We frequently receive questions from eager students on how they can strengthen their application. Before then, we wanted to give you some tips on how you can make your application stand out—read more to get answers to frequently asked questions!

What can make my application stand out?

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 your 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, we would encourage you to attend one of our Admissions Events. You might be surprised at the number of students who share your same concerns.

Are you looking for specific GRE scores or academic coursework?

We take a holistic approach to reviewing your application. In addition to test scores, transcripts, and work experience, we also look for academic diversity in our applicants. 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.

Read more about our GRE test policy for prospective students seeking to enroll in the fall of 2024 on our Requirements and Deadlines page under GRE Scores.

What are specific mistakes students make on the application?

While writing your motivational statement or asking for a letter of recommendation can seem daunting, don’t put it off! We always recommend that students start writing their essays early, to give themselves time to edit and review. Make sure to give your recommenders plenty of time to write their letters, and check in with them before our deadlines to ensure they submit on time. To consider your application, we will need all materials, so don’t delay on these important items! 

What is the most important thing I can do to make my application strong?

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, and who are engaged throughout the application process. Applicants can indicate this in many ways: attending admissions events like alumni panels or a webinar, setting up a phone appointment with a member of our team, or visiting our campus in Chicago. You can also write in your application about what you’re excited about joining here at the University of Chicago: student organizations like Minorities in Public Policy Studies (MiPPS), courses like Policy Labs, or campus institutions like the Institute of Politics.

Overall, we are seeking students who feel passionate about pursuing real-world opportunities to impact policy, and there are many ways to show us your story throughout the application process. We can’t wait to get to know you. Reach out to harrisadmissions@uchicago.edu to get to know us!