Why Public Policy?

Why Public Policy?

You have a passion to do good. At the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, we know that doing good takes more than good intentions. To produce positive social impact takes serious work, rigorous science, and the courage to find the most effective solutions—whether they feel good or not. That’s why fearless thinkers from all sectors, ideologies, and backgrounds come here to investigate the world’s most complex challenges—and determine how policy can address them.

Why Harris Public Policy?

Why Harris Public Policy?

As a Harris Public Policy student, you won’t have to wait for graduation to start making a difference. From day one, Harris encourages you to turn your passion into proven, measurable results. Combining real-world engagement in Chicago and beyond, with the latest technology and social science, you’ll look at the world’s problems, challenge the easy answers, and confront the real issues by following the data. At the University of Chicago, one of the world’s great intellectual destinations, you’ll join a community of scholars who share your drive for doing good. Using rigorous modeling and analysis, and supported by leading faculty who shape the field, you’ll uncover new perspectives on enduring issues and find fresh approaches that work. You'll graduate ready to make smarter, data-driven decisions that lead to the change you want to see.
 

What types of jobs do Harris graduates have?

What types of jobs do Harris graduates have?

Harris graduates lead successful careers across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Our alumni have become policy advisors, program officers, campaign chiefs of staff, financial analysts and consultants, economists and research specialists, government officers, foreign exchange traders, and directors at major organizations across the United States and around the world. Recent full-time career placements for new graduates include McKinsey & Company, BlueCross BlueShield, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Heartland Alliance, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, After School Matters, Iraqi Mutual Aid Society, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Center for China and Globalization, and the US Department of Defense, US Securities and Exchange Commission, and US Food and Drug Administration. Read more about the impact of our alumni or access one of our brochures about career outcomes.

Can I apply for either spring or fall admission?

Can I apply for either spring or fall admission?

Full-time students at Harris must matriculate in the Autumn Quarter. Your first year of courses consists of seven core courses that are taught sequentially. If you miss the Autumn Quarter classes, you will not be prepared for Winter Quarter.

Part-time students can apply to start in any quarter the program is offered. See the Evening Master's Program for more information.
 

What is the application fee? Is it possible to get an application fee waiver?

What is the application fee? Is it possible to get an application fee waiver?

The application fee is $75 and nonrefundable. You can pay the fee electronically within your application. Application fee waivers are available. Complete the Fee Waiver Request Form, which is linked to from your online application. If approved, you will be notified directly.
 

Is an interview required for Harris?

Is an interview required for Harris?

An interview is required for entry into our Evening Master's Program.

Interviews are not required for admission to one of our full-time degree programs. However, international applicants with a total TOEFL score of 106 or below (or IELTS of 7.0 or below) who were unable to submit a video statement may be selected for a brief phone interview. We suggest all full-time applicants visit Harris while school is in session. You can attend a class and meet with current students and admissions staff. Visits can be arranged through the Admissions Office.

What is Harris looking for in the short essays?

What is Harris looking for in the short essays?

We are looking for thoughtful and creative responses that best showcase your personality and/or your understanding of a policy issue. The question selection is not important. We are most interested in how you think, write, and articulate yourself. Take the opportunity to show us your personality.
 

I have been working for several years and lost touch with my college professors. Can I get all three letters of recommendation from employers and colleagues?

I have been working for several years and lost touch with my college professors. Can I get all three letters of recommendation from employers and colleagues?

We advise you to get letters of recommendation from individuals who know you best and can speak about your strengths and your preparedness for graduate study. If you have lost touch with your college professors, letters of recommendation from employers and colleagues are accepted.
 

How should I approach my recommenders?

How should I approach my recommenders?

Inquire with potential recommenders as soon as you know you plan to apply. If your recommenders know you very well, they should be willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. If you want to ease their burden, provide them with as many materials about your application as possible: e.g., resume, reasons why you are interested in graduate schools, etc. Approach as many potential recommenders as possible: interview them, and ask them “What can you say about me?” Select the recommenders who can best vouch for your candidacy.

Should transcripts be sent directly to Harris from an institution or can they come by way of the applicant?

Should transcripts be sent directly to Harris from an institution, or can they come by way of the applicant?

Unofficial transcripts can be uploaded via the electronic application. All applicants who are offered admission will be required to submit official transcripts. Most institutions have the ability to send electronic official transcripts. If your institution is unable to do so, please request that they send hard copy versions to our Admissions Office.
 

