We know not everyone can meet us on our travels or visit the Bloomington campus. But we still want to talk with you, answer your questions, and provide the information you want about our programs. When we have live chats coming up, we’ll post the details here. Until then, look through our past topics for questions and answers from our previous chats and more information on our programs and related topics.
Explore past topics
- Building a competitive application (domestic)
From December 2015
Our priority application deadline is February 1—applying by this date means you will automatically be considered for all merit-based financial opportunities that SPEA has to offer!
Q. What would you say is the most common mistake people make with their applications?
A common mistake that we see is that applicants may not provide their recommenders with ample time to submit their letters of recommendation. It's important to notify your recommenders early in the application process!
Some applicants forget to send us transcripts from all institutions they have attended. We require official transcripts from all institutions attended—even if you did not receive a degree from that school.
Q. What does SPEA look for in applicants for the MPA program?
SPEA looks for applicants who show a commitment to service and a desire to implement positive change. Our students come from a variety of backgrounds which makes for a very diverse learning environment!
Q. Is that deadline also for international students?
Yes, our priority deadline for all students to be considered for merit-based aid is February 1!
Q. Are there any particular "buzz words" that SPEA likes to see in applicant's personal statement and/or resume?
There are not necessarily any "buzz words" that we look for. Your personal statement is really a chance for our Admissions Committee members to get to know YOU, so they want to know who you are, why you're interested in pursuing this degree program, and really what you're all about. By the time the reviewer gets to your personal statement, they have seen your transcript, your test scores, and much more ... but now they want to hear from you!
Q. I'm getting ready to take the GRE, but I am nervous that this will hurt my application. Is the GRE the most important thing the committee looks at?
Our Admissions Committee reviews applications for their overall merit. The GRE is important, but it is just one component of the application. There isn't a "make or break" section of the application!
Q. What are some of the merit-based financial aid opportunities and how competitive are they?
Most of our merit-based aid opportunities consist of a partial tuition remission and a work assignment as a graduate or teaching assistant paid at an hourly rate.
Q. I had a look at the requirements for the application. Do I have to have three letters of recommendation? If so, I feel that two of my letters are going to be people that know me and are of positions that can give a better idea of how successful I could be in grad school.
Yes, three recommendation letters are required. When possible, we recommend that at least one letter is from a professor. This is because our admissions committee is comprised of faculty members ... so they want to know what you're going to bring to their classroom and what you are going to be like as a student. But ultimately, you want to select the recommenders who will best represent you!
Q. How important is post-undergrad work experience and how many years of experience do applicants typically have before applying?
Each year, we typically offer approximately 40 percent of our incoming class merit-based aid! We don't have a prior work experience requirement, so some of our students will join us right after they complete their undergraduate degrees and others may have a few years of work experience.
Q. Are there any financial aid options for international students?
International students are eligible for all of our merit-based awards if they apply by February 1. However, please note that as a professional degree program, we rarely offer full tuition awards. As such, we encourage you to also seek external opportunities for funding, as well.
Q. How many (RPCV) Coverdell Fellows are chosen each year?
It sounds like you are an RPCV! We love what Returned Peace Corps Volunteers bring to our student and academic communities. We do not have a set number of Coverdell Fellowships each year, but on average, there's usually five to eight selected each year.
Q. Does SPEA (or IU in general) offer to match AmeriCorps Segal Awards?
Our match of the AmeriCorps Segal Award comes in the form of a three-credit hour reduction in recognition of a year of service (this benefit is maxed at six credits for two years of service). This means that, for example, the 48-credit hour MPA program becomes a 45-credit program ... equating to cost savings of more than $1,400 for Indiana residents and more than $3,200 for nonresidents.
Q. Is it possible to become an Indiana resident while studying at IU?
All residency determinations are managed by the Office of the Registrar. In general, my understanding is that students retain the residency status with which they enter the program.Find additional information about residency or associated petitions
Q. About how many SPEA-Corps member are selected each year?
On average, we have about 24-27 Service Corps Fellows in each class. The number of open positions can vary from year to year depending on the number of community partners that have positions available. The Service Corps program is a great way to get experience working in the public and nonprofit sectors while pursuing a master's degree at SPEA!
Q. Are there any additional application requirements for the Service Corps programs or are all applications received by February 1 considered?
Applicants specifically interested in Service Corps can indicate their interest on the Departmental Questions form. And yes, all applicants who apply by February 1 will be considered!
Q. How big is the SPEA entering class, typically?
We generally welcome approximately 200 new master's students each fall across our master's programs (with the largest being our MPA program).
Q. What about the MPA/MSES dual degree program?
Approximately 25-30 students begin as dual degree students each year. Students also have the opportunity to add the dual degree after beginning either the MPA or the MSES degree program, so we have additional dual degree students who pursue that option. We do a lot to help make the program feel smaller. For example, first semester students are placed in cohorts, so you take your courses with the same group of students. It helps create a strong bond when you're balancing the same workload and working on group projects together!
Many students tell us that even as they venture into their respective elective courses, their closest friends are still the students from their first semester cohort. We also have an array of professional student organizations that many of our students get involved with, both to socialize and to engage in professional development opportunities. These types of experiences help our students have the best of both worlds—the benefits and resources that come with a large program with over 100 full-time faculty, but also the benefits of a close-knit community.
Q. Is it possible to take some of your MPA courses online or are the online courses exclusively available to the online MPA program?
Our residential and online programs are, for the most part, separate and distinct, so they're not really designed for students to move between them. In unique circumstances, residential students may be permitted to take an online course, but generally, the online courses are for students admitted to the SPEA Connect online program (this audience tends to be experienced professionals with 10+ years of work experience).
Q. I saw, while looking through SPEA's website, that Energy is offered as a concentration for people pursuing the Master in Public Affairs or the environmental science program. Is one able to pursue the dual track and focus on energy as well or does it have be one of the specified dual degree concentrations?
