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Admissions and Aid

In keeping with the mission and strategic plan of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (ELPA), admissions will be based on a holistic view of each candidate with special attention to the potential for success in the desired program of study evidenced in the documentation provided.​

The applicant must meet both the department’s and the Graduate School’s criteria for admission. Admission to the department is the first step and does not guarantee admission to the Graduate School. Exceptions to the Graduate School’s requirement of at least a 3.0 undergraduate grade point average are limited. The department will obtain your application from the Graduate School. There is one application fee paid to the Graduate School.

Admissions Decisions

A favorable vote by the department faculty is required for the department to recommend admission to the Graduate School. Upon admission, a member of the ELPA faculty will be assigned to serve as your initial advisor. Because of the volume of applications received by the department, qualified students must sometimes be denied admission. Those denied admission are welcome to reapply during the next admissions cycle.

Deadlines and Instructions

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Global Higher Education MS

Deadline: July 1 (domestic applicants) and April 1 (international applicants)
Admission decisions: Rolling
Start date: Fall semester

MS applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

  1. Essay statement (not to exceed two pages) that addresses the following:
  • Clearly identify Global Higher Education as your area of interest
  • Explain why you are interested in a master’s degree focusing on Global Higher Education. What are your career goals? Tell us what kind of educational and/or international experiences may have inspired you to pursue a master’s degree in the field of international higher education.
  • What are your expectations from the Global Higher Education program? How will this program contribute to your professional objectives?
  • What can you contribute to the program and other cohort students, (such as your experiences, your ​knowledge in global, international higher education)? 

Attention: You don’t have to try to imitate the American style of a “Statement of Purpose” if this is not a common genre in your culture as we respect and celebrate the cultural diversities brought by applicants and students from around the world.

  1. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.
  2. Resume or CV.
  3. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. (When completing an online application, submit names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.)
  4. Supporting document if UGPA is below 3.00. In statement, explain why GPA does not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

GRE scores are NOT REQUIRED.

English proficiency requirements required for international applicants. Test scores should be submitted to institution code 1846.

Higher Education MS

Application deadline: July 1 (fall semester), December 1 (spring semester), April 1 (summer semester) for domestic applicants; April 1 (fall semester) for international applicants
Admissions decisions: Rolling

MS applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

  1. Essay statement (not to exceed two pages) that addresses the following:
  • Your area of interest (task or functional area of administration)
  • Your career goals (i.e., why you are interested in pursuing a degree in educational administration)
  • Your professional objectives and how the UW–Madison program will contribute toward your role as a school/institution leader.
  1. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.
  2. Resume or CV.
  3. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. (When completing online application, submit names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.)
  4. Supporting document if UGPA is below 3.00. In statement, explain why GPA does not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

GRE scores are NOT REQUIRED.

English proficiency requirements required for international applicants. Test scores should be submitted to institution code 1846.

K-12 Leadership MS

Application deadline: April 15
Admission decisions: May 1
Start date: Summer semester

MS applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

  1. Essay statement (not to exceed two pages) that addresses the following:
  • Describe evidence in your educational practice of your commitment to addressing equity/social justice issues and a desire to lead with a focus on eliminating inequities.
  • Describe evidence of your instructional excellence with a range of diverse learners.
  • Describe evidence of leadership excellence related to equity and diversity.
  • Please add anything else you would like us to know about why you would be an excellent candidate for this program focused on social justice.
  1. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.
  2. Resume or CV.
  3. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. (When completing online application, submit names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.)
  4. Supporting document if UGPA is below 3.00. In statement, explain why GPA does not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

GRE scores are NOT REQUIRED.
International students are not eligible for this program.

Educational Policy Analysis and Evaluation MS

Application deadline: July 1 (fall semester), December 1 (spring semester), April 1 (summer semester) for domestic applicants; April 1 (fall semester) for international applicants
Admissions decisions: Rolling

MS applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

  1. Essay statement (not to exceed two pages) that addresses the following:
  • Your area of interest (task or functional area of administration)
  • Your career goals (i.e., why you are interested in pursuing a degree in educational administration)
  • Your professional objectives and how the UW–Madison program will contribute toward your role as a school/institution leader
  1. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.
  2. Resume or CV.
  3. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. (When completing online application, submit names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.)
  4. Supporting document if UGPA is below 3.00. In statement, explain why GPA does not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

GRE scores are NOT REQUIRED.