Will you tell me if you have successfully received my application materials?

Will you tell me if you have successfully received my application materials?

After you submit your materials electronically, you will have the ability to check the status of your application online. Please do not send inquiries to the Admissions Office requesting status of your application. If your application is incomplete, you will be notified directly. (Watch your email for notifications.)
 

Is work experience required for admission to Harris?

Is work experience required for admission to Harris?

For our full-time programs, work experience is not required, but it is strongly preferred. Approximately 20% to 25% of students enrolling full-time come directly from undergraduate programs. These students have diverse backgrounds, and many have at least two to four years of work experience, from corporate and nonprofit organizations as well as all levels of government.

Our part-time Evening Master's Program is designed for mid-career professional (typically 5–15 years of experience) who want to hone their data analysis and analytical skills and gain a perspective on public policy as they take on more leadership responsibility.

When can I expect to receive an admission decision?

When can I expect to receive an admission decision?

Decision letters for full-time admission, including information about scholarship awards, will be released by the date noted for the application round in which you applied.

Applications are accepted and decisions are made for the Evening Master's Program on a rolling admissions basis.

How long are my GRE scores valid for admission?

How long are my GRE scores valid for admission?

Scores no older than five years as of the application deadline for the round in which you apply will be considered. Please note, this may vary from the ETS range for validity. We strongly encourage all applicants to submit scores taken more recently, preferably within two years of applying. (Note: Test scores are not required for the Evening Master's Program.)

When should I submit GRE by to ensure scores are delivered?

When should I submit GRE by to ensure scores are delivered?

The results of computer-based tests taken no less than four weeks in advance of our deadlines for full-time admission should arrive in time for review within an application round. To ensure release by the deadline, we recommend releasing no later than six weeks in advance of an application deadline. (Note: Test scores are not required for the Evening Master's Program.)

Do you accept GMAT or LSAT in lieu of the GRE?

Do you accept GMAT or LSAT in lieu of the GRE?

For admissions to full-time programs, we will accept the GRE or the GMAT score. For those applicants who are currently enrolled in a joint-degree program with the Law School, we will consider your LSAT scores. (Note: Test scores are not required for the Evening Master's Program.)
 

What is the average GPA needed for admission to Harris?

What is the average GPA needed for admission to Harris?

The average GPA for full-time students enrolling as part of the 2014 class was 3.6. Similar to our GRE requirements, GPA scores are assessed with all elements of the application. If you feel your GPA does not reflect your skills and abilities, you are welcome to include a personal explanatory statement.
 

What is Harris’s English language requirement?

What is Harris’s English language requirement?

International applicants may submit either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to meet the English language requirement set by the University. Test scores must be sent directly to Harris using code 1849 (a separate department code is not necessary). The minimum score requirements for each exam are as follows:

  • TOEFL: overall score of 104 with a minimum of 26 in each subsection
  • IELTS: overall score of 7 with minimum of 7 in each subsection

Scores are only valid for two calendar years from the test date. For additional information on the English language requirement for the University of Chicago, please visit the Office of International Affairs.
 

How are merit scholarships awarded?

How are merit scholarships awarded?

Awards range from 25% of tuition costs to full tuition. Each year, approximately 50% of entering students are awarded some form of merit scholarship or fellowship from Harris.
 

How do I apply for scholarships or financial aid?

How do I apply for scholarships or financial aid?

No separate application is required for merit based scholarships; you only need check the appropriate box on the Harris application for admission. However, you will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal student loans.

Prospective full-time students should submit their FAFSA during Early Action or Round One to be considered. Prospective students for our part-time evening program should do so as soon as they know they plan to apply.

Find more information about financial aid in Financing Your Degree, including a complete list of Harris scholarships and fellowships and information about loans and third-party funding. The UChicago Student Loan Administration (SLA) details the application steps and provides other resources about graduate financial aid.

What is an MPP degree?

What is an MPP degree?

A Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree emphasizes rigorous modeling and analysis, evaluating information to solve complex policy problems. As policymakers, managers, analysts, business and non-profit leaders, our MPP graduates work with quantitative and qualitative data to develop and assess approaches to current and emerging issues. MPP graduates work in a variety of public service fields, all levels of government (federal, state, and local), nonprofits, international organizations, consulting firms, and in the private sector.
 

What is the core curriculum?

What is the core curriculum?

