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The AmeriCorps Pledge: “I will get things done for America - to make our people safer, smarter, and healthier. I will bring Americans together to strengthen our communities. Faced with apathy, I will take action. Faced with conflict, I will seek common ground. Faced with adversity, I will persevere. I will carry this commitment with me this year and beyond. I am an AmeriCorps member, and I will get things done.”

I took the AmeriCorps pledge in the summer of 2009, as an AmeriCorps VISTA with the American Red Cross of Greater Chicago. Nearly a decade after my year of Service, I can honestly say I’ve lived the motto, and my career has been greatly influenced by my year of Service. I’ve had the pleasure of completing an AmeriCorps Service year, directing an AmeriCorps program, and currently serve as a Commissioner on the Serve Illinois Commission, which oversees all aspects of program administration and training for the AmeriCorps program in Illinois.

Harris values national service and understands that you're dedicated to continue making an impact.

Successful careers are built on solid personal and interpersonal skills. Like many of my fellow AmeriCorps alumni, the service year provided me with the opportunities to gain and strengthen the marketable skills you don’t find on a resume. AmeriCorps members are dedicated to making a social impact. Through service, young people who are mission-oriented and work well on diverse teams, learn to persevere through challenges and how to take initiative, making them adaptable and resourceful.

This year, the Harris Public Policy is home to 30 alumni of National Service. These students have served in various AmeriCorps programs: VISTA, State, and National, and Teach For America. They all bring the foundation of their service year(s) to their studies. At Harris, our faculty help students turn their passion for doing good into proven social impact. They develop the skills needed to ask the hard questions, follow the evidence to the answers, and make a real and lasting impact. AmeriCorps alumni are able to combine a rigorous education at a world-class institution with their hands-on experience gained through national service. Harris graduates are able to take their applied academic skills and combine them with the critical-thinking skills gained through national service for practical use in the workplace.

Today, there are more than 500 Employers of National Service, an initiative launched by President Obama in 2014. Employers include companies like Accenture, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Morningstar, Save the Children, The Aspen Institute, and many more across all sectors. In Harris Public Policy’s 2016 Career Outcomes report, 97 percent of reporting Harris students secured employment after six months. These students were employed at many of the organizations signed up for the Employers of National Service initiative. As Director of Career Development at Harris, I’m proud to be able to guide my fellow AmeriCorps alums to a career path that values their service experience, rigorous education, and passion. 

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Admitted Student Day has come and gone in the blink of an eye and I’m sure it was just as overwhelming and exciting for you as it was for me. In between chatting with all the newly admitted students, I found time to reflect on what it was like attending ASD again as a first-year student and a member of Team Harris.

Team Harris and many other current students shared their perspective and advice at Admitted Student Day.

As an admitted student last year, I remember feeling anxious, but excited to get a taste of what it meant to be a Harris student. Aside from the warm opening remarks that set the tone for the day, I recall Ethan Bueno de Mesquita’s mini-lecture that gave insight into his Analytical Politics course. He highlighted from the course material what it meant to move beyond wanting to do good for the greatest amount of people and actually doing good with effective policy implementation. Having now taken this class, I recognize how Admitted Student Day, and his presentation, was an accurate representation of what my first quarter of the core would be like. I also had a better understanding of his lecture better this time around! Ethan’s class remains one of my favorites to date.

My favorite part of Admitted Student Day, both this year and last, was the happy hour with current students. It is the perfect ending to what may feel like an overwhelming day. I greatly enjoyed meeting you individually and offering a down-to-earth perspective. Hopefully, it relieved some of your stress, especially regarding Harris’ academic rigor.

I realize that there is a mystique surrounding the core that creates anxiety. I remember bombarding current students with questions like, Am I going to make it through the core? Am I going to crash and burn? What’s a derivative?! Hearing the same questions makes me laugh because I understand how you’re feeling because I was in this position the same time last year.

Students were able to network, meet faculty and current students, and tour campus during Admitted Student Day this year.

Although easier said than done, my best advice is to not let the fear of the core prevent you from enjoying your Harris experience. I spent too much time during my first year looking for reassurance that I would make it through. Sometimes I lost sight of the big picture and had to remind myself of why I sought out an MPP degree in the first place.  

I survived the core and lived to tell the tale - and so will you. 

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Greetings from Harris! 

Our entire Admissions Team is buzzing about the excitement of meeting so many Admitted Students on Friday. We hope you had a chance to visit Harris on Friday, and even stop by the much talked about Seminary Co-op Bookstore. :)

As promised in the past, and discussed on Friday, our Application for Review of Scholarship Award is now open. You may access the form here. Some helpful tips when completing this form:

  • Please provide new information when completing this form - information that was not included in your original Harris application
  • New information can include a variety of items such as updated transcripts, new test scores, or information on other programs you are considering 
  • Please allow our team two weeks to respond to requests - if you need to hear back sooner there is an area on the form where you can indicate the date when you need a final decision from Harris 
  • We encourage you to only submit this request once, and recommend you have all relevant information before submitting the form

Thank you! Please contact [email protected] if you have any questions. 



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The acceptance email from Harris changed everything. At the time I was working on developing a business model for a Chilean company. I was under a lot of pressure. And I wasn’t sure I was doing what I really wanted to do. The simple word “congratulations” on a maroon colored piece of paper magically healed me.   

Harris is “THE school’” to me. My undergraduate degree was in Economics, so I was looking for a public policy program with an element of Econ. I knew I would focus a lot of my graduate work on economic policy, but a degree specific to economic policy would limit my career options. However, with an MPP degree, I have the flexibility to apply for jobs in other policy areas, such as international relations. The MPP program is a great fit for me because it opens possibilities for more career options.