Dual degree students have the option of pursuing the specified dual degree concentrations as well as concentrations for the MPA or MSES degree programs
Please feel free to call us at (812) 855- 2840 or email us at email@example.com with any further questions you have as you progress through the application process. We are happy to assist!
- Building a competitive application (international)
From November 2014.
Q. My personal statement is about 700 words. Is that a problem?
There is no word limit for the personal statement. Our goal is to allow you to express your goals and plans. Typically, they are about two pages, doubled-spaced. On the personal statement, it is important to communicate efficiently as our Admissions Committees review hundreds of applications.
Q. I intend to apply to either the MPA program or the dual degree with environmental science, but I haven't made up my mind yet. I was wondering if you could explain a bit on how the decision of the dual degree admission is made?
Many students, after beginning their MPA, apply to pursue the dual degree after they have begun coursework. Dual degree applications are sent to both the MPA and MSES Admissions Committees for independent decisions. Thus, an applicant could be accepted to one or the other, or both.
Q. So I could basically apply for a MPA first and see if I want a dual afterwards right?
That is correct. Some students do this in order to take more time to fulfill the prerequisites of the MSES program.
Q. Do you require GRE scores for the master’s program application?
Yes, SPEA requires GRE or GMAT scores to apply to our masters programs.
Q. How many masters programs do you run?
Q. Is the MPA a two-year program?
Yes, the MPA is a two-year program (48 credit hours).
Q. How many students enrolled to the MPA program each year have no post-grad working experience?
We have many students who come directly from their undergraduate studies with little or no work experience. In fact, we offer a professional degree to prepare you with the skills to enter the workforce. The average age of a SPEA student is 26.
Q. I did an MPA from UK which was a one-year program. In that case, do I need to include that in the application? If I only submit my undergrad degree, is that fine?
SPEA expects to receive an official transcript from each postsecondary school you have attended, per the instructions provided by our Office of International Services.
Q. Do you provide full scholarships for MPA students?
As a professional school, we expect each of our students to contribute to their education, so we do not offer full scholarships. However, 44 percent of eligible students from our most recent class were offered merit aid. To apply for merit-based aid, submit your complete application by the December 1 international deadline and check the appropriate box in Section V of the SPEA Departmental Questions form. SPEA merit-based aid typically covers a stipend and partial tuition remission.
Q. How many recommendations does the MPA program require?
We require three letters of recommendation, preferably from faculty.
Q. What is the minimum GRE score I need to have?
Applications are reviewed for their overall merit; there is not one “make-or-break” section of the application.
Q. I am preparing my application for the MPA program. The application information section says “Please note that you need to send ALL transcripts directly to the program you are applying to, including those where no degree was awarded.” Does that mean I have to send hard copies to Indiana University? Should these degrees be official transcripts sent directly from the Registrar's office of my university? Also, do you require hard copies of my O & A level certificates? I attended a Pakistani university for my bachelor’s degree.
If you have attended an institution outside of the USA, please send hard copies to the Office of International Services. If those certificates are a part of your academic record, then please include them with your transcripts.
Q. Hard copies are required only after an admission is being offered, right?
Official hard copies are required at application.
Q. Should the hard copy be sent before or after I submit the application online?
It can be sent before or after. If it arrives before, it will be kept until it is matched with your online application.
Q. I did O and A Levels, which is administered by the Cambridge International Examinations Body (UK). This is equivalent to high school in the U.S. Does postsecondary education include high school, too?
O& A Level certificates are not necessary. We do not require any type of high school verification.
Q. In the employment history section, the form is not allowing me to write the full names of my employer organizations. And the abbreviations are not enough to correctly name or describe the organizations. What should I do? How should I enter this information?
The abbreviations will be sufficient for the online application. Your resume, however, should provide the full names as that will be the medium through which the Admissions Committee views this information.
Q. The Desired Degree Section asks for an academic plan and the drop down list only contains one option which says Public Affairs PhD. What does this mean? Should I select this option even if I am applying for an MPA degree?
Our degree programs are listed under SPEA Grad Public Affairs and SPEA Grad Environmental Science. If you plan to apply to our signature dual degree program, please select SPEA GRAD Public Affairs for the Academic Program and Public Affairs/Environmental Science MPA/MSES for the Academic Plan
Q. Can international students attend the SPEA Fall Experience Day online?
We would love for international applicants to get an experience at SPEA, but unfortunately, the event cannot be replicated through an online forum or medium.
Q. I'm in Bloomington but I'm an international applicant, can I go to Experience Day?
You are certainly welcome to attend our Experience Day!
Q. What is the difference between an Academic Program and Academic Plan?
The Academic Program typically refers to the school while the Academic Plan refers to the degree.
Q. Is the GMAT also a requirement to apply for admission?
SPEA requires either the GRE or GMAT. For the TOEFL and GRE, official scores should be sent directly from ETS using our institution code, 1324.
Q. Can MPA students have two or more concentrations?
Many students pursue more than one concentration while at SPEA.
Q. Can I upload my SOP after sending my professors the request for letter of recommendation?
You may send your personal statement (or resume) to firstname.lastname@example.org before or after you have submitted your application.
Q. If I select the MPA program for now and not the MPA/MSES dual degree, would I be allowed to sign for courses from the energy concentration?
Yes, the energy concentration is available to MPA, MSES, and MPA-MSES students.
Q. Do transcripts have to be sent in as originals to complete the application or can we upload them in iStart and after we get the admit send the original transcript hardcopy?
Official hard copies should be sent to the Office of International Services for application to SPEA's masters programs. Please do not upload copies on the online application or iStart.
Q. I have my official transcripts, but not in a closed envelope, is that ok?
The Office of International Services makes all determinations of authenticity. As long as the copies are official, there shouldn't be any problem.
Q. Can international students be considered for financial aid? Or are they just eligible for merit aid?
Need-based aid is provided by the U.S. government, so international candidates are not eligible for this. While international applicants are considered for SPEA merit aid opportunities, please know that SPEA merit aid offers are rarely extended to international applicants as the awards are unable to assist in any substantial way. We encourage all international applicants to seek other sources of funding from their home countries. Resources provided by Indiana University’s University Graduate School and Grad Grants Center may prove helpful.
