Find answers to the most commonly asked questions here.

How do I apply to Harris Public Policy?

How do I apply to Harris Public Policy?

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.

Requirements and deadlines vary for our full-time and part-time programs as well as for the Obama Foundation Scholars Program.

Our Admissions team is available to provide more information about what you need to do for your specific situation.

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. Your first year of courses consists of seven core courses that are taught sequentially. If you miss the Autumn Quarter classes, you will not be prepared for Winter Quarter.

Part-time students can apply to start in any quarter the program is offered. See the Evening Master's Program for more information.
 

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?

The application fee is $50 and nonrefundable for most programs. You can pay the fee electronically within your application. Application fee waivers are available. Complete the Fee Waiver Request Form, which is linked to from your online application. If approved, you will be notified directly.
 

Is an interview required for Harris?

Is an interview required for Harris?

An interview is required for entry into our Evening Master's Program.

Interviews are not required for admission to one of our full-time degree programs. 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 full-time applicants visit Harris while school is in session. You can attend a class and meet with current students and admissions staff. Visits can be arranged through the Admissions Office.

Is work experience required for admission to Harris?

Is work experience required for admission to Harris?

For our most of our full-time programs, work experience is not required, but it is strongly preferred. Approximately 20% to 25% of students enrolling full-time come directly from undergraduate programs. These 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.

Successful candidates for the Obama Foundation Scholars Program will likely have significant work experience (typically 3-5 years or more) and professional accomplishments with a clear trajectory of increasing impact.

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.

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.

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.
 

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.)
 

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 submit GRE by to ensure scores are delivered?

When should I submit GRE by to ensure scores are delivered?

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?

The average GPA for full-time students enrolling as part of the 2014 class was 3.6. 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?

What is Harris’s 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 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.
 

How are merit scholarships awarded?

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 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.

Obama Scholars - Requirements

What are the requirements for the Obama Foundation Scholars Program?

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program is for rising leaders from around the world who are focused on an issue of global importance, have a track record and commitment to advancing the public good, and want to accelerate their impact.

We seek a diverse group of individuals representing a cross-section of backgrounds, including those working in government, the private sector, and NGOs, and civil society organizations.

Specific requirements are available under How to Apply.

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 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.

MA-IDP comparison to Joint Degrees

How does the MA-IDP compare to the joint degree in Public Policy and International Relations or the joint degree in Public Policy and Middle Eastern Studies?

The Master of Arts in International Development and Policy is a one-year Master of Arts degree that is tailored for the needs and goals of promising international leaders who have demonstrated a commitment to making a difference in their community and want to accelerate their impact in the world.

Drawing on the core strengths of a Harris education, the MA-IDP provides a solid foundation in policy design and analysis, with particular emphasis on international development and policy, combined with the opportunity to study topics based on your background and interests. In addition, if you are accepted as an Obama Foundation Scholar, you will receive a full scholarship and participate in one-of-a-kind programming outside the classroom with the Obama Foundation.

In contrast, the joint degree in Public Policy and International Relations is for those students looking to specialize in international relations and policy in order to go on to careers in government or an international policy organization. The two-year program combines training in public policy analytical tools with a substantive emphasis on international affairs. It culminates in two Master of Arts degrees—one in public policy and one in international relations.

The joint degree in Public Policy and Middle Eastern Studies addresses the needs of students wishing to acquire a background focused on modern Middle Eastern languages, history, and civilization while developing their abilities in policy analysis in preparation for professional careers in scholarly, educational, governmental, non-governmental, and business environments in the United States and abroad. Students graduate with both a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from Harris and a Master of Arts in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago.

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 course work at Harris?

I do not have a quantitative background. Can I handle the demanding course work 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?

For more than 25 years, we've 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.

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.
 

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. Read more about the impact of our alumni or access one of our brochures about career outcomes.

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.

Admitted Scholars - Denials

I was previously denied for the Obama Foundation Scholars Program. What are my options? Can I reapply?

Yes, you are welcome to apply for admission as part of the next round of Obama Foundation Scholars or for one of our other programs or degrees. Unfortunately, due to the large number of applicants, we cannot provide feedback on your prior application.