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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

When is the application deadline?

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS and BA/MPP: April 10
MIA, MPP and MCEPA: Dec. 4 (early) and Jan. 15 (standard). After Jan. 15, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

MAS-IA: Admissions deadlines are Oct. 30 (early) and Jan. 15 (standard). After Jan. 15, applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

Ph.D.: Dec. 2

What is the difference between the early and the standard admissions deadline?

The early admissions deadline allows you to receive notification of your admissions status earlier.

Do the application materials need to be postmarked with the deadline date?

All materials must be received or postmarked by the deadline date for which you are applying. The online application and supporting online materials must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on the day of the deadline. Hard copy materials must be postmarked by the deadline.

What do I need to submit with my application?

Required materials can be uploaded to your application, which must be completed by the deadline to be reviewed by the admissions committee. 

Learn about BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS, BA/MPP, MIA, MPP, MCEPA or MAS-IA application details here.

Do I need to submit translations of my official documents?

Yes. All foreign documents, such as final transcripts and letters of recommendation originally written in another language, must be translated by an official translator. Transcripts do not need to be converted to a U.S. grade scale.

Is a standardized test, such as the GRE or GMAT, required for admission?

For the MIA, MPP, MCEPA, MAS-IA, and the concurrent degree programs, we do not require nor consider GRE or GMAT scores; for the Ph.D. program, it is optional for Fall 2024.

What are the GPA requirements? (MIA, MPP and MCEPA only)

The University of California requires an overall 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale). Exceptions to the GPA requirement are rare and at the discretion of the admissions committee. There are a variety of factors that influence the admissions decision. GPA and test scores are important, but not decisive. Each year, the applicant pool changes and admissions decisions are made by comparing each applicant with their peers. Academic preparation, relevant work experience, the statement of purpose and the letters of recommendation are all taken into consideration when considering an applicant for admission.

What are the minimum admissions requirements? (MAS-IA only)

Applicants interested in pursuing the MAS-IA degree must have earned a four-year bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an institution of comparable standing to the University of California with an overall 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale).
Applicants must also have a minimum of five years of full-time professional work experience.

Do I have to take a language test?

Demonstrated proficiency in the English language is required for all international applicants whose native language is not English and who have not studied full-time for one uninterrupted academic year at a university-level institution in which English is the language of instruction and in a country in which English is a dominant language.

• The minimum TOEFL score required is a 90 (iBT).
• The minimum IELTS Academic band score is 7.0.
• The minimum PTE Academic score required is a 65.

• The minimum TOEFL score required is 85 on the TOEFL iBT or 550 on the TOEFL PBT.
• The minimum IELTS Academic band score is 7.0.
• The minimum PTE Academic score required is a 65.

I have completed coursework at a variety of universities. Do I need to submit official transcripts from all of them?

Yes. Submit transcripts from all college and universities that you attended as part of your post-secondary education, whether you received degrees from these institutions or not, to complete your application. 

How do I submit letters of recommendation?

As part of the online application, you will provide your recommenders' contact information. An email with instructions will be sent to your recommenders so that they can upload their recommendations. Alternatively, recommenders can submit their recommendations in writing, using official company or university letterhead. If submitting by mail, recommenders must sign the flap of the envelope and send the letter directly to GPS Admissions.

Letters may be submitted after the applicant has submitted their application; however, an application is considered incomplete until all letters are received. 

Whom should I ask to write my letters of recommendation?

We prefer to have at least one letter from a direct supervisor who can comment on your skills as an employee. We also request at least one of your letters comes from a professor who can comment on your academic performance and potential. The third letter can be from either of those areas. We discourage you from submitting letters of recommendation from a family member or someone who does not know you personally.

Letters must be submitted directly from the recommender online or mailed to GPS in a sealed, signed envelope. The School will not accept letters sent in by applicants. 

Can I have my recommendations sent by my college's letter file service?

Yes. These letters are acceptable. Please keep in mind that we would like to see at least one letter from an employer.

Are there any requirements for the statement of purpose?

There is no word length or required format for the statement of purpose. A statement of purpose can range from 1-3 pages in length. Applicants may choose to include details that provide the admissions committee with information on why you have decided to apply to GPS.

Is an interview part of the application process?

The admissions committee does not interview all applicants. If an interview is needed, we will contact you directly.

