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This fall, the University of Chicago will be commemorating of one of its most historically significant contributions - the world's first sustained nuclear reaction, on December 2nd, 1942. The 75th anniversary of the event will be recognized with a series of events leading up to December 2nd, 2017. 

Distinguished Service Professor Roberts Rosner (Department of Astronomy & astrophysics and Physics) delivered an address to the College students in the annual Aims of Education address. You can view Professor Rosner's comments on the legacy of this historic event here

A full list of events can be found here, ranging from "Arts and the Nuclear Age" to a series of "Physics Colloquium". Below, scholars discuss UChicago's place in history. 



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Students frequently have questions related to transcripts — details on which ones we need and how to submit them, and what we are looking at when we review them. To summarize the requirement for submitting: Harris requires transcripts from all colleges and universities attended in order to have a complete academic record. If you transferred between institutions we will require transcripts from each institution, not only the degree-granting institution. During the application process we can accept unofficial transcripts, but we do require official transcripts before you can enroll in your courses.

Students with foreign credit- we do not accept third party evaluations such as WES or ECE instead of your transcripts, but we can accept them as an additional credential if you feel they will assist in the review of your application. We do require both the transcript and an official translation of your transcripts – meaning the translation should be completed by an official organization or notary. During the application process you can submit an unofficial copy of your transcripts, but the translation must be official.

Students often inquire what we are looking at when reviewing your transcripts, and the short answer is, everything. We are necessarily looking for a particular degree program, and you can view our previous post for why but we do look at your particular coursework, grades, and overall GPA. All of these details helps us to better understand your academic qualifications and your overall strength as a student.

If you have any questions about the process please email

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Many incoming applicants to Harris have questions on how their work experience will be viewed, the level of importance placed on having significant work experience, and the length and format of their resume. We see students who have a variety of professional backgrounds. Many of our students have a few years of work experience in a particular filed, while others have recently graduated and have not yet begun their professional careers but typically have had some internship, volunteer, or extracurricular experience while pursuing their undergraduate degree. Others have significant work experience and have concluded that pursuing a graduate degree will allow them to advance to the next level in their field or allow them to change careers.

When reviewing your resume, we aren’t looking for a particular format, the resumes we receive are as diverse as the students applying to Harris. While it may be appropriate for some students to have lengthier resumes to detail their professional and, if applicable, research experience, other students may have more brief summaries of their experience. Some students prefer to submit chronological resumes while others prefer to format their experience according to relevance to policy or the program for which they are applying. Again, we are not looking for one format or a limited set of professional careers and we encourage you to submit a resume that you believe best supports your Harris application. 

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I think a lot of applicants struggle with this important step in their application because they fundamentally misunderstand the responsibility involved in getting faculty, coworkers, and others to write recommendations. At the end of the day, the recommendation letter is written about you, for you, and it is up to you to manage the task.

Plan of attack

What I typically do before I even ask any individuals about recommendations is make sure that I have planned out exactly what I am asking who to do by when. I have an excel spreadsheet with each of the applications, how many recommendations I need and the due date. I then create columns for one week, two weeks, and one month before the due date. For recommenders who may be traveling, or professors unavailable between terms, allowing two months is helpful. I have these dates added to my calendar and send out reminders at each date. If you haven’t been in touch with your recommenders recently you may want to have a resume handy to share.  You should also know where to direct the recommender if they need more information about Harris. Our website is a great place to start. Last thing to do, schedule a time to meet with the individual—in person if possible.

The ask

Now is the time to relive all of those awkward asks in your life. The time you asked the popular boy/girl to prom in high school. That time you asked a friend in college to set you up with a formal date. Take those and put them to the side. You will be asking people who know you well and can speak to your skills and your fit. These recommenders are often in a mentorship role and are eager to help you with your next steps and to speak about your qualifications.