One of my favorite things about the Harris MPP is that we are allowed to choose up to six courses outside of Harris. When I began applying to graduate schools, I thought I might later apply for a doctoral program, so finding a program that allows students to choose electives that open possibilities for pursuing different paths was important to me. The Master of Public Policy (MPP) at Harris allows you to do just that. I could utilize these opportunities to take courses from the Economics department or School of Social Service Administration, for example.

I always wanted to gain more action-based academic experience. I was looking for “hands-on” learning opportunities to analyze, develop, advocate for, and help drive the execution of effective policy solutions in a real-world context. I wanted to engage with real issues and help actual client organizations.

That’s why I was so excited about Harris Policy Labs. In Policy Labs, second-year Harris students work in teams to tackle issues faced by clients operating in a variety of policy areas across the public, nonprofit, and private sectors. We participated in projects related to improving school choice, analyzing outpatient clinic care, and creating an innovative tool to analyze labor standards. We also created an analytic framework for the University of Chicago Medicine's new trauma center.

I was also on team Chapin Hall/CHA to form the basis of a new initiative by the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA). The goal was to engage and support rising ninth graders and their families in choosing the best fit and high-quality high schools. We received advice from faculty throughout the entire process, from how to greet clients, to how to deliver final presentations and white papers.

The course was intense but very fulfilling. And it helps that the faculty at UChicago are very friendly and responsive to emails.

When I first came to Harris, I was interested in many different concentrations and professional roles. I had no idea which one would be the best fit for me. Between the exciting summer internships, intense but rewarding RA positions, and projects with my fellow Harristas, I was able to discover what I am good at and most enjoy doing.

I will continue to explore the world with my passion for policy, but now with a much clearer direction.

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As we look forward to welcoming prospective students to campus throughout the Spring, our Admissions team wanted to share their favorite spots around the University and our Hyde Park neighborhood. Check out some of our recommendations the next time you are in town! 

Ranjan Daniels, Associate Dean of Student Recruitment and Global Outreach

Ranjan recommends that visiting students eat at the Medici on 57th—his favorite spot in Hyde Park—because of the diverse mix of people and the stellar milkshakes.

Jenny Erickson, Director of Recruitment

“I always refer students to my favorite bookstores on campus: 57th Street Books, The Seminary Co-op Bookstore, and the UChicago Bookstore. Stopping at all three gives you a nice little walk of campus. If I’m going to stop for lunch, my new favorite place is Pret a Manger on University Ave. They have a nice variety of healthy snacks to eat and there are lots of places to stop on the way if you want to check out some of the buildings on campus.”

Jamia Jowers, Associate Director of Recruitment

“I love Hyde Park. There is something for everyone. After work, I stop by Hyde Park Records because I enjoy listening to good music on vinyl. They also come in handy if you are DJ’ing! On the weekends, I take the family to the Museum of Science and Industry and afterward we go to 57th street beach. For date night my husband and I like to take in views at Promontory Point or Osaka Gardens and then have dinner and enjoy live entertainment on the balcony of the Promontory. Whether it’s ‘hearth to table’, or if you’re looking for something more robust like Porkchop, Harper Court & Hyde Park has you covered.”

Devon Reber, Associate Director of Recruitment, Evening Program

I enjoy picking up lunch from one of the food trucks on Ellis Ave. and taking a walk around Rockefeller Chapel.

Shilin Liu, Student Recruitment and International Partnerships Manager

“I like to start my day with a 20-minute still meditation or group yoga at Rockefeller Chapel, swing by the Plein Air cafe to have a delicious and healthy sandwich, and then spend the afternoon reading at the Seminary Co-op bookstore next to it. I like to end my day back at Rockefeller with the Tea and Pipes free concert.”

Alyssa Szynal, Assistant Director of Recruitment

"The Sanctuary Café is one of my favorite places on campus – it’s perfect when I need a quiet place to work and a strong cup of coffee or tea. I also enjoy exploring the Oriental Institute museum; the mummies alone make it worth visiting. And of course, the Pub is a classic campus hangout, whether you go to compete at trivia night or just to chill out after a long day on campus."

Emma Richardson, Recruitment Specialist

“My ideal day is strolling through the Quad up to 57th street, where I can grab a slice of my favorite pepperoni pizza from Medici’s on 57th and stop by the famous Powell’s Bookstore to grab a new book to read during my commute to work.”

Andy Wolanski, Recruitment Specialist

"As a brand-new staff member at Harris, I’ve been busy exploring and getting to know the campus. I think my favorite thing to do so far is to walk through the main quad (I’m a sucker for pretty buildings) and then grab a delicious lunch from one of the many food trucks parked on Ellis Ave! I’m super excited to venture out more into Hyde Park during the spring and summer months and experience the neighborhood."

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My name is Andy Wolanski and I recently joined the Harris School of Public Policy as a Student Recruitment Specialist. I’m excited to be here and I’m looking forward to contributing to the recruitment team’s awesome efforts in attracting a wonderfully diverse and talented pool of students! Before I begin reading and evaluating applications, I wanted to briefly introduce myself.

I’m so lucky to have been offered this position at Harris because it combines two of my core professional interests: higher education and public policy. Before coming to the University of Chicago, I worked at the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University as a Program Coordinator for the Learning Sciences graduate programs. It’s there that I developed a strong appreciation for the many eccentricities of higher education administration. Specifically, I was able to get a good sense of how the admissions and recruitment process works. I quickly realized how rewarding it is to sit down with prospective students and learn about their backgrounds, their interests, and their plans to help change society for the better. The energy exerted by prospective students can be contagious! I recently caught the grad school bug myself and started the part-time Master of Liberal Arts program at Johns Hopkins University.

