The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Admissions FAQs

Please read this list for the answers to our most frequently asked questions. If you cannot find the answer to your question, please email us.

General Application Questions

Financial Aid Questions

International Applicants

Admitted Students

General Application Questions

When does the application become available?

The new application always becomes available each mid-September for the following fall entry term. Applicants may only apply for the active entry term. The application is never open for multiple entry terms.

If I am in the Boston area may I visit the Heller School?

We offer several options so that your visit is productive and informative. The admissions office staff welcome visitors any weekday. We encourage visitors to come in when classes are in session so that you can sit in on a class, meet with a faculty member and a student in the program, as well as with financial aid and career services staff as available. If you email or call (781-736-3820) the admissions office in advance, we will arrange an itinerary for you. If you’re just in the neighborhood, don’t hesitate to come in for a more casual visit.

What is the most important part of the application?

The admissions committee considers all aspects of the application to be important. They will read carefully the statement of purpose and review the applicant's academic and professional background through the transcripts of previous university-level work and the letters of recommendation written by former faculty and professional supervisors.

What are my chances of being accepted?

Many factors are considered by each program when assessing each applicant’s candidacy. It is not possible to provide a preliminary assessment. If you have specific questions regarding qualifications related to years of professional experience, previous academic focus, or other aspects of your candidacy, our admissions counselors are happy to provide general guidance.

Can I apply to more than one Heller program?

We do not encourage applicants to submit multiple applications within the same application cycle. If you are interested in applying for a dual degree, you may indicate this in the "Program Information" section of the application, and submit a single application for consideration by both programs. Applicants should read carefully the information and requirements for each program, and then choose the program that most closely fits their goals and experience. If the faculty, when reviewing an application, feel an applicant is better suited to a different degree program, they will make that recommendation.

Can I switch programs or change to a dual degree program?

  • Pre-enrollment: Admitted and incoming students to Heller who wish to be considered for a different program after the offer of admissions has been made, may request reconsideration for another program (including dual and joint degree options related to their original program). Applicants must submit an updated statement of purpose and ensure any additional application requirements for the updated proposed program are completed. We encourage applicants considering this option to contact our admissions team to discuss their options.
  • Students currently enrolled at Heller who wish to switch to a different program must submit an updated application, through an abbreviated admissions process for current students. This includes submission of an updated statement of purpose, resume, and in-progress Heller transcript. Students must ensure any additional application requirements for the proposed program are completed. We encourage such students to discuss their plans with the director of each program, as well as admissions to review requirements. Any offers of financial aid for the initial program become null and void when a student is switching programs. A new offer of financial aid will be made when the student is accepted into the proposed program. Students will then have the option to either accept the updated offer, or maintain their current program and financial aid status. All changes in program are effective at the beginning of the semester. Mid-semester changes are not allowed.

What is the application deadline?

See our Deadlines page for specific information by program. All applicants are encouraged to apply early, as applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and the number of spaces available per program are limited. We receive the majority of master’s degree applications by early January. After the first deadline, master’s program decisions are issued 4-6 weeks from when the application is submitted. Later applications are considered only on a space available basis.

How much is the application fee?

The application fee is US $55.00. This fee is automatically waived upon submission for applicants from developing nations and current or returned Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, City Year, and other service organization volunteers. For a complete list of the nations for which the application fee is waived, please refer here.

Is the GRE required?

Applicants to the MA COEX, MA SID, or MS programs are not required to take the GRE. Applicants to the PhD or MPP programs are required to take the GRE, and the MBA program accepts either the GMAT (preferred) or GRE. Applicants to dual degree programs with the MBA or MPP programs must take the required standardized tests as well.

The GRE institution code for The Heller school is 3097.

What is the minimum required grade point average?

The admissions committee reads the entire application carefully and evaluates the applicant's academic background in concert with the other required components. Though the Heller programs do not have a minimum required grade point average, a graduate program requires strong analytical skills. If you feel that your undergraduate GPA does not accurately reflect your academic potential as a graduate student due to extenuating circumstances, we encourage you to address this in your statement of purpose.

Do I need to submit official transcripts with my application?

We accept both official and unofficial transcripts at the time of application. If you upload your unofficial transcripts to your online application and you are admitted and choose to attend Heller, you will need to send your official transcripts to Heller prior to enrollment. Official transcripts must come either directly from the school or in a sealed and stamped envelope that has been unopened by the student. 

Please do not upload certificates or diplomas. Acceptable transcripts must show all courses, grades, dates, and your graduation conferred date.

Is transfer credit accepted?