How do I pay the application fee?

You must use one of the following (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, JCB) to submit your application. You will receive a confirmation number after your payment is cleared. Your application will not be reviewed until it is completed and your application fee is paid. 

U.S. Citizens, Permanent Residents and Undocumented Applicants: $135.00
International Applicants: $155.00

More information is available through the Graduate Division.

Can I request an application fee waiver?

Only U.S. citizens and permanent residents may request a waiver of the application fee. Waivers are provided to applicants who are:
  • currently receiving need-based financial assistance from an undergraduate or graduate institution
  • claiming financial hardship based on current federal tax return income data
  • participating in selected federal, state and private graduate school preparation programs
  • U.S. military active duty or veterans
  • More information can be found here.

GPS also provides application fee waivers to:

  • Peace Corps and AmeriCorps volunteers
  • PPIA alumni
  • Rangel Fellow
All fee waivers are granted provisionally.

How many students are admitted to GPS?

We seek to enroll as many eligible and qualified students as space allows.
BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS and BA/MPP: typically 25 – 30 students; is open only to selected majors at UC San Diego
MIA: typically 95 – 100 students

MPP: typically 55 – 75 students

MCEPA: typically 10 – 15 students
MAS-IA: typically 45 – 60 students

Ph.D.: typically 0 – 2 students

Do you accept transfer students?

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS and BA/MPP: The program is open only to selected majors at UC San Diego. Many of our applicants have transferred into UC San Diego from another institution. Please meet with an International Studies Program or Department of Economics and Political academic advisor to discuss requirements.
MIA, MPP, MCEPA and MAS-IA: We do not accept transfer students to the program.

I was not accepted or declined my offer. Can I reapply?

If you declined your offer of admission or were not offered admission, you may submit a new application in following years. You will need to pay the fee and adhere to any new application requirements. Certain materials such as test scores, transcripts and letters of reference may be used again. It is the responsibility of the applicant to verify test scores have not expired and that letters of recommendations are up to date. You may notify us in writing and indicate which documents, if any, you wish to reuse.

Waiting for the Decision and Responding 

I have submitted everything. Now what?

We understand you are eager to obtain a decision on your application and will work diligently to make decisions as quickly as possible. We will send you a notification when your application is complete and being sent to the admissions committee for review.

When will I find out if I have been admitted and how will I be notified?

Official notification will come through the application portal. All students are notified via email, with the email address listed on your application. Please make sure that you check your email thoroughly, including spam folders.

Can I request an early decision?

MIA, MPP and MCEPA: you can receive an early decision if you submit a complete application by the early deadline of Dec. 4. 

MAS-IA: the early decision deadline is Oct. 30. 

Can I defer my admission?

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS and BA/MPP: Not applicable

MIA, MPP and MCEPA: You must submit a written request for deferral to the admissions office via email. If deferral is granted, you must pay your seat deposit and a $1,000 deferral fee. Both will be credited to your account upon enrollment the following academic year. Any fellowships and scholarships awarded by the School do not carry over.

MAS-IA: A written request must be submitted. If deferral is granted, you will be required to pay your seat deposit.

I was admitted provisionally. What does this mean?

Most admitted students have provisional admission, which can mean a few things:

  • Graduate Division may not have your official transcripts. While unofficial transcripts are acceptable for the purpose of admission committee review, Graduate Division requires official transcripts prior to matriculation. The Graduate Division will be in touch with you directly regarding missing official final documents.
  • Your provisional admission may be due to preterm prep class requirements.

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS and BA/MPP: not applicable

What is prep and why might I have to take it?

GPS Prep courses are designed to prepare students for the program's rigorous graduate-level coursework. Four types of prep classes are offered: English as a Second Language, Quantitative Methods, Economics and Analytical Writing.

Depending on your academic background you may be required to take prep courses. If you are required to take prep, you will receive a letter from admissions. You must complete the class(es) in residence at UC San Diego prior to the beginning of the fall quarter.

Most Prep classes begin in early August and end in mid-September. ESL classes may start in early July for some students. 

What is the waitlist and when will I get a final answer?

Given the limited number of new student seats each year, we often have more qualified applicants than we can admit. This can result in some of our applicants being wait-listed. As we get a clearer picture of how many new students confirm their acceptance to the program, we are able to determine if there will be additional openings for students on the waitlist.