During my deployment to Afghanistan in 2011

Prior to my position at Northwestern, I received my B.A in Political Science from DePaul University using the G.I. Bill that I earned from five years of service in the United States Air Force. In the military, I served as a Satellite Communications Technician as well as an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Technician during a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan. My years in the military, as well as my experiences at DePaul, sparked my interest in political science and public policy; an interest that has only grown over the years.

In my free time (which has become increasingly rare!), I love traveling with my partner of seven years, running, discussing politics with friends, and soaking up the sights and sounds of this wonderful city.

To close, even after a short period of time on the job, I know I made the right choice in coming to the University of Chicago and the Harris School of Public Policy. I’ve admired both from afar for many years. But now I’m here! Great things are happening on a daily basis at Harris and I’m a lucky guy to be able to experience them firsthand.

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Thanks to our Team Harris Ambassador, Tiffany Kwak (MPP'18) for this post! 

To celebrate the Institute of Politics’ five year anniversary, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the University of Chicago on Wednesday, February 7 for an in-depth discussion about public service and current issues in global politics.

I was excited to get the chance to listen to PM Trudeau speak, as I worked on a group project last spring on Canadian fiscal federalism for the State and Local Finance course with Paula Worthington.

Here are my top five takeaways from Prime Minister Trudeau’s visit:

  1. A life of public service kept calling out to Prime Minister Trudeau, who initially desired a career in teaching and education over politics. He made an inspiring analogy: in the same the way that teachers have the capacity to empower their students to be the best they can be, politicians also wield incredible potential to similarly empower citizens’ lives.

  2. Trade is an incredibly important (and tricky) issue to Trudeau. Trudeau highlighted that the United State’s number of trade exports to Canada trumps its exports to countries like the U.K., China, and Japan. As such, it’s vital that trade relations amongst North American countries are fortified.

  3. Trudeau stressed the importance of diversity. He talked about the “Canadian Mosaic” and also discussed policies Canada is enacting to protect the interests of indigenous races and other marginalized groups.

  4. It is vital that we keep younger generations interested in politics and public service because our voices are so important in shaping outcomes not just for ourselves, but for future generations. Trudeau acknowledged that young people today value intelligent and rational debate about what is happening in the world but may be turned off by partisan politics.

  5. Finally, Trudeau emphasized that it is important to draw agents of change from young people who are not fearful of it. He ended his remarks on a positive note, encouraging the crowd to be continually inspired by both what we hope to be and what we hope to do in the world.

After his remarks, Trudeau and IOP Director David Axelrod held a lively Q&A discussion with the crowd. Trudeau received a standing ovation and even took the time to shake students’ hands as he was leaving the venue.

It was an inspiring night that many of us will not forget.

Interested in watching the discussion? Head over to the IOP website.

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On decision release day, Laurel Harnett was a bundle of excitement and nerves. Little did she know, so was the entire Admissions staff. There is a buzz in the atmosphere that you can feel. So much so that staff from other divisions will stop by the Admission’s offices and listen in on the calls, smiles on their faces, basking in the true joyfulness that envelopes the entire Harris community on that day. Calling admitted students, many of whom they have come to know over the course of a year, to tell them they have been accepted to Harris brings a level of satisfaction and happiness that is very personal to each member of the recruitment team.

We thought it would be fun to get both sides of the story. Here, Laurel shares her memories of that day, followed by our Director of Student Recruitment, Jenny Erickson’s recollection of her experience calling Laurel and how much decision release day means to the Office of Admissions here at Harris.

Laurel’s take on that day:

In the Fall of 2016, I was not only preparing to graduate early with my undergraduate degree in December, but I was also simultaneously applying for the Harris School of Public Policy’s early action application deadline in November, which isn’t recommended if you’re looking to keep your stress level down. I knew that I would attend graduate school, but had no solid plan as to where I would go or what I would study.  I was a Criminal Justice major and my passions came to life with child welfare and juvenile justice issues, but I wasn’t exactly sure how that would play out in a career - until I heard about Harris. During an elective Social Policy course, I remember my professor referencing Harris as being the "premiere institution" where the brightest students go to do amazing policy work and affect real change. I should have been paying attention in class, but instead I immediately began researching Harris and found Irving B. Harris’ legacy, which read, “…Irving B Harris’ true passion was improving the lives of children through innovative solutions to wide-ranging social problems.”  I thought…FINALLY, a place where I can continue my studies and gain the skills to create change for children and families. Now all I needed to do was convince myself, and the admissions team, that I was worthy of a UChicago education.

I was nervous on decision day because I didn't have my usual Dunkin' Donuts coffee in hand when I arrived at work. Who needs coffee when your heart is already racing, am I right?  When I arrived at the State of Illinois building, I made it known to everyone in my division that today was the day. I also made it very clear that I was not to be relied on to do any meaningful work because I would be FAR too busy refreshing my email to see the status of my application. My boss, who wrote one of my letters of recommendation, just chuckled.

Right before lunch (that I didn't plan on eating because, you know, *nerves*) I received a phone call with a "773" area code. This rudely interrupted my obsessive email refreshing! When I realized this could be someone from UChicago, I thought, "Wow, are they really going to reject me over the phone?!" Nevertheless, I answered with a low volume office voice in an attempt to sound professional, but mainly to mask my anxious vocal chords. On the other line was the ever-peppy, yet reassuring voice of Jenny Erickson, Director of Admissions at Harris.

 "Hi this is Jenny calling from the Harris School of..." I swear my heart fell into my stomach, but I needed to pick it back up and collect myself. After her sincere congratulations on my acceptance to Harris and between my "thank yous" and "oh my Gods," Jenny asked who I would notify first. To be honest, I needed to process this myself. I made it to the big leagues, the "premiere institution."

