How does the admissions process work at SPS?
The School of Public Service admits students on the basis of academic achievement and promise and demonstrated interest in government, public policy, and/or public service. SPS will admit approximately 40-45 students competitively chosen from across the country and internationally. Admission is done on a rolling basis, beginning on December 1, and most students submit their applications in January and February; the class is typically full by sometime in the early Spring. Historically, early applicants have had a greater chance of admission.  PLEASE NOTE THAT STUDENTS FROM ST. ALBANS AND NATIONAL CATHEDRAL SCHOOL HAVE A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT PROCESS FOR APPLYING; PLEASE EMAIL SPS@STALBANSSCHOOL.ORG FOR DETAILS.

We will consider the applicant’s school transcript, extracurricular and community involvement, teacher recommendations, essays, and standardized test scores. SPS encourages applications from students all around the world, but also welcomes students from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, most of whom choose to attend SPS as day students.  Local students may also be eligible to attend as residential students under certain circumstances (e.g., length of commute), depending on space in the dormitory.

To apply, please submit the following:

List of 5 items.

  • Online App Form

    The online application form, which includes a short essay (400-500 words) on how one individual has inspired you to become more public-minded.
  • transcript

    A copy of your high school transcript (e-mailed to by your high school).
  • letter of recommendation

    A letter of recommendation from a teacher or school administrator submitted through the online recommendation form.
  • test score

    A copy of an unofficial score report for any standardized tests you have taken, such as the PSAT, SAT, or ACT, emailed to
  • optional cover letter

    OPTIONALLY, feel free to include a short cover statement that tells SPS a little bit about yourself and your interest in public service and SPS.

How FAQs

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

  • How should my teacher submit my recommendation?

    We prefer to receive recommendations electronically through our online teacher recommendation form. Teachers also have the option of emailing their letter to
  • How should transcripts and scores be submitted to SPS?

    You may email a copy of an unofficial score report for any standardized tests which you have taken, such as the PSAT, SAT, or ACT directly to the SPS staff. Your high school should send us a copy of your high school transcript electronically. All of the above should be sent to
  • How will I know that my materials have been received?

    You will receive a confirmation email from a member of the SPS staff shortly after your application is received. Your recommending teacher will also receive an email acknowledgement once we have received the recommendation letter. Should you have questions at any time, please do not hesitate to contact the SPS staff.
  • How long until I hear whether I have been admitted?

    Each student’s application will be dated as of the date that they submit their application and essay, and admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis once a student’s application file is complete, typically within a week or two of when the last materials for the file are received.
  • How much does the program cost?

    Tuition for residential students is $6300, and tuition for day students is $5300.
  • How does financial aid work at SPS?

    SPS maintains a financial aid fund to assist students who could not attend SPS without financial assistance. To be considered for financial aid, a student’s parents or guardians must submit (1) the SPS financial aid form, which will be emailed upon request; and (2) a signed copy of their prior year’s Form 1040 statement of federal income tax and all schedules, along with a copy of their W-2 form and/or 1099 form(s). In considering applications for financial assistance from separated or divorced parents, SPS considers the assets of both parents before making an award. Financial aid funds are, unfortunately, not without limit, and chances of receiving an award are better earlier in the application process.
  • How do I enroll in the program if I am accepted?

    Once accepted, you will log onto our online parent portal (instructions provided in acceptance letter) to register and arrange payment of a $1000 deposit to hold your space in the program (for students seeking financial aid, the deposit is $100). Your final tuition payment and enrollment forms will be due May 5, 2024.
  • How does the application process work for international students?

    SPS accepts applications from international students. Please understand that SPS requires a high degree of fluency in spoken and written English in order to get the most out of the program. Please contact us via email at if you are an interested international candidate as some of the application procedures may differ slightly.