MPNL - Admissions

The admissions policies of the School follow the mission by our commitment to attract and educate a diverse student population that is dedicated to public service as a career. We seek students from diverse backgrounds, with various baccalaureate educations and professional experience in diverse public service activities.

A complete application to the MPNL program requires:

  1. A completed graduate application.
  2. A non-refundable application fee unless the applicant has previously applied to Grand Valley State University and has paid this fee.
  3. An official transcript from each undergraduate and graduate institution.
  4. Three letters of reference from informed sources.
  5. An essay on career and educational objectives (250 to 750 words).
  6. A resume
  7. Submission of test scores from the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), or IELTS (International English Language Testing System), or MELAB (Michigan English Language Assessment Battery) for applicants whose native language is not English. The following minimum scores are expected: TOEFL is 80, IELTS is 6.5, and MELAB is 77. 

Applications will not be reviewed until they are complete. The admissions committee may request additional information or a personal interview if it deems them appropriate and necessary.

The admissions committee is looking for the evidence that an applicant will be successful if admitted into the MPNL program. This evidence can take several forms. Furthermore, the admissions committee considers each applicant as a whole student. No decision is based solely on any single factor. A strong applicant for the MPNL program will have the following:

  • A 3.0 grade point average from an accredited college or university, calculated on the last 60 credits of undergraduate work. (This GPA will include all courses, including those classes that may have been repeated or transferred.) Also, holding a graduate degree, a graduate certificate, or having successfully completed at least 12 semester hours in another graduate program, will be considered as strong evidence of an applicants academic competency to do graduate level work in the MPA program.
  • The equivalent of three years of managerial experience
  • Three years of service with a nonprofit organization.
  • Three positive recommendations from well-informed sources such as current and/or former professors or supervisors. These letters will address the applicant's academic skills, analytical and problem solving abilities, professionalism, reliability, and/or work ethic.
  • A demonstrated commitment to community and public service. This would normally be in the form of three or more years of professional work experience since receiving a baccalaureate degree.

An applicant concerned about falling short on the above criteria may want to consider these recommendations for securing favorable evidence of their competency to do graduate level work in the MPA program.

  • Submitting a GRE score is recommended for applicants who lack a 3.0 undergraduate GPA.
  • Successfully completing graduate-level course work as a nondegree-seeking student is recommended for applicants who lack a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. However, 12 credits taken as a nondegree seeking student is the limit that can be applied to the MPNL program upon admission. Receiving a B or better as a nondegree-seeking student will be considered favorably.

In some cases, an applicant that is seen as strong except for a specific area of deficiency may be offered admission on a condition that they take a course to rectify that deficiency before proceeding with the MPNL course work.

Students may apply online at or contact Sherry Moyer at or 616.331.6575 for an application packet. To ensure full consideration for fall admission, all application materials should be received by June 1. Winter term applications should be received by November 1. Spring/Summer term applications should be received by April 1. Early application is strongly encouraged. Late applicants may be admitted on the basis of remaining program capacity.

Students in the process of applying for admission to the MPNL program may enroll in PA 660 in a nondegree-seeking status. Note that no more than 12 credits can taken in nondegree-seeking status and later applied to the MPNL degree.