Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 


Application


How do I apply to Harris?
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.

Can I apply for either spring or fall admission?
No, students at Harris must matriculate in the Fall quarter. Your first year of classes consists of seven core classes that are taught sequentially. If you miss the Fall classes, you will not be prepared for the Winter quarter classes.

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

The application fee is $50 and non-refundable. You can pay the fee electronically within your application. Application fee waivers are available. Simply complete the Fee Waiver Request Form. The link to the form is provided within your application. If approved, you will be notified directly.

Is an interview required for Harris?
Interviews are not required. 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 applicants visit Chicago Harris while school is in session. You can attend a class, meet with current students and admissions staff. Visits can be arranged through the Office of Recruitment and Global Outreach.

How long should my essay and motivation statement be?
Each essay and your motivational statement should be no more than 300 words. Learn more.

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!

Can I submit more than three letters of recommendation?
We strongly encourage you to submit only three letters of recommendation. Learn more.

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 lose touch with your college professors, letters of recommendation from employers and colleagues will suffice.

How should I approach my recommenders?
Inquire with potential recommenders in late summer, or very early fall. If your recommenders know you very well, they will be very willing to write a letter of recommendation for you. If you want to ease their burden, you should 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 as possible – interview them, and ask them “what can you say about me?” Select the recommenders that can best vouch for your candidacy.

Should transcripts be sent directly to Harris from the 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 they send hard copy versions to our office.

Do I need to submit transcripts from study abroad or from institutions where I did not pursue a degree?
Harris only requires transripts from institutions where you obtained a degree; however, we strongly recommend you submit all transcripts from all institutions attended.

My transcripts are not in English, must they be translated?
Yes. All foreign language transcripts must be submitted with an official English translation.

Can 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.

What do I do if my current contact information changes after submitting my application?
We ask that you notify us immediately if your email, phone, and physical address changes. Please send an email to harrisadmissions@uchicago.edu with your name and 'CHANGE OF ADDRESS" in the subject line.

Is work experience required for admission to Harris?
No, but it is strongly preferred. 20-25% of enrolling students come directly from undergraduate programs. Our 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.

When can I expect to receive an admission decision?
Decision letters, including information about scholarship awards, will be released by the date noted for the application round in which you applied. 

Test Scores

What is the average GRE test score needed for
admission to Harris?

We do not have a minimum GRE score requirement. Admitted student scores are generally in the 75th percentile or higher.

How long are my GRE scores valid for admission?
Scores no older than five years as of 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.

When should I submit GRE by to ensure scores are delivered? The results of computer-based tests taken no less than 4 weeks in advance of our deadlines 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.

Do you accept GMATor LSAT in lieu of the GRE?
We will accept the GRE or the GMAT score. For those applicants who are currently enrolled in a joint-degree program with Law, we will consider your LSAT scores. 

What is the average GPA needed for admission to
Harris?

The average GPA for the 2016 enrolling class is 3.5. 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?
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.

Merit Scholarships and Financial Aid

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?
No separate application is required; you only need check the appropriate box on the application for admission and submit your application in Early Action or Round One to be considered. A complete list of scholarships and fellowships can be found at http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/admissions-and-aid/financial-aid/scholarships-and-fellowships

How do I secure scholarships or third party funding for myself?
Please refer to our Third Party Funding Guide for more information. We strongly encourage that you identify and apply for any third party funding scholarships from January through April.

Miscellaneous

What is an MPP degree?
The Masters of Public Policy (MPP) degree emphasizes analyzing and evaluating information to solve complex policy problems. As analysts, managers, and leaders, MPP graduates work with quantitative and qualitative data to develop, assess, and evaluate alternative approaches to current and emerging issues. Their careers are in variety of public service fields and in all levels of government (federal, state, and local), in nonprofits, international organizations, consulting firms, and in the private sector. [source: NASPAA]

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.

Why an MPP instead of an MBA degree?
Both MPP and MBA degrees offer advanced analysis courses as part of their core curriculum. An MBA degree, while still flexible enough to apply to the public sector, is a degree focused for a career in the private sector, specifically in management, entrepreurship, and organizational leadership. If you wish to pursue a career in a government agency, a nonprofit, or other public service institution, an MPP degree is ideal.

What is the core curriculum?
The core curriculum draws on a variety of disciplines and fields, including economics, sociology, political science, statistics, econometrics, political economy, organizational theory, and program evaluation. These areas provide a foundation in critical analysis, reflecting the School's belief that mastering quantitative and analytical skills prepares students to be effective public policy practitioners. You can view a typical first year MPP schedule here: http://harrisschool.uchicago.edu/degrees/masters-degree/MPP.

I do not have a quantitative background. Can I handle the demanding coursework at Harris?
Roughly one third of our student body consider themselves as not having a strong quantitative background prior to applying and enrolling at Harris. Many demonstrated their capability by scoring well in the GRE and taking supplemental quantitative courses prior to coming to Harris. We have all the resources necessary to ensure that enrolling students will excel in the core.

How is Harris different from other policy schools?
We take pride in our diverse student body. 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 rigorous analytical training with relevant application to solve real-world problems gives students the tools to tackle the most pressing policy issues of our day.

How can I distinguish myself in the Harris applicant pool?
We know your strengths, and your weaknesses. Tell us how you intend to address your weaknesses at Harris. Demonstrate in your resume that you are more than a student – show us your volunteer experiences, travel, hobbies, etc. If you are funny, serious, or something in between, don’t be afraid to show it.

What types of jobs do MPP graduates have?
At Harris, our graduates place in each sector (public, private and nonprofit) almost evenly from year to year. Common starting jobs for graduates include policy analysts, program managers, grant writers, researchers, and budget analysts. As their experience grows, many graduates rise to upper-level positions in government, nonprofit, and even business organizations. The MPP degree program will help you to ascend the ladder. Learn more on where our students place in the labor market by viewing the Policy Area Guidebook and Skills & Employment Guide.

Can I defer my admission?
We strongly encourage applicants to apply for fall entry in the year 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.