Harvard Kennedy School 2015 MPP Application Requirements and Essay Prompts

A note from The Art of Applying team:

The official Harvard Kennedy School application for 2015 will open in early September 2015. In the meantime, the Art of Applying team has compiled the 2015 HKS MPP application requirements and essay prompts that are shared on the official HKS admissions blog and HKS admissions website in one convenient place for you.

Remember that you should always check the official HKS admissions site and the HKS admissions blog for the most up to date official information.

The Art of Applying is in no way affiliated with Harvard Kennedy School or their admissions or financial aid process. We are a private company founded by HKS & HBS alumna Kaneisha Grayson that provides free information as well as paid services and products for helping people apply to Harvard Kennedy School and other top graduate programs and fellowships.

Please contact us with any corrections, updates, or questions. Happy applying!

Application Deadline:

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 11:59 pm EST

MPP Application Requirements:

  • a submitted online application
  • payment of the $100 application fee
  • essays
  • traditional resume/CV
  • analytic/quantitative resume
  • three letters of recommendation
  • official academic transcripts
  • standardized tests: GRE/GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS

Notes and Details on Application Requirements:

GRE or GMAT score. Scores must be less than five years old as of the admission application deadline.

CV / Resume. No page limit. Recommended length of 2-4 pages. Read more guidance at the official HKS Admissions blog here.

Official Academic Transcripts. Read more info on the official HKS admissions blog here.

Quantitative Resume. Required. Click here to jump to the details regarding the Quantitative Resume in this post.

Essay 1:

The Harvard Kennedy School motto, echoing the President for whom the School is named, is “Ask what you can do.” Please share with the Admissions Committee your plans to create positive change through your leadership and service.

word limit: 600 words

Essay 2:

Describe an event or episode that either gave you a chance to use a personal strength, or revealed a personal weakness. Then explain specifically how the MPP curriculum at HKS would leverage your distinctive abilities and/or fill gaps in your skill set as you equip yourself for your career goals.

word limit: 600 words

Optional Statement:

If you have any concerns about your prior academic, professional or personal background you would like to share with the Admissions Committee, please provide an explanation.

word limit: 250 words

Joint Degree with HBS or HLS Essay Prompt

How do you expect the joint degree experience to benefit you on both a professional and a personal level?

word limit: 400 words

Concurrent Degree Essay Prompt

For applicants applying to an approved partner institution which allows the pursuit of a concurrent degree. For a full list of partner institutions, click here. No matter how many partner programs an applicant will be applying to, there is only one opportunity to respond to this prompt.

How do you expect the concurrent pursuit of another professional Master’s degree to benefit you on both a professional and a personal level?

word limit: 250 words

More details about the Quantitative Resume / CV:

The following text was copied from the official HKS admissions blog. Bold formatting and additional line breaks were added by The Art of Applying team for ease of reading. Be sure to check the official HKS admissions blog or the HKS website for the most up to date information.

The MPP program equips students with the skills needed to analyze and solve complex problems. When reviewing applications, the Admissions Committee looks for – among other things – evidence of analytical and quantitative capability and potential. Aptitude in these areas can be demonstrated through coursework and/or professional, volunteer, and internship experiences.

Please submit a résumé that summarizes relevant study and experience with analytic or quantitative material.

Relevant coursework typically includes mathematics, statistics, economics, logic, science, information technology, and engineering.

When listing coursework, please include main concepts studied and major assignments completed. (The web site of your college or university is often a good way for you to obtain this information. Descriptions copied from the course catalog are helpful.)

If you choose to describe major projects completed in a professional, volunteer, or internship setting, please include details on the analytical or quantitative nature of the work performed.

We recognize that there will probably be some overlap between the content of your academic/professional résumé and that of your analytical/quantitative résumé.

There is no set format for the analytical/quantitative resume. Feel free to use the samples provided as guides, but ultimately you should structure this information as you see fit. For MPP samples, click here.

MPP TOEFL / IELTS Requirements

Copied from the official HKS Admissions website:

TOEFL or IELTS (English tests)

The Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required of all applicants (both two-year and MC/MPA programs) unless:

  1. Your native language is English
  2. OR your entire undergraduate degree was conducted entirely in English

TOEFL or IELTS scores submitted must be less than two years old as of the admission application deadline.

Please note that we do not accept the TOEFL ITP test.