The following Sunday, I graduated from Lewis University. Instead of a graduation party celebrating my achievement, I rewarded myself with a Harris School of Public Policy sweatshirt and car decal, which is proudly displayed on my back window. Happy Graduation to me! The excitement I've had since decision day has continued throughout my Harris experience. Not only do I walk into Harris feeling honored to be here, but Harris makes me feel like they are honored to have me.

Jenny’s take on that day:

My first ever event at Harris was a meet and greet with a few of our alumni at the Illinois Facilities Fund (IFF). Shortly after we completed set-up, while I was pacing nervously and trying to enjoy the view over the lake, our first student walked in. Since she was the first to arrive at the event and it gave us time to chat; usually at Admissions Events we only have a few minutes to get to know each student. I was thankful to have some additional time to spend with Laurel; Laurel was one of those students who radiates a passion for public policy. It was my impression that she had planned to arrive early so she would be sure to have time to spend with staff and share her interest in Harris. Before writing this post, I reviewed the notes I had taken after the event and I reference Laurel’s passion for policy and her work experience in the social work sector that helped her realize she wanted to make larger changes at a policy level. Usually our notes are written in quick shorthand; occasionally from the back of an Uber on our way to the next event. So, when you see a paragraph of notes, you know the conversation had left quite an impression.

As other students began to arrive Laurel and I ended our conversation, but she was one of the students I would work very closely with in the coming weeks leading up to the Early Action deadline. I remember jumping at the chance to call Laurel, making sure my colleagues all knew that I had been working with her and wanted to be the one to tell her the exciting news.

I wondered – would she be surprised? Who would she tell first?

I dialed her number; my anticipation of her responses increasing my excitement.

It rang.

And rang.

Talk about anti-climactic! I’d been waiting days to make this call!

Just as I thought it would flip over to voicemail, I heard Laurel’s voice answer. I shared the good news with her and welcomed her to Harris. Making that call is still one of my favorite moments from last year.

I’m not sure if Laurel remembers that we first met at IFF, but I think it’s helpful for students to know how much all the conversations, essay statements, and applications stay with us. I think students often underestimate the impact they have on the Admissions team.

When you meet with students who you know are not going to shy away from the hard questions; who demonstrate they are eager to pursue the education they know will allow them to make changes in their community; who are some of the brightest and most talented students you have met; of course, these students impact our team. It’s why we send Slack messages to each other at 11:30 p.m. on a Sunday night when an international student we’ve been working with confirms they are attending Harris. Or why we forward an email to other members of our team when a student sends us a written response confirming their acceptance and sharing why they selected Harris from the many offers they had.

We know that our students are going to have an impact, and it’s why we take pride in our students, and remember their acceptance calls over a year later. The next few weeks we’ll be reading and discussing Round One applications – but you can bet we are all looking forward to decision release day and connecting with our admitted students.

Watch our video of the 2018 Early Action admitted student calls. Oh the feels!

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We understand that finances are a major concern for most students. The Office of Admissions has gathered the below information to help you during your decision-making process. We will also continue to host webinars during the next few weeks to help answer your questions. Please review the important dates below concerning financial aid for admitted students and the FAQ specifically about funding your education at Harris.


Mark your calendar for these important dates concerning your admission to Harris.
  • Mid-February – we plan to release admission decisions and merit-based scholarships for Round One Applications. Early Action decisions and scholarships have already been released.
  • March 2 – we will host Admitted Students Day at Ida Noyes Hall. We encourage all admitted students to register as space is limited. We will provide travel reimbursements for up to $300 for hotel and airfare after the event for admitted students who attend the Admitted Students Day.
  • March 5 – we will open the Scholarship Reconsideration Form for students who would like to request a review of their merit-based scholarship. Students can complete the form and submit additional information they would like reviewed. Further instructions will be available when the form is open. We plan to review forms and provide updated decisions every two weeks. Students who need a decision earlier due to the requirements of a third-party scholarship (World Bank, Naval Academy) can email [email protected]u detailing the third-party scholarship they are applying to and the deadline for that scholarship.
  • April 16 – deposit deadline for Early Action and Round One. Our goal is for students to have all the necessary information so they may feel confident in their graduate school decision.

Quick Links:

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Still have questions? Email Admissions or attend an upcoming webinar to have them answered.

I’ve already been admitted to Harris, what should I be doing now?

Great question! In addition to learning more about career opportunities through our Career Development Outcomes Report and attend our webinar with Career Development on February 13 from 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (Central), we also encourage you to work on completing your FAFSA. Visit this page for more information on the FAFSA, including the FAFSA code. Please direct all FAFSA-related inquiries to our Student Loan Administration (SLA) and they will be happy to help guide you through the process. You may find information on SLA here

I understand the form to request a review of my scholarship will not be available until March, but what information should I be preparing to submit?

Students are required to complete a short essay confirming why they would like their scholarship reviewed, as well as additional information such as updated transcripts, test scores, resumes, letters of recommendation, or other scholarship offers.

I do not currently have any additional offers or updated information, but I’m very eager to have my scholarship reconsidered now. Can I instead submit two essays?

Careful consideration went into each merit-based scholarship awarded to incoming students. Students requesting additional scholarship funds must have new or updated information they are sharing with Admissions. We will not review requests before March unless students must meet the requirements of a third-party scholarship, or have an earlier deposit deadline at an alternative school. We encourage you to also review third-party funding sources for funds. You can read more about Third-Party funding here.

I’m interested in applying for additional scholarships. Do you have any recommendations on scholarships I should apply for?

We strongly encourage students seeking additional aid to review the information on Third Party funding. You can find information on the Harris website and the UChicago website.

Can you confirm the total cost of tuition at Harris?