Make the ask in person if possible. I am a person who is not against showing gratitude for these individuals whom are willing to take time to recommend me, so I often show that appreciation by buying my recommender a coffee and sending a thank you email/note after our meeting thanking them for their time. Make sure at this meeting you are able to provide your recommender with your resume, and are prepared to discuss your motivation for applying to Harris or even share a draft of your motivational statement (BONUS - your recommender may give you some helpful tips on your statement!). Also be ready to discuss why you believe this program is a good fit for your future endeavors. If you’re struggling with the Why Harris question, you can reach out to our Admissions Specialists ( and we will happily work through why Harris Public Policy has the right program for you. Also important, thank your recommender when they agree to write, and ask them if they have any advice for you.


It is important that you tell your recommender the expectations. Inform them when the recommendation letters are due and how they are to be submitted. Even after you’ve explained these expectations to the recommender, it is still your responsibility to make sure your recommender follows through. This is why the initial planning is important. You already have the timeline planned out so that you can remind your recommender at different points to make sure they know when the deadline is approaching. 

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I had the opportunity to see the smash hit musical Hamilton in Chicago.  For those of you outside the US, Hamilton is phenomenon that has captured hearts and playlists of people of all ages. Created by Lin Manuel Miranda, Hamilton chronicles the life  of Alexander Hamilton one of the more influential and colorful founding fathers of the US. There are geniuses...outliers...and then Lin-Manuel Miranda. You could lock six billion people in a room for a year and not one could come up with something as original as Hamilton. Beyond incredible music he takes a story that everyone knows and tells it a new way meshing history with contemporary issues of the day.

One of the things I enjoy about living in Chicago are the vibrant arts and cultural opportunities that are available. As a student, I encourage you to take advantage of a wide range of cultural and entertainment options from rooting for the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs, to strolling through the Art Institute or diving into a mosh pit at Lollapalooza. There is something for everyone and also opportunities to explore something new or outside your comfort zone.  

For me, watching and experiencing Hamilton with my very very excited son Gavin (Harris Class of 2030)  is an experience I will never forget and if you get the chance to see Hamilton don’t miss it!!

Bonus Content: read why Hamilton got it wrong and Chicago is actually the Greatest City in the World

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We are currently accepting applications for our part-time Master of Arts in Public Policy (MA-PP), held at 1871 in the Merchandise Mart! As you complete your applications, please consult the following Frequently Asked Questions, or email our admissions team at with any questions. 

1. What is the tuition for the program?

Tuition for the part-time, evening Master of Arts in Public Policy (MA-PP) will be $12,609 per quarter for the 2017-2018 academic year based on the typical 225 units per term. The total cost of all four quarters is expected to be around $50,436 plus any fees. A Night and Weekend Membership to 1871 is included as part of your tuition, as well as access to the libraries at the University of Chicago and the career services resources at the Harris School and UChicago Grad. 

2. What is the size of the cohort?

No more than 40 will exceed the cohort; we are looking forward to welcoming a diverse group of candidates from the private, public, and government sectors. 

3. How many cohorts will there be?

There will be one cohort launching in the Winter of 2018.  If you are interested in starting for the next cohort available after Winter 2018 please complete this form.

4. What are the course times?

The program will be held from 6-9 p.m. twice a week, with one Saturday seminar per quarter. The University of Chicago is on the quarter system, so the part-time MA-PP will be held from Winter of 2018 to the Winter of 2019. Classes will not be held in the summer of 2018.  

5. Is this degree available for online courses?

We do not offer online classes or degrees at the Harris School of Public Policy.

6. What is the difference between this evening program and the one year Master of Arts in Public Policy?

The core courses of the part-time MA-PP are designed around the full-time MA-PP. This degree is designed for  working professionals, whereas many full-time MA students are enrolled at other degree programs through the University of Chicago and are required to take classes offered during the day.

7. Why is the GRE not required?

We value the work experience of the candidates for this program, and want to reduce barriers for working professionals who want to pursue a degree at the University of Chicago. Qualified applicants will be contacted for interviews after they submit their application as part of the review process.

11. What can I be doing to prepare for the mathematical components of the course?

There are no prerequisites for this program, and we will be sharing resources to help admitted students prepare for courses before they begin.

13. Can I attend this program if I require a student visa?

Due to part-time enrollment, this program does not support a student visa. However, we have received numerous interest from students seeking to study on a visa. Please check back for future updates.