No, it is not. In some cases, faculty may waive a class based on the student's previous experience, but the student will still need to take another class to fulfill the credit requirement. This will need to be discussed with the faculty member of the class once a student is admitted and enrolled.

Is there a foreign language requirement?

No, there is not. Students are welcome to take Brandeis language courses as electives, but it is neither an admissions requirement nor a graduation requirement.

Is an interview required?

In most cases, interviews are not required from applicants. Sometimes, however, interviews might be requested. These will be conducted by phone or Skype, unless the applicant chooses to come in person. After the faculty review an application, they will decide if the applicant is a potential fit with the program. It is often at that time that an interview might be scheduled. The interview may be arranged based on the applicant's availability or the interview may be on one of the scheduled interview days.

If it is difficult to travel may my interview be waived?

If the admissions committee requests an interview, it cannot be waived. However, a telephone interview can be arranged.

Will I be notified when my application is complete?

Yes, you will receive a notification once your application and all support materials have been confirmed for completeness by admissions. Additionally, our application system is self-service and applicants may check the status of a submitted application and any associated materials by accessing the application status page.  When an application is complete, the applicant is notified promptly by email and receives a link to the application status page and instructions to access it.

When is my deadline to accept an offer of admission?

Your decision response deadline can be found in your admissions letter. Log on to your application status page to view or download a digital copy of your letter. Offers of admission are made contingent upon space availability. This means that there must still be space in the class when an applicant accepts an offer of admission, or we are unable to enroll him/her as a student. We have rarely declined enrollment to an accepted applicant, but it does happen occasionally. Applicants are strongly encouraged to let us know their decisions as soon as possible, so that visa and other administrative issues can be dealt with smoothly.

May I begin in the spring semester?

All degree programs officially begin in the fall semester.

Can I study online?

The Heller School does not offer distance learning. Enrolled students use an intranet to retrieve readings and facilitate discussions in their courses.

Do you offer summer classes?

The MBA program includes summer semester coursework, and offers several classes during the summer months.

Financial Aid Questions

Does the Heller School offer any scholarships to students?

We do our best as a program to award generous partial tuition scholarships to admitted students to help defray the overall costs of our programs. We rely on students to use our offer of a partial tuition scholarship and search for outside funding opportunities to account for the rest.

How do I apply for scholarships?

All applicants are automatically considered for our merit-based scholarships during the admissions review process. Some additional scholarships require a scholarship statement to be uploaded within the online application. To find out if you are eligible for these scholarships please click here. Students are notified if they have received a scholarship in their admission decision letter. Applicants who are not selected will not be notified.

What alternative funding opportunities are available?

We strongly encourage you to look into other outside scholarship opportunities from organizations such as the World Bank, Fulbright, the Ford Foundation, or the American Association of University Women (among others). We maintain a list of outside scholarship opportunities to assist you in your search for supplemental funding. Please note that the list is not comprehensive, and that there are most likely additional opportunities that exist of which we are not aware. Use it only as the beginning of a broader and more comprehensive search.

How does financial aid work for those in the MBA program part-time?

The Social Justice Award of $125/credit for any semester in which you enroll in at least eight credits is a scholarship that is available through the school. Most of our part-time students use educational loans or employee benefits to cover the rest of their course charges.

What happens to Heller scholarships during the second year of the Master’s SID program?

Your partial tuition scholarship is for the first year of the master’s program. If you choose to participate in our advanced study program during your second year (this provides a second year of academic course work), the renewal of your merit award is contingent upon successful completion of coursework and all program requirements as outlined in the SID program's policies and procedures, as well as remaining a student good academic standing at Brandeis University. 

If you opt for the internship track during your second year, the University will not charge full tuition. There is a continuation fee, which is significantly lower than full tuition, and we therefore do not provide any scholarships. Please refer to the cost of attendance sheet for your specific degree program for more detailed information.

What loans are available for the second-year SID program?

All students are eligible for private loans during their second year in the MA SID program. Domestic students also continue to be eligible for federal loans. Tuition for the second year of the SID program is much lower, so your cost of attendance at the university is lower, while you continue to be entitled to loans for the cost of living. Our second-year domestic SID students are usually eligible for at least the Stafford Loan, and occasionally a little more in supplemental educational loans. In our experience, however, students have not normally taken out more than the maximum allowed Stafford Loan to finance their second year.

For what types of loans am I eligible?

Domestic students are eligible for both private and federal loans. The Brandeis University Office of Student Financial Services webpage has basic loan information. More detailed information is at the Federal Student Aid web site.

What types of federal loans exist?