Tuition for each division at UChicago is listed on the Bursar’s office website. The rates for Harris can be found here. Harris rates are for all graduate programs offered at Harris – including the MSCAPP, MACRM, and MSESP. The current cost for three courses (the typical amount taken each quarter) is $15,780.00. Students complete three quarters a year, for a total tuition of $47,340. Please note, tuition typically increases 3-5% each year. The 2018-2019 updated tuition is not usually received until June and the other fees are updated later in the Summer. Students who take more or less than three courses can see the different tuition amounts here. Students should also review the terms of their scholarship and how it may fluctuate if taking less than three courses.

What are the additional expenses I can expect beyond tuition?

We encourage students to view the Housing and Dining Rates, and Graduate Quarterly Fees and Occasional Fees at bottom of the page here. Information on Student Health Insurance can be found here; students who have coverage can waive this fee. This includes quarterly student life fees of $388 and a lifetime-transcript fee of $75. Please view all of the listed fees. The University calculates an average cost of living and uses the formula to determine loan eligibility. You can find more information on the Estimated Cost of Attendance website. 

I understand the cost of tuition and additional fees, but what should I expect to pay for housing and personal expenses?

This can vary largely and depends on each student’s personal choices. Some students may choose to live in high-cost of living areas throughout the city, and personal expenses vary greatly based on each student’s lifestyle. International students will receive confirmation of the estimated costs needed for their I-20 documents in late Spring.

I am applying for the CONACYT scholarship. What important information do I need to know?

Students from Mexico who apply to Harris are considered for the CONACYT scholarship. Mexico's National Council on Science and Technology and Harris offer up to 15 full scholarships for Mexican nationals per year who have been admitted into the MPP or PhD programs at Harris. If you believe you may qualify for this program we encourage you to review the information on their website.

What if I am a joint degree student? How will that work?

If you are enrolled in a joint degree program, your scholarship is pro-rated in the final year of study for the number of courses required to complete the Harris School degree. The scholarship is awarded only when in residence at the Harris School. Your scholarship may also be pro-rated and revised depending on the joint program you are pursuing and the tuition you are paying. Please contact the Office of Admissions for more information. 

I have the Segal award and am eligible for the match. I received a merit-based scholarship from Harris. Does this include my Segal Match?

When awarding merit-based scholarships we review the student’s application confirming they have received the Segal. Students are then awarded the maximum amount they would be eligible for based on their service. Any additional scholarship funding the student receives is additional merit award. In short, the current merit amount listed on each’s students award letter includes both the Segal match and any additional merit the student was considered for. 

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It was late and I was at work, I think on a Thursday or a Friday. Busy season at work was picking up and spring was showing its first signs. I was thinking about what to eat for dinner, and I received a notification that my application status had changed. This is it, I thought. I took a deep breath, signed into my Harris admissions account, and clicked the link to view the posted letter. A few seconds passed and I saw the word - Accepted - and I read on.

My graduate school admissions journey had finally ended. I was relieved.

My research into graduate programs prompted me to really question what my career goals were in the short- and long-term and what I really wanted to be doing. I initially thought about going to law school, but I knew that my career interest in law had changed since the time I graduated college and that the tempo of law school and the legal profession was not for me.

I was close to taking the dive into applying for urban planning programs but came across information about graduate programs in public policy. Intrigued, I contacted some alumni from my undergraduate program who had knowledge of Harris. I conducted other outside research into what public policy programs were all about. I decided to apply to public policy programs over urban planning programs because of the quantitative bent to most policy programs; much of policy informs planning, and I wanted to mold my public policy experience to become versatile enough to work with both government officials and in urban planning spheres.

I only applied to four graduate programs in total - three public policy programs and one public administration program. After visiting the different schools during admitted student days, I was thoroughly impressed with each program and the weight of making a final decision became heavier than I initially anticipated.

Ultimately, I chose Harris because it was the most academically challenging and in a city that I loved. The students I met here were honest and down-to-earth, which was an added bonus. There is a lot of work to be done in Chicago in terms of policy and planning, and I can’t imagine being anywhere else. 

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Evidence-Based Research & You

The Dean of the Harris School of Public Policy, Katherine Baicker sat down with Phil Ponce on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight to discuss the role that Evidence-Based Research plays in health care policy. During this talk, Dean Baicker laid out the framework for what Evidence-Based Research is, is not, and why policy analysts should care.

Evidence-Based Research is:

  • Rich with data points that analyze the real world and not just theory;
  • A way to analyze theories and ask more questions;
  • An opportunity to re-evaluate current policies, systems, and approaches across all sectors and make improvements where necessary;
  • A tool to inform policymakers to create comprehensive and thorough policy.

Evidence-Based Research is not:

  • A solution or an answer to a policy problem;
  • A way to insert your personal values about the way the world should work;
  • An opportunity to politicize a viewpoint or stance on a topic.

Used properly, Evidence-Based Research is a powerful tool that policy professionals can use to glean best practices and inform future policy implementation.

Watch the full interview.

Muddying the Water: Why Context Matters

Policy making is as much about using research and data, as it is about understanding the context in which an agenda is set. By understanding context, you get a better sense of what has been done already, what needs to be done in the future, and what resources and tactics you need to get there.

In the article “Why Trump's Offshore Drilling Expansion Won't Be So 'Yuge',” Sam Ori, the Executive Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) cautions readers against forgetting context as it relates to politics. In the case of the Trump administration, they find themselves in similar predicaments where they make bold policy promises, but don’t necessarily have the context or creativity to roll out their changes effectively. Ori’s article focuses on the current administration’s promise of expanding offshore drilling. Although the quality of the policy is debatable, the implementation could actually be counterproductive to its intended goals.