14. What is the course load like outside of the classroom?

We recommend that candidates give thought to their work-course balance. The courses are tailored to working professionals, but plan to attend 6 hours of weekly classes and meet, study and engage with students outside of the program.

15. I’ve taken statistical courses or have an economic background. Can I opt out of certain courses?

While we are happy to hear that you are bringing a strong academic background to the program, currently students do not have the option to waive out of coursework.  

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We frequently receive this question from eager applicants searching for opportunities to strengthen their application, as well as students who are concerned about specific aspects of their application. Actually, we probably receive this question from almost all incoming students. 

So, what do we look for? Most of our students are aware of the reputation of the University of Chicago as an extremely rigorous institution, particularly in the quantitate coursework. Some students are attracted to this reputation, while other students fear they do not have the quantitative skills to be successful. In reviewing your application, we will carefully evaluate the quantitative experience, but this does not mean we look for one specific GRE score or a set list of undergraduate majors. We take into consideration your scores and academic background of course, but we will also review your current work experience and evaluate whether or not your essays address any particular areas of weakness.

Outside of the quantitative background, we look for academic diversity in the applicant pool. Often liberal arts students may believe they do not have the academic background for a policy program, but we at Harris understand that some of our most passionate and enthusiastic students pursued competitive liberal arts programs, and completed those programs with the strong critical thinking and writing skills required of Harris students. See our section on essays below to learn more about expressing fit. For example, a recent alumna Rebecca Planchard spoke of her desire for quantitative training at Harris. She didn't come to Harris with quantitative courses or experience, but with a passion and a track record to prove she would succeed. 

Additionally, we want to see applicants who are excited to dive into both the curriculum at Harris as well as the opportunities available in the surrounding community at the University of Chicago. Many of our courses contain experiential learning opportunities, and we are seeking students who feel passionate about pursuing real-world opportunities to impact policy. If you have doubts about the impact the surrounding community can have on your policy studies, take a listen to episode one of The Axe Files (also available on iTunes) the podcast hosted by David Axelrod through the Institute of Politics here at UofC. During Episode One, UofC alums David Axelrod and Bernie Sanders discuss, among many other things, the opportunities they pursued outside the classroom.

Finally, we at Harris value the public service dedication we see in so many of our applicants. So much so that we will match the Segel award for those who have participated in AmeriCorps. At Harris, we believe those with the passion and the dedication to better themselves to learn the science of public policy, rooted in data and impact, will be the most successful students and future leaders. You can view our Profiles page to see this drive that our current and incoming students, our faculty, and alumni all share. 


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Students in the early stages of the application often call or email our office asking when they will be able to see the essay questions. Usually we sense a slight panic in their tone implying that writing essays may not be their favorite weekend activity, or that they need to immediately see the essays in order to have extensive time to prepare as no length of time will be enough for them to write, re-write, have peer-reviewed, throw away, retrieve out of the garbage, review again, throw away again, start over, and then submit the original draft their kind friends peer-reviewed. To answer the original question – the application process is dynamic and the essay questions will not appear until you have completed other parts of the application. So just keep moving forward and you should have no problem in viewing the essay questions. 

When approaching the essay questions, think about how you would approach a case interview. You have an opportunity to demonstrate to the evaluators how you write, how you think, and how you approach problems. This is a wonderful place for you to be able to express your passion and enthusiasm for public policy, to showcase your analytical mind and how you would approach policy issues, and to show some of your character in your writing. Great essays should give a sense to the reader of who you are and should show—not tell—about your interests and abilities in public policy. 

Keep following the blog all week, as we'll be sharing valuable application tips to ease your pain points. 


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So you have filled out your name, last name, academic information, work experience etc; all done with the obvious bits of the application, and now you face the Herculean task of writing the motivation statement. What to write? How to start? How do I fit everything in so few words (or for some how do I write so much about myself)? Should I start with a quote or is it too cliché?

As you keep staring at the blank screen in frustration, with the cursor constantly blinking as a reminder for you to write something, consider these few words of advise from a fellow sufferer.

1.     Essays shouldn’t be a one-night or all-nighter task    

These essays tend not be something you can just ace in one night. It is the essence of you that needs to be presented to someone who has never known you personally and has limited information to assess your admissions profile. Give yourself enough time to work through drafts and reflect on your writing. Do not panic if you haven’t started the process earlier, learn to pace yourself well and set personal deadlines.