The Admissions Committees require applicants to have a minimum cumulative TOEFL or IELTS score of:

  1. 100 on the Internet-Based TOEFL Test (iBT)
  2. OR a 600 on the Paper-Based TOEFL Test (PBT)
  3. 7 overall band score on the IELTS


The MPP Admissions Committee mandates that in addition to meeting the cumulative scores for the TOEFL and IELTS tests noted above, that applicants obtain minimum scores on the subsections of the English tests as well.

The following are the mandatory score requirements for MPP applicants to be considered for admission.

  1. TOEFL iBT: a minimum score of 25 on each section.
  2. TOEFL PBT: a minimum score of 58 on the reading section, 59 in the listening section, 61 in the writing section.
  3. IELTS: a minimum score of 7 in each section.

School codes:

  • GRE and TOEFL – 3454
  • GMAT – HRL-27-69
  • There is no department code
  • The IELTS does not have a code, simply list Harvard Kennedy School when taking the test.

Reapplication Process

If you have previously applied to HKS and would like to reapply for this upcoming academic year,

  1. Submit a new online application and pay the application fee
  2. Submit new essays
  3. If you have applied within the last three years, you may re-use the following:
    • transcripts
    • test scores (GRE and GMAT scores are valid for five years
    • TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for two years)
    • recommendations (it is advisable that you select at least one new recommender to submit on your behalf.)

Source for reapplication information: http://www.hks.harvard.edu/degrees/admissions/apply


end of HKS MPP application requirements

an invitation to work with us:

Kaneisha and The Art of Applying team have been helping people from all over the world (with GRE scores that are high, low, very low, and everything in-between) apply and gain admission to Harvard Kennedy School and other top graduate schools since 2010.

Harvard Kennedy School is the most popular school among our client base, and we are thrilled to help our clients understand that they are not competing with one another; they are competing with a lesser expressed version of themselves. We help our clients submit the best version of their candidacy and profile as they can. We help make the application process to graduate school less stressful, confusing, and isolating.

If you think we might be able to help you get into your dream school, contact us to introduce yourself. We look forward to hearing from you!

9 Comments Harvard Kennedy School 2015 MPP Application Requirements and Essay Prompts

  1. Jamie

    Question on GRE vs. GMAT when applying to HKS. Is there a preference or reported averages for the incoming class?

    Also, should students go with a GMAT score that converts into a higher GRE score on the published ETS scale – or go with a GRE score that has higher percentiles (i.e. 80% GRE quant vs. 60% GMAT quant) but is lower than the GMAT score when converted.


    1. Kaneisha Grayson

      Hey Jamie! I don’t understand your first question… As for your second question, since your GRE and GMAT scores are so close together, I would go with the GRE score that results in higher percentiles. The reason why is that most applicants to HKS will be submitting GRE scores, so (in my opinion), it makes it easier for them to compare you to your peers. Also – when you convert your GRE score to a GMAT score, you don’t get a static score; you get a predicted RANGE of scores. Thanks for your question!

    1. Kaneisha Grayson

      Hi Vivian, your undergraduate GPA is a 4.0 out of what…? If it’s a 4.0 out of 4.0, that’s a perfect GPA! If it’s a 4.0 out of 10, that is a very low GPA. I need more information to answer this question.

  2. Cécilia

    Hi Kaneisha,

    I am french and I am applying to HKS MPP. I took the Toefl and I had 28 for the reading, 25 for the listening, 24 for the speaking and 24 for the writing. My score is 101. I am a little sad because I invested so much effort in this and for one or two points, I was wondering if the MPP admission committee would ever let me in or consider my application. 🙁 I know that it is mandatory but it’s just two points left and I have the required total score. I’ve been working so much to get in . I am not even a native English speaker :(( .

    1. Kaneisha Grayson

      Hi Cécilia, I recommend you send this question in writing via email to the HKS admissions committee, because this kind of exception is up to their discretion. If you were my client, I would advise you to wait until you have the required scores on each section of the TOEFL before submitting your application. I know it’s probably very disappointing to have gotten so close, but the minimum scores are in place for a reason. A large part of your grade at HKS will be class participation, reading and writing papers, and if your English skills aren’t at a certain level, you could struggle in the classroom. Come back and let us know what you decided to do!

    1. Kaneisha Grayson

      Hi Douglas, yes you need to submit a GRE or GMAT score for all degree programs at HKS except for the HKS MC/MPA Mason Fellows program.

  3. Divya Chirayath

    Hi Kaniesha,
    I have a three year degree from an India University. My aggregate score is 61%. Do I stand a chance for the MPP program?


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