Find answers to the most commonly asked questions here.

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.  The MPP program consists of six core courses that are taught sequentially. If you miss the Autumn Quarter classes, you will not be prepared for Winter Quarter.

For information on the curriculum of our other programs, please visit our Program and Degree webpage.

If you are interested in a degree program with additional starts throughout the year  we encourage you to learn more about  the  Evening Master's Program.

Is the GRE or GMAT required?

Is the GRE or GMAT required?

We understand  many students were not able to take standardized tests scheduled for Spring  2020 due to testing cancellations related to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the 2021 admission cycle, Harris is offering a test-optional admission process for all applicants—domestic and international. The policy is open to students who do not wish to share their scores and to students who are unable to take the GRE or GMAT.
Our test-optional policy applies to the four programs listed below.

*Please note that the GRE is required for PhD applicants.

Although this year is test-optional, we will accept and consider GRE or GMAT scores from students who have previously taken these exams. If you think the scores are reflective of your ability and potential, you may share the scores as part of your application for consideration. If you choose to provide GRE/GMAT scores as part of your application, you may submit self-reported (unofficial) scores for admission review. Please note, official scores must be provided upon accepting an offer of admission.

Please do not self-report scores if you do not wish them to be considered as part of your application profile.

(Note: Test scores are not required for the Evening Master's Program.)

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?

A $50 nonrefundable application fee is required when you apply for a Master's degree and a $200 nonrefundable application fee is required when you apply for a PhD. You can pay the fee electronically within your application. Application fee waivers are available. In order to have your application fee waived you must start an application and complete the Fee Waiver Request Form, which is linked to from your online application. If approved, you will be notified directly.

Is work experience required for admission to Harris?

Is work experience required for admission to Harris?

For most of our full-time programs, work experience is not required, but it is strongly preferred. 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. To learn more about the background of our students, visit Harris By the Numbers.

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.

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.

Our Admissions Blog frequently addresses some of the common questions we receive about the application, and shares feedback from our current students.

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.

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.)
 

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.

Check out this blog post on more tips for your reference letters.

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.
 

My transcripts are not in English: must they be translated?

My transcripts are not in English: must they be translated?

Yes, all foreign language transcripts must be submitted with an official English translation. Official translations must be submitted by the university or an official translator organization or notary. Student provided translations are not considered official.

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 release my GRE scores to ensure they are delivered on time?

When should I release my GRE scores to ensure they are delivered on time?

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?

 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’ English language requirement?

What is Harris’ 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 95
  • IELTS: overall score of 7

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 this page.

How are merit scholarships awarded?

How are merit scholarships awarded?

Awards are based off of the applicant’s materials, including but not limited to GPA, work experience, letters of recommendation, and short essays. 

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'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 should I get 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 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.

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.

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

I do not have a quantitative background. Can I handle the demanding coursework 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 is Harris different from other policy schools?

How is Harris different from other policy schools?

Since its inception, Harris has 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.

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.

Check out the latest Career Outcomes Report.

How is Harris ranked in graduate admissions guides?

How is Harris ranked in graduate admissions guides?

According to the 2020 US News and World Report peer assessment survey, Harris Public Policy is ranked #4 in the "policy analysis" specialty area and #13 in the "public affairs" category. This broader category includes programs in public administration, which Harris does not offer.  Harris is also ranked #4 in social policy, #5 in urban policy, and #10 in health policy. 

For more information on rankings and how to compare programs in public policy, please check out Harris' resource guide to understanding public policy school rankings.

How can I indicate on my application if I would like to have test scores be considered as a part of my application?

How can I indicate on my application if I would like to have test scores be considered as a part of my application?

Please select how you wish to move forward in the application regarding GRE/GMAT test scores. If you previously submitted official GRE/GMAT scores to the University of Chicago and do not want them reviewed as part of your Harris application, select “No” below that question on the application.  If you have not previously submitted scores and do not plan to provide either self-reported or official scores, select “I am not providing self-reported or official scores.

NOTE: You cannot change your selection regarding GRE/GMAT scores after you submit the application.

 

If I am admitted without a test score and then defer to Fall 2022, but Harris is requiring test scores in 2022, will I be asked to submit a score then?

If I am admitted without a test score and then defer to Fall 2022, but Harris is requiring test scores in 2022, will I be asked to submit a score then?

No. If you are admitted without a score and your deferral request for your program is granted for Fall 2022, you would not be required to submit a test score even if Harris is requiring test scores at that time.

Will I be at a disadvantage if I don't submit my test scores?

Will I be at a disadvantage if I don't submit my test scores?

Students will not be disqualified or at a disadvantage for not submitting scores.  If you think the scores are reflective of your ability and potential, you may share the scores as part of your application for consideration. If you choose to provide GRE/GMAT scores as part of your application, you may submit self-reported (unofficial) scores for admission review. Please note, official scores must be provided upon accepting an offer of admission.

In which circumstances would it be an advantage to submit scores?

In which circumstances would it be an advantage to submit scores?

If you are able to access testing services and believe your scores provide helpful information to the admissions team that accurately demonstrate your preparedness for graduate school we encourage you to submit your test scores.