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Thanks to Recruitment Specialist Emma Richardson for this post! 

I had the pleasure of seeing the co-hosts of "Pod Save America", the wildly popular podcast series from former Obama speechwriters and strategists, twice last week during their stop in Chicago on tour.

"Pod Save America" has risen in popularity as younger voters turn to political activism. The co-hosts include: Jon Favreau, head speechwriter to President Obama; Jon Lovett, speechwriter to Hillary Clinton and Obama; Tommy Vietor, National Security Council spokesman for Obama; and Dan Pfeiffer, Chief of Communications to Obama. They engage in bi-weekly spirited political discussions and invite guests like Senator Chris Murphy and author Ta-Nehisi Coates to provide commentary and a news digest for liberal political junkies. 

My first viewing was through the Institute of Politics (IOP) here at UChicago. IOP Director --and former senior advisor to President Obama--David Axelrod has provided a wonderful resource for the UChicago community in the form of events, speakers, and films for the politically-minded. Fellowships through the IOP are available to undergraduates, but the IOP is certainly an institution that you can take advantage of as a Harris student - I do as a staff member! 

After the "Pod" co-hosts spoke at the International House on campus, I headed to the beautiful Chicago Theater later than evening to attend a taping of their latest episode. To my surprise and delight, one of two guests on the show that night was none other than Harris faculty member Jens Ludwig! The second panelist was Tamar Manasseh, founder of the organization "Moms Against Senseless Killing" (MASK). It was particularly meaningful to me to hear the panelists, as they both talked about the issues of gun violence in Chicago from two different but important perspectives: that of grassroots organizing (MASK), and data-driven tools for social change (background checks of registered gun owners). Not only was I proud to work for Harris, but I was able to witness the best kinds of policy change - bringing varying methods and communities together to create social impact. 

Harris faculty member Jens Ludwig (far right) sits on a panel for "Pod Save America".


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Check out all the events we're planning for the fourth week of October! Thanks to our Team Harris Senior Ambassador, Tyler Barron (MPP'18) for this post! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Human Rights in Crisis: War, Famine and Refugees


What: Join the Institute of Politics and The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts as we welcome David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee (IRC). A former Labour MP in the UK Parliament, Mr. Miliband has served the United Kingdom as both Environment Secretary and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

When: 12:30pm – 1:45pm

Where: Ida Noyes Hall Library
1212 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Fall Open House


What: Please join us for an Open House on Thursday, October 26th. Students will have options to begin their day by sitting in on a class and exploring all that Hyde Park has to offer. Our scheduled program will begin at 1:00pm and will include an Admissions Presentation, and panel discussions with Alumni, Current Students, Career Development, Student Affairs, and other staff members at Harris.

Register here.

When: 1:00pm – 6:00pm

Schedule: 8:30 a.m.-11:50 a.m.: Coffee with a current student and observing a class 

12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.: Lunch at Harris

1:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m.: Scheduled Program: 

Career Development Panel featuring Harris alumni

Current Student Panel 

Admissions Presentation 

Happy Hour with Harris Students

Where: The Harris School of Public Policy
1155 E. 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

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Thanks to our Senior Team Harris member, Sally Park (MPP 18), for this guest post! 

Hi all! My name is Sally Park; I am a second year M.P.P. student at Harris and Team Harris Senior Ambassador. Since the day I posted on Facebook that I got accepted to the Harris School of Public Policy, I have been receiving many messages from friends and friends of friends about my student life at the school. I finally had a chance to visit my home in Korea after my first year in school and internship at the World Bank, and talk with prospective students over coffee. It was really nice to meet students who are passionate about working for the public regardless of their fields, and to share my great experience at Harris with them. Talking with them actually gave me more conviction why I chose public policy and why I chose Harris to follow my dream – so thank you for students who showed up!

For those who have missed, I wanted to share some of the questions that might interest you, as well.