  • Trump’s offshore drilling plan deviates from at least three previous administrations’ approaches to offshore drilling, including lease sales down the entire east and west coasts. Many of these states are against drilling off their shores and have worked with previous administrations to limit such activity.
  • Since many states have legal jurisdiction over the waters nearest to their shores, any pipelines built to bring resources onshore would likely require state approval.
  • Companies could theoretically avoid the use of pipelines by engineering other forms of technology, however, states also have authority under existing laws to delay the leasing process well past the change of administrations.
  • Researchers estimate that the most lucrative areas are located near an Air Force base where live training is routinely conducted. Further, political actors including the Governor and the U.S. Senator for this region have successfully opposed past drilling efforts.
  • A stall in the leasing process combined with the need to use alternative forms of technology and the political fallout that occur, might be cost and resource prohibitive for some companies, prompting them to conduct business elsewhere.

Without proper context, policymakers find themselves in an uncomfortable situation. The policy that they worked so hard to craft, can not only end up a lemon but also do the exact opposite of its intentions.

Read Sam Ori’s entire article on Forbes. 

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I’m often asked which school I prefer: Booth or Harris. My answer is usually elusive, narrowly avoiding clichés about apples and oranges. Well, it’s the combination of both degrees that has been so powerful. My experience as a dual degree student has been cohesive and uniquely enriching, drawing on assets at each school. In particular, the educational fit and community between the schools has shaped my experience...

Read the entire post on The Booth Experience.

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When I decided to apply to grad school, I was conflicted about the choice.

I was in my fourth year of teaching and had finally found some semblance of a groove. I no longer worked on lesson plans into the wee hours of the night out of necessity, I had figured out how to fix every jam in the copy machine (trust me, this is huge), and most importantly, I was learning to enjoy all the little moments and opportunities with my kiddos. I, therefore, found myself in a tricky predicament when the thought of applying to grad school began creeping into my mind. Do I leave the comforts of my career and, more importantly, the work that I believe in so much in order to develop a skillset that would enhance my efforts in the communities I care so deeply about? In what felt like the most covert of operations, (trust me, children have a way of finding things out about you) I began applying to grad school just to “see what would happen.”

I knew that Harris would release their decisions on February 17, and when that day came I was a nervous wreck! I was checking my email every chance I could to the point my phone battery was about to die and it wasn’t even lunch!

My students had just come back from dance class and sat down for a snack break before our math lesson. I happened to have my phone out to record some of them showing off their dance moves when it rang. It was an unfamiliar number, but it read “Chicago, IL.” My heart sunk. I was expecting an email, not a phone call. Was there a problem with my application? Did they not receive my transcripts? I hushed the class and did something I would normally never do. I answered the phone.

“Hi Asia, this is Ranjan Daniels from Harris.” He sounded serious.

“Hi, Ranjan. How are you?” I sounded scared.

“I’m well. I am calling students that we’re excited about offering admissions to. Congratulations.”

This time the seriousness wasn’t so scary, but welcome. I am sure more was said, but by this point, the rock in my stomach had turned into butterflies. I was so excited that I was not only breathless but a little teary. It had happened!

The moment didn’t last long as I turned around and saw 25 pairs of eyes staring me dead in my face. I hadn’t planned on telling them anything until I had made a final decision, but here I was, potentially crying in front of them and I felt that they deserved to know about the phone call I just received. I explained that everything was ok and that I wanted to share something special with them.

Unprepared, I explained to them that I had applied to go back to school outside of New York and the phone call I just received was to let me know that I had been accepted. I explained to them that with college, after they accept you, you have to decide if you are actually going to go, but I haven’t made a final decision yet. After a couple minutes of answering questions and showing them pictures of the University of Chicago in relation to our home in Harlem, I asked them how they felt and what they thought. One of my fourth graders looked at me and said, “I’m going to miss you, and maybe we can be friends on Facebook, but I think you should follow your dreams.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard more sage advice. 

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One of the most interesting classes I have taken thus far is Analytical Politics I, taught by professor Ethan Bueno de Mesquita. From analyzing a simple game of chicken all the way to terrorist attacks on airports, I learned not only how to use quantitative models and game theory to determine how people make decisions in response to others, but also to analyze the resulting impacts on the greater good.

This class was challenging because the material was brand new and not traditionally taught in my undergraduate setting, but the professors for this course are very engaging and in tune with their students. Ethan especially took the time to restate unfamiliar concepts and recognized when our faces were blank stares of confusion! However, with a little help from my friends, the Harper Library, and endless dry erase boards and markers, I was soon able to grasp the concepts and identify real-life social dilemmas around me.

Although this is a required course for first-year students, this is definitely one that all students from many policy interests can get excited about. As a future policy practitioner, I now have the foundational skills to analyze policies that may improve social welfare and, more importantly, how to address those whose welfare was not improved after the policy was implemented. My experience with this class was great and I look forward to expanding these skills in AP II this quarter!

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Hello! My name is Greta Ritzenthaler and I’m a first-year MPP student. I’d like to take a moment to reflect on my first quarter at Harris.

I came here expecting to be pummeled into the ground by insanely difficult courses and a competitive atmosphere. I found that Harris was nothing like the nightmare I had envisioned. The subjects in the first quarter of the core curriculum ranged from very manageable to very challenging, so at times I felt on top of my courses and at other times I had to push myself. I was blown away by the number of academic resources that the school offers: academic advisors who are eager to get to know you, very accessible TAs, free tutoring, and so on. This is not a cutthroat, crushing environment; the professors and staff at Harris want to see their students succeed. Furthermore, the student body here is particularly good at balancing responsibilities and fun; I’ve gone into the city many times with my fellow classmates since classes started. The myth that grad students have no lives is debunked at Harris.

