Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Martha Norris


Disparate student academic outcomes and program access is a problem at Master of Public Administration (MPA) programs in the Northeast United States The current admission committee members at the case university did not know institution leaders' rationale for eliminating the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) criterion. The decision to exclude the GRE as an MPA admission requirement was enacted prior to their respective tenures. The program leadership expressed interest in exploring research-based admission criteria to enhance student access and predictive outcomes. Supported by critical pedagogy and humanist theories, the purpose of this case study was to investigate admission committee members' viewpoints about the GRE's predictive efficacy for MPA applicants. Two MPA admission committee members were purposefully selected to be study participants. Data were collected via semi structured individual and focus group interviews. Data were analyzed using thematic analysis for emergent themes. The study findings were: (a) GRE scores reduce applicant access to MPA programs; (b) student access to MPA programs may improve should universities use a broader array of non-cognitive admission assessments; (c) students with low GRE scores may still attain the MPA; and (d) the GRE Quantitative section is not relevant to assess the soft skills MPA graduates will need in the public sector. These findings can be used by the case university MPA stakeholders to implement a model of varied non-cognitive admission methods. This study may promote social change by providing MPA admission stakeholders with a broader selection of non-cognitive assessments to support increased rates of applicant access and program completion outcomes.