Q. Harris emphasizes data analysis skills. Did you actually acquire those skillsets?

A. Whether I end up finding a job or pursuing a Ph.D., I realized that I need to strengthen quantitative skills. At Harris, I learned how to use STATA, and how to read and analyze data. I knew nothing about programming and data analysis before I came to Harris—now I am actually using STATA in my current internship at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and also a Stats TA. So much progress in one year!

Q. How’s student life as an international student? Do you think you fit into the community?

A. Harris is a very diverse and international community. I should say the greatest asset that I had over the last year are my friends at Harris. You can meet people from all over the country; I love talking to all of them who have different perspectives for a variety of issues. This is one small example: I got invited to Mexico City by my Mexican friends last winter break, and had an awesome time there – I honestly thought I was the VIP guest!

Q. Looking back, do you think you would choose Harris again?

A. Absolutely! As long as you want to address the problems, make an impact, and change the world, I believe Harris provides you with all the resources and skills that you need. I had a great experience with serving as a Programming Director in Women in Public Policy and Communications Manager in Chicago Policy Review last year, and also secured the internship at the World Bank last summer with my experience at Harris. I’m looking forward to this year’s Harris experience as my second year, too. So, why not?!


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Thanks to Senior Team Harris Ambassador, Tiffany Kwak (MPP 18), for this blog post on her Hydropolitics class! 

For the first installment of Faculty Friday, I am excited to highlight one of my classes this quarter - Hydropolitics: Water Policy and Conflict with Dr. Michael Tiboris. If you are able to join us at Harris for a campus visit this autumn quarter, Hydropolitics is the campus visit class that is offered on Thursday mornings at 10:30 am.

Dr. Tiboris is a Global Water Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs whose research focuses on global water resource stability and its implications on foreign policy. We began the quarter discussing key philosophical underpinnings behind water as a right and as a unique natural resource. In the coming weeks, we will be delving deep into sectoral conflict (water vs. food vs. energy), water’s influence on geopolitics, cross-scale and sub-state water conflict, development disputes, and human migration.

Every week, we also focus our discussion around county-specific case studies. The case study we read for class this week was on water privatization in Bolivia. This particular case study focused on water as a contested resource by different groups, and how different groups (the public vs. the state vs. third-party organization) may lay claim to water resources. It offered new perspectives on the complexities of water politics that surprised many of us in class.

I was drawn to this course for a couple of different reasons. Knowing nothing about water policy and conflict, I sought to gain a broad knowledge of the history of water politics from diverse perspectives. Additionally, I was deeply concerned by news of water crises here in the U.S. and around the world; I wanted to break down the root causes of water crises in different regions to be a better future policy maker.

I hope this offered an insightful glimpse into Hydropolitics and piqued your interest in finding out more about the different types of classes offered here at Harris! Stay tuned for more Faculty Friday posts to come. 

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Thanks to Senior Team Harris member Peter Biava (MPP/MBA 19) for this post! 

Today is an incredibly proud day for the University of Chicago community. Richard Thaler, the Charles R. Walgreen distinguished service professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at Chicago Booth, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for his contributions to the field of Behavioral Economics. If that’s a mouthful, or if you’re unfamiliar with Professor Thaler’s academic work, you may be familiar with his best-selling book, Nudge, which he co-wrote with Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein.

With today’s award, Professor Thaler joins an elite group of peers: he is one of ninety Nobel Prize winners to be associated with the University of Chicago, five of whom are economics professors that are currently still teaching on campus: Eugene Fama, Lars Hansen, Roger Myerson, James Heckman, and Robert E. Lucas Jr. Profs Heckman and Myerson are professors at Harris Public Policy! There was a ceremony on campus today to celebrate Professor Thaler’s award, in attendance were his fellow UChicago Nobel Laureates, and many members of the UChicago student community.

What does this mean to me as a student? It’s humbling and amazing to think that I’m on campus here at UChicago where groundbreaking research is being conducted every single day. It makes me feel good that I’ve chosen the Harris School for its stance on data and evidence-based policy. 