Q. Financial statement has to be shown after receiving the admit card?
The Office of International Services does requests financial documentation upon application, but requires it after admission.
If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to email us at email@example.com.
- Application & merit aid questions
From January 2015
Q. I've been admitted for the 2015/16 start of the MSES/MPA program. Is there any way to check that my applications for aid have been received?
As long as you've submitted your application, you'll automatically go into our merit aid pool. If you're wondering about need-based aid, that runs through Indiana University's Office of Student Financial Assistance.
Q. Is there a typical month during which I can expect to receive a decision on merit-based and other aid?
Yes! The first round of merit aid offers will most likely go out mid-March. Other offers will come out in waves after that.
Q. I am very interested in a career in international higher education and, therefore, studying abroad is a natural must (the program in Augsburg looks fantastic!). I was wondering if students that are offered graduate assistantship or other work-related financial aid offers are able to study abroad?
I'm actually not sure of how tuition remission would work while studying abroad for an entire semester. I definitely don't want to mislead you. Your best bet is to email the director of our overseas programs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. How does merit aid work at SPEA? What is the final deadline to apply for the fall of 2015?
All candidates who indicate on their applications that they wish to be considered for merit aid, and who meet the February 1 priority deadline, are included in the pool of potential merit aid recipients. Decisions are made based on how your overall credentials compare to those of other applicants in that current year.
We were able to offer financial aid to approximately 44 percent of our fall 2014 incoming class.
The final deadline is May 1.
Q. I am a senior student in SPEA now, but as an international student, is the first deadline also the same as U.S. students?
As a current IU student, you will be considered like a domestic applicant with the final application deadline being May 1.
Q. Does need- or merit-based aid get prioritized over the other? For example, tuition is $23,000, my merit aid package $15,000, and my need-based aid package is $15,000. Would SPEA decide to reduce my merit aid by $7,000 because IU has covered my costs with need-based aid?
Great question. Need-based aid determinations are made completely separately. (Sigh of relief, right?) Merit aid decisions are made in-house at SPEA.
Q. Does every piece of the application need to be submitted by February 1 to be considered for merit aid? I am waiting on a couple of letters of recommendation. My recommenders should be finished by February 1 but I wanted to ask, just in case.
I know how stressful recommendation letters can be! As long as we have everything in your power to submit by February 1, we'll make sure to put you in the merit aid pool.
Q. We should upload the official transcript on the application form, or submit it directly to the graduate admission office?
You'll want to have your official transcripts sent to us at email@example.com or mailed to us hardcopy at SPEA, 1315 E. 10th St. Suite 260, Bloomington, IN, 47405-1701.
Q. How are merit-based decisions made, and if I were to include an addendum to my application explaining my financial situation during undergraduate studies have any impact on the merit-based fellowship? Also, can I submit the addendum in the online application?
You can absolutely submit an addendum as part of the online application! There is a section at the end that asks if you'd like to submit additional documents. Merit aid decisions are based on the entirety of your application—we really do look at the applications holistically. You can submit in an addendum anything you feel isn't elsewhere represented on your application.
Q. I deferred last year, and am reapplying for merit aid this year, and I am wondering what I should send along (transcripts, updated resumé, etc.) and who to send it to?
Anything you'd like to be added to your file should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. As far as the available graduate positions that might be available I was wondering if they're all within the SPEA office or spread throughout IU? For example, would there be potential for someone to end up as a GA in study abroad or a TA in political science if it is not directly under the purview of SPEA?
Most of the graduate and teaching assistantships are within SPEA, but since the SPEA skillset is so in demand, other departments on campus do occasionally hire SPEA students. We do have our own study abroad office, though. Additionally, SPEA's Service Corps program puts students into the community to do their work assignments with government agencies or nonprofits.
Q. I was just wondering what the best way to check on the status of documents not submitted directly through the application, i.e mailed transcripts, GRE scores, and letters?
In one of the initial emails you received after submit your application, you received a link to a personalized checklist. This allows you to monitor the status all of your materials.
Q. Can I submit documents regarding my Fulbright fellowship, such as copies of an unofficial transcript in a Brazilian institution (it's the only document they were able to send me via email) and a written certificate stating my hours of research work at another Brazilian institution as an addendum?
Q. After an application is submitted and ready for review, how long will it take to get an admissions decision? Will it be around March?
Once your application is complete, we will get you an admission decision in two to three weeks. Speedy, right?
Q. I have multiple transcripts because as a teacher we need to show continued commitment to on-going learning. Do we need to have official copies of ALL of transcripts or just where we received our undergrad?
To get a comprehensive view of your academic record, we ask that you submit official transcripts of each institution you have attended, even if a degree was not conferred.
Q. Once merit-based aid is offered, how long does the prospective student have to make a decision?
We are a part of a consortium of graduate schools that will not require a decision before April 15. Typically, merit aid is extended in mid-March.
Q. I hope my AmeriCorps experiences are looked at when my app is reviewed. I also heard that there are some incentives for members and alumni.
They absolutely will be! We have an AMAZING returned volunteer community and our merit aid process looks at much more than just test scores and GPAs. We are always looking for people who will contribute to the SPEA community. We will also give AmeriCorps alumni a three-credit hour reduction for each year of service, with a max of six hours.
Q. I'm interested in learning what are the opportunities offered by SPEA's study abroad office?
SPEA has its own overseas education programs. In addition, IU also has a wealth of opportunities.Learn more about IU Overseas Study
Q. I notice that the website mentions three letters of recommendation that are preferably faculty members. I've been out of school for 15 years and have recently taken a couple classes at a local college to get more math under my belt, but I certainly don't have three faculty members to choose from. I can get one from my most recent supervisor, but that was when I was teaching. Is this acceptable?
We are happy to accept recommendations from supervisors! We want to hear from those who know you best, but can also speak to your ability to excel in graduate studies.
