Arlevea Freeman, a Statistical Report Analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, is driven to impact diversity and equity within the financial industry.

Adrian Rodriguez, a Data Specialist and Business Advisor with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, is committed to using technology and social science to design policies that work for society.

One common thread between the two emerging leaders is the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy Evening Master’s Program (EMP).

Enrollment in Public Policy/Public Administration programs has grown steadily in the US over the last ten years. And for the Harris School of Public Policy—a graduate school that believes developing effective public policy is a science, based on data and measurable impact—that has certainly rung true.

This growth is spurred in part by a shift in attitudes. The 2020 Deloitte Millennial Survey shows the importance of organizations taking intentional measures to drive positive societal outcomes, as well as being a place for talented employees to thrive in an impactful role. In the primary Deloitte survey, barely half (51%) of respondents said business is a force for good, down from 76% just three years ago and 55% last year. Several months later—while offering flattering opinions of companies’ pandemic response—only 41% of millennials agreed that business in general around the world was having a positive impact on wider society.

As interest continues to grow for public policy degrees, the UChicago Harris Evening Master’s Program offers a part-time option for mid-career professionals looking to hone their analytical toolkit and gain a perspective on policy as they take on more leadership responsibilities. Students receive a Master of Arts in public policy and gain a strong foundation in the fundamentals of data analytics, economic analysis, leadership, as well as the strategic foundations of public policy.

Arlevea Freeman holds a cup of coffee below a sign that says crepe shop
Arlevea Freeman, EMP Class of 2021

As her career progressed at the Fed, Arlevea Freeman began exploring MBA options. “When I was presenting my part-time MBA plan to my manager, she tasked me with exploring why I wanted to get an MBA. ‘Because that’s what everyone else does’ was not a good enough reason for her. And she was right,” Freeman said. “Everything I wanted to do in policy was in the UChicago Harris School of Public Policy Master of Arts program.”

The Evening Master’s Program is as relevant to business professionals as those in the public or nonprofit sectors. Business leaders increasingly have to address the impact of public policy on their businesses. The analytical skill set is the same, viewed through a different lens that can achieve a broader social impact.

Students view public policy and its focus on using data and evidence to create social change as a way to become a true changemaker. They’re eager to find solutions to the complex challenges that affect society today.

Adrian Rodgriguez, wearing a suit and tie
Adrian Rodriguez, MA'19

After growing up in Tijuana, Mexico, Adrian Rodriguez moved around from Chicago to California and back. What he always knew was that he wanted to go to school and be involved in politics.

“My time in the Harris Evening Master’s Program was not just about obtaining a degree: it was a life-changing experience,“ Rodriguez said. “In a couple of years, I am hoping to work towards a PhD and get involved in international policy and eventually return to the US-Mexico border to help policymakers understand the social impact of economic policies.”

Indeed, there’s probably never been a more important time to be in public policy. Technology and an increasing amount of data provide opportunities to bring analytical thinking to bear to address any number of policy issues affecting public life today.

This shift shows up in employment trends. According to a recent employment report from the Harris School of Public Policy, the 2020 Career Outcomes Report, Harris graduates are using their degrees to make an impact across a variety of sectors and in different roles. The report found strong employment outcomes across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, underscoring the versatility and adaptability of a public policy degree. In fact, 42 percent of Harris graduates reported taking a private sector position, 30 percent accepted public/government agency positions, and 28 percent went on to work for nonprofits.

Graduates reported their top five job functions were in research, policy design/analysis/evaluation, and consulting, most commonly working in the fields of economic and fiscal policy, health policy, finance and trade, and energy policy.

“Policy graduates, particularly Harris graduates, are thriving across sectors and roles,” said Jeremy Edwards, Senior Associate Dean of Professional and Career Development at Harris. “Our alumni bring their talents in data analytics, rigorous reasoning, and the formal investigation of questions that are applicable everywhere. The Harris toolkit prepares our graduates to create a positive social impact in whatever career they choose to pursue.”

Given the complexity of problems facing business and society, the ability to engage and collaborate across business, government, and civil society gives graduates a unique perspective and skillset to create meaningful change.

Interested in learning more about the UChicago Harris Evening Master’s Program? Request more information or explore program benefits today.

This article was featured on Crain's Chicago. Read the article on Crain's website.