If you’re a fan of Behavioral Economics, there are plenty of ways to get involved at Harris. For starters, there is a Behavioral Economics student club that plans lunches where professors come in to speak about their research in behavior modification. If you still have more of an appetite for B.E. but you don’t have the time to take Thaler’s PhD course at Booth, Harris’ very own Professor Kimberly Wolske teaches a course called “Psychology for Policy Designers”. I took this course last spring and found it incredibly enriching; it helped me better understand the kinds of biases and frictions that our brains naturally experience when we’re encountered with new information. This course will certainly help me become a better policymaker now that I’m aware of these biases, as I can structure my policy communication and messaging in a way that will be more easily understood and received by the general public.

After the spring, I felt that just one course on behavioral economics wasn’t enough so I signed up to be a Research Assistant with a Behavioral Economics experiment that was being conducted through the Becker Friedman Institute. The experiment was in the field at an urban Chicago grocery store, and we collected the store’s sales data to determine whether the treatments (signage encouraging healthy eating habits), free samples (sliced fruit and veggies), or an interaction of the two had any statistically significant impact on customer’s purchasing behavior. This experiment fell into the same category as Professor Thaler’s Nudge, in that the experiment did not change the choice set or the costs associated with those choices, but simply nudged individuals to make healthier choices in their grocery shopping! The data is still being collected on this experiment, but it was interesting to get involved with research that could potentially inform health policy in the future.

In closing, I’ll leave you with a brief quote that Professor Thaler used in his speech at today’s ceremony:  “In order to do good economics you have to keep in mind that people are human.” This might be a tongue-in-cheek remark from Prof. Thaler, but I think there’s a lot of wisdom in this too. It’s an incredible reminder for all policymakers to remember that data is more than just numbers: it represents real people with real lives. That’s why everyone at Harris works so hard to get the data right, because it has real-world impact and real outcomes. 

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Thanks to Senior Team Harris Ambassador, Peter Biava (MPP'19) for this post! 

As a Team Harris member, I get a lot of questions from prospective students who are interested to learn more about what it’s like to study public policy at UChicago Harris. There are questions about social life, policy concentrations, research roles, campus jobs… even where to get a great deal on winter jackets. But the type of question I get the most is about...MATH!

I think it’s a completely natural response to have insecurity about the quantitative rigor at a school like UChicago. If you’re anything like me, you might have these types of thoughts running wild in your head:

“I’ve been accepted to a Master's program at the University of Chicago, but I haven’t taken a Math or Econ class in so many years! And Harris stakes its’ reputation on data analysis and quantitative skills. How can I possibly keep up with all the other geniuses that have also been admitted? What have I gotten myself into?!”

If that sounds at all familiar, DONT WORRY! My answer, in simple language, is that the math at Harris is very approachable. Yes, it’s designed to challenge you and make you better. But it’s not designed to defeat you. Believe me, you’re not the only one who has felt that way - I was in same shoes just last year. In fact, MANY people who have walked the halls of Harris before you have felt EXACTLY the same way. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that all of those who came before you have used the resources available at Harris on their path to success.

I polled some 2nd year students, all with vary degrees of ‘Math Abilities’ on their best tricks and tips for how to handle the quantitative aspect of Harris. I am proud to present a summary of what I’ve learned: 

Tip #1: Don’t be intimidated.

You applied to Harris- AND YOU GOT IN! That is no fluke. You beat out a highly competitive pool of applicants because the admissions committee saw something excellent in you. They saw something that demonstrated your ability to stick it out and succeed. Yes, UChicago has scores of Nobel Prizes to its name (there’s a joke on campus that says “Even the poetry professors know how to do theoretical physics”).  But this shouldn’t scare you; it should excite you! No one is expecting 1st year MPP students to win a Nobel prize; you can take the foundations courses in Stats and Micro and learn at your own pace from great teachers who rub shoulders with Nobel Laureates, and that’s awesome. Isn’t that why you’re coming here?

