Do you have a waitlist?
The MPA program does offer a wait list. There is an Admissions Committee which will thoroughly examine the applications with all the attachments and then decide to admit an individual from the waitlist based on the contents of the original file.
Do you offer deferrals?
Any deferral requests is considered on a case-by-case basis and is granted for special circumstances but only after an applicant has been admitted to a program. Applicants are normally expected to apply in the year in which they wish to enroll.
Do you allow students to attend part-time?
All Mohammed Bin Rashid School programs can be taken as full-time or part-time. Please refer to our website on details of part-time attendance.
Will applicants with private sector experience be considered?
We are looking to prepare individuals for work in the public sector, or employment that is in some way connected to public service. Therefore, one of the most crucial parts of the application is your commitment to public service and leadership potential. These two characteristics are often demonstrated through professional experience. The Mohammed Bin Rashid School is interested in individuals with both private and public sector experience.
Is there a minimum GRE/GMAT score or GPA required to apply?
We do not require a minimum score for the GRE/GMAT examination or a minimum Grade Point Average.
Does MBRSG offer evening courses?
Unfortunately the Mohammed Bin Rashid School does not offer any evening courses.
Do you accept transfer credits?
At this stage in the development of the school we do not accept transfer credits.
I have been out of school for a long time. How important are my GRE or GMAT scores?
These standardized test scores are an important measure of individual academic ability, the school places a greater emphasis upon the quality and depth of your past professional experience, as well as future potential.
What are the academic prerequisites for the program? How much quantitative preparation is required?
The MPA/ID Program has prerequisite courses so that students will be adequately prepared for the rigor of the core curriculum. The prerequisite coursework ensures that the whole class shares a common foundation of quantitative and economic skills so that the class can cover more sophisticated material than would otherwise be possible.
The prerequisite course requirements are one university level course in each of the following:
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Multivariable calculus
  • Statistics and linear algebra are also desirable, although not required.
We offer a semester introductory courses that covers all the entry requirements and will prepare students adequately and thus fulfill the academic prerequisite.
Successful applicants demonstrate competence in economics and quantitative analysis through their academic records and GRE or GMAT scores. A competitive candidate will have a strong academic record, especially in math and economics courses.
If one or more of these prerequisite courses is missing at the time of applying, the applicant must indicate a plan for completing the missing coursework before enrollment. Applicants who are missing one or more of the prerequisite courses should consider taking courses in the fall or spring semesters of the year of application to strengthen both their candidacies as well as their ability to succeed in this intense and rigorous program.
Why is work experience so important to the Admissions Committee?
The Admissions Committee strongly prefers applicants who have several years of development work experience, preferably in a developing country. There are several reasons for this.
  • First, such work experience provides valuable insight on the applicant’s inclination to development work.
  • Second, it causes the applicant to understanding of the problems and institutional realities of developing countries so that more informed contributions to the discussions at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School may be made.
  • Third, work experience allows one to gain far more from the classes since the individual will be able to contextualize learning and real life experiences.
  • Finally, experience living and/or working in a developing country demonstrates a commitment to a career in international development.
 The field of development is broad, encompassing governments, central and regional banks, international development institutions, non-governmental organizations, and private businesses. The Committee looks broadly for work experience that shows commitment to the economic, political, or social progress of developing countries, knowing that practitioners will most likely shift between sectors during their careers in any case.
Although work experience is not an absolute requirement for admission, applicants are rarely admitted directly from their undergraduate studies. The average age of MPA/ID students is 28, with an average of four years of full-time professional work experience following an undergraduate degree.
How is the MPA Program different from other international development degree programs?
The MPA Program is a quantitative, economics-centered multidisciplinary program, combining studies in policy and practice with a rigorous curriculum in analytical and quantitative methods.
Only you can decide if you are looking for a program with a heavy focus on quantitative analysis and economics. If you have never enjoyed math or economics, or if you are interested in a more broadly focused degree in policy or management as opposed to a degree focused on international development, you should consider applying to a different program.
Don’t I need a PhD to have a career in development?
Some students have a difficult time deciding between the MPA Program and PhD programs. In general, you should bear in mind that a PhD prepares you for an academic career first and foremost. If you want your next job to be assistant professor, then you should pursue a PhD.
If instead you want to work in the field or in policymaking, a PhD is unlikely to be a wise investment. In this case, two years of the MPA/ID Program followed by three years of relevant professional experience should be preferable to five years of study and research in a PhD program. The reason that many development institutions hire PhDs is because they are looking for people with good analytical and quantitative skills. Those are the skills that are imparted, among others, in the MPA Program.
Some people fear that they will encounter a “glass ceiling.” However, once you are hired, career advancement depends largely on the quality of your work and not on the degree you hold.
If you are sure you want to earn a PhD, in most cases you would be better off to go directly to a doctoral program. The MPA Program is neither the fastest nor the most certain route to a PhD degree.
How is an MPA/ID different from an MBA?
The MPA Program focuses on the techniques and approaches that are useful and relevant in formulating and implementing development policy. Most MBA programs teach general management skills focused on for-profit organizations.
How is an MPA different from the MPP?
The Master in Public Administration Program is best suited to individuals seeking demanding economics-centered training for a career as an international development practitioner.  The Master in Public Policy International and Global Affairs concentration (MPP IGA) is best suited to individuals seeking to become policy leaders in an increasingly globalized world.
 While both the MPA/ID Program and the MPP IGA concentration take a global perspective on the challenges facing the world, they differ in their approach and focus.
Can I study a foreign language in the MPA/ID Program?
The MPA Program recognizes the importance of fluency in languages other than English for those who wish to pursue a career in international development. For many of our current students, English is their second language. Most of our native English speakers have already achieved a level of proficiency in at least one foreign language.
We encourage all prospective applicants who lack proficiency in a second language to pursue language study before applying to the Kennedy School. Language coursework does not count towards the number of credits MPA students need to graduate.
I’m still in college. What can I do to prepare for the MPA/ID?
Please read through the program information carefully and make sure that you are interested in a rigorous quantitative program and that you are prepared academically. Be sure to take at least one course in microeconomics and one in macroeconomics, which are prerequisites to joining the program. You may wish to take a second course in each discipline at the intermediate level. You should also take calculus through (and including) multivariable calculus, which is usually the third course in a calculus sequence. Statistics and linear algebra are desirable, although not required. Be sure to perform well in these classes! Exemplary quantitative preparation is crucial to being accepted into the MPA Program. We will look for exceptionally high scores on the quantitative section of the GRE.
Although we occasionally accept applications from students in the last year of their bachelor's degree as well as from recent college graduates, your application will be considerably strengthened by at least two or three years of development-related work experience after graduation, preferably in a developing or transitional economy country. There are numerous other websites with list service and job announcements in development-related fields. Your university's career services office should be able to help you in finding opportunities, both domestic and overseas.
How did the MPA/ID Program begin?
In 1998, the Harvard Kennedy School faculty working in international development designed this new program to meet the need for well-trained professionals in developing and transitional economy countries as well as in donor countries. The challenges of international development demand professionals with skills in economic, social and political development. Existing programs emphasized either high-level technical training (Master’s or PhD programs in economics) or professional training (Master’s in international affairs or public administration).  In 2005 the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government was set up under the directives of His Highness Sheik Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Among the earliest strategic decisions he made was that the school was to partner with Harvard Kennedy School and this program was then transferred and redeveloped at the school to sit regional needs and requirements.

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