School of Public Affairs - Frequently Asked Questions

Hands raised asking questions

 Just thinking about going to school raises many questions. For undergraduates, Admissions and Records will have the best answers. If your questions are not answered there, feel free to contact the UCCS School of Public Affairs.

For graduate students, some of the frequently asked questions are listed below. If you still have questions that are unanswered, please feel free to contact the UCCS School of Public Affairs.

Who should enroll in the School of Public Affairs?
The School of Public Affairs (SPA) typically attracts two types of students. The first is the mid-career professional who wishes to advance his or her career or sharpen skills. The second type is those anticipating a career in public service or criminal justice.

Can I take classes before I am admitted into the graduate program?
Students who are awaiting admission to the Master of Public Administration (MPA) or Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) programs but cannot meet the stated deadlines should consider enrolling as a non-degree student their first semester. Any person with a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution may register for SPA courses as a non-degree student. Up to twelve credit hours of public administration or criminal justice coursework taken as a non-degree student may be applied to the master's degree program. Before enrolling in courses, students need to first complete and submit an application for admission as a non-degree student. There is a $25 application processing fee, and the application should be returned to the University of Colorado Colorado Springs Admissions Office.

How long will it take to complete the degree requirements?
To earn the MPA or MCJ, a student must complete twelve courses (3 credits each) for a total of 36 semester hours. Pre-service students in the MPA program may also be required to complete a three-credit hour internship. The degree program can be completed in 3 years by taking two courses (this is full time status) each fall and spring semester. However, individual students should determine how many courses to take each semester based on their other time commitments. SPA allows students to take up to six years to complete the program requirements.

Can I fit graduate school into my schedule? How many courses should I take each semester?
Most of the students in the SPA program are already working full-time. Courses are offered during the evenings, weekends and online to help accommodate most work schedules. Students should estimate that it takes three hours of outside work (e.g., readings, assignments, preparation for presentations) for each hour spent in class. Thus, during the fall or spring semester, the total workload should average around nine hours per week for each 3-credit course, though some weeks will be heavier than others. Because the summer term is shorter in length, the workload is more highly concentrated and requires a somewhat larger time commitment over a shorter period.

I haven't been in school for a while; will I be at a disadvantage?  
SPA recognizes that returning to the classroom after many years in the work force can be very intimidating. However, nearly all of the mid-career students have had a very successful experience in the SPA programs. Students should remember that just as success in the work force is determined by many individual characteristics, so is success in the classroom. Your accomplishments on the job translate into success in the classroom.

When are the application deadlines?
Application materials should arrive in the SPA office no later than June 1 for fall admission, November 1 for spring admission, and April 1 for summer admission. Keep in mind that transcripts and letters of recommendation can take some time to acquire. Scores from entrance exams may take up to four weeks to arrive after the exam is taken. The admission committee will not review an applicant's file until all required documents have been received by the SPA office. Students who miss the regular deadline for the upcoming semester may register as a non-degree student.

What are the minimum GPA and GRE scores required for admission into the program?
Students should have a 3.00 (or better) undergraduate grade point average for admission into the MPA program and a 2.75 (or better) undergraduate grade point average for admission into the MCJ program. There are no set scores for the graduate admission tests; however, students are expected to score in the 150-range on each of the sections (verbal and quantitative) of the GRE. Applicants with lower scores may still be considered for provisional admission. The admissions committee examines the overall record of each candidate, and it generally views undergraduate grades and professional accomplishments as more significant indicators of future success.

Is any financial aid available for graduate students?
Graduate students are eligible to receive federal Perkins loans, federal Stafford loans, or the Colorado Graduate Grant based on financial need. Students interested in seeking federal financial aid must first be admitted into the graduate program and must also file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by the end of February each year. The primary source of information about need based student financial assistance as well as scholarships and other non-need based aid is the UCCS Office of Financial Aid, Student Employment and Scholarships. Please also see SPA's Financial Information page for additional information.

Who can write my letters of recommendation?
Individuals who can speak to your scholarly or creative achievement and promise or probability of success are the individuals who should write your letters of recommendation. These individuals might be college professors, employers, colleagues, supervisors. These individuals send an email in response to your graduate application if you supply the needed information, or they can write a formal letter of recommendation and not fill out the form. Your letters of recommendation can be sent directly to the School of Public Affairs or you can include them with other application documents.