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International Applicants / Visiting Scholars

Greetings from Colorado, and welcome!

If you are an international student and are looking for a place to further your studies in public administration and criminal justice, the University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs is right for you. The School of Public Affairs is the top-ranked school in Colorado and among the best in the nation. We offer comprehensive programming for public and nonprofit professionals.

The School of Public Affairs currently has between 40 and 50 international students representing 11 countries. The largest number of international students are from the Republic of Korea, where the school has several memoranda of understanding with various government units.

Colorado has over 300 days of sunshine per year and world-class outdoor recreation and scenic wonders. Denver offers a vibrant urban setting and a regional hub for many local, state and federal agencies.

The School of Public Affairs offers the following degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice
  • Bachelor of Arts in Public Service
  • Master of Public Administration
  • Master of Criminal Justice
  • Ph.D. in Public Affairs.

We also offer a wide range of concentration areas​.

For Visiting Scholars​

Please visit our Visiting Scholars page.

For Undergraduate Students​

Please contact the CU Denver Office of International Admissions.

For Graduate Students​

International students who wish to pursue graduate study at the School of Public Affairs must have earned an undergraduate bachelor's degree, or its equivalent, and must fulfill all other admissions requirements of the graduate program to which they are applying.

In addition, all international students whose first language is not English are required to provide evidence of their ability to communicate in English. Because course work at SPA often involves in-class discussion or interactive work with groups of other students, we prefer tests that indicate a student’s ability to speak and listen, rather than only reading and writing skills. Both IELTS and the TOEFL internet-based (IBT) tests test speaking and listening. We will accept TOEFL scores from the paper-based (PBT) or computer-based (CBT) exams, but we may ask for additional evidence of effective conversational skills under certain circumstances.

Test of English-as-a-foreign-language For admission to the MPA or MCJ program
IELTS* 6.5
Paper Based TOEFL 550
Computer Based TOEFL 213
Internet Based TOEFL* 80

Beginning in the fall of 2013, applicants will be considered to have the required English language proficiency if they meet one of the following criteria:

1. The applicant is a citizen of a country whose official language is English. These countries include Australia, Belize, Botswana, Canada (except Quebec), Commonwealth Caribbean, Ghana, United Kingdom, Ireland, Kenya, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. 

2. The applicant has obtained a composite score of 80 or above on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) including obtaining minimum sub scores (see below), for both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Reading: Minimum score of 15
Listening: Minimum score of 15
Speaking: Minimum score of 18
Writing: Minimum score of 17

Visit the International Admissions Office website for more information.

3. The applicant has obtained a composite score of 6.5 or above on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), including obtaining minimum sub scores (see below), for both undergraduate and graduate programs.

Reading: Minimum score of 5.5
Writing: Minimum score of 5.5
Speaking: Minimum score of 5.5
Listening: Minimum score of 5.5

a. The admissions committee shall review all sub scores to ensure that a minimum sub score has been obtained in each category

SPA would prefer that applicants score at least a 6.0 for all sections of IELTS. 

4. The applicant has graduated from the University of Colorado Denver’s ESL Academy 

5. The applicant has graduated from a US/UK accredited school abroad with English as the medium of instruction. 

a. The applicant must provide a letter from the home institution verifying this information if the language of instruction is not clearly indicated on the official academic transcript. 

6. The applicant has earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in the US, or has successfully completed a minimum of 2 semesters of full-time study in a master’s program at an accredited institution in the US. In addition, undergraduate transfer students who have successfully completed the GTPathways core at a Colorado Community College are deemed to have the required English language proficiency. 

7. UNDERGRADUATE APPLICANTS ONLY: The applicant has graduated from and completed a minimum of 1 year of secondary school in the US that included at least one unit of college preparatory English. 

a. All freshman applicants who apply for admission immediately following graduation from a high school in the US are required to submit SAT/ACT results. 

Please submit an International Graduate Student Application six months prior to the term for which you are applying. Send all materials to the campus where you intend to enroll. 

University of Colorado Denver
International Admissions
Campus Box A005/1001
PO Box 173364
Denver, CO 80217-3364, USA

More Information

For more information on the School of Public Affairs you may contact:

Scott Steinbrecher
Coordinator, International Student Programs


Brendan Hardy
Director of Student Recruitment and Career Services | Physical Address: 1380 Lawrence St., Ste. 500  Denver, CO  80204 | Mailing Address: University of Colorado Denver, SPA, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364 | ph: 303.315.2228 | fax: 303.315.2229 | SPA Website Feedback

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