Harris Public Policy seeks candidates with the academic preparation, intellectual ability, experience, and motivation to undertake a rigorous program in public policy.

While no specific experience is required for our degree programs, students with a strong liberal arts background and sound quantitative and analytical skills will be best prepared to thrive at Harris Public Policy. To help incoming full-time students who need a boost in any of these areas, we offer several academic support programs, including pre-orientation programs in English (for international students) and math. For current students, additional support is available through the Policy Writing Program.

The Committee on Admission and Aid evaluates all official transcripts of academic work, personal essays, letters of recommendation, extracurricular activities and community service, performance on standardized tests (for full-time degree programs), and any special factors brought to its attention. The committee considers each application on the basis of all materials submitted and does not automatically eliminate applications based on grade point averages or test scores. The application requirements and admissions process are the same for all full-time master's degree programs.

Application Requirements and Deadlines for Full-Time Applicants

Application Deadlines

Full-Time Master's Candidates

  Deadline Notification Deposit Due/Confirm Acceptance
Early Action   November 26, 2018   Mid-January 2019   April 15, 2019
Round One   January 18, 2019   Early March 2019  April 15, 2019
Round Two   March 25, 2019   Mid-April 2019  Mid-May 2019
Obama Foundation Scholars-Priority Deadline  November 1, 2018  Late March 2019  April 15, 2019
Obama Foundation Scholars-Final Deadline  January 1, 2019  Late March 2019  April 15, 2019

All application materials for admission must be submitted by the corresponding deadline by 11:59 p.m. Central Time. We make every effort to review all applications for the round in which they are submitted, but applications submitted after the deadline may not be reviewed until the next deadline. Applicants interested in being considered for merit scholarship assistance should apply in Early Action or Round One. While scholarships are usually available in Round Two, space may be limited. Applications submitted after Round Two are reviewed pending available space in the incoming class.

Applicants for the Obama Foundation Scholars Program (Master of Arts in International Development and Policy) are encouraged to apply by the Priority Deadline in order to be considered for other master's programs and merit scholarship assistance. Students who are interested in the Master of Arts in International Development and Policy, but not funding through the Obama Foundation Scholars program, can submit their application for the Round One or Round Two application deadline. 

University of Chicago undergraduates interested in the Professional Option or the Chicago Harris Scholars Program should apply in Round Two only.

PhD Candidates | January 4, 2019

For Fall 2019, all application materials for admission must be submitted by January 4, 2019. Admissions decisions will be released in late February. Admitted PhD students will be invited to an Admitted Students Day for PhD students in early March.

Committee on Education Fellowship | Deadline January 7, 2019

The University of Chicago offers a unique fellowship opportunity to PhD students whose research interests lie in the education sciences. More information on the fellowship and the application process can be found here.

Application Requirements

The following documents are required for full-time admission for Fall 2018 for Master's degrees and PhD. Note that the Obama Foundation Scholars Program has specific requirements, so please be sure to review that information.

Online Graduate Application

Fill out the University of Chicago online graduate application.


Upload a current resume, reflecting your work experience, education, community service, professional honors, and any other relevant information.

Short Essays (Master's Degrees Only)

You will be required to answer one brief essay question of your choice (300 words maximum). We encourage applicants to also submit the optional second essay. There is no right, or even preferred, approach to answering the essays. Each essay is an opportunity for you to showcase your writing, analytic, and critical thinking skills.

Motivation Statement (Master's Degrees Only)

Prepare a brief and well-articulated response to a prompted question regarding your motivation to pursue graduate studies in public policy (300 words).

Research Statement (PhD Only)

Prepare a well-articulated response to a prompted question regarding your motivation to pursue graduate studies in public policy, specifically addressing your research interests. (800 words)

Writing Sample (PhD Only)

PhD candidates will be required to submit a writing sample or single-authored research paper.


You may submit unofficial transcripts through the electronic application process; however, official transcripts will be required upon admission for enrolling students. Please submit transcripts for all prior academic work from any institution of higher education.

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation (Submitted Online)

We prefer to have at least one reference from a previous professor who can speak to your academic background and preparedness for graduate studies. Recommenders should submit letters through the electronic application—hard copy letters will be accepted but are not preferred.

GRE Scores

The Harris Public Policy institution code is 1849. Please make your reservations with ETS directly: http://www.ets.org/gre. Official scores are required for all applicants. Please contact the Harris Admissions Office if you have questions regarding other standardized tests.

TOEFL Scores (International Applicants Only)

The Harris Public Policy institution code is 1849 or 1832. Both codes will be accepted. Please make your reservations with ETS directly: http://www.ets.org/toefl. Official scores are required for all international applicants whose native language is not English and who have not received their undergraduate education in a US college or university. We encourage all international applicants to submit their scores for consideration.

Video Statement (International Applicants Only)

A brief video statement is required for international applicants with a total TOEFL score of 106 or below, or with a 25 or lower speaking score. Submit a two-minute video statement within the online application that addresses your motivation for applying to Harris.

Application Fee (Submitted with Online Application)

A $50 nonrefundable application fee is required when you apply. Application fee waivers are available upon request. If you have an application fee waiver code, follow the "Fee Waiver Request Form" instructions provided in the online application.

Application Requirements and Deadlines for Part-Time Applicants

  • Applications for the next two cohorts of the Evening Master's Program, which will begin in Fall 2019 and Spring 2020, are currently being accepted. Our Fall Quarter typically begins in early October and our Spring quarter begins early March. Applications will be reviewed during targeted application deadlines. Deadlines are as follows:
Targeted Application Deadline Notification Date Deposit Due
Fall 2019
March 15, 2019 Mid April May 4, 2019
May 31, 2019 Early July August 3, 2019
Spring 2020
September 15, 2019 Mid October November 15, 2019
December 20, 2019 Mid January February 15, 2019
  • The Evening Master’s Program application is available through the University’s online application. The application requires contact and biographical information, a resume, motivation statement, and references. You can save your application and work on it at your convenience. While test scores are not required, finalist candidates are interviewed.

  • Read more about how to apply for admissions and financial aid for the Evening Master's Program or request more information.

Timing and Process for Deferred Applicants

If you were offered admission in the previous admission cycle and elected to defer your enrollment, you will receive instructions, including details on timing, from Admissions in late January regarding your application. You are encouraged to submit any updated materials in support of your application for scholarship consideration. These may include new GRE scores, updated resume, and any other relevant information.