Admission

Admission to programs of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs is available to qualified students on a rolling admissions basis. Since the demand for admission to some programs is high and space availability is limited, students are encouraged to apply well in advance of their proposed admission dates.

As outlined below, admission requirements vary by academic program. No application packet will be considered by the relevant program admissions committee until all the required materials have been submitted by the applicant.

Application forms and instructions for applying to all graduate programs are available on the Graduate School website at graduate.vcu.edu.

Admission to a master’s program from the certificate programs

The Graduate Certificate in Public Management and the Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management are designed for persons in professional positions who require a limited number of courses in contemporary management theory and skills. However, if a student later decides to pursue the M.P.A. degree, successfully completed certificate courses may be applied toward the degree. Successful completion of either certificate does not guarantee admission into the M.P.A. degree program.

The courses in the Post-baccalaureate Certificate in Criminal Justice program are the same as the master’s courses and, with grades of B or better and upon acceptance into the master’s degree program, are fully transferable to the Master of Science in Criminal Justice program.

All courses in the Certificate in Urban Revitalization may be applied to meet the requirement of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree. However, successful completion of the certificate program does not guarantee admission into the M.U.R.P. Degree program.

Provisional admission

In rare cases, applicants who do not meet the requirements for full admission may be accepted provisionally upon recommendation of the program’s admissions committee. The conditions for earning full admission are stated in the provisional acceptance letter sent by the dean of the Graduate School. Conditions usually include the requirement that the student complete the first nine hours of departmental graduate courses with a grade of B or better in each course.

Provisional admission does not constitute a waiver of the requirement to submit a GRE or other standardized test score.

Continuous enrollment requirements and expectations

To remain in good standing, students must maintain continuous registration for each fall and spring semester (except for approved leaves of absence) until they have completed all requirements. Students who fail to register for two consecutive semesters (summer sessions included) will be dropped automatically from the program and must reapply for admission in order to continue. Exceptions to this policy will be made on an individual basis by petition. Students who reapply after having been dropped for failure to register continuously will be evaluated under the bulletin requirements in effect at the time of readmittance.

A minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale must be maintained. Compliance with other university regulations also is required.

Part-time students

Since the school schedules many of its courses in the late afternoon or evening, its programs accommodate both full- and part-time students. Students also may take advantage of courses offered in the summer. Thus it is possible for a part-time student taking six credit hours per semester to finish the master’s degree in four years or less.

Nondegree-seeking students

Nondegree-seeking students must have an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution and the written approval of the instructor prior to registering for any graduate-level course. Nondegree-seeking students can take no more than six credit hours without authorization from the appropriate program coordinator.

Financial aid information

Information and application forms for financial aid may be secured from the VCU Office of Financial Aid, Harris Hall, 1015 Floyd Ave., First Floor, P.O. Box 843026, Richmond, VA 23284-3026.

The L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs also offers a limited amount of financial assistance. Individuals interested in such assistance are urged to apply by March 30. Financial assistance available through the school includes:

  • Graduate teaching assistant positions – Duties involve helping with the instruction of courses. The level of support varies according to the work level, financial need and scholarship.
  • Research assistant positions – The stipend and number of positions depend upon the level of sponsored research carried out by the school each year.
  • Tuition fellowships – There are a limited number of tuition fellowships for full-time students within the three master’s degree programs.
  • T. Edward Temple Memorial Scholarship Award – This award of approximately $500 per year is given to an outstanding graduate student in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program each year.
  • The Senator Edward E. Willey Scholarship, the Virginia City Management Association/University Dr. T. Edward Temple Scholarship and the Leigh E. Grosenick Scholarship – These scholarships are available to outstanding students in the Master of Public Administration program. Preference for these three scholarships is given to those who plan public careers in Virginia.
  • Internships – Paid, on-the-job internships are widely available in the Richmond area and elsewhere and are encouraged. VCU graduates also have been successful in obtaining presidential management internships in the federal government, state-government professional positions and local government positions.

Transfer credit

With the consent of the admission committee or program coordinator, a maximum of six semester hours of appropriate graduate credit may be transferred and applied toward the Master of Science in Criminal Justice, the Master of Public Administration or the Master of Urban and Regional Planning. These hours will not have been credited toward another degree.

Schoolwide master’s-level requirements

In addition to the program specific requirements of the Master of Public Administration, the Master of Science in Criminal Justice, and the Master of Urban and Regional Planning as outlined elsewhere in this bulletin, the Wilder School requires all master’s-level graduate degree-seeking students to acquire competence in four broad areas:

  1. Research methods
  2. Planning and/or policy analysis
  3. Public administration
  4. Ethics

Competence can be demonstrated by completion of the following:

Research methods
GVPA/PADM/URSP/CRJS 623Research Methods for Government and Public Affairs3
Planning/policy analysis
Select one of the following:3
Planning Theory and Processes
Public Policy Analysis
Public administration
GVPA/PADM 601Principles of Public Administration3
Ethics
Select one of the following options:3
Option A:
Administrative Ethics
Option B:
A program specific course through which ethical issues are imbedded and discussed within a public sector context. Such courses would include:
Professional Ethics and Liability
Nonprofit Law, Governance and Ethics
Seminar in Public Administration: Integration of Theory and Practice
Planning Theory and Processes
Legal and Legislative Foundations of Planning

Selection of courses to meet these competency requirements will be made by the student in consultation with his/her academic adviser. While each graduate of the Wilder School must demonstrate competence in each of the areas outlined above, substitutions for the specific courses may be made with the written approval of the appropriate graduate program coordinator.