2.     To finish, you have to start

    When you start, it’s easy to get bogged down by the whole scheme of things, how the essay is going to turn out, how it would all fit in, would there be a continuous flow to it? Just be confident and type down those first few words, write whatever that comes to your mind. Don’t be afraid of hastily scribbling down words, you can ruthlessly edit later. Throw in small paragraphs of whatever you feel is relevant, it will make sense in the end.

3.     Google is not the answer for everything

       Google might help you with facts, but this is something that you have to do on your own. Do not be tempted by sample essays on the internet or the essay that your senior so helpfully provided you. By all means, seek advice from people but do not try to build up on an existing essay. Your essay needs to be as original as you are! Admission committees value honesty and have an uncanny knack for detecting botchy work.

4.     To write is human, to edit is divine

       Edit mercilessly, while editing try to get rid of redundant words and paragraphs that do not make sense when placed one after the other. Do not be afraid to reorganize and reorder. Detach yourself from your essay and judge it as an observer. Treat your life as a movie and think of the viewer. Does it make sense to them? If you find it lacking, go back and start over. While the next bit of advise is obvious, it is often overlooked in haste: make sure your writing is free from grammatical and spelling errors and the formatting looks good. Stick to standard fonts and font sizes.

5.     Feedback is the breakfast of champions

     Let someone who knows you well or someone who is in the same field as you intend to be look over your essay. Sometimes, we tend to miss achievements and aspects of our life that our well-wishers might be quick to point out. Do not be depressed or defensive about feedback, it is what will make your writing better!

Good luck and happy writing!

PS. Try going over you resume too when you write your essay. Explain gaps or career changes or bad grades (anything that cannot be explained in a resume) in you essay. Never make the cardinal mistake of forgetting to edit the name of the school you are writing the essay for!  

Go ahead! Begin planning to complete your essays and application today. 

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Harris is home to students from around the globe, and it’s common for our international students to have unique questions. All interested students can find a complete FAQ here, but below is a round-up of the questions we most commonly receive from interested international students:

Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS? 

Please visit the university’s TOELF/IELTS waiver requirements here. If you do not fall within the parameters listed by this policy, you will need to submit an official TOEFL/IELTS score for your application to be considered complete.

What is Harris’ English language requirement?

 Applicants may submit either the TOEFL or IELTS to meet the English language requirement set by the university. Test scores must be sent directly to Harris using code 1849. The minimum score requirements for each exam are as follow: TOEFL-overall score of 107 with a minimum of 26 in each subsection. IELTS-overall score of 7 with a minimum of 7 in each subsection.

My TOEFL score is below the university requirement. Can I still apply with this score? 

For applicants whose TOEFL/IELTS score falls below the university requirements, we ask that you submit a short 2-minute video statement with your application. When completing the application, after you enter your TOEFL/IELTS score, a link to record your video statement should automatically populate.

Can my test scores arrive late? 

If you believe that your test score will arrive after the application deadline, please let our office know and we will determine if a short grace period can be provided for the time it will take your score to arrive. Please note that you should apply within the application round that best fits your needs. If your test score does not arrive in the specified grace period after the application deadline, we will roll your application to the next round without penalty.

I do not see the video statement – what can I do? 

The application process is dynamic, and you may not see the video portion available when you first begin the application. As you move through the application, if you do not meet the language proficiency requirements, you should be prompted to upload the video. If you have issues uploading the video please contact

I am having issues with uploading the video statement to the application. What can I do?

We understand that technical difficulties happen from time to time when uploading video statements. As such, you can record your 2-minute video statement in another platform such as Youtube and send us the link. After you have submitted the application, when you log back into the application portal, you will see the Upload Materials function. You may use this to upload a word document that includes the link to your video statement.

What are your transcript requirements for foreign credit? 

You will be allowed to submit unofficial transcripts through the electronic application process; however, official transcripts will be required upon admission for enrolling students. Please submit transcripts for all prior academic work from any institution of higher education. Foreign credentials must also be accompanied by an official translation.