Brandeis offers two types of federal loans for U.S. citizens:

The Stafford Loan is a guaranteed student loan with a limit of $20,500 per academic or calendar year. In order to request this loan, you will need to complete the application form on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) website. It will help to have your previous year’s income tax return available when completing the application, as many of the questions asked are the same as on your return. You will also need to submit a Brandeis University Stafford Loan Request form to the Financial Aid office, which allows us to disburse the funds to your student account.

The other type of federal loan for U.S. Citizens is the Graduate PLUS loan. Students again will need to fill out the FAFSA as mentioned above, and are encouraged to use their Unsubsidized Stafford Loan eligibility first. For step-by-step instructions on how to apply for the GPLUS loan, please visit the Brandeis Student Financial Services website. After the Master Promissory Note is signed, a credit check will be processed. If approved, please note this credit check is only valid for 90 days. If the loan is not processed within those 90 days, applicants will need to reapply for the loan. This is important: if you are looking for a loan in the fall, you would not want to apply for the GPLUS loan in the beginning of the summer, but rather closer to the semester.

How and when are these loans processed?

You may apply for the Stafford Loan at any time, since it is guaranteed and your eligibility will not change. As far as the FAFSA goes, it is easiest to complete the online application at the same time you do your annual taxes, as many of the questions asked are the same. Once you are finished, which is confirmed by email, the file is sent to us electronically. You will then need to complete the Brandeis Stafford Loan Request Form. Since the Stafford Loan is guaranteed, we can let you know your eligibility as soon as we have the form and the FAFSA information.

Private educational loans depend upon applications sent directly to the lending organizations. Each private lending organization has its own policies governing when the approval can be made, so the best way to check this out would be on the organizations' individual websites.

How do I request the monies from my loans?

Your Stafford Loan will be split equally between the fall and the spring semesters. You will need to complete a Refund Request form at the beginning of each semester in order to have any credited funds released to you. You may request the monies no earlier than ten (10) days prior to the official start of the semester. If you are not on campus, you may request that a check be mailed to you, or you may make arrangements with Heller Student Services to have your checks deposited into your account (if your bank has a branch in the Waltham/Newton area). You would have to supply Student Services with your completed and signed Credit Release form and bank deposit slips for the fall and spring semesters.

What is the Origination Fee?

The government charges an origination fee of 1.5% for Stafford Loans and 2.5% for the GradPLUS loan. For the Stafford Loan, this would be $307.50 if you request the maximum amount allowed ($20,500). It is prorated for any other amount less than the maximum. The origination fee is not charged by the university, but rather by the government. As an up-front incentive, the government offers a 1% interest rebate off of the Stafford Loan amount. This would be $205.00 if you request the maximum amount allowed ($20,500). It is prorated for any other amount less than the maximum. The rebate is conditional upon timely payment of the loan once the grace period ends. If you default on any of your payments, the $250 would be added back to the loan due amount. Therefore, when issuing the Stafford Loan, the university takes out 1.5% (origination fee), and puts back 1% (interest rebate). The net amount, then, becomes a 0.5% deduction. Additional information about government loans can be found at the Federal Student Aid web site.

What effect will paid employment have on my loans?

You are allowed to work and be paid without having that amount deducted from your cost of attendance. The only monies that are deducted from your cost of attendance (and therefore decrease your loan eligibility) are funds that are processed through the university, such as scholarships and loans.

International Applicants

Is the TOEFL or IELTS required?

All international applicants whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency. Most students take either the TOEFL or the IELTS exams. Generally, successful applicants tend to have a score of at least 94 on the TOEFL (iBt), or 7.0 on the IELTS. We do not have a minimum required score for either test, but rather, our admissions committee takes a holistic approach to reviewing applications and considers every part of the application carefully. Learn more about the English Proficiency requirement.

TOEFL and IELTS scores are valid for up to two years. Your official test score must be valid at the time your application is submitted. If your test score will expire prior to the start of the program, you must submit your official test score prior to its expiration date.

The TOEFL institution code for The Heller school is 3097.

Do you accept the TOEFL MyBest™ scores?

The Heller School only considers TOEFL scores from a single test date, not MyBest™ scores.

What if I am waiting to hear about an outside scholarship and cannot submit all the requirements?

If you cannot submit all of the documentation necessary to hold your space in the class (the tuition deposit, statement of acceptance, and completed VIDOF with supporting documentation), it is best to wait until you are in such a position. If your enrollment at Brandeis depends on outside sponsorship, most likely you will not hear until after our decision deadline. Please do not worry about this, as each year we hold spaces in the incoming class for students who receive last-minute sponsorship and are unable to submit their documents by the May 1st priority deadline.

What should I send in to finalize my enrollment?

