College of Education Sitemap
Skip to Main Content

Education Policy Doctoral Program

Application Procedures

Application Deadline

To be considered for significant financial support in the form of fellowships and assistantships, the application must be complete and paid by November 15.

Applications completed after the November 15 deadline will still be reviewed by the admissions committee at other times during the year. Because the program is small and only a limited number of the most qualified applicants can be admitted each year, late applicants are at a competitive disadvantage.

Eligible Applicants & Application Evaluation (Statement and Criteria)

Persons who hold degrees from a variety of disciplines may apply for admission to the doctoral program. Applicants with limited backgrounds in education or the underlying policy disciplines of political science, sociology, history, and economics, however, might be required to complete collateral work. Applicants must submit a sample of scholarly writing and all Graduate Record General Examination (GRE) scores.

A committee of faculty members reviews each application. The review committee considers the following factors in assessing applicants:

  • Strength of academic and professional education record
  • Potential for educational and professional leadership
  • Fluency in oral and written expression
  • Compatibility of applicant's stated professional goals with the objectives of the program
  • Conformity with university and college admission requirements

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

Note: Some applications may be held in a waiting cue, pending student acceptance of initial admissions offers. Notification to students in the cue will come at a later date.

Required Application Materials

International applicants – please read the International Applicant section below before submitting application materials as described here.

  1. University Application Form and Fee

    The first step to applying to Michigan State University and your desired graduate program is to complete the University's Graduate School application (with payment). For applicants seeking admissions to the Education Policy Ph.D. Program at MSU, you must apply online through the Graduate School. The MSU program code number for the Ph.D. program in Education Policy is 6777 (updated 12/7/16). The application fee (payable in U.S. dollars) is $65 for domestic and $75 for international applicants. Applicants must pay the application fee or request a fee waiver, by the application deadline, in order to be considered for admission and funding. The MSU Office of Admissions website also includes considerable information about related issues at the university.

    Note: Please do not insert your Personal Statement or Academic Statement on the University application before submitting your application. You will be invited to upload your Statement of Professional Goal as explained below under the Graduate Education Application Portal.

  2. Graduate Education Application Portal

    After you have completed the University Application and paid your Application fee, you will be sent an e-mail inviting you to complete the program's supplemental application through the Graduate Education Application Portal. The e-mail will be sent to the e-mail address you listed on your University graduate school application. To log-in you will need your Applicant ID number and the password you created during the application process. The Portal will serve as an electronic depository for your student- and recommender-generated application materials.

    Logging into your unique portal will allow you to monitor your application materials. Follow the instructions below for content, formatting, and submission protocol for supplemental application documents.

    1. Current Resume/Vita

      Applicants should use the format of the Ed Policy sample resume/vita.

    2. Please name this document as follows: [Last name/Family name][First Name]Resume. For example: SmithJohnResume.docx [or .pdf, or .doc]. Upload it by selecting Resume from the drop-down menu.

    3. Statement of Professional Goals (Goal Statement)

      From an autobiographical perspective, applicants should discuss their reasons for pursuing a doctoral degree in Education Policy. This statement is a very important part of the file for the review committee. Candidates should present a thoughtful and extended written portrait, approximately two pages long, single-spaced, of their reasons for pursuing advanced graduate study, the match between their goals and the program's characteristics, and the major issues of scholarly and professional interest that they wish to explore during their graduate career. It is important to mention shared interests with specific MSU Education Policy faculty members. Applicants should respond to the following questions:

      1. How have my experiences and intellectual growth shaped questions that an advanced graduate program might help me to explore?
      2. What sorts of academic and professional leadership roles would the program and degree help me to assume?
      3. What obstacles to educational achievement for professional growth have I overcome?

      Please name this document as follows: [Last Name][First Name]GoalStatement. For example: SmithJohnGoalStatement.docx [or .pdf or .doc]. Your Goal Statement needs to be uploaded in the Graduate Education Portal by selecting "Goal Statement" or "Personal Statement" from the drop-down list.

    4. Writing Sample

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

      Copies of the writing sample(s) should be uploaded through the Portal as follows: [Last Name][First Name]WritingSample1. For example: SmithJohnWritingSample1.docx, or SmithJohnWritingSample2.docx, and so on. Select Writing Sample from the drop-down menu.

    5. Letters of Recommendation

      By clicking on the "Letters of Recommendation" tab in the Graduate Education Application Portal, you can add your recommenders' information. You will be asked to waive or not waive access to the letters of recommendation you solicit. If you do not waive your access, it is likely that your letter of recommendation will have little impact on your evaluation for the program.

