Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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University of Pittsburgh

To: Students interested in graduate school
Dean Hammer
University of Pittsburgh (Graduate School of Public and International Affairs)

The following is information about the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (University of Pittsburgh). 

 The Program:

The University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public & International Affairs offers a Master of Public Administration (MPA), a Master of Public and International Affairs (MPIA), a Master of International Development (MID), and a doctoral program. All programs are versatile, preparing students for careers in a government, academia, research, business, and the nonprofit sector. While the career options are diverse, students share a common interest in public service, and in pursuing careers that allow them to make a difference locally, nationally, and internationally. The school has very good relationships with public- and nonprofit-sector employers throughout the country, and has a permanent office in Washington, DC to support student and alumni careers.

Student Preparation:

Any college major is appropriate, but a majority of students enter GSPIA with a background in the social sciences – economics, political science, etc. – or the humanities/foreign languages. Science, engineering, and business majors have successfully been admitted to GSPIA as well. An ideal undergrad program, regardless of major, would include some background in economics and/or statistics, along with government and international relations.

Admissions Data:

Admission to the program is competitive.  Applicants must submit two essays, a resume, three letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and transcripts from all previous colleges & universities attended. Admissions applications are read holistically, and no single factor is given more weight than any other.  The school takes very seriously its mission to educate future leaders, and takes the time to learn as much as possible about candidates before making a decision.

Writing a Statement of Purpose:

This program, like all programs, will ask students to write a statement of purpose. What follows are some tips:

1) The statement should be authentic. Don’t try to "conjure" what others wants to hear. Instead, focus on giving them a sense of what is distinctive about you.

2) Focus on the mission of program, which is a commitment to public service. They are interested in ways in which you have demonstrated a commitment to public service, whether through internships, volunteer work, personal experiences, etc..

3) Talk about any experiences that might have shaped you, including evidence of resilience, leadership, or management in difficult times.

4) You should show focus in your goals and objectives. Mention specific career plans and specific faculty at GSPIA with whom you would like to work. Show that your interests match the faculty’s expertise.

Letters of Recommendation:

Three letters are required. It is important that you talk with faculty members who may be writing reference letters. Give them a sense of what you have been doing, what experiences you have had, and what sort of goals and objectives you have. This will be important so that the faculty member can emphasize personal aspects in the recommendation. Students applying within 3 years of their college graduation must submit at least two of the three letters from faculty who have taught them.


Michael T. Rizzi

Associate Director of Student Services


Graduate School of Public & International Affairs

University of Pittsburgh

3607 Wesley W. Posvar Hall

230 South Bouquet Street

Pittsburgh, PA 15260


Tel: 412-648-7643

Fax: 412-648-7641