Complete information about accepting our offer of admission is on the Admitted Students page. International students must pay particular attention to the Visa Declaration Form (VIDOF) instructions.

Is assistance available for applying for a student visa?

Complete information on applying for your student visa will be sent to you with your offer of admission. Learn more on our Visa Process page as well as the Brandeis International Students and Scholars Office site. Only admitted students who have submitted their enrollment deposit are eligible to move through the Brandeis visa process.

What loans are available to international students?

International students are eligible for private loans. Private educational loans depend upon applications sent directly to the lending organizations. Each private lending organization has its own policies governing when the approval can be made, so the best way to check this out would be on the organizations' individual websites. If you are considering loans to finance your studies, you will need to show that you have secured the amount indicated on your VIDOF form minus any scholarships you may have received from the Heller School. As the loan process can be lengthy, you should begin the process as soon as possible. There are U.S. based private loan options, but international students need to have a U.S. or naturalized citizen to co-sign the loan. You can research these loan options at the Federal Student Aid web site. Please note that you would NOT be eligible for the federal loan options, only the private lenders. You may also want to conduct a search for educational loans for international students on the web. Two options are International Student Loan and Global Student Loan Corporation.

Admitted Students

I was admitted; what are the next steps I need to take in order to accept my decision?

Please refer to the Pre-Enrollment Checklist for the outline of next steps.

Do I need to pay an enrollment deposit?

Yes, all admitted students must pay a nonrefundable enrollment deposit to secure their spot in the entering class. Admitted students will not be able to complete the remaining pre-enrollment checklist items until the deposit is received.

How much is the enrollment deposit?

MBA students will pay a deposit of $1,000. All other students will pay a deposit of $500. The deposit will be credited toward the first semester tuition charges. The deposit is non-refundable.

How do I pay for the enrollment deposit?

The enrollment deposit may be paid with a credit card, via wire transfer through Flywire, or with either a personal or bank check drawn on U.S. dollars and made payable to Brandeis University. Complete instructions are found on the Admitted Students page.

Can someone else write my enrollment deposit check for me?

Yes, we can certainly accept a check from someone beside you. Please ask the person to make the check payable to Brandeis University and to submit it to the Office of Financial Aid, and make sure that s/he either includes a letter stating that the check is for your enrollment deposit, or that s/he clearly marks you name in the memo section of the check.

I have a sponsor who will be covering the tuition of my program. How should they make the payments?

Your sponsor must send in a letter, addressed to the Heller School Admissions Office, indicating that s/he is committing to sponsor you financially for your degree program. The exact amount of the sponsorship must be included in the letter, and backed up by the supporting documentation. The letter must indicate the total committed amount that will be available to you prior to the bill due date (in early August) of the fall semester. The letter must clearly state your sponsor’s full name and contact information (address, phone number and email). It must be signed and dated by the sponsor, and include the sponsor’s bank account information to match the supporting bank statement. The bank statement should be a statement of the person’s account activity and balances. It may be sent to us by email if it is sent directly from an official bank email account. If this is not possible, a printout for the customer (your sponsor) is fine, as long as it is on the bank’s official letterhead.

Can I defer my admission?

Students offered admission to one of the master's programs at the Heller School may defer their admission for one year. PhD students are not eligible to defer their admission. We do not guarantee funding for master’s level students, although every effort is made to offer the same level of scholarship aid to students who are deferring.

Students who wish to defer must submit their request in writing to the Office of Heller Admissions by September 1 of their original entry term. Requests made after September 1 will not be accepted and students will need to re-apply in full with a new application. 

What happens to my financial aid if I defer for one year?

Students offered admission to one of the master's programs at the Heller School may defer their admission for one year. We do not guarantee funding for master’s level students, although every effort is made to offer the same level of scholarship aid to students who are deferring.

Students who wish to defer must submit their request in writing to the Office of Admissions by September 1 of their original entry term.

What are my options for working while enrolled in my program?

Many students do work while they are enrolled in one of our programs. However, work study is not available to students at the graduate level as a form of financial aid. Many of our students do find some kind of campus employment, but these positions are not available to a student until s/he is on campus and registered as a full-time student. There is an Office of Student Employment that lists both on- and off-campus job opportunities that you can search.

Can I work as a teaching assistant?

Most of our teaching assistant positions are available to students after their first year in the program. After students have completed a year of coursework, professors have a better sense of their students and can think about suitable options for teaching or research assistantships.

Assistantships are not guaranteed, nor are they a required component of any Heller program. Interested students must ask faculty they are interested in working with or look for open assistantships through Workday, Brandeis' online student employment portal.