Shilin Liu
Shilin Liu, Director, International Partnerships & Executive Education.

Incoming students at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy represent 39 countries, as well as various cultural backgrounds, languages, and experiences. International students applying to graduate school in the US may have many questions about our application process, and our admissions team is here to help. Shilin Liu (MPP’17), Director of International Partnerships and Executive Education, and Harris graduate, shares some tips for international students applying to Harris Public Policy:

Learn about Harris

Higher education and graduate school admissions processes can differ from school to school and country to country, so it is important to learn about the opportunities at the schools you are applying to. We have a vast array of resources for international applicants who cannot travel to Chicago to learn about Harris. By reading our blog, taking a virtual tour, and searching our website, international students can gain valuable information about Harris from the comfort of their home.

Look holistically at the application

Test scores are important, but the Harris admissions team looks at everything in your application. From your transcripts and courses to your essays and letters of recommendation, everything matters. Many applicants make the mistake of spending too much time perfecting their test scores but too little time on other parts of the application, like revising essays, resumes, and motivation statements. Make sure you are creating a good story with all of your application materials. Learn more about what we look for in an application here.

Be authentic

Applicants will sometimes submit an application based on what they think our admissions team wants to see, but we encourage everyone to tell their unique story. We want to know about your passions and motivation, how your past experience has prepared you for the future, what you are curious about, and your goals. Regardless of your experience, try to bring out the best of yourself in your application materials while making a clear case of why we should admit you.

Practice good time management

We ask for a lot in the application process and it takes time to create a good application. Try not to overwhelm yourself by doing the whole application at once. Create a timeline. Give your references time to write their letters of recommendation and give yourself time to gather and revise your essays and statements. Overall, be strategic about your effort across your application materials.

Show diversity in your materials

For applicants who do not meet the University's English language requirement, we ask you to upload a video statement as part of your application to demonstrate your language skills. We strongly recommend that students do not repeat their motivation statement or essay answers, as this will not provide any additional insight for us. Use this opportunity to show us something new and unique about you.

Use your resources

Good applications and excellent essays are ones that are revised by others. Before submitting your materials, ask your peers and mentors to look at your application. It can be difficult to create a compelling case in a short essay, so be open to feedback. Also, connect with our team and let us know how we can be helpful to you! Book an appointment and watch your email to see if we’re holding an event near you.

Be open to new experiences

If you are admitted and accept your offer to Harris, you are sure to find yourself working with students and faculty with diverse nationalities, backgrounds, and experiences. Students can take advantage of our many teaching and internship positions, organizations with an international focus, and the endless opportunities in the Chicago community. Be ready to work hard and experience a fun fast-paced environment!