I’ve come to be very appreciative of the unique atmosphere that the Harris core creates. These first two quarters consist of an in-depth, shared academic experience that I haven’t seen since middle school. This common experience has shaped each incoming class and united people of many different backgrounds. I’ve met and worked with a diverse group of peers through my core classes and many of them have become my friends. There’s nothing better than suffering through statistical programming to transform a group of strangers into a group of friends.

The student body is the strongest academic resource that Harris has to offer. I’ve noticed that the students here tend to study in packs; once word gets out that someone is studying at the Polsky Center or in the student lounge, at least twenty others will join. Study spaces become places where Harris students collaborate and learn from each other. I am incredibly thankful for the friends I’ve made in class and for my roommates (who are also Harris students); without them, I would not have survived the first quarter, and I’m pretty sure that every other student feels the same way about their peers.

Now that I’m acclimated to the Harris culture and the fast pace of the 10-week quarter system, I’m ready to take on the second half of the year with vigor and confidence.

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In late December, we issued admission letters for our Early Action students, followed by our February release of Round 1. We received many, many strong applications in Early Action, as well as Round 1. Each year we place a number of students on the waitlist for a variety of reasons, and many students reach out to our office to learn what they can do to strengthen their application. For more information on the waitlist process, please listen to our previously recorded Waitlist Webinar. Please note, you will need to install the free WebEx Player to listen to this recording.

General waitlist information:

  • All waitlisted applicants will be reviewed with the applications submitted in Round One.
  • The Round One application deadline is January 23rd.
  • Students on the waitlist can submit additional materials to support their application. Please email [email protected]. These materials can include, but are not limited to:
    • Updated resumes
    • Updated transcripts
    • Any certificates or documentation of other courses or certificates
    • Additional essay statement or motivational statement. Students can address how they plan to prepare to attend Harris, or any areas in their application they would like to specifically address
    • Updated GRE or TOEFL/IELTS scores
  • Waitlisted applicants who are admitted will receive an updated letter to their account. Students who are not admitted will not see a change in their account
  • Students who would like to reserve their space on the waitlist should complete the form provided in their waitlist letter  
  • You may indicate your continued interest in Harris via our Waitlist Review Request here

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is my number on the waitlist?

Harris does not rank applicants on the waitlist.

How often should I contact your office?

The best way to express your interest in attending Harris is to complete the form confirming your spot on the waitlist and to submit additional documents. For more information on how to improve your application, please email [email protected]

When will I know if I am admitted?

We plan to release final decisions no later than the end of May. 

What should I do next?

We encourage you to contact our office to determine how to strengthen your application, but to also continue to attend webinars and events near you that may be helpful. You can find a variety of events to attend on our Admission Events page. You may also submit new additional material, or simply indicate your continued interest in Harris, via our Waitlist Review Form here

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When I finished my undergraduate experience I knew that I eventually wanted to go back to graduate school, and specialize in an energy-related field, but I had always assumed that law school was the only option available for an individual with a more qualitative background like myself. A year in Washington, D.C. - and in particular the summer following graduation - exposed me to policy professionals on the Hill, and I became aware that an MPP, not a law degree, had become the new standard within their offices. Specialization was key, but learning how to properly dissect policy through quantitative analytics was no longer seen as optional, but rather a requirement to even receive the opportunity for an interview.

After careful research, it become increasingly clear that Harris was the right school for me. With a devotion to the quantitative side of policy, I knew that Harris would allow me to become more rounded professionally and provide an immediate advantage in the job market.

The day I got into Harris I was working in D.C. and coming back from lunch when my phone buzzed with a new email informing me that the status of my application had been updated. When I clicked on the attached link my screen filled with the notification of my acceptance, and I immediately called my mother - her screams of happiness nearly broke the speaker on my phone! After work I informed all of my friends at a happy hour and their reactions were both happiness for the news and sadness when they realized that this meant I would be moving away from them. Receiving my acceptance to Harris was an emotional experience; it represented countless days and hours of hard work, but more importantly how vital my support system was for me in ensuring that my goal could become a reality. After two days of thought, weighing my options, I ultimately decided that Harris was the perfect fit for me and I accepted my admission.

A year into the program I still believe that I made the right choice. The academic and social experiences that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of at Harris have been world-class and something that I know will set me up in my professional life. The quantitative skills that I am learning on a daily basis are well understood outside of the confines of the University of Chicago and remain heavily desired regardless of the field that my classmates and I are applying to. While the process of applying to graduate school, and eventually working through the core curriculum at Harris have been challenging, there is simply no better place to receive an MPP than the University of Chicago.


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Thanks to our Team Harris ambassador, Tyler Barron, for sitting down and chatting with us about his Harris experience! 

What is your favorite class so far?

This past quarter I completed a course on energy policy and human behavior with Professor Kim Wolski. The class focused on how to successfully and efficiently communicate environmental and energy-related policies, building support between culturally diverse communities and increasing broad cooperation from the public. This course drew from multiple fields of behavioral science and examined the psychological and social aspects of assorted energy-related behaviors.

My favorite part of this course was not only the small class size, and subsequent classes dedicated to lively discussions, but also learning how to motivate behaviors and design policy that enhances the adoption of greener energies. This class was something that I not only enjoyed academically, but strongly feel I will be taking material from in my professional life as well.

What are your top three reasons to choose Harris? 

For me, going back to gradate school was heavily determined by my desire to enter into the field of lobbying/government consulting. As the field evolves, an MPP has become increasingly desirable. After finishing my undergraduate career with a heavier focus on qualitative academic material, rounding myself out professionally with a degree that was significantly more focused on quantitative analytics made Harris the obvious choice. My top three reasons were:

  1. The reputation placed on a more quantitative approach towards creating and examining policy.
  2. The support systems outside of the classroom academically and professionally are first-tier and work effectively to place students in the classes and professions that they desire upon graduation.
  3. Going to Harris, and more broadly the University of Chicago, places you in a category that not many people are lucky enough to experience. The opportunities afforded to students at this University are immense and the name of this institution carries weight. Belonging to this network immediately places you in the realm of something larger than yourself and I wanted to be apart of that.

