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Application Review


Required Application Materials | International Applicants | Summary of Application Process


To be considered for significant financial support in the form of fellowships and assistantships, the application must be complete by December 1. The admissions committee will review completed applications at other times during the year, but because the program is small and only a limited number of the most qualified applicants can be admitted each year, applicants whose files are complete by December 1 are at a competitive advantage.

The committee may recommend acceptance or denial of admission to the program, or it may recommend holding an application and requesting more information. If the decision is to admit the applicant, the program coordinator assigns a temporary faculty advisor. Applicants are notified of the department's decision by mail and e-mail as soon as possible after the review.


Required Application Materials

  • University Application Form and Fee

    For applicants seeking admissions to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program at MSU, you must apply online through the Graduate School. Please do not use the Graduate School’s Recommendation for Admission Form; use the Educational Policy alternative version, referenced below. The MSU program code number for the Ph.D. program in Educational Policy is 2293. The application fee (payable in U.S. dollars drawn on a U.S. bank) is $50 for both domestic applicants and international applicants. The MSU Office of Admissions website also includes considerable information about related issues at the university.

  • Current Vita

    Applicants should use the format of a sample vita, which is available online. Vitae are sent to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary as a .doc attachment at .
  • Statement of Professional Goals

    From an autobiographical perspective, applicants should discuss their reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree in educational policy. Applicants should respond to the following questions: How have my experiences and intellectual growth shaped questions that an advanced graduate program might help me to explore? What sorts of academic and professional leadership roles would the program and degree help me to assume? What obstacles to educational achievment for professional growth have I overcome? This statement is a very important part of the file for the review committee. Candidates should present a thoughtful and extended verbal portrait, perhaps two pages long, single-spaced, of their reasons for pursuing advanced graduate study, the match between their goals and the program's characteristics, and the major issues of scholarly and professional interest that they wish to explore during their graduate career. It is important to mention shared interests with specific MSU Educational Policy faculty members. The statement should be sent to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary electronically. Please note, you do not need to fill in the personal or academic statement on the online graduate application. Your statement of professional goals replaces these two sections.
  • Transcripts

    Applicants must have one copy of their official (sealed) transcripts sent from all universities attended, except MSU since we can secure MSU transcripts directly from the Office of the Registrar. Transcripts are sent to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary, 620 Farm Lane, Room 205 Erickson Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824.
  • Writing Sample

    Applicants submit one or more examples of academic or professional writing, e.g., something that they have published, a master's thesis, or a paper they might have submitted to fulfill course requirements. The applicant must have authored the sample exclusively. The purpose is to demonstrate the candidate's ability to write analytical English prose in order to give the review committee a clear idea of how well the candidate will be able to carry out the kind of analytical writing that is such a central component of advanced graduate study. It may be a good idea to submit several such papers. International students in particular need to see this sample as a way to demonstrate their command of English. Toward this end, a translated abstract of a master's thesis is of no help. If a student does not have an appropriate extended piece of analytical prose in English that can be submitted along with the application, the program coordinator will be glad to work out a paper topic with the student so that he or she can write an original piece for this purpose. Copies of the writing sample(s) should be sent to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary as a .doc attachment.
  • Graduate Record Examination

    Applicants submit the official results of the GRE General Test (taken within the past five years). GRE scheduling is quite convenient and results are immediate, when taken on the computer. You can explore the GRE website for testing and scheduling information. Applicants should have official test results sent to institution code 1465. To expedite the application process, particularly if the application deadline is drawing near, send copies to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary, 620 Farm Lane, 205 Erickson Hall. You may even want to e-mail the numbers to  because official results often take a long time to arrive.
  • Letters of Reference

    Applicants should submit three letters written by those who can attest to their academic ability or their professional qualifications -- e.g., professors with whom courses were taken, a master's degree advisor, or a professional supervisor. Reference writers should be given the approved forms (signed by the student) and asked to attach a letter to this form. (The form by itself is not adequate.) The letter of recommendation form is available online. The purpose of these letters is to show the review committee the qualities the applicant brings to the program that are likely to make him or her successful in advanced graduate study. As a result, it is most helpful to solicit letters from individuals who best know the candidate's academic and professional skills. Letters from instructors who taught the candidate at the master's or undergraduate level are particularly effective for this purpose, while letters from workplace supervisors may be less so. Letters should be sent directly by the reference writer to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary, 620 Farm Lane, 205 Erickson Hall.

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International Applicants

The application process for international students is somewhat different:

International applicants must apply online and use the application found on the MSU Graduate School website. As part of this application, you need to fill out a statement of financial proof. This statement, a copy of which is included in the application, must originate from your source of support and must be a certified, original statement with stamp and original signature. The university cannot accept photocopies unless notarized, signed and sealed.

Your application fee ($50) should be paid by check or money order payable to Michigan State University and attached to the application form. Checks drawn outside the U.S. must be payable in U.S. funds through a U.S. bank. Checks drawn on foreign banks that do not have a correspondent U.S. bank may be returned. Do not send cash or international coupons.

  • English Proficiency Proof: TOEFL

    Applicants for whom English is not their primary language are required to submit TOEFL scores. The test must be taken within two years of the application. The university's minimum on the Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) is 80 with no subscore below 19 for reading, listening, and speaking and no writing subscore below 22. Our program expects applicant scores to be higher than the univesity's minimum requirements. Our program will review all section scores when reviewing applicants for admission. No international candidates will be considered for admission review until they have taken the TOEFL test and achieved the above listed scores or higher. Some international candidates ask to be admitted provisionally, with the idea that they will take courses in English after arriving on campus. The program will not accept students on this basis. We require that international candidates demonstrate adequate skill in English before being admitted to the program.You can contact the TOEFL program online. Results should be sent to the MSU Office of Admissions, 426 Auditorium Road, 250 Administration Building. To expedite an application, copies of the results are sent to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary, 620 Farm Lane, 205 Erickson Hall.

    If the student has completed a degree program in an English speaking country, he or she can request a waiver of the TOEFL requirement. Once the program admissions committee is convinced of the student's English language skills based on past program completion and other evidence, it will ask the university to waive the requirement. This waiver is usually granted, but the university may require the student to take the English proficiency test upon arrival at MSU.
  • Special Information

    Sources of Information for International Students

    If you have questions about how to fill out the international application, please get in touch with the MSU Office of Admissions, 426 Auditorium Road, 250 Administration Building.

    The Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS) is able to assist with the following items:

    Visa types and requirements.
    International student immigration matters.
    Travel to the U.S.
    Finances for international students.
    Support services for international students.

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Summary of Application Process

Apply Online.

Send the following to the Educational Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary, 620 Farm Lane, 205 Erickson Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824:

1. One official copy of all college transcripts
2. Reference letters
3. Photocopy or .pdf scan of GRE scores
4. Photocopy or .pdf scan of TOEFL scores (international students only)

Send the following as .doc or .pdf email attachments to the Educational Policy Program Secretary at Remember to include your last name in the file name (ie., Smith Vita.doc, or Jones Goals.doc).

1. Vita
2. Goal Statement
3. Writing Sample

Send the following to the MSU Office of Admissions, 426 Auditorium Road, 250 Administration Building, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824:

1. Official GRE scores
2. Statement of financial proof (international students only)
3. Official TOEFL scores (international students only)

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