Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions - Last Updated 6/28/2012
What do I need to submit to apply?
Please visit this link for a list of admission requirements:
What is the direct link to the online USM Application to Graduate Study?
The link to the application can be found here:
What is the application deadline?
The deadline is Friday, July 6, 2012 (postmarked). This means the application and all supporting materials must meet this deadline.
Do I have to submit all the application materials at once, or can I submit them separately?
You can submit the materials separately, but it is up to you to make sure that everything is submitted and postmarked by the application deadline of Friday, July 6, 2012.
If you submit items separately, please be sure that your name is clearly marked on your items.
To what address do I mail the materials?
All application materials not submitted electronically should be sent to:
University of Southern Maine
Office of Graduate Admissions
PO Box 9300
Portland, ME 04104-9300
Do I have to submit transcripts from institutions that I did not graduate from?
If you attended the University of Southern Maine and transferred credit into USM, you do not need to submit transcripts from the schools where you received prior credit as long as those show up on your USM transcript. We are able to access those prior transcripts.
Otherwise, yes, you do need to submit all your transcripts.
Do I need to submit my transcripts if I attended a University of Maine System school?
If you attended a University of Maine System school, we are able to pull those transcripts as long as there are no holds (financial, exit interview, etc.) on your account and the classes were taken post 1985. If you took classes prior to 1985, you will need to contact the University of Maine System school you attended and request that transcript be sent to us.
Any degree awarding transcript not from USM that shows transfer credit, will require you to submit an official transcript from the institution where the transfer credit was initially received.
What are the testing requirements?
No GRE is required.
If an applicant is an international student whose first language is not English, the following testing is required: Submit official TOEFL scores of 550 or higher on the paper-based test, 79 or higher on the Internet-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test, or official IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher. International students who have received their undergraduate or graduate degree from an English-speaking institution may apply for a waiver of this requirement.
I am an international student. Are there any other items I need to submit?
International students should check this website for additional instructions:
What are the essay questions?
The essay questions are as follows:
1. Why are you interested in the Ph.D. in Public Policy: Concentration in Educational Leadership and Policy and how will it contribute to your professional and personal leadership goals? (500 words)
2. What is a key policy issue in education and leadership that you are interested in studying? Why? How would you go about collecting data on this topic? (750 words)
3. Identify one recent educational policy decision within the last five years and describe how it has affected your organization? Describe the policy. Describe its impact. What evidence do you have of the impact? (750 words)
If you submit your essays separate from your online application, please be sure that your name is clearly stated on the document.
Please clearly state the essay question that you are answering.
The online application says that I am required to submit three letters of reference, but I only need two. Help!?
Only two letters of recommendation are required; however, the online application has space for three letters of recommendation. The program will review three letters of recommendation if you provide three. If you only wish to submit the required two letters of recommendation, you will need to input some information for the third recommender. I suggest you use "Not Applicable" for the name and email@example.com (a fake email address) for an email address in order to proceed with the online application.
Is there an electronic form for the letters of reference that I can email to my recommenders?
Yes, you can find a letter of recommendation form that you can download in a pdf format on the Graduate Admissions website. The form is located in the right-hand side column under “Quick Links”:
You can email this form to your recommenders, but they will still need to print it, fill it out, and mail it to Graduate Admissions as a hard copy.
Direct link to form:
If I add my recommenders information in the online application, will they be notfied?
Yes, if you add the names and email contact information of your recommenders into the online application, they will receive an email notification asking them to submit a reference for you.
Please note that they will receive this request AFTER you have finalized your application and submitted it. If you leave your application incomplete and finish it close to the deadline, then your recommenders may only have a day or two to submit before the deadline.Please be careful not to miss the deadline.
Your recommender only needs to fill out either the online recommendation or the paper copy (see pdf link above in the prior question). They do not have to submit both.
Who else can I use as a reference, if I currently don’t have a supervisor?
If you currently don’t have a supervisor, then we suggest that you use a reference from a previous supervisor or an academic advisor from your previous master’s degree program.
Will I be able to transfer in prior coursework?
On the application, you can indicate a request to transfer in prior coursework. Transfer requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If your prior coursework was used to achieve a prior degree, then it will not be approved for transfer.
What happens after I complete my application? Will there be an interview? How will I know if I am accepted?
Once your application is complete, it will be delivered to the program and prepared for the committee's review. The committee will begin the review process after the July 6th deadline.
