PhD students can only be admitted for fall. All materials must be submitted by January 4th.

In a typical year, applicants are notified of admissions decisions in February.

An application is complete when all of the required materials are received.

The Truman School of Public Affairs PhD Admissions Committee considers each application holistically. Although we consider test scores in our decision process, they are not determinant by themselves.

Improve Your Chances

One important criteria for admittance to our program is the level of fit between an applicant and doctoral faculty. It may be useful to contact faculty with similar research interests prior to submitting an application in order to determine if the match appears promising.  We recommend that you initiate a conversation with the faculty with which you share interests by sending him or her an email that includes a brief description of the research you would like to pursue. It may also be helpful to describe your background and/or include a CV so that the faculty member can respond appropriately.

If possible, we recommend scheduling a half-day campus visit. We will arrange for you to attend a doctoral level class, meet with the PhD Committee Coordinator as well as other faculty with potentially similar research interests and visit with current doctoral students. The visit will provide you with a better sense of what our program has to offer you and the faculty with a better sense of your fit in the program.


Typically, successful applicants have:

  • Minimum 3.5 GPA
  • GRE scores above the 50th percentile in each of the quantitative, verbal and analytical writing sections
  • TOEFL internet-based test: minimum score of 80
  • IELTS test: minimum score of 6.5


Submit Online:

You will submit the following items through the online application:

  • Application fee
    • $65 for domestic students
    • $90 for international students
  • Statement of interest
    • Your statement should include why you wish to pursue a PhD in public affairs at the Truman School as well as:
      • biographical information
      • an indication of your research and scholarly interests
      • a list of potential faculty mentors with whom you would like to work
  • 500 word personal statement
  • Curriculum vitae/resume
  • Writing sample
    • This should be an academic essay or research paper that will provide the PhD committee with an illustration of your ability to communicate your thoughts and ideas in writing.
  • PhD Personal Data Sheet
    • Upload this to the Supplemental Documents folder in the online application.
  • Three letters of recommendation
    • Preferably from professors who can comment on your potential for doctoral level work
    • You can send requests for recommendations to your letter writers through the online application system.
  • Transcripts of all previous college or university education
    • Upload unofficial transcripts in your online application.
    • If you are accepted, you will be asked to provide official transcripts.
  • GRE Score Report
    • At this time, there is no way to track receipt of test scores, so it is recommended that you upload unofficial reports with the rest of your materials to ensure a timely review of your application.
    • Applicants to our traditional on-campus program must submit an official GRE score report from Educational Testing Services (ETS).
    • GRE scores are only valid for five years after the year in which the test was taken.
  • TOEFL or IELTS Score Report (required of applicants whose native language is not English)
    • Test codes:
      • University of Missouri Institution Code: 6875
      • Public Affairs Department Code: 4801
    • Please schedule tests far enough in advance that your scores will be available by the deadline.

English Language Proficiency

We welcome applicants internationally and from diverse backgrounds. Applicants should be aware however, that English language proficiency is important to succeed in our program and in a career in public affairs. It is our policy to interview all PhD applicants who pass an initial screen, either in person or electronically.  This interview can be particularly beneficial to applicants concerned about their English language proficiency since the interview can be more useful than standardized tests of English language ability to determine fit with the program.

We strongly encourage admitted students who are not fluent in English to improve their skills prior to enrolling in the PhD program by participating in programs aimed at improving English proficiency offered by a variety of non-profit organizations, community groups, churches and universities. The University of Missouri also has numerous resources available to non-native speakers prior to starting and during the program.

Application Status

  • You can track the receipt of your letters of recommendation and transcripts through the online application system.
  • After you are accepted to the Truman School, your academic credentials will undergo a formal review by the Office of Graduate Studies, which will then grant you admission to MU.
  • We will notify you of the status of your application by email, and also at the mailing address provided in your application.
  • Please allow two to three weeks after notification for your official acceptance letter to arrive, or longer if you are outside the U.S.

Deferring Your Application

  • Per Office of Graduate Studies rules, your application is valid for three terms (e.g. if you apply for the fall term, your application is valid for the fall, spring, and summer terms).
  • If you choose to defer your application past three terms, you would need to reapply to the Office of Graduate Studies and pay the application fee again.
  • The Truman School will keep your application materials on file for two years, so it might not be necessary to submit all of your materials again. If you have deferred your application, contact us at to determine what needs to be resubmitted.

After You’re Accepted

Once you’ve been admitted:

  • You will receive communications from the Office of Graduate Studies about your admission, setting up your student account, etc. within three to four weeks of your acceptance. This will include a link to accept your admission.
  • You will also receive an email regarding orientation.
  • We will also hold a welcome BBQ the Friday before classes. All new students, returning students, families, faculty and staff are invited.

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