Q. I have attending two different colleges, do I need to calculate my combined GPA, or list the GPA from where I graduated?
Our SPEA team will compile your GPA for the Admissions Committee!
Q. I served in AmeriCorps for six months. It wasn't a yearlong position. Can that also translate to a credit hour reduction?
Unfortunately, the minimum is one year. Your experiences, though, will definitely help make your merit aid application more compelling.
Q. This question is less about merit scholarships and more about student work/life balance: I noticed SPEA has a very active student community (I'd be especially excited to work with the Model UN) and I was wondering, in anyone's opinion, is it feasible to "do" graduate school, hold a GA-style position, and be active in student organizations?
Graduate school is all about time management, but most of our students find time to be successful in classes, work 10-15 hours per work, be active in some of our incredible professional student organizations, and have a (limited) social life.
Q. Are graduate assistantship invitations sent at the same time as merit-based and need-based aid offers?
Merit-aid decisions will be sent out mid-March. We won't work on actual faculty-student pairings until later, though; we'll meet with our faculty and learn more about their needs, first. We will also send out an application for hourly teaching and graduate assistantships in the summer! These are separate from merit-aid based positions.
Q. Is there a way we can check if you have received our recommendation letters sent to you by email, transcripts, and GRE scores before submitting the application- for instance, can I call you and inquire?
Unfortunately, most of those materials haven't been processed if we haven't received an application as we prioritize those who have submitted one.
Q. My professor mentioned that she sent in a letter of recommendation for me and when I check my online checklist, it is not listed as a received document. Is this there a way to find out if it has been received?
Please allow 7-10 business days for processing materials at this time. We are doing our best to keep your personalized checklists up-to-date!
Q. Do decisions about Service Corps get sent out in mid-March as well, or later?
Service Corps fellowships go out in mid-March, but matching (with organizations) happens once you're on campus in August.
Q. Do the foreign degrees that have been given equivalence or assessed by independent agencies take into account in the merit aid?
IU's Office of International Services evaluates all non-U.S. transcripts for bachelor equivalency. We rely on their assessments for the admissions and merit aid processes.
Q. If we are currently undergraduates at IUB, we don't need to send in a transcript, correct?
We will be able to obtain your transcripts from our Records Office—no worries for you!
Q. Does SPEA have connections with local nonprofits and government agencies that can help students be involved in ways other than through Service Corps?
One of the perks of going to school in a college town like Bloomington (the greatest college town of all time!) is that SPEA is so incredibly well connected. We have incredible networking, professional development, and volunteer opportunities. This is where our professional student organizations really shine.
Q. I have another question about the internship for international students. Many people think that it is a little difficult for international students to find an internship in the public agents. Is it right? Will SPEA provide some opportunities for international students?
SPEA has a career development office to help students find internships. We've very committed to our students getting practical experience.
Q. You had mentioned that merit aid covers 44 percent. Is that a percentage of student, or tuition fee? Are all the merit aid the same amount?
That is the percentage of our students who receive merit aid before arriving. Most tuition remissions cover between 25-50 percent of tuition.
Q. I am currently looking at SPEA to apply until next year. I have a BA in International Relations so I am planning on taking prerequisite classes (calculus and chemistry) this semester to be able to apply. How common is it for non science majors to apply and what recommendations do you have for students in my case?
Since we only have the two prereqs for the MSES degree, we get students from an array of backgrounds and undergraduate majors. My recommendation would be to make sure your quantitative skills are sharp—these are essential for success in the MSES program. If it's useful, I'm happy to set up an email exchange with one of our MSES students.
Q. Are SPEA students offered and/or required to have on-campus accommodations or are off-campus living accommodations typical?
We have a housing guide that I'm happy to send you if it would be useful!
Q. I have some concern about the GRE score. What is the range of score SPEA prefers?
You can find our average scores on our school profile page. In addition, if multiple score reports are submitted, only the best scores from each section are provided to the Admissions Committee.
Q. Can I submit another GRE score after the admission deadline?
In order to be considered for application/merit aid purposes, the test should have been taken before the deadline.
Q. I was wondering about financial aid in reference to studying abroad. I noticed that there are some scholarships mentioned on the website but I was wondering if there were many students who received outside fellowships (ex: Boren Fellowship)?
We definitely have some students who have been really successful in finding outside funding. We also have international engagement fellowships available for students who choose to do their internships abroad. These are awarded based on a competitive process run within SPEA.
Q. Also, for the exchange programs, I just wanted to make sure that the tuition rates would remain the same. I was also wondering if the accommodation costs would be paid through Indiana University or if they would be paid to the institution abroad?
Those are great questions; it may vary by program. For exact answers, you would be best served to email email@example.com.
Q. What type of internships abroad have SPEA alumni engaged in?
We have some established internship opportunities with NGOs in Uganda and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, but other students have interned everywhere from the European Risk Forum to the United Nations Environment Program.
Q. How connected are SPEA students outside of the classroom? Do they tend to live together, socialize, etc.?
We have an incredible student community. They tend to be very connected with one another. Many are roommates. Many join our professional student organizations and plan events together. They work on group projects as part of their coursework and socialize in between classes. And they socialize and have fun too! We have an active Graduate Student Association that not only serves as a representative and advocate for the student but also plans social events like football tailgates, a Halloween party, and an annual Soiree for Service that benefits a local nonprofit.
Q. I am applying for an MPA now but I would like to do a joint MPA/MSES the second year of my graduate study. I don't meet the prerequisite now but is it possible to take the pre courses during my first year and then apply for the concurrent MPA/MSES after the first year?
Yes, it is possible to add the dual degree after you have started in the program! You can work on your prerequisite coursework in the meantime or even over the summer.
Q. Also, what is the admission rate for the MPA program?
We don't have a standard admission rate. We evaluate each candidate's application file comprehensively to make an admission decision...so we do not admit or deny a particular number.
Q. Who may I contact with if I have further questions?
Please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (812) 855-2840 with any questions!
- Life @ SPEA (domestic)
From February 2015.