      Applicants should solicit three recommenders, who will each submit a recommendation letter and and answer some program specific questions attesting to the applicant's academic ability or their professional qualifications -- e.g., professors with whom courses were taken, a master's degree advisor, or a professional supervisor. When an applicant adds the required information about each recommender, the system will automatically send a link through e-mail (from the admis@msu.edu e-mail address) where the recommender can evaluate the candidate and submit a letter of recommendation. As a result, it is most helpful to solicit recommendations from individuals who best know the applicant's academic and professional skills. Letters from instructors who taught the candidate at the master's or undergraduate level are particularly effective for this purpose, while letters from workplace supervisors may be less so.

      The purpose of these letters is to show the review committee the qualities the applicant could bring to the program that are likely to make him or her successful in advanced graduate study. In addition to the letter of recommendation, the recommender will be asked to assess the probability of your success in meeting the programs standards in a variety of areas, including for example, oral and written expression, likelihood of scholarly and professional achievement, etc. through supplemental questions asked when the recommender follows the link they are sent.

      • Applicants need to be prepared to enter the following information into the Portal for each of their three recommendation writers:

        • First Name
        • Last Name
        • E-mail address

      Please be certain that you have a mutual agreement and understanding with your Recommenders prior to submitting their information into the system. You are responsible for ensuring that the proper number of recommendation letters are submitted on your behalf. The Graduate Education Application Portal will keep you apprised of the status of your requests for letters of recommendation. You may need to follow up with your recommenders regarding missing letters to complete your application. If they do not recall receiving an e-mail, have them search for a message from admis@msu.edu.

    6. Unique Materials
    7. Any additional materials that you deem relevant to your application need to be uploaded to the Portal by clicking the "Upload File" text link and selecting "Supplemental Application" from the "Select Document Type" drop-down menu.

  3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

    Applicants need to submit their official results of the GRE General Test (taken within the past five years). Official test results need to be sent to institution code 1465. It is best to select MSU at the time you take the exam; otherwise there may be a fee to have your scores sent. GRE scheduling is quite convenient and results are immediate, when taken on the computer. You can explore the GRE website for testing and scheduling information. To expedite the application process, particularly if the application deadline is drawing near, upload a copy of your student issued results (must include raw scores and percentiles for all 3 tests) to the Portal or e-mail the report to the Program Secretary.

    NOTE: The Graduate Education Application Portal will display a date when MSU has received your official scores.

  4. Transcripts

    Applicants must have one copy of their official transcripts sent directly from all universities attended, except MSU. Transcripts can arrive in two official ways: 1) as a sealed envelope directly from your institution or 2) as an e-mail from the institutions registrar's office (for domestic applicants only). If you request electronic transcripts, they need to be sent to edacadaf@msu.edu. Hard copies need to be mailed to the Education Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary, 620 Farm Lane, Room 205 Erickson Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824. If obtaining an official copy will delay review of your application materials beyond November 15, an unofficial copy of your transcript(s) may be uploaded into the Portal to be used for consideration only. Official copies must also be received by the University, if you are recommended for admission.

    If you are currently working on a degree at an institution other than MSU, and you are selected for admission to our program, once your degree has conferred, you must provide the Office of Admissions an official transcript showing that your degree was conferred. Please have your official transcript, showing your conferred degree, mailed directly to the Office of Admissions, Michigan State University, Hannah Administration Building, 426 Auditorium Road, Room 250, East Lansing, Michigan 48824.

    NOTE: All applicants pursuing or who have earned degrees from universities in China must follow the procedure listed below for International applicants, when submitting transcripts.

International Applicants

The application process for international students is slightly different. International applicants must apply online and use the International application found on the MSU Graduate School website. Your application fee ($65 domestic or $75 international) should be paid by credit card. If you must submit payment in the form of a check or money order please make it payable to Michigan State University and mail it to the Office of Admission, Michigan State University, Hannah Administration Building, 426 Auditorium Road, Room 250, East Lansing, Michigan 48824-2604, U.S.A. Be sure to reference your application ID number on the check or money order. Checks drawn outside the U.S. must be payable in U.S. funds through a U.S. bank. Checks drawn on foreign banks that do not have a correspondent U.S. bank may be returned. Do not send cash or international coupons. Paying by check may delay access to the Portal.

  • Statement of Financial Proof/Affidavit of Support and Bank Statements

    As part of the International application process, you need to fill out a Statement of Financial Proof/Affidavit of Support form and upload a bank statement(s) showing adequate funds (refer to the Statement of Financial Proof for current requirements). The statement, which is found on the Grad School's Application page in the left menu, must originate from your source of support and must be an original statement with stamp and original signature. You will need to upload both your bank statement(s) and Affidavit of Support into the Graduate Education Application Portal.

