New student orientation is designed to integrate you into a thriving community of aspiring policy leaders.

The experience is designed to provide students with an understanding of the Harris School curriculum, academic support resources, Harris student life opportunities, campus systems, the city of Chicago, and University resources.

However, the most important element of the new student orientation experience is fostering a sense of community amongst our diverse student body.

Prepare to be Inspired

During orientation students are introduced to essential conversations about diversity and inclusion, leadership and personal development, career development. Students will also have the opportunity to hear from faculty and Harris leadership about the philosophical basis of the Harris academic experience and hear from key policy leaders and practitioners about the impact policy can mean for the world. 

Welcome Address

The Welcome Address kicks-off the new student orientation experience. This annual address is not only a chance for you to engage with other incoming students, but also to learn more about the impact of public policy and the academic journey you are about to embark on. Last year's program featured an opening keynote by Jahmal Cole, CLA’20, Founder & CEO of My Block My Hood My City. A champion of social justice, Jahmal Cole’s mission is to build a more interconnected Chicago on the pillars of service and education.

Aims of Public Policy

The Aims of Public Policy provides a collective moment for students entering Harris during which they can think about the broader aspects of their education before becoming fully immersed in the data-driven Harris approach to policy analysis. This year's address will be given by Steven Neil Durlauf, Ph.D., Steans Professor in Educational Policy at Harris Public Policy.  Durlauf's research spans many topics in microeconomics and macroeconomics, with a focus on poverty, inequality and economic growth

Common Read

The Common Read is part of Harris’ commitment to diversity and inclusion and Harris’ shared belief that it is essential that future policymakers be given the opportunity to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of people who have been marginalized. It's a shared experience that will bring you closer as community of policy leaders. The 2020 Common Read was What the Eyes Don’t See, by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. A riveting account of the Flint water crisis, What the Eyes Don’t See reveals how misguided policies and bureaucratic indifference placed an entire city at risk. This year's Common Read will be release in Spring 2021.

Closing Keynote Address

The closing keynote address will challenge you to contemplate your role in complex global and social issues and craft a vision for the future of policy leadership and social change. Last year's Keynote speaker was Jamira Burley, an internationally recognized speaker, social justice advocate, and next-gen social impact consultant. Jamira is on a mission to lead systematic and sustainable change that improves the lives of young people across the globe. Recognized by the White House as a Champion of Change and Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree, Jamira leads with expertise on social justice, youth engagement, education reform and corporate social responsibility to authentically reshape communities and disrupt the status quo.


New student orientation will take late summer 2021 leading up the start of the autumn academic quarter. Please find an overview of major orientation programs below. In addition to orientation specific programs, there will also be other programming hosted by Harris Student Organizations (HSOs) or other Harris units and departments. A detailed schedule will be released in summer 2021.

All incoming Harris master's students with the exception of those in the MACRM program will take the mandatory math exam during new student orientation.


Harris Welcomes Class of 2021

Just over one week ago, The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy officially welcomed its largest, most diverse, and most international class of graduate students to its growing community of scholars.