What is the one thing you think everyone should know about the Harris community? 

Harris is genuinely unique in the way students help one another achieve academic success, particularly in the Core. While I have heard stories from colleagues at other universities that students are willing to step on their fellow classmates’ toes to get the best grade of the class, Harris is an organically collaborative environment. My classmates are wonderful, but more importantly people who are consistently willing to ensure that when someone needs help they are available. There is a distinct attitude within the student body to make sure that everyone crosses the finish line despite their struggles. The diversity of thought(s) and backgrounds within Harris is really something special.

I think that this willingness to always provide assistance within a graduate program is truly unique and something that should be stressed more frequently.

Have you taken any electives outside Harris? 

Having an ‘open campus’ is incredibly unique and something that many students take full advantage of in order to not only take a break from the policy or quantitative side of Harris, but to also explore the dozens of fascinating topics available at other schools. While I have not personally taken any courses outside of Harris yet, I am enrolled in two electives for the Winter Quarter. The first is a course on the development of adolescences, cross-listed in the Department of Comparative Human Development, examining stage-specific developmental processes that can help understanding gaps in society's diverse youth. Studying broad topics like socioeconomic status and cultural upbringing, I hope that this course can help further shed light on the ways in which inequality is create, but also the ways in which effective policy can be used to remedy these societal ills.

The second course that I will be taking is one on community organizing through the School of Social Service Administration. This course will focus how organizing brings about collective action. Analyzing both historical and contemporary community organizing efforts, I hope to learn how to mobilize individuals to engage in public policy and employ these organizing techniques through in-class exercises and group projects.

What did you do the summer before you came to Harris? 

Before I came to Harris I worked on Capitol Hill as a Policy Fellow in the Office of Raul Grijalva. I worked on issues related to tribal sovereignty and rights, immigrant detention facilities, energy policy, and socioeconomic inequality. My office was closely aligned with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and the House Committee on Natural Resources. Following that experience I worked for a short period at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee before accepting my spot at the Harris School.

While my work experience is not unique, I believe it is important to mention the fact that the professional tenure of Harris students is incredibly diverse. There are students who come to Harris straight from their undergraduate institution, and others who come after working for ten years. There is no such thing as a ‘general Harris applicant,’ but rather a Harris applicant who is the correct fit.

What is your role with Harris Student Government (HSG)? 

HSG is the leading student organization at Harris and acts as a liaison between the faculty and administration for the Harris student community. HSG represents the student body at Harris through interaction with faculty, administration, and the University of Chicago community at-large. Actions from HSG attempt to address issues of concern or interest in an effort to act as one voice to foster continued academic and social life at Harris. I am a member of HSG and serve as on of the Co-Chairs for the Social Committee. 

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We know you have anxiously been awaiting your admission decision from Harris, and please know we are as excited to release and share the good news as you are eager to hear from us. 

We were so impressed by the applications we received, and we wanted to take a moment to share some of the incredible comments we received from recommenders:

  • "...his kindness, incredibly positive and upbeat outlook and plain decency makes it so easy to be a fan and pull for him. Wonderful things should happen to wonderful people!"
  • "...a truly amazing person who endlessly pursues a new way for life and the world."
  • "..has an outstanding career in front of her that I have no doubt will take her to highly visible and impactful leadership roles, in which she will excel." 
  • "...within the top ten undergraduate students (out of approximately 10,000) I have taught in my 30 years in the classroom."

We plan to release decisions in the evening on December 22nd. Our staff will be out of the office on Monday, December 25th but will return on Tuesday, December 26th. For any questions please email [email protected] 

Looking forward to notifying our admitted students next week! 


Current Harris Students



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Thanks to our Team Harris ambassador, Sally Park (MPP'18), for this post! Stay tuned on our website for Winter Quarter campus visits to sit in on classes like the ones below! 

Hi everyone! As our autumn quarter wraps up, I’d like to talk about the courses I took! 

Financial Accounting (at Booth School of Business) 

As a second year, this quarter I took advantage of the fact that we can take up to 6 courses outside of Harris. Financial Accounting is one of the pre-requisites for other Booth courses such as Investments and Financial Statement Analysis. It gives you the opportunity to learn how to read balance sheets and income statements, and understand how bonds and stocks work. It is definitely challenging if you haven’t done accounting before, and requires a lot of work, but I felt the class very helpful and essential to grasp the basics of finance. 

International Commercial Policy (at Booth School of Business) 

As I am very much interested in trade and development, I really liked this class. This was taught by a visiting professor from Dartmouth, Douglas Irwin. Each class consisted of economic theories under trade policy and current trade-related issues. It was a good combination of theory and real examples. He also writes often about trade issues in the Economist and Wall Street Journal, so it was very interesting to talk to the professor who is really an expert in trade. Why does President Trump argue that we should withdraw from NAFTA? Do immigrants really “steal” our jobs from American workers? Should we worry about trade deficits against China? All those questions could be answered throughout the class. 

Competition Policy (at Harris) 

This course is taught by Sean Durkin, who is the Vice President of Charles Rivers Associates, a global consulting firm. I found it interesting as he not only teaches you the economic analysis of monopoly power but shows you the real antitrust cases in the U.S. The class also provides you with the overview of legal framework of competition policy in the U.S. and other parts of the world. I heard the class material overlaps with the Strategic Behavior and Regulation of Firms, which is another Harris course, but this class could be more interesting depending on the student’s preference as it is taught by the practitioner.