Q. What is your favorite thing about living in Bloomington?
I love the college town atmosphere. Bloomington is built for college students, and has the amenities, bars, restaurants, and facilities of a much larger town, while still retaining a small town vibe and character. As a student you don't feel like you're in the minority, you feel like you belong here and everyone is happy to have you here.
For a small town, Bloomington always has wonderful events or activities when I get any down time from school. There is usually live music, art, nature, or a festival to enjoy.
Q. How would you describe the culture of SPEA? Could you expand on that in regards to both student life as well as classroom experience?
I'm a first year MPA, and so far most of my classes have been about 25-35 people. The core curriculum classes tend to be relatively large, but as you get deeper into your concentration, sometimes the classes get smaller. One of my classes this semester is only about 10 people.
SPEA's culture is one driven by service and learning. Student life is vibrant and varied, as masters students are generally motivated to engage inside and outside of the classroom
Q. Can you talk about your experiences interning or gaining hands-on field experience while in the program?
Everyone's internship experiences vary a lot depending on degree program, concentration and general interest. I interned as a policy advisor for the mayor of Nashville, Tennessee, and got to see a lot of policy in action at the local government level.
Q. How much opportunity is there to initiate research independently from required classes? What support does SPEA offer its students to perform independent research?
As for student-faculty engagement, I think it's quite high. Certainly higher than I experience in undergrad. Most faculty members make themselves very available to you. In general, SPEA is an open-door kind of place.
Q. How much geographic diversity is there among the student population?
Over 17 percent of our students are from a foreign country, and another large portion are from throughout the U.S.
Q. How available are the advisors to discuss the academic track of the student?
We are advised by faculty rather than staff, so that increases the level of engagement with faculty. Advisors are very available to discuss academic track. We have a list of faculty advisors for each concentration. You can also speak to other faculty members. In general, I would say that SPEA's faculty has nearly an open-door policy. SPEA faculty advise students as they make academic progress. They have a wide range of experiences and can help develop your skills and interests in a particular area.
Q. First, what would you say about housing, that is, finding a place closer to campus? How easy and affordable is it to find housing that isn't surrounded by undergrads?
Housing varies depending on location and neighborhood just like anywhere else. Being a college town, there are endless rental possibilities. Generally speaking, the closer to campus and downtown you want to live, the more expensive the rent. Bloomington is one of the most affordable cities I have ever lived in. Sean you will find undergrads everywhere, but generally the further out you go the less there will be. Certain communities are targeted to grad students.
Q. Do incoming students have the opportunity to connect before the program begins in terms of potentially finding roommates to live with in the program?
Once people have enrolled, we create a group forum for people to introduce themselves and to potentially coordinate living situations. Experience Day is also a great time to connect with other incoming students as well as current students!
Q. Any experience/advice about internships as a Nonprofit Management focus?
There are opportunities to volunteer with conservation groups. The Sycamore Land Trust is a conservation group you might be interested in looking into!
Q. Expanding off of the question about internships, what's the general breakdown of where people end up interning? Is it mostly in the same broad vicinity as the school, or is it more or less all over the place?
The majority of internships are away from Bloomington, although many people choose to continue local work placements over the summer months. We place a large number of people for internships in D.C, Chicago, and Indianapolis, but you can find SPEA students serving in internships all over the state, country, and world.
Q. Does SPEA help students discover internship opportunities?
As a student at SPEA, you will have access to information regarding many internship opportunities throughout the country. You will learn of these opportunities through our Career Development Office, and sometimes opportunities are passed along by faculty and other students who hear of them. I would encourage you to reach out to them if you are interested. They will be able to give you the specific information and opportunities they have available.
Q. What percentage of first years in the MPA program have assistantships?
Forty percent of our incoming classes receive merit aid awards, and many dozens of others receive other types of assistantships coming. We manage to place most people in hourly positions who are interested.
Q. What has been the greatest challenge you all have faced as grad students?
The challenges of grad school are varied, but for me it was adjusting to a new environment and a hectic work/study schedule. You find yourself in a classroom with people who were all the top of their classes which is a great thing but quite an adjustment.
Q. What is the percentage of assistantships in research vs. teaching?
Assistantships are faculty driven, and thus vary from semester to semester, based on need.
Q. Is Experience Day only offered in the spring?
We host an Experience Day each fall and spring.
Q. What type of diversity is there in terms of age? Does SPEA try to pull from nontraditional professionals as well as traditional college age grads?
There's a large range of age groups in SPEA's classes. SPEA does not target any age range in particular, and people come to our program from all backgrounds, both straight out of undergrad to two, five, and 10 years worth of experience behind them.
Q. What was something that surprised you about Bloomington that you hadn't imagined before moving there?
I was pleasantly surprised by how much culture Bloomington offers for a Midwestern town. Fourth Street offers a wide variety of international restaurants, and as I mentioned earlier, the art scene is great for a small town.
Q. If someone is unable to come to Experience Day, what alternative would be available for them to still get exposure to the campus and the program?
We frequently set up individual visits for those who can't attend Experience Day! We can set up a visit to a class relevant to your interests, lunch with a current student, and a meeting with our director of Graduate Services, among other things. If you're interested in an individual visit, email email@example.com and we'll get to work setting something up! Many students also come early to attend Math Camp and begin to meet their peers.
Q. Do grad students have free access to campus exercise facilities?
Yes, graduate students do have “free” access to campus exercise facilities. All students pay a fee at the beginning of the semester to be able to use the facilities.
Q. Is there much availability of on-campus graduate housing? I know there is some but I don't know how limited it is. Can you talk about the on-campus and IU owned grad housing options? How easy is it to rent an apartment owned by the university?
IU real estate has a lot of different options for apartments. Information is available on their website. They also have many options available through their on campus residence halls. I would advise you to look them up online.Learn more about IU Real Estate
Q. Are there limitations on on-campus weekly work hours, or how many positions you can have? Both with assistantships and other opportunities?