Tip #2: Turn your Weaknesses into Strengths.

Grad school is a great time to refresh your skills and rebrand yourself. Maybe you don’t currently have a quant background, but a degree from the Harris School at UChicago can certainly provide that street cred. MPP student Jorge Quintero says that “one of the things that attracted me the most to the Harris School was its focus on quantitative tools to evaluate policy.” Those are hard skills you can sell to a future employer.

Tip #3: There are lots of resources here to help you succeed.

Harris is not going to throw you off the deep end. Many of us are rusty at math and econ when we first get to Campus. In some cases, we haven’t seen calculus since High School! That’s why the Harris core courses essentially start from scratch with the fundamentals of Economics and Statistics 101. There is even a math camp before classes start to help incoming students refresh their algebra and calculus skills.  Approximately 80% of the incoming class goes to math camp. Yes, it does mean arriving in Chicago 3 weeks earlier than the official start of classes, but it’s a great way to meet your fellow incoming classmates in a summer-y, fun, low-stress setting. Plus, there are great social events during that time and there’s no extra charge for the math camp!

Tip # 4: You are about to join a great community of great people.

Harris is challenging (and certainly deserves its reputation), but the community is tight knit, inclusive, and collaborative. It’s a globally diverse community with a common thread of unwavering optimism, where individuals genuinely feel like they can make an impact to make the world a better place. 

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Thanks to our Director of Recruitment, Jenny Erickson, for providing her application tips for this admissions cycle! 

We frequently receive this question from eager students searching for opportunities to strengthen their application, as well as those who are concerned about specific aspects of their application. Actually, we probably receive this question in some way, shape, or form from almost all incoming students, with a slight turn on the phrasing:

  • What can make my application stand out?
  • What are the specific things you look for right away?
  • What are some of the mistakes students make on their application?
  • What is the most important thing I can do to make my application strong?

So, what do we look for? Your application will tell us a story, and each area of the application shares a part of that story. Reviewing your transcripts will show us your academic strengths and interests during undergrad, and the GRE scores will show us your strength in those particular test areas. Your resume, essay statements, and letters of recommendations are an opportunity for you to really own the rest of your application story. If you have concerns about one area of your application in particular, I would encourage you to attend one of our General Admissions Webinars. You might be surprised at the number of students who share your same concerns.

Most of our students are aware of the reputation of the University of Chicago as highly quantitative. 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 your 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 experience, of course, but we will also review your current work experience. For those who do have highly quantitative backgrounds, we offer an advanced track of our core curriculum.

We also 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 at Harris we 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. If we stopped reading applications when we didn’t see a calculus course, we would miss out on some incredible students.

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. We are seeking students who feel passionate about pursuing real-world opportunities to impact policy and who would pursue experiential opportunities such as our Policy Labs courses. 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 Uof C. During Episode One, Uof C 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. If you are an AmeriCorp alum we highly encourage you to visit – and schedule a time to speak with a member of our staff by emailing


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Check out all the events we're attending to kick off October! Thanks to our Team Harris Senior Ambassador, Tyler Barron (MPP'18) for this post! 

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Get To Know Harris! A General Information Webinar


What: Please join our admissions team including current UChicago student workers to gain tips for improving your application. 

When: 12:00pm – 1:00pm

Where: A link will be sent to all registrants.


Get to Know Harris! D.C. Career Panel


What: Please join us for a Career Panel in D.C. followed by a reception and networking opportunity.

When: 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Schedule: 6:00 pm-6:15 pm: Check-in
6:15 pm-6:30 pm: Admissions Presentation
6:30 pm-7:30 pm: Career panel
7:30 pm-8:00 pm: Networking and Reception 

Where: The University of Chicago Office of Federal Relations
1730 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Suite 275
Washington, DC 20006


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Get To Know Harris! An Information Session for Working Professionals


What: Please join us for an information session with Harris staff to learn about the new Harris Public Policy Evening Master's Program at 1871. Interested students can stop by our convenient 1871 location anytime from 8:00AM - 9:30AM to learn more about any of our programs at Harris. We look forward to an opportunity to learn about your interest in public policy and answer questions you may have. Breakfast will be provided.

