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Department of Public Policy & Administration College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies

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Prerequisites FAQ for Prospective PPA Students

If you have a question that is not in our list below, you can give us a call at (916) 278-6557 or email the department.

What is a prerequisite?

Our prerequisites are undergraduate introductory courses in U.S. government or political science and microeconomics. Success in these courses is one of our admission requirements. Undergraduate introductory statistics is recommended. These courses provide students with basic academic tools to function intelligently in our graduate seminars.

What if I'm not sure a class can be used as a prerequisite?

In general, an undergraduate introductory course in U.S. government/political science, microeconomics, or statistics will work. If you are still unsure, please feel free to send the course description and/or syllabus to the Department or Chair for review.

Can I waive or "test out" of prerequisites?

No. No exceptions.

Do prerequisites count toward the units required for a master's degree?

No. Prerequisite courses do not count toward your required masters courses. You cannot begin taking our master's level courses until your prerequisites have been successfully completed. Courses used toward another degree (your bachelor's degree for example) may be used to meet the prerequisite requirement.

When should I take prerequisite courses?

Prerequisites may be taken during your undergraduate education, before applying to the MPPA program, or the summer prior to starting the program if you are accepted. As stated above, applications with successfully completed prerequisites are considered more competitive.

Can I apply to the MPPA program while I'm completing my prerequisites?

Applicants may complete prerequisites while making their application to the MPPA program or the MSULD program. However, applications submitted by individuals who have successfully completed prerequisites are generally considered more competitive.

What if I haven't completed the prerequisites by the deadline?

Applicants with deficiencies in prerequisites may submit applications and may, if appropriate, be admitted as conditionally classified students. In the place on the supplementary program application for prerequisite information, put "IP" (in progress) in lieu of a grade. Be sure to specify the semester, year, and location you will take the course.

Admit letters to conditionally classified students specify conditions to be met and timelines to meet them. Once conditionally classified students submit grade reports or copies of unofficial transcripts to the PPA Department, we start the process to change the student to fully classified graduate standing. This usually needs to be accomplished no later than the week before classes begin in the fall (often late August), though conditions and deadlines may vary somewhat by individual circumstance.

Transcripts submitted to Graduate Studies during the application process which contain passing grades for prerequisite courses do not need to be re-submitted to the Department unless specifically requested.

I took the prerequisites a long time ago; do they count?

As long as you earned a grade of B or better (not a B-, but a B), the prerequisites count no matter how long ago to you took them. Retaking a course or reading up on a particular subject that may not be fresh in your mind is a very good idea if you feel that you have not retained the material from the course. See Professor Rob Wassmer's recommendations.

Where can I take my prerequisites?

You may take prerequisites at any accredited degree granting institution. Accredited public universities, community colleges, on-line colleges or universities, or private (non-profit or for-profit) colleges are examples of acceptable places to take prerequisites. Keep in mind that you are not limited to our suggested options.

How do I know if an institution where I want to take a prerequisite is accredited?

Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits schools in California and the West. You can ask the college or university where you want to take the course if they are accredited, or you can check for yourself at the WASC website. On-line courses offered by institutions outside the West may be accredited by other accrediting bodies.

Can I satisfy prerequisites through online courses or distant education?

Online and distance education courses offered through accredited institutions are acceptable. Other non-traditional delivery methods may also be acceptable. Check with the Department if in doubt.

Can I use an AP course from high school to satisfy a prerequisite?

Yes, you may use a high school AP course to satisfy a prerequisite requirement ONLY if you received college credit for it AND it appears on your undergraduate college transcript.

What grades do I need in prerequisite courses?

You must earn a grade of B or better in all prerequisite courses (not a B-). You will need to retake prerequisite courses where you earned grades of B- or below.

What if I cannot take prerequisites or fail to earn a B or better in prerequisites prior to starting the program?

Students who are unable to enroll in or successfully complete prerequisites prior to starting the program will have their admission rescinded. Those students are welcome to apply again the following year and are encouraged to use the extra time to focus on successful and timely completion of prerequisites. Those who anticipate this problem should immediately contact the Department Chair to discuss the matter.

Who do I notify when I've completed my prerequisites?

Send your grade report directly to the Department through our secure Document Submittal form or by email

Graduate Studies is not responsible for enforcing our prerequisite requirements. Please do not send them your prerequisite grade reports hoping to satisfy our requirement. Keep in mind that they may require you send them additional transcripts for other reasons.