You're free to apply to whatever positions you are interested in. You will not be able to hold both a position in SPEA and outside though so you would need to pick one. Campus opportunities are advertised regularly through our Masters Program Office and other campus departments. There are very, very few exceptions for people to have multiple assistantships. If you're able to find outside funding, we try to re-direct our funding to those who don't have something else.
Q. What are the things that stood out and originally interested you in SPEA? Why did you choose SPEA over the other programs you were considering?
One thing that interested me in SPEA was how well SPEA prepares their students for careers in many different fields. I had interests in policy, sustainable development, water issues, and other environmental issues during the application process. I knew SPEA was a program that would prepare me in all of those areas.
Q. How early should accepted students start looking in to healthcare through the school?
Similar to the fee to use the exercise facilities, students also pay a fee to receive services at a discount at the health center. If you are looking for health insurance to supplement the fee you pay at the health center, you can also purchase student health insurance. Most typical services are very inexpensive using the health center feeMore information on health insurance
Q. Do most students find they need a car in Bloomington, or is the public transit very good?
I have never had a car here. And have rarely needed one. The bus system is excellent. As an IU student you ride both city transit and the campus bus service for free. I would advise you to take a look at the map online before choosing your accommodations to make it as easy as possible for you to get around. Bloomington is also very walkable, I rarely take the bus and walk everywhere including to class and home each day.
Q. When do you think the best time to move to Bloomington in preparation for the fall semester would be? Is there a general Bloomington move-in/move-out day?
As someone who has lived in Bloomington for over 12 years, I would avoid the major move-in/move-out days such as July 31/ August 1 and freshman move-in on August 19.
Q. Can I plan to be a part-time at first one or two semesters and go full time?
Most SPEA students are full-time, taking 12 credits a semester. However, students are welcome to pursue the program at their own pace, though the degree must be completed within five years.
Q. How much campus involvement can grad students have as far as extra-curriculars and clubs/organizations? Or is that more of an undergrad thing?
Your involvement on campus and in clubs and orgs is limited only by your own time and interest! I would recommend giving yourself some time to work out how much time you have to get involved. There will be plenty of opportunity fairs and sign up days.
Q. Is there any way to switch to the accelerated program if my application did not initially indicate interest in the accelerated track for and MPA-MSES?
The Accelerated Program is for current SPEA undergraduate students who wish to pursue a master's degree.
Q. When is an appropriate time to start looking for housing?
We are in a college town, so most leases start at the start of the school year. Just start looking once you enroll. Late spring, early summer!
Q. What is pickleball? I just noticed it was a popular sport in Indiana!
Pickleball is a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. (Wikipedia)
Q. What's the average rent for, say, a two-bedroom apartment in a good location in Bloomington?
There are resources on our Admitted Students website regarding housing options in Bloomington. You can research those options to get an idea of the price of rent options you will have in Bloomington. You can find many different prices for apartments, but overall rent in Bloomington is reasonably priced.
Q. I am very interested in the Service Corps opportunity with SPEA. About how many students work with the Service Corps at any given time? Also, would being involved with Service Corps limit my opportunities for an internship?
We typically have around 24 Service Corps students at any one time. Being involved in Service Corps would definitely not inhibit you in finding an internship and may even help you by giving you references and experiences.
Q. What would be one solid advice you will give an incoming first year student based on your experiences at SPEA and in Bloomington?
As a first year student, fight the urge to be nervous or stressed about the new program. You will find many classmates you can relate to who are all in the same situation. You will all struggle and succeed together.
Q. Can you tell me about Math Camp? Is that for grad students? When does that normally take place? What's the best way to determine whether Math Camp versus "Advanced" Math Camp is a better fit for you?
Yes, Math Camp is for grad students! We offer a weeklong intensive review/introduction to the quantitative skills that the program will demand. Math camp is the week before orientation, so early August. More information will be provided in admissions letters.
As a general rule, advanced math camp requires more of a background and comfort level in math and is targeted towards our Masters of Environmental Science and Dual students.
Q. Math Camp question: It says required, which is fine, but I'm not going to be available that week. Is there any way to make that up?
There's no way to make up the week of Math Camp. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know of the conflict.
Q. According the website, some SPEA students work part-time jobs. Is this realistic for most students with the amount of coursework required for the program?
Yes, some SPEA students do work part-time jobs. Everyone is different and some students may want to ease their way into grad school and take a job at a later time, but it is very possible!
Q. What was your greatest challenge adjusting to SPEA?
The challenges of grad school are varied, but for me it was adjusting to a new environment and a hectic work/study schedule. You find yourself in a classroom with people who were all the top of their classes which is a great thing but quite an adjustment.
Q. How does SPEA support student research outside of internships or classes?
SPEA is a professional masters program, which means generally our classes are not geared toward extensive thesis-type research. Depending on your interest areas you may have the opportunity to work with faculty on a research project as part of an assistantship, but those opportunities are rare.
Q. Are there currently any students pursuing the MPA-MIS dual degree?
Send us an email at email@example.com for more information on the MPA-MIS dual!
Q. Are there opportunities to take classes in some of the other graduate programs as electives?
There are options to take courses outside of SPEA, if it relates to your degree interests. Most people do not take classes outside of SPEA, unless they are pursuing a dual degree with an outside program. If the course is not for an outside dual degree option, you would have to be approved to take those courses.
Q. When will students be notified about their estimated cost of attendance?
Tuition rates are available on our website. Need based aid is all administrated outside of SPEA by the Office of Student Financial Assistance. As for Merit Aid, we distribute our offers in mid-March.Go to IU's tuition calculator
Q. Can an MPA/MSES student to move on to the Environmental Sciences Ph.D. program?
There have been students that have transitioned into a Ph.D. program from the Masters, but because an MPA/MSES is a professional degree, it's not expected. The focus is quite different. Professional programs emphasize a different kind of training than Ph.D. programs. We're not being trained to do academic research within the university system and peer-reviewed journal system, nor to plan and teach classes. We do learn some of the research methods that Ph.D. students do, but with a different emphasis, as well as a lot of material oriented to the professions.
