Largest class in school history is among the first generation to move into school’s state-of-the-art home, The Keller Center, later this year.

This year, 458 incoming students – the largest and most diverse class in the school’s history, representing 40 countries from around the world – will be embarking on their journey to make a measurable impact in policy at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. 

“We have a remarkable group of young leaders who join us during this milestone year and who are poised to succeed in our environment of intellectual risk-taking and engagement,” said Katherine Baicker, dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at Harris Public Policy. “As Harris expands our programs to provide more avenues for the next generation of policy leaders to put evidence first, our vibrant community can now contribute more than ever to policy change on a global scale.”

The new Harris class expands the school’s reach in multiple dimensions.  While enrollment of international students is down nationwide, Harris has seen a sizeable spike in interest from international applicants and a record number of international students.

Harris is expanding its commitment to global engagement, with incoming students from five continents and 40 different countries, including Afghanistan, Nigeria, Peru, Sweden, and the Philippines, among others. Altogether, the students speak 40 different languages. With diverse life experiences, including educational and socioeconomic backgrounds, as well as work histories, the students will bring new and different perspectives to the Harris community. Domestic students represent 32 U.S. states from every region of the country.  The incoming class is majority female, and 23% of domestic students are from minority groups that have been historically underrepresented. 

“Harris is a special community, and I’m excited to meet and learn from my classmates,” said Randi Hall, the president of Harris Student Government. “Each will bring a unique perspective that will help inform our discussions, our thought processes, and ultimately our ability to build and shape policy.”

The incoming class includes 451 students pursing a master’s degree, including the master’s in public policy (MPP) degree, the master’s in computational analysis and public policy (MSCAPP), and the master’s in international development and policy (MAIDP). There are seven new scholars pursuing a PhD. 

“Crossing the world talking about Harris, I keep hearing the same thing: students want to come to Harris because we need clear-eyed policymakers who are focused on and committed to tackling the world’s most important problems,” said Ranjan Daniels, senior associate dean of Student Recruitment and Global Outreach. “The analytical toolkit they acquire at Harris will serve them every day in their careers, whether they work at a think tank, a consulting firm, a nonprofit, or a government agency in their home country.” 

Notably, this year’s incoming class includes the first cohort of 25 Obama Foundation Scholars. The Obama Foundation Scholars Program is an extraordinary opportunity for a community of proven international leaders to work together to confront some of the world’s most urgent challenges, including anti-terrorism, public health, education, and climate change.

Spurred by a variety of factors, including the current political environment and a generation of young people determined to bring about change, interest in public policy education is on the rise. Harris has seen a 95% increase in applications over the last two years, including a large number of international applications, and the number of undergraduate public policy majors in the College has grown by 40% in that time.  

In addition to its administration of the second largest professional degree program on campus, Harris has taken a formal role in shaping the curriculum for undergraduate public policy students and also serves as the academic home for the University’s Civic Leadership Academy, making the school a hub for public policy students across the University of Chicago campus.

In January 2019, Harris will open the doors to its new building, the Keller Center, which restores and reimagines a 20th Century masterpiece by Edward Durrell Stone.  More than double the size of Harris’ current building, the space greatly expands the school’s capacity to serve its growing student body and expanding activities, and represents an important part of the University of Chicago’s commitment to public policy and engagement with the vibrant communities on Chicago’s South Side. 

Applications for the 2019-2020 admissions cycle are now open, and prospective students can learn more by visiting