Admissions and Financial Aid


Application Requirements
Advanced Standing for Master's Degree Holders
Student Assistantships and Fellowships
Student Scholarships
Other Financial Assistance at UMass Boston
Other Resources for Financial Aid
Student Housing and Cost of Living Considerations

Application Requirements

Graduate Admissions instructions and application forms

Application deadline: February 10th for fall admissions

  • Application form
  • Application fee
  • A combined autobiographical sketch and personal statement (1500 words) highlighting your interests, reasons for applying, and how your life events have led you to apply for a PhD in Public Policy, including answers to the following questions:
  1. What are your career objectives?
  2. How will a PhD in public policy advance those objectives?
  3. In what ways does the UMass Boston Public Policy Program address your particular academic, career, and personal goals?
  4. What do you see as your primary activity five years after receiving your PhD degree?
  5. What professional, personal, and academic experiences have especially equipped you for the challenges of graduate school?
  6. What personal strengths will you bring to your graduate-level studies?
  7. What personal limitations or hurdles do you anticipate you must address in order to complete graduate school?
  8. What research and public policy issues are you interested in pursuing at UMass Boston?
  9. What research and public policy experiences have prepared you for research in the Public Policy Program and a career in public policy?
  • Three letters of recommendation, at least two of which should come from individuals who can assess academic preparation for advanced graduate work
  • Official transcripts of all prior academic work, including evidence of a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
  • A short (3-5 page) academic writing sample or professional policy brief
  • GRE scores 
    Previous scores less than five years old will be accepted.
    Our institutional code is 3924 when you register for the exam
  • A current résumé or CV. Please list your educational background on the top of page one with degree(s) earned, name(s) of school(s), major(s) and overall GPA(s)
  • TOEFL score for all foreign students
    More info for international students on exam waivers and other requirements

Final decisions are made and communicated throughout April.

Advanced Standing for Master's Degrees

With a master's degree earned no more than seven years prior to matriculation, students may be eligible for advanced standing awarding them 12 credit hours to be counted toward elective courses.

Relevant master's degrees include those received in:

  • social sciences
  • public administration
  • public policy
  • social work
  • labor relations
  • public health
  • education
  • criminal justice

In addition, we would consider a JD relevant and some MBAs - depending on the focus of the program.

If you earned the master's degree more than seven years prior to admission, once admitted, you may petition to the Academic Affairs Committee for a credit reduction but final transfer credit approval rests with the dean of Graduate Studies and Research.

Student Assistantships and Fellowships

Full-time students are eligible for full tuition waivers, a waiver of the educational operations fee, a health insurance credit, and graduate assistant stipends to cover educational expenses and to help defray living costs. Students may receive these assistantships for their first three years of study.

In return for the stipend, depending on the level of assistantship desired, students are expected to provide 18 hours of research, teaching, or administrative assistance per week to the campus.

Full-time first year students also receive a $2,000 fellowship in addition to the above financial awards.   These awards are issued in two payments: $1,000 in the fall semester and $1,000 in the spring semester and  typically paid after the add/drop period each semester.

Part-time assistantships are also available for full-time students.  Although full tuition is waived, the stipend, work hours required, educational operations fee, and health insurance credit are pro-rated.  For example, with a half-time assistantship, a student receives half a stipend, works nine hours per week, and half of these fees are waived.  The same pro-rated basis applies for 1/4 and 3/4 time awards.

After the first semester, continued financial assistance is dependent upon satisfactory academic and graduate assistantship performance.

Additional funding may be available for students after their third year, though funding is not guaranteed.

Please note that, although we typically waive tuition and most fees for several semesters, stipend payments are not sufficient to cover room and board, books and supplies, transportation, and other personal expenses. (See section below on Housing and Cost of Living Considerations.)

Complete list of current tuition and fee charges.

Please note the associated costs for graduate students at either the in-state or out-of-state rates, as appropriate. Also note that all stipend amounts, waivers, tuition, and fees are subject to state appropriations and may change each year.

PhD Scholarships

A limited number of PhD scholarships are typically available each year from our annual fund, representing gifts from our faculty, staff and alumni. All students in good standing are eligible but those who demonstrate financial need are given priority consideration.

Other Financial Assistance at UMass Boston

Our doctoral program also offers students small grants to help finance conference participation and travel, membership fees, software purchases, special training, and other professional development activities.

The Office of Graduate Studies offers an annual dissertation support grant competition. After defending a dissertation proposal, students are eligible to apply for monies to be used for anything from data collection to editing in preparation of their dissertations. The maximum award is $5000.

Other Resources for Financial Aid

The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration offers an extensive list of financial aid, scholarships, fellowships and loans for prospective students.

Student Housing and Cost of Living Considerations

Office of Student Housing (617-287-6011)
Local classified ads at

UMass Boston currently does not have on-campus student housing. However, UMass does provide housing referral assistance and has a partnership with several area apartment complexes.

In general, students should be prepared to spend a minimum of $1,000 per month for room and board in an apartment within a five to ten mile radius of the campus. Please keep in mind that this is only an estimate and, depending on your lifestyle and family size, costs may be higher or lower.

>b>NEW: Testimonials from Current Students and Alumni

Full- and part-time students praise the classes and faculty support in the PhD Program in Public Policy. Read More 

Public Policy PhD Brochure

Take a look at our Public Policy Program brochure Read More 

The Assistantship Experience

Hear Public Policy PhD student Jennifer Cohen talk about her applied research assistantship Read More 

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