am a non-U.S. citizen. Are there any campus or departmental resources that may address my needs and interests?

International Student Services and the Multicultural Student Center serve as meeting places and information centers for international students. See also weekly informal Friday meetings for international students held at Union South.

Can I transfer credits that I've taken in other graduate programs?

Yes, up to nine credits can transfer from other graduate programs. The associate director reviews the course syllabi and determines how many elective credits will be applied toward the program's 42 credits. Transfer credits do not show up on the University of Wisconsin–Madison graduate transcript.

Do students have the opportunity to work with real clients and projects in the MPA and MIPA programs?

Yes, there are several courses in which students work with public policy professionals in state and federal departments and nonprofit and private organizations. Course projects were recently conducted with these organizations:
Millennium Challenge Corporation
Department of Children and Families
Wisconsin Department of Revenue
City of Milwaukee
Department of Public Instruction
Wisconsin Legislative Council
Global Livingston Institute
City of Madison
The Financial Clinic
U.S. Accountability Office
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Center for Strategic and International Studies
United Way
Lutheran Health Alliance
Public Service Commission
Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council
Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health
Madison Area Bus Advocates
Dane County
The Aspen Institute
Transition Projects
Department of Natural Resources
Legal Aid to Institutionalized Persons

What are the institution and department codes for GRE scores?

The University of Wisconsin–Madison institution code is 1846. You do not need to enter a department code.

Where do your alumni get jobs?

State Sector: Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin State Assembly, Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Federal Sector: US Department of Transportation, Government Accountability Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Congressional Research Service, US Department of Agriculture. International Sector: Ministry of Justice of Ukraine, Ecuador Ministry of Foreign Relations, Thai Ministry of Interior, Education International Corporation.
Private Sector: Grant Thornton LLP, Spectrum Health, Epic Systems, Deloitte, Accumen LLC.
Local Sector: City of Madison, WI, Dakota County, MN, City of Amery, WI.
Nonprofit/Education Sector: Duke Margolis Health Policy Center, United Way of Tucson, National Council on Crime and Delinquency, Clean Wisconsin, University of Wisconsin-Madison Carbone Cancer Center
Alumni Profiles

What is your career placement rate?

2016: 97% 2015: 98% 2014: 93% 2013: 82%
*Numbers are based on surveys conducted 6 months after the graduation of La Follette students.
Career Statistics

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

La Follette School 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. They work as policy analysts, department managers, non-profit directors, budget analysts, and in many other capacities. See alumni profiles.

What is the average starting salary of a La Follette graduate?

Salaries vary widely based on employment sector and job location. Typically, entry-level jobs in the non-profit sector tend to pay at the lower end of the salary range, followed by local government, county and state government, federal government, and finally, private sector. A typical entry-level Policy or Budget Analyst at a Wisconsin State Agency, which is a popular job among La Follette graduates, can expect to earn between $50,000 to $70,000 annually. This starting salary also depends on work experience prior to attending graduate school.

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 the nonprofit sector 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 and finance, security, and international development policy. They do this by carefully selecting electives offered by public affairs faculty and by other departments on campus.

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 or public health and public affairs. Students may also choose to pursue the double degree of the Master of Public Affairs and a Master of Science in urban and regional planning.

Do you have spring admission?

No, fall admission only.

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.

What is the cost of attendance?

Please see the graduate student rates found on the tuition and fees website: 

For which degree programs are international applicants eligible?

International applicants may apply for admission into the Master of International Public Affairs (MIPA)  or the Master of Public Affairs (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.

How can I check the status of my application?

You can check the status of your application through your UW student center. Your student center information will be emailed 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. The committee looks for evidence of strong academic achievement, relevant experience, 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 contact David Wright-Racette (608-262-9163, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). 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 School website has information and resources that are helpful for prospective students. The student life page includes a link to the Guide to Graduate Student Life and information about living in Madison and how to get involved on campus.