Our core curriculum draws on a variety of disciplines, including economics, sociology, political science, statistics, econometrics, political economy, organizational theory, and program evaluation. These areas provide a foundation in critical analysis, reflecting the Harris belief that mastering quantitative and analytical skills prepares students to be effective practitioners. Core courses are the focus of the first year of our full-time master's degree programs and the foundational underpinnings of the curriculum for our Evening Master's Program.

What's the difference between an MPA and an MPP degree?

What's the difference between an MPA and an MPP degree?

MPA and MPP programs have blended and converged as complements to one another, with courses and specializations often overlapping. Some schools combine the degrees and name them differently. The training and skill sets differ as well. MPA students typically excel in management and technical implementation of policy, whereas MPP students are trained to analyze and recommend sound institutional policies. Some students pursue an MPA part-time. Those thinking about that option should consider our Evening Master's Program. That program allows you to earn an MA in Public Policy in just four quarters.

Why a public policy degree instead of an MBA?

Why should I get a public policy degree instead of an MBA?

Both public policy and MBA degrees offer advanced analysis courses as part of their core curriculum.

While still flexible enough to apply to the public sector, an MBA provides more emphasis on corporate finance, accounting, and marketing.

If you wish to pursue a career or currently work in consulting, a heavily regulated industry, a government agency, a nonprofit, or other public service institution, a public policy degree provides several advantages:

  • An understanding of public policy can help business and nonprofit leaders influence governmental policies or decisions that can impact their organizations. It can be particularly useful to these leaders as they advance in their careers.
  • A public policy degree can is extremely beneficial in industries such as energy, health care, finance, transportation, telecommunications, education, real estate, or other heavily regulated industries that are impacted by laws or policy outcomes or have a dependency on lobbying and political influence. It is also useful for government contractors.
  • The analytical and program evaluation techniques learned in a public policy degree program can help business and nonprofit leaders demonstrate the impact of their organization's programs, which can be useful for funding, governmental relations, and lobbying efforts.

How can I distinguish myself in the Harris applicant pool?

How can I distinguish myself in the Harris applicant pool?

You know your strengths and your weaknesses. Tell us how you intend to address your weaknesses at Harris. Demonstrate your passions. In your resume, show us your volunteer experiences, travel, hobbies, etc. If you are funny, serious, or something in between, don’t be afraid to show your personality.
 

I do not have a quantitative background. Can I handle the demanding course work at Harris?

I do not have a quantitative background. Can I handle the demanding course work at Harris?

Roughly one-third of our full-time students consider themselves as not having a strong quantitative background prior to applying to and enrolling at Harris. Many demonstrated their capability by scoring well on the GRE or taking supplemental quantitative courses prior to coming to Harris. We have all the resources necessary to ensure that enrolling students will excel in our core curriculum.

How do I apply to Harris Public Policy?

How do I apply to Harris Public Policy?

Applications must be submitted through the University’s online system. You can save your application and work on it at your convenience. Harris only accepts electronic applications.

Requirements and deadlines vary for our full-time and part-time programs. Requirements and Deadlines details the process for our full-time program. How to Apply provides information on requirements, deadlines and financial aid for our part-time program. Our Admissions team is available to provide more information about what you need to do for your specific situation.

How is Harris different from other policy schools?

How is Harris different from other policy schools?

For more than 25 years, we've been shifting the conception of public policy from an ideology, reliant on politics and pedigree, to a science rooted in data and impact. Students come to us from all over the world, with different social, political, and academic backgrounds and an extraordinary array of policy interests—child and family policy, social policy, international policy, public finance, health policy, education policy, and more. They are bound by a common passion for problem-solving and commitment to the public good. Our analytical training with relevant application to solve real-world problems gives students the tools to tackle the most pressing policy issues of our day.

Can I defer my admission?

Can I defer my admission?

We strongly encourage applicants to apply for entry for the year (for full-time) or quarter (for part-time) in which they intend to enroll. Deferrals are not common and are considered on a case-by-case basis for one academic year only. Typically, deferrals are granted for unforeseen financial, health, or personal circumstances that would make enrollment a hardship.

Who was Irving B. Harris and why was your school named after him?

Who was Irving B. Harris and why was your school named after him?