When: 8:00am – 9:30am

Where: 1871

222 West Merchandise Mart Plaza
Suite 1212
Chicago, IL 60654 

Subscribe to receive updates on Evening Master's Program events and application deadlines here!


Taxes and Inequality


What: Join the Center for Economic Policy and Byline Bank for a conversation with Steven DurlaufGreg Kaplan and David Weisbach, and moderated by Yana Gallen, about taxes and income inequality. Focusing on evidence-based research (and working hard to sidestep the partisan politics), they will discuss the current state of income inequality and the response of families and firms to changes in taxes and the effects this may have on income inequality.

The evening will conclude with a reception where attendees can continue the conversation.

Please RSVP by October 2nd.

When: 5:30pm – 7:30pm

Schedule: 5:30pm: Doors Open
6pm – 7 pm: Program
7pm – 7:30 pm: Reception

Where: River Roast
315 N. LaSalle
Chicago, IL 60654

Panelists: Steven DurlaufProfessor - University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy

Greg KaplanProfessor - Department of Economics and the College, University of Chicago

David Weisbach - Walter J. Blum Professor of Law - University of Chicago Law School

Moderator: Yana Gallen - Assistant Professor - University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy


Thursday, October 4, 2017

Idealist Grad Fair (Chicago)


What: Please stop by the Harris Public Policy booth at the Idealist Grad Fair in Chicago. Representatives from admissions will be available to answer any questions you may have about our programs and applying to Harris. We look forward to meeting with you and learning about your interest in public policy! Stay tuned for events in each city following the Idealist fair. 

When: 5:00pm – 8:00pm

Where: University of Illinois at Chicago
UIC Forum
725 W. Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60608

About: Idealist Grad Fairs connect thousands of prospective students with hundreds of admissions representatives from public interest and policy graduate programs across the country. Come learn about admissions requirements, application deadlines, and the details behind the program of your dreams. They are free to attend, but you may RSVP beforehand. 



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We've been making our rounds at several large fairs this autumn and we've still got many others yet to go. You can see our previous blog post about where we've been and where we are going. You can also always refer back to our Events page to look up and register for upcoming events. We wanted to write a post that detailed some of the best practices for fair attendance that we've utilized and observed.

Two or our Admissions staff members pose at fair booth.


1: Do your research beforehand.

Learn what there is to know about the fair. What’s the layout? Which companies or schools will be there? Learn more about the schools you are interested in, so that when you come to our booth, you can ask more in-depth questions. Asking a standout question can set you apart from the other attendees!


2:  Make a short list of schools and companies you’re interested and prioritize.

This will seriously help you manage your time when navigating the space. You’ll know which schools and companies are there and you can make sure you have enough time to hit your top choices. If the conference provides a map, familiarize yourself with where those on your short list will be.


3: Be more interested in the informational materials than the swag.

Representatives notice if people come by to take swag, but not to take information or ask questions. If you ask good questions, take the informational brochures, and engage with the representative, you are more likely to get noticed.


4: Engage with the representatives.

Mingling with Admissions representatives is one of the major draws of an Idealist Fair. Especially if you are unable to visit our campus, this is your opportunity to meet with our team and personally introduce yourself. Be sure to share some background information about yourself, and ask any questions you may have about the application process or programs.


5: Have your contact information ready to go.

We’ve seen a number of students bring business cards, print resumes, or print labels. Labels are certainly the cheapest and most efficient option. You should include your name, email, phone number, address, and even your birthday. It’ll allow you to spend less time writing down your information and more time speaking to the representative.


6: Follow up with us.

We make an effort to reach out to all students, but it takes us some time. If you’re very interested in a school, then you should follow up with the representatives you met –it’ll really make you stand out.  


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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.