English proficiency requirements required for international applicants. Test scores should be submitted to institution code 1846.

Cooperative Program with UW–Whitewater MS

Application deadline: July 1 (fall semester), December 1 (spring semester), April 1 (summer semester)
Admissions decisions: Rolling
Start date: Fall, spring, or summer semester

MS applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

  1. Essay statement (not to exceed two pages) that addresses the following:
  • Your area of interest (task or functional area of administration)
  • Your career goals (i.e., why the applicant is interested in pursuing a degree in educational administration)
  • Your professional objectives and how the UW–Madison program will contribute toward your role as a school/institution leader (if seeking certification, be sure to explicitly state what certification or certifications are being sought)
  1. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.
  2. Resume or CV.
  3. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. (When completing online application, submit names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.)
  4. Supporting document if UGPA is below 3.00. In statement, explain why GPA does not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

GRE scores are NOT REQUIRED.

International students are not eligible for this program.

Wisconsin Idea Principal Preparation MS

Application deadline: April 15
Admission decisions: May 1
Start date: Summer semester

MS applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

  1. Essay statement (not to exceed two pages) that addresses the following:
  • Describe evidence in your educational practice of your commitment to addressing equity/social justice issues and a desire to lead with a focus on eliminating inequities.
  • Describe evidence of your instructional excellence with a range of diverse learners.
  • Describe evidence of leadership excellence related to equity and diversity.
  • Is there anything else you would like us to know about why you would be an excellent candidate for this program focused on social justice?
  1. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.
  2. Resume or CV.
  3. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. (When completing online application, submit names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.)
  4. Supporting document if UGPA is below 3.00. In statement, explain why GPA does not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

GRE scores are NOT REQUIRED.

International students are not eligible for this program.

Higher Education PhD, K-12 Leadership PhD, Educational Policy and Evaluation PhD

Application deadline: December 1
Admission decisions: February
Start date: Summer or fall semester

PhD applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

  1. Essay Statement. Each applicant must submit a “Reasons for Study” essay. As you prepare your responses, we invite you to review the information on our website to review the program literature, to talk with our alumni and current students, and to interact with members of the faculty and staff. PhD applicants should address the following in an essay that does not exceed three pages (single or double spaced).
  • What are your primary career goals and professional gaps you have identified as important for your intellectual and professional advancement over the next five to 10 years?
  • In what ways will these professional gaps be addressed through a doctoral program at UW–Madison?
  • Describe at least one research topic and/or project you plan to work on during your doctoral program.
  • As you will note, we are interested in developing and maintaining a diverse and engaged learning community. Please identify any unique or special contributions you will bring to this community.

A “strong” essay is characterized by:

  • A clear, thorough, well-organized essay that expresses ideas in a detailed and engaging manner.
  • Addresses all components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs signal the divisions of thought and sentences flow with ideas in a logical sequence.
  • No (or very few) noticeable errors in composition.
  • The articulation of clear scholarly interests that are consistent with the department’s mission and that may expand knowledge within the field.

A “satisfactory” essay is characterized by:

  • A detailed, well-organized essay.
  • Addresses all components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs signal the major divisions of thought and sequence.
  • Few errors in composition.
  • The articulation of scholarly interests that are consistent with the department’s mission.

A “weak” essay is characterized by:

  • A well-organized but insufficiently detailed essay.
  • Addresses some, but not all, of the components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs do not contain main topics.
  • A distracting number of errors in composition or spelling (i.e. more than two or three per page).
  • No articulation of scholarly interests.
  1. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.
  2. Resume or CV.
  3. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. (When completing online application, submit names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.)
  4. Supporting document if required.

Applicants who earned an UGPA below 3.00 or a GGPA below 3.5 or a GRE score below 1100 points (old format) or 305 (new format)  (verbal and quantitative combined score) should provide additional explanation/documentation to support his/her admission (e.g. an explanation as to why scores do not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, relevant experiences that affect their abilities to serve in leadership roles, relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

GRE SCORES ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL PHD APPLICANTS. Scores are submitted to the institution code 1846. GRE scores must be received by the application deadlines.