Irving B. Harris was a successful businessman and a remarkable philanthropist. He dedicated his life to improving the well-being of children and the disadvantaged. In 1986, he provided an endowment that launched Chicago Harris. His mission for the school (which continues today) is to empower scholars to seek impartial, policy-relevant knowledge and train leaders to put that knowledge to work for the public good.

What separates your students and program from other policy schools?

What separates your students and program from other policy schools?

What makes our program unique is the core. The core is comprised of various disciplines and fields such as economics, political science, statistics, econometrics, political economy, program evaluation, and more. Our program provides students the ability to develop the skills needed to be effective leaders in their chosen careers by honing technical and analytic skills.

Where can I park?

Where can I park?

Harris has a parking lot behind the building and with due notice can reserve a parking pass for visitors.

Where is Harris located?

Where is Harris located?

Harris is located at 1155 East 60th Street, on the corner of 60th & Woodlawn. Woodlawn is a mile west of Lake Shore Drive and/or a mile east of Cottage Grove.

Is there a list of area hotels?

Is there a list of area hotels?

You can find a full list of hotels in the area here

The University has a preferred hotel program, through which you can receive a discount on your registration. To see a list of participating hotels in the Chicago area click here. Be sure to mention that you are visiting the University when you book your stay.

Also recommended is Hyatt Place Chicago–South, based in Hyde Park and designed to support the University of Chicago campus.

At what point should I visit the Career Development Office?

At what point should I visit the Career Development Office?

It’s never too early to start the career planning process. Career Development workshops begin during math camp and you are encouraged to visit us as early as possible during the fall quarter.

How do I make an appointment?

How do I make an appointment?

Schedule an appointment with a career counselor/advisor through your HarrisLink account under "Schedule a Coaching Appointment." Counselors are available Monday-Friday for scheduled appointments and also conduct "Walk-in Hours" during the week.

What assistance is available through the Career Development Office?

What assistance is available through the Career Development Office?

The Career Development Office is here to help students develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to support lifelong career development. The staff offers personalized career guidance to help students define and articulate their abilities, interests, and motivations, as well as help them identify specific job opportunities and organizational settings of interest. Students have access to a wide range of resources including workshops, career counseling, career development guides, and career-focused events including, Employer Information Sessions and networking opportunities. Students also have access to HarrisLink, the Career Development Office employer information, internships, and jobs database in addition to other UChicago career related listservs.

What can I do with a policy degree?

What can I do with a policy degree?

Since a public policy degree provides a set of research, analytical, communication, and management skills that are transferable across sectors and issue areas, graduates have flexibility in choosing their career paths.

Public policy graduates often move back and forth between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, or between international and US-based work. Harris graduates are highly sought-after specifically for their strategic skills, and many have gone on to be social entrepreneurs. Employers look for graduates to help understand and communicate complex data and information in a way that clearly and concisely supports effective decision-making. In the nonprofit sector, the analytical and program evaluation techniques learned can be useful in demonstrating the impact of an organization's programs, which can be useful for funding, governmental relations, and lobbying efforts.

A public policy degree can also be beneficial in industries such as energy, health care, finance, transportation, telecommunications, education, or other heavily regulated industries that are impacted by laws or policy outcomes or have a dependency on lobbying and political influence. An understanding of policy can help professionals in those industries as they advance in their careers.

What type of students/graduates are employers seeking?

What type of students/graduates are employers seeking?

Employers consistently tell us how much they value our students. The core courses provide a robust set of quantitative analytical skills, and the substantive policy expertise that students bring to and develop within the program make Harris students very marketable.

What networking resources are available to students throughout the year?

What networking resources are available to students throughout the year?

There are numerous networking opportunities throughout the academic year that range from informal organization information sessions to formal dinners with alumni and Harris constituents. Student organizations and Harrris CDO and Alumni Affairs collaborate on events, and students have access to an alumni web-based networking site that allows them to connect directly with alumni working in students' fields of interest. For networking, students are encouraged to purchase Harris Public Policy business cards during their first quarter at Harris. Click here to order business cards.

Are internships mandatory?

Are internships mandatory?

While most of our students complete an internship at some point while in school, internships are not mandatory. Students come to Harris with a variety of experiences and are interested in different fields and careers. That set of variables leads our students to seek a variety of experiences. More often than not, this means a traditional summer internship. However, some students pursue advanced language training or overseas travel, or they undertake an internship during a different time in their Harris career. Overall, Career Development recommends students consider a variety of opportunities, including internships, which position students to develop and achieve their career goals.