  • English Proficiency Proof: TOEFL

    Applicants for whom English is not their primary language are required to submit TOEFL scores. The test must be taken within two years of the application. The university's minimum on the Internet-based Test (TOEFL iBT) is 80 with no subscore below 19 for reading, listening, and speaking and no writing subscore below 22. Our program expects applicant scores to be higher than the university's minimum requirements. Our program will assess all section scores when reviewing applicants for admission. No international candidates will be considered for admission review until they have taken the TOEFL test and achieved the above listed scores or higher. Some international candidates ask to be admitted provisionally, with the idea that they will take courses in English after arriving on campus. The program will not accept students on this basis. We require that international candidates demonstrate adequate skill in English before being admitted to the program. You can contact the TOEFL program online. Results should be sent electronically directly from ETS. Michigan State's school code is 1465. To expedite application review, unofficial scores can be uploaded into the Graduate Education Application Portal discussed above.

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

  • Transcript Requirements

    International graduate applicants must request official copies of all academic records (transcripts and diplomas) obtained for all postsecondary educational experiences. Transcripts must indicate the degree awarded/conferred, as well as the date of the award.

    • Transcripts from Chinese Institutions

      All applicants pursuing, but who have not yet earned, undergraduate or graduate degrees from universities in China may submit official transcripts (in sealed envelopes directly from the university) to be used for admission consideration. Please mail them to the address listed in the summary section below. If the program recommends that the applicant be admitted, the applicant will be required to send all official transcripts and certificates, showing degree conferral, to the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) to obtain verification of these documents, before formal admission the Michigan State University will be granted.

      Applicants who have already completed graduate and/or undergraduate degrees from Chinese institutions need to submit their transcripts and certificates directly to the CDGDC at the time of application. So that the application review process is not delayed, they may also submit official transcripts (in sealed envelopes directly from the institution) to the program secretary, to be used for admissions determination. Again, formal admission the Michigan State University will not be granted until documents and verification arrive from the CDGDC.

      CDGDC operates underneath the Ministry of Education for the purpose of verifying the authenticity of transcripts and degrees granted at the post-secondary level. They do this not only for overseas universities, but for employers and organizations within China as well.

      The process is straightforward:

      1. Students in China send copies of their official documents to the CDGDC along with payment (approximately $40 U.S.).
      2. CDGDC verifies grades and degrees (depending on what is requested) by accessing national and provincial databases and contacting universities directly.
      3. CDGDC then sends via courier service directly to the U.S. university stamped copies of the verified documents along with a statement noting in English what the degree is and whether the university and program is recognized by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

    An acceptable CDGDC Packet will include the following (an example is linked):

    1. Institutional recognition and confirmation of program completion.
    2. Confirmation that the bachelor's and/or master's degree was conferred.
    3. Copy of transcript in Chinese/English or English.
  • Institutional recognition and confirmation of program completion.

    If you need more information about CDGDC please refer to the website: http://www.chinadegrees.cn/en/.

  • Special Information

    Sources of Information for International Students

    If you have questions about how to fill out the international application, you can reference the MSU Office of Admissions - Graduate Admission website, contact them through instant messaging, use the online "Ask Admissions a Question" section of the website, or by calling (517) 355-8332.

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

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

International students now go back up to the Required Application Materials section above and submit their remaining application materials in accordance with the instructions listed.

Back To Required Application Materials

Summary of Application Process

  1. Apply Online (with payment)
  2. Submit the following items into the Graduate Education Applicant Portal (supplemental application system):
    1. Resume/Vita
    2. Statement of Professional Goals (uploaded as "Goal Statement" or "Personal Statement")
    3. Writing Sample(s) – minimum 1
    4. 3 Letters of Reference (submitted directly from the recommender through the portal)
    5. Unique materials (submitted as "Supplemental Application" through the portal)
    6. For International Applicants Only:
      1. Statement of Financial Proof/Affidavit of Support
      2. Official Bank Statement
  3. Submit the following by mail to Education Policy Ph.D. Program Secretary, 620 Farm Lane, Room 205 Erickson Hall, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824 or by e-mail direct from your institution.
    1. Domestic and International Official Transcripts (From Chinese institutions these will be used for admission consideration only. Official transcripts and certificates showing conferred degrees must come directly from the CDGDC to the MSU Office of Admissions).
  4. Submit electronically, directly from Electronic Testing Services (ETS) to school/institution code 1465:
    1. GRE results
    2. TOEFL results (International applicants only)
  5. If the application deadline is near and you do not believe that we will receive your official results in time, please submit unofficial copies of the following via an upload to the Portal or by e-mailing them to edacadaf@msu.edu:
    1. GRE scores
    2. TOEFL scores (international applicants only)
    3. Unofficial transcripts