No GRE score renders an applicant automatically admissible or inadmissible. Candidates should be aware that the GRE web site indicates that the average combined verbal and quantitative combined score for those entering the field of educational administration is approximately 1100 points (maximum possible 1600) for those who completed the GRE prior to August 2011, and 305 (maximum possible 340) points for those taking the revised GRE beginning in August 2011. Applicants who score below 1100 points (old format) and 305 (revised format) must submit supporting documentation (see below).

English proficiency requirements required for international applicants. Test scores should be submitted to institution code 1846.

Wisconsin Idea Executive PhD

Application deadline: December 1 (currently not taking applications)
Accepts: Domestic applicants
Next anticipated start date: Fall 2021

PhD applicants are required to upload the following items to the online application.

  1. Essay Statement. Each applicant must submit a “Reasons for Study” essay. As you prepare your responses, we invite you to review the information on our website to review the program literature, to talk with our alumni and current students, and to interact with members of the faculty and staff. PhD applicants should address the following in an essay that does not exceed three pages (single or double spaced).
  • What are your primary career goals and professional gaps you have identified as important for your intellectual and professional advancement over the next five to ten years?
  • In what ways will these professional gaps be addressed through a doctoral program at UW–Madison?
  • Describe at least one research topic and/or project you plan to work on during your doctoral program.
  • As you will note, we are interested in developing and maintaining a diverse and engaged learning community. Please identify any unique or special contributions you will bring to this community.

A “strong” essay is characterized by:

  • A clear, thorough, well-organized essay that expresses ideas in a detailed and engaging manner.
  • Addresses all components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs signal the divisions of thought and sentences flow with ideas in a logical sequence.
  • No (or very few) noticeable errors in composition.
  • The articulation of clear scholarly interests that are consistent with the department’s mission and that may expand knowledge within the field.

A “satisfactory” essay is characterized by:

  • A detailed, well-organized essay.
  • Addresses all components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs signal the major divisions of thought and sequence.
  • Few errors in composition.
  • The articulation of scholarly interests that are consistent with the department’s mission.

A “weak” essay is characterized by:

  • A well-organized but insufficiently detailed essay.
  • Addresses some, but not all, of the components of the instructions.
  • Paragraphs do not contain main topics.
  • A distracting number of errors in composition or spelling (i.e. more than two or three per page).
  • No articulation of scholarly interests.
  1. Unofficial transcripts. Official transcripts will be requested prior to Graduate School admission.
  2. Resume or CV.
  3. Three letters of recommendation. We require recommendations from three people who are qualified to evaluate the academic and professional competence of the applicants. (When completing online application, submit names and emails of those requesting recommendation from; recommendations are sent electronically to your application.)
  4. Supporting document if required.

Applicants who earned an UGPA below 3.00 or a GGPA below 3.5 or a GRE score below 1100 points (old format) or 305 (new format)  (verbal and quantitative combined score) should provide additional explanation/documentation to support his/her admission (e.g. an explanation as to why scores do not accurately reflect potential, documentation of high potential for leadership, relevant experiences that affect their abilities to serve in leadership roles, relevant experiences that affect abilities to serve in leadership roles.

GRE SCORES ARE REQUIRED FOR ALL PHD APPLICANTS. Scores are submitted to the institution code 1846. GRE scores must be received by the application deadlines.

No GRE score renders an applicant automatically admissible or inadmissible. Candidates should be aware that the GRE web site indicates that the average combined verbal and quantitative combined score for those entering the field of educational administration is approximately 1100 points (maximum possible 1600) for those who completed the GRE prior to August 2011, and 305 (maximum possible 340) points for those taking the revised GRE beginning in August 2011. Applicants who score below 1100 points (old format) and 305 (revised format) must submit supporting documentation (see below).

English proficiency requirements required for international applicants. Test scores should be submitted to institution code 1846.

Educational Specialist Certificate

Deadline: July 1 (fall semester), December 1 (spring semester), April 1 (summer semester)
Admissions decisions: Rolling
Accepts: Domestic applicants

The essay should not exceed two pages (single or double spaced).

  • Your area of interest (task or functional area of administration).
  • Your career goals (i.e., why you are interested in pursuing a degree in educational administration).
  • Your professional objectives and how the UW–Madison program will contribute toward your role as a school/institution leader (If seeking certification, be sure to explicitly state what certification or certifications are being sought.