Q. Do most of the staff have experience within their field outside of the university environment?
Our faculty have a wide variety of experiences and expertise, both in the academic environment and the field. For more information about particular faculty members, check out our faculty directory.
Q. I work in a research capacity now at an academic institution in Indianapolis and am hoping to continue my Indianapolis-based study while at SPEA. I understand it is a professional program, but is there any funding for research, perhaps from IU as a whole?
Q. Are there students currently in the program with undergraduate science majors? If so, do they tend to have a hard time adjusting to a new course of study?
There are many current students in SPEA with a Bachelor of Science. I am one of them. The transition to the MPA courses has been smooth, and I do not think I was at a disadvantage. I am also getting a MSES, and having a BS has been helpful.
Q. Do most students find jobs quickly after graduation?
Statistics on this can be found through our Career Development Office.
Q. How many students are enrolled just in the MSES program?
The typical MSES class is between 25-30 students. The MPA-MSES class is about the same size, maybe larger.
Q. Did anyone come from a social science background? And if so, what challenges did you have?
My bachelor's degree is in economics, and I took a good deal of political science as well. I've found a social science background to be a fantastic preparation for the MPA. A good number of MPAs are poli-sci people!
Q. What is the average graduating class size for the MPA program?
Last year's MPA program graduated 98 candidates.
Q. Has anyone in the MPA program applied for the Washington semester program?
The Washington Leadership Program is for SPEA undergraduate students, not graduate students.
Q. What is the veteran community like at IUB?
There are several veterans within SPEA, and there are organizations for SPEA graduate students and IUB students in general who are veterans.
Q. What was your biggest challenge coming into your first semester of graduate studies?
The challenges of grad school are varied, but for me it was adjusting to a new environment and a hectic work/study schedule. You find yourself in a classroom with people who were all the top of their classes which is a great thing but quite an adjustment.
Q. What advice do you wish you were given prior to starting the grad programs at SPEA?
I wish I had spent a little more time brushing up on my math and quantitative skills, as the econ, stats and finance courses in the first semester of the MPA were quite challenging for me. But all in all, just be open to learning new things, and be ready to change your mind about concentrations, why you're here and who you are!
Keep in touch with current events and slowly work yourself back into a study state of mind. It's hard to pick any one thing to brush up on and whatever skills you need to learn you'll have plenty of opportunity to work hard on mastering them once you're here!
Q. Did anyone take advantage of the Math Camp?
I did! In fact, I made my first SPEA friends at Math Camp. It was also a great preparation for the rigors that were ahead. It was a great way to meet class members before orientation began and made econ and stats a little less scary.
Q. Does Math Camp cost extra, or is the cost included in tuition? I see that the math skills are being constantly brought up, are there are any other background subjects and skills we should refresh?
More information about Math Camp will be distributed in the summer! We are still working on the details.
Q. I apologize if this question has already been touched on, but it seems like it is possible, and perhaps even encouraged, to take two concentrations. Do most students take advantage of that possibility?
Most people take two concentrations. With few exceptions, it's quite possible to overlap courses in order to complete two. I'm not sure I know of anyone only doing one. Quite a few courses count for more than one concentration and may be double-counted.
Q. Are there any students who are focusing on city management? What has been the most useful course you have taken so far?
My focus is on city and local government management. Policy analysis classes like program evaluation, management classes like strategic planning, and some of the urban studies and management of urban problems and solutions courses have been extremely helpful. No matter what your interest, there is a way to tailor your coursework and in-class projects to your specific interest. It is all what you make it!
Q. For the Southerners, how well did you adjust to the drastic change in weather? It may not be academic, but you certainly can't overlook the snow on your way to class!
I'm from Australia, so you don't need to tell me about being a Southerner! Bloomington is used to dealing with snow, so it’s usually not too big a deal. Unfortunately there isn't much SPEA can do about the weather, but we all adjust to the cold eventually!
Q. Do you think students would be at a disadvantage if they don't attend Math Camp?
It all depends on your background, your comfort level, and what you intend to study here! Before it's time to register, we provide some materials that will help you gauge whether Math Camp is a good choice for you.
Q. How do you find time to breathe? I spoke to a SPEA graduate. She spoke about the program being extensive and calling for students to be engaging. Did you guys ever feel overwhelmed?
SPEA coursework is demanding and the amount of free time is minimal. I think all graduate students feel overwhelmed from time to time. That being said, the information and workload we have while in SPEA will prepare us to be successful in our various careers.
Q. I understand that there are certain prerequisite courses one must have before entering the MSES/MPA programs. What are they again? And would those topics be touched upon in Math Camp or should I plan on having those taken care of before enrolling?
They are calculus and chemistry with a lab. These are not covered in Math Camp. As they are prereqs, they are required before beginning the MSES portion of the program.
Q. How are you all coping with the series finale of Parks and Recreation?
We're really excited, we were all cast as extras! And yes, I'm just kidding.
Q. For someone interested in environmental policy, how easy do you think it will be to take on two concentrations? Is there a way to semi-specialize in climate change or energy?
Two concentrations are definitely manageable. EPNRM and Energy would be a pairing of concentrations that would probably benefit someone with those interests.
Q. Someone mentioned earlier about networking opportunities through SPEA. Can anyone talk a little more about networking opportunities outside of the local Bloomington area? Is this through conference presentations and participation at things like GSA and ACS conferences? What other avenues of networking are used?
Our Career Development Office organizes Career Networking and Exploration trips each year to Denver, Chicago, D.C., and Indianapolis to meet with SPEA employers, alumni, and recent graduates. There are many opportunities to engage with conferences throughout the various Student professional organizations and with IU being so large, there is always something going on.
Q. How do you make a specialized concentration? In what circumstances what you do it and is it popular to do?
A specialized concentration is worked out in conference with an academic advisor generally at the end of your first semester. It's not particularly popular, but students generally look for it when they can't quite find what they're looking for in our diverse range of concentrations. I know some people have created concentrations around International NGO Management and Human Rights Policy among others.