***UPDATED on 6/28/2012 - The committee has decided NOT to do interviews!
All applicants will be notifed of their status in writing by Graduate Admissions when the final selections have been made. We expect to notify candidates by August 1, 2012.
I was recently accepted into a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) program, but I want to transfer into the ph.d. program. What do I do?
You cannot transfer into the ph.d. program. You will need to apply to the ph.d. program. Your acceptance into a CAS program at USM does not mean that you will be automatically accepted into the ph.d. program.
You will need to submit a new online application. You cannot use the "Re-application" form found on the Graduate Admissions website.
You will need to submit another application fee, new letters of reference, and new essays on the appropriate topics listed under our "Admissions Information" webpage.
You should contact Graduate Admisisons to see if they still have your transcripts on file. If they do, then you do not have to resubmit your transcripts.
How do I contact Graduate Admissions?
Graduate Admissions can be reached at 207-780-4386 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also visit their webpage at:
GENERAL PROGRAM QUESTIONS
Would this Ph.D. be a good fit for me?
The Ph.D. in Public Policy with a concentration in educational leadership and policy is designed for working professionals with experience and interest in educational leadership who wish to attain a doctorate.
Is there going to be a focus on K-12 educators or will higher education also be included?
We are looking for a diverse cross-section of applicants across the spectrum of K-12 and higher education.
Will this program lead to teaching/principal/superintendent certification?
The ph.d. program will not give you the course work that you need to become certified as a teacher, principal, superintendent or any other school administrator in the state of Maine.
What is a “cohort-based program model”?
Only a small group of candidates will be selected to begin the program this fall. Those students will progress through the program together over the next three years and will aim to complete the program at the same time.
Who will be on the dissertation committees? Will outside professionals be invited to participate?
The dissertation committees will consist of a combination of University of Southern Maine faculty members affiliated with the School of Education and the Muskie School of Public Service. Outside professionals will be considered as appropriate.
CURRICULUM & ENROLLMENT QUESTIONS
How/when will the courses be offered?
Students will take three courses during the school year (September - May) and two courses during the summer for a total of 15 credits per year. The final course schedule will be developed after students have been admitted, so the program can be best designed to fit the students’ needs.
Who will be teaching the courses?
The courses will be taught by a combination of University of Southern Maine faculty members affiliated with the School of Education and the Muskie School of Public Service.
Can I take a course before applying to the program?
Sadly, no. You need to be accepted into the program in order to enroll in a course.
What is the first course to be offered?
The first course that will be offered this Fall 2012 semester will be "Intellectual Foundations/Conduct of Inquiry" and will be taught by Prof. Mark Lapping from the Muskie School of Public Service on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. in the Wishcamper Center on the Portland campus of USM.
Once the students have been selected to participate in the program, they will receive more information about how to enroll in this course.
Where can I find the most up-to-date tuition rates and fees information?
The Student Accounts office lists the current tuition and fees on their website here: http://www.usm.maine.edu/studentaccounts
What is the estimated cost of one course in the program?
Currently, the cost of tuition is $380.00 per credit hour for in-state graduate level courses. Each course is typically 3 graduate credits. Therefore, the cost of tuition for one course is approximately $1,140.00. Additional fees will apply, including transportation and unified fees. Please note that tuition has remained the same for 2012-2013, but may increase in later years.
What is the estimated total cost of the program?
The program will consist of 45 graduate credit hours. The rough estimate of the total tuition cost for the program is around $17,000.00 for in-state students. Typically, tuition costs are adjusted every year. Additional fees will apply, including transportation and unified fees.
What payment methods are available?
Students can make payments to their accounts with cash, paper checks, electric checks (debit), and some credit cards. Please note that USM accepts payment with MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit cards. VISA is not accepted. Credit card payments incur an additional convenience fee. USM offers students the opportunity to enroll in a payment plan, which incurs a non-refundable enrollment fee of $30.00 per semester. USM accepts third party billing arrangements with appropriate authorization.
Please visit the Student Accounts website for more detailed information about payment options:
Will there be assistantships and/or scholarships available?
Currently, there are no scholarship funds or assistantships specifically designated for this Ph.D. program concentration; however students may visit this webpage for more information on other types of support: http://usm.maine.edu/grad/graduate-students-financial-support
Will I be able to finance my educations with student loans?
We are currently looking into student loans as a payment option for our students. In order to make this available, we need to look at our courses' credit load over the duration of the academic year. We will share more information about this as soon as we have worked out the details.
Who do I contact for more information about the program?
Kimberly Warren, Director of Student Affairs
School of Education and Human Development
College of Management and Human Service