Can I submit my foreign credential evaluation (WES) instead of my transcripts? 

Students cannot submit a foreign credential evaluation INSTEAD of their transcripts, but they can submit this information in addition to their transcripts.  

Outside of questions on the application process, we strongly encourage students to visit The Office of International Affairs website. They provide detailed information students on daily life as a student at the University of Chicago as well as information for F and J students at various stages in the enrollment process. If you have additional questions or concerns please email

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Our Mentor Program at Harris is a longstanding cornerstone of our commitment to empowering students to be connected with experienced professionals throughout their program duration. Since 1988, the Mentor Program has paired students with dedicated industry professionals who want to support the next generation of policy leaders (that’s you!). 

Year 1

In your first year, you will apply to “affinity groups”, which are based on career interest and led by mentors with experience in that career area. Programming focuses on career exploration, adjustment to graduate school, and connecting your curriculum to a professional application. Additional programming focuses on career development in the form of team building, social events, and other seminars.

Year 2 

Your second year focuses on one-on-one mentorship between you and your mentor. Here you will begin fine-tuning your career goals. These pairings are based on location, sector, goals, and personality.

How many professionals are involved in the program? 

There are currently 200 established policy professionals in the Mentor Program. 100 new professionals have joined the network in the last two years alone! 

Who can apply for the program? 

100% of all Harris students are eligible to participate in the program.

How do I apply for this program? 

You will receive an email about applying for the program before arriving to campus. 

What is the time commitment? 

In the first year, affinity groups meet up to twice per quarter. Each program will have different professional development goals. They may be other events (social or networking) that students may also participate in with their mentors. In the second year, plan to meet with your mentor (via phone, email, or in-person) about once a month or based on your personal schedule with your mentor. 

Who are the mentors? 

Mentors come from across the United States and around the globe; many are Harris alumni themselves. They are individuals with policy experience who volunteer their time to mentor Harris students as they navigate a career in a policy-related field. Mentors have included elected officials, CEOs, policy advocates, etc.

We hope that you will take advantage of this program; it is an incredibly beneficial way to strengthen your ties with your Harris peers and to create a career network tailored to your specific needs and interests. For more information, click here.

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Whether you're a prospective student visiting campus, a current student living in Hyde Park over the summer, or a staff member who wants to extend their lunch break, the University of Chicago has a wonderful assortment of museums and collections for all interests. Check out a few of them today! 

The Robie House

Designed by legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1908, this historic landmark is widely considered to be "one of the most important buildings in American architecture". It reflects Wright's famous prairie-style vision. The iconic home is located right on campus by the Booth School. Tickets available online

The Oriental Institute Museum 

Simultaneously a museum and branch of research division at UChicago, the Oriental Institute devotes itself to the study of the history and culture of ancient Middle East. It is a constant hub of lectures, programs, and exhibits. Fun fact: many of the artifacts were not purchased (like most collections), but found via archaeological digs that were sponsored by the Institute itself! 

The Smart Museum of Art

This innovative museum houses an impressive and ever-changing collection, from modern pieces to ancient Chinese artworks. The best part? It's free and open to the public! Be sure to take a stroll through the sculpture garden and have a cup of coffee on the outdoor patio cafe. 

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During our trip to D.C. this summer, the recruitment team stopped by several internship sites of current Harris students. One such visit was to the Sunlight Foundation, where Andrew Yaspan, Faraz Ahmed (both MSCAPP '18), and Saeb Ahsan (MPP '18 and Pearson Fellow) are working with the Foundation's 'What Works Cities' initiative. As fellows of the program, these Harris students are working on projects aimed at improving the open data policies of dozens of cities, and working with these municipalities on how they are sharing and disclosing information with the public. 

The Harris School and the Sunlight Foundation have enjoyed a productive collaboration for several summers. Andrew, Faraz, and Saeb were featured on Sunlight's blog, which profiled the Harris students, their projects, and how the MSCAPP program in particular helps to prepare interns for the work that the Foundation does with open data and public policy. 