Q. What is SPEA looking for in incoming students to bring to the program? Not like school supplies, but in terms of personal contributions, ideas, insight, etc.?
What we are really looking for is people who are willing to learn, open minded, and driven to succeed and serve. We come from diverse motivations and backgrounds, so the best thing you can do is be openminded and ready to meet new people and put yourself out there.
Q. How have students paid for SPEA outside of assistanceships and scholarships?
The ways people pay for grad school are widespread. Personal savings, student loans, it all varies based on the person, their personal situation and work experience.
Q. How well-connected do the students stay during out-of-class time?
We spend a lot of time together outside of class. There are tons of organized events, like graduate student association tailgates, etc. We're also all at SPEA working and studying together, and do lots of hanging out informally and socially outside the school.
Q. For the current students, what are your current career aspirations? Are they still maturing, or do you have a specific goal?
I have not decided a specific career that I would like to pursue. There are many options within the public, private, and nonprofit sector where I could see myself working. The fluidity between the sectors allows most SPEA students to be open to many different types of jobs after graduation.
Q. Do master's students at SPEA have offices?
For the most part, no. Some of us who work in administrative offices have an area in an office pool, but an office is not granted as there are about 350-400 of us at any given time. We do have opportunities to register for study carrels and quiet space through the libraries!
Q. If a student isn't a strong writer, are there resources to help similar to things like Math Camp?
There are multiple opportunities on campus to improve your writing skills. Nothing specifically provided by us here at SPEA, but look into IU's Writing Tutorial Services.
Q. This may have already been touched upon, but how long in advance would you recommend someone to move to Bloomington before classes begin in the fall?
It's really up to you. The week before classes being is a required orientation week. The week before that is Math Camp. Bloomington is really great in the summer, and if you arrive early, there are ways for you to meet current students or others who've also moved in early!
Good luck and please don't hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have further questions.
- Life @ SPEA (international)
From February 2015.
Q. May I ask what life is like in IU Bloomington? I mean is it busy with study and research or have a lot of time for other activities?
Between coursework, assistantships, and student organizations, SPEA students are very busy people. Even though I always have something to do for school, it has been enjoyable. My classmates and the faculty are wonderful. Bloomington also has many great activities to take part in when I am not studying. We have several professional student organizations within SPEA!
Q. I would like to know from the IU students about volunteer work in Bloomington and about paid work for international students?
There are many opportunities to volunteer here in Bloomington. There are recycling organizations, libraries, the Boys and Girls Club, etc. that many of the students participate in outside of SPEA. However, SPEA also has many student-lead interest groups like the Environmental Management and Sustainable Development Association (EMSDA) that provides more opportunities for students to participate in activities related to their interests, and many times, volunteering.
Q. Are international students at SPEA eligible for teaching assistantship, research assistantship or on campus jobs?
We employ hundreds of students each semester to work as teaching and graduate assistants. International students are eligible to apply for these positions. We will send out the application for these hourly positions in the summer.
Q. Do teaching/graduate assistantships include tuition remissions? These must be very competitive, right?
Merit aid positions include both a work assignment and partial tuition remission. Hourly positions do not include the tuition remission but instead pay a set amount for 10-15 hours of work each week. Merit aid is very competitive. However, we employ so many students as hourly assistants, that these are far more common. I don't know of any students who want to find work, and through the course of their time with us, do not find it.
Q. How can I have on-the-job training after one and half years? Does SPEA support to find on-the-job training actively and if so when do I need to start finding one?
SPEA's curriculum includes an experiential component, which requires students to gain real world experience. Typically, this is done in the summer between the first and second years. In addition, each student also engages in a Capstone seminar to apply the skills they've developed. Groups are paired with real clients to help them deal with an issue or solve a problem.
Q. I would like to know how many students will be enrolled in SPEA MPA program in 2015 fall, and about what percent of them are international students?
Our class sizes vary, but most often we enroll about 175 MPA students each fall. Right now about 22 percent of our student body is international.
Q. Where do students usually take an internship? How long does an internship last? And is it paid or unpaid?
Internships for international students are definitely not fixed and usually depend on the student. As volunteer and international student coordinator, I know we are working on conducting internship workshops for international students to help them prepare and find internships here in the states—currently a difficult process. That said, many international students return home and intern in their home countries for the summer then return at the beginning of the semester.
Many internships last ten weeks during the summer, but that depends on the specific internship. To receive credit for your internship, SPEA requires you work at least 120 hours. Some internships are paid, but many are not. We raise money to help fund unpaid internships each year, and those are awarded competitively.
Q. I have a question about housing, do we have to live inside the campus or are we free to live outside it?
You are free to live outside of campus or on campus. There are many options for both choices of living. Once admitted, we offer a list of some housing options on the Admitted Students' page. If you choose to live off campus, there are busses within walking distance of most places in town that will take you to SPEA.
Q. I am planning to bring my spouse and three children there, any house for us to live on campus?
Try IU Real Estate.
Q. Once our decision has been finalized how do we go about choosing the topics we want to take up? Do we do it all by ourselves or somebody helps us out?
We don't allow you to choose a concentration until after you arrive. Once you're here, relationships with faculty will start to happen organically. You will then choose a faculty advisor who can help you choose courses and figure out which skills will be necessary for your career goals.
Q. Do we have an option of taking a look the topics in brief before coming there or even that is do be done once we are on campus?
I can absolutely send you an electronic copy of our Master's Student Handbook. This outlines courses and concentrations. This, though, is only a starting point. Each concentration is built to be flexible--to be what you need it to be for your own development. Our faculty have the final say in helping you shape your time at SPEA.
Q. Please tell me about getting a dependents visa.Find more information about F-1 visas
Q. Is there any other Turkish student other than me for 2015 fall?
I am not sure for next fall, but we have a few Turkish students in SPEA currently. I also spent half a year in Istanbul!
Please let us know if we can do anything to help you see if SPEA is a good fit! If you have any other questions, please email us at email@example.com.