If you are on the waitlist you are not automatically guaranteed admission, nor does it mean that you have to accept our offer of admission, should we extend it. We will notify you if you are placed on the waitlist. 

I was not admitted and would like some feedback. How can I obtain that?

We are happy to provide constructive feedback on how to prepare a stronger application. Please submit your request via email, and we will respond as soon as we are able after May 31.

Financial and Fellowship Information 

How much does it cost to attend?

Learn more about degree program latest cost estimates

How do I apply for federal student aid?

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens and residents complete the FAFSA between Oct. 1 and June 30. You must complete a FAFSA to be considered for federal loans. Learn more detailed information on financial resources here.

Is it possible to receive a fellowship for my first year?

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS, BA/MPP and MAS-IA: not applicable

MIA, MPP and MCEPA: Typically 25-30 percent of our incoming class will receive fellowships of varying amounts. Most award recipients are responsible for part of the cost of their graduate education.Learn more detailed information on financial resources here.

In addition to fellowships, are there opportunities to reduce the financial burden of my education?

Many students find employment on campus as interns, research assistants, teaching assistants, tutors or readers. Approximately 35 percent of the class hold teaching assistant or graduate student research positions throughout a variety of campus departments. Interested parties are encouraged to meet with the student affairs staff after completing the Fall quarter.

Additionally, all U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents not currently considered to be a California resident are strongly encouraged to establish California residency for their second year of study. Students who establish residency will receive a waiver of non-resident supplemental tuition. Our student affairs staff offers information and workshops to help students establish residency.

Once I have accepted my offer, will I need to pay a deposit?

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS and BA/MPP: no deposit required

MIA, MPP, MCEPA and MAS-IA: $500 deposit that it credited to your student account upon enrollment and is nonrefundable. This fee is waived for U.S. Active Duty military and veterans. 

Questions about the Degrees

Do you offer a Ph.D. program?

We offer a joint Ph.D. degree with the UC San Diego Department of Political Science. The program is extremely competitive and purposely kept small. We typically accept one to two new students each year.

How long are the programs?

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS and BA/MPP: five-year degree programs offered with the UC San Diego International Studies Program and Department of Economics and Political Science. These are only open to UC San Diego students of selected majors in the International Studies Program and Department of Economics and Political Science. Transfer students or students who choose to study abroad may require additional time to complete the program.

MIA: A two-year, full-time program consisting of 98 units of coursework.

MPP: A two-year, full-time program consisting of 92 units of coursework.

MCEPA: A two-year, full-time program consisting of 96 units of coursework.

MAS-IA: The curriculum consists of a total of 12 courses (48 units). Students enrolled full-time complete the degree in a nine-month academic year (holders of F or J visas must study full-time). A part-time enrollment option (two academic years) is also available to professionals with flexible work schedules.

What courses are required?

Can I study part time?

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS, BA/MPP, MIA, MPP and MCEPA: full-time study only

MAS-IA: a part-time enrollment option (two academic years) is available for professionals with flexible work schedules. The Security of the Asia-Pacific track is also offered part-time.

We also offer classes through the Global Leadership Institute, which is a great alternative for executives looking to sharpen their skills.

Do you offer evening courses?

While some courses are held in the evening hours, most of the classes are during the day.

The MAS-IA Security of the Asia-Pacific track is offered at night. 

Do you have an online or distance-learning program?

No. We do not currently offer online or distance-learning courses or programs.

Can I take courses at other departments within UC San Diego?

With advance approval from both departments, elective coursework may be taken through other departments at UC San Diego.

Can I study abroad?

BA/MIA, BA/MIA-PS, BA/MPP and MAS-IA: due to degree timeline, study abroad is not an option.

MIA and MPP: check out this site for more information on academic exchanges. 

What is the difference between the MIA, MPP, MCEPA, MAS-IA and GLI programs?

The MIA, MPP and MCEPA are two-year, full-time programs that lead to a master's degree.

The MAS-IA program requires a minimum of five years of relevant, full time professional work experience, may be completed in one year (full time) or two years (part time) and leads to a master's degree.

Our Global Leadership Institute (GLI) is designed for working professionals seeking additional exposure to the various areas of international management, international relations and comparative public policy. The program's duration ranges from 10 weeks to two years. Upon completion, the participant receives a certificate of study.