If you are interested in reading more about student internships, please check out the Summer Internship Series on Facebook. If you want to learn more about the opportunities for internships and funding at Harris, please click here

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We're hitting the road! Please join Harris Public Policy for our Idealist Grad Fair tour this fall in a city near you. Please note that we will be hosting a post-fair event in every city, so stay tuned for more information as we get closer to our fall travel schedule! Idealist Grad Fairs are free to attend, and feature hundreds of schools with public interest and public policy graduate programs.

New York City: Tuesday, September 19th from 5-8 p.m.

BostonMonday, September 25th from 5-8 p.m.

Boston: Alumni and Admissions Reception 

Washington, D.C.: Monday, October 2nd from 5-8 p.m.

Washington, D.C.: Alumni and Admissions Reception and Career Panel

ChicagoThursday, October 5th from 5-8 p.m. 

Chicago: Fall Open House 

San FranciscoWednesday, October 11th from 5-8 p.m.

Los Angeles: Thursday, October 12th from 5-8 p.m.

Be sure to check out all of our upcoming events and see if Harris Public Policy is coming to your hometown! 

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Today we welcome Katherine Baicker as the new Dean of Harris Public Policy! Dean Baicker joins Harris from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Heath, where she was a professor of health economics. Baicker's research and expertise focuses on healthcare economics, the effectiveness of public and private health insurance, and is a leading expert in current research on the randomized expansion of Medicaid in Oregon. 

Please join the Harris community in welcoming Dean Baicker, and keep up with her introduction to Harris by following #MeetDeanBaicker on our social media channels!

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Stars from the Belushi brothers to Harold Ramis to Amy Poehler and Tina Fey cut their teeth at the comedy scene in Chicago. While theaters like the Second City are world-famous, there are plenty of other venues to catch a good late-night show (usually for $10 or less!). Check out a few below! 

The iO Theater

The iO is widely hailed as Chicago's best improv companies. If you're new to the improv scene, check out "TJ & Dave" on Wednesday nights. Two improv legends from Chicago, TJ Jagodowski & Dave Pasquesi have been performing together for decades. Fans of the show "Veep" will recognize Pasquesi as Andrew, Selena Meyer's husband with a wandering eye. 

Laugh Factory

Forget the Netflix stand-up specials and stop by the Laugh Factory in Lakeview East. You can watch seasoned comedians and first-timers try out their stand-up at open mic nights. Favorite shows include "Character Assassination", a roast show for historical figures and beloved personalities (like the "Game of Thrones" cast). 

Annoyance Theatre & Bar

Annoyance Theatre will have something for all audiences - from sketch shows to improv to musicals. Sketch shows like "Everyone's a Critic" improvises random Yelp reviews and the psyche of the reviewer. 

The Second City

Of course, no tour of Chicago comedy is complete without a stop by the Second City. Tickets are pricier at this famous venue, but worth a trip for comedy junkies. Shows like "#DateMe" explore modern relationships, while "The Winner...of Our Discontent" examines the fears of America has for the future. 

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Calling all avid soccer fans! While the Chicago Fire may not be your team of origin, be sure to check out the organization's "Pub to Pitch" program throughout the regular season. Nine neighborhoods pubs participate, so find your local soccer community and head down to a match!

How it works: 

If you don't feel like driving to the Toyota Park stadium or don't have a car, Pub to Pitch is ideal. For $15 ($10 for season ticket holders), you can reserve a spot on a bus for fellow MLS fans. Transport is provided from your local pub to the stadium and back. Tickets to individual games are also available with the purchase of a bus ticket. Find your nearest Pub to Pitch location here (Kroll's South Loop is the closest to Hyde Park). The best part: food and drinks are allowed on the bus (no bottles; cans only). 

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Incoming and current Harris students will have the opportunity to participate in the Graduate Program in Health Administration and Policy (GPHAP). The program is known and valued for its interdisciplinary approach to health care management and policy. Students across the graduate schools at the University of Chicago will have the opportunity to receive either a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy or a Certificate in Health Administration and Policy with a Concentration in Global Health. 

The program will provide students with a pathway to a paid summer internship, as well as the opportunity to complete research with faculty. Additionally, there are other fellowships that are available to GPAHP students. You can read a profile on recent GPHAP Harris alumna Emily Perish (MPP '16) here

The application is due by September 5th, 2017.