Despite challenging economic circumstances, job placement and job satisfaction remain high among Harris graduates.

The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy’s fifth annual Career Outcomes Report showcases strong post-graduation employment data for the class of 2020 and a remarkably well-prepared class of 2021 for the job market, all despite headwinds presented by last year’s stark economic downturn and delayed recruiting season.

A photo of Katherine Baicker, dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor.
Katherine Baicker, dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at Harris Public Policy

“The high value of a Harris policy degree can be seen even more clearly during trying economic circumstances,” said Katherine Baicker, dean and Emmett Dedmon professor, Harris Public Policy. “Despite a global pandemic, employers across sectors continue to look to our graduates for the analytical skills and policy leadership that today’s complex challenges require.”

The data bears this out. Of the 370 candidates from the 2020 graduating class who sought employment, 94 percent both received an offer and secured a job, underscoring the desirability of the skills and attributes that Harris candidates have to offer. The positions accepted were split among the private (41%), public (24%), and nonprofit (35%) sectors, a breakdown typical of Harris graduating classes and a hallmark of the school’s approach to policy education and commitment to cross-sector impact. 

Healthcare, economics and fiscal, education, and social impact ranked as the most common areas for those graduates who chose to work in a policy-related field. The most common job responsibilities reported were data analytics, project management, and research.

“We have found that Harris students bring an analytical eye for problem solving and can easily adapt to any research question, regardless of the specific policy area,” said David Spearman, MPP’14, data director for BallotReady. “Harris students have a knack for seeing the bigger picture and asking critical questions to get to the root of a problem. Not only do they complete work with excellence, but they identify solutions for future improvements across our company.”

Perhaps it’s not surprising then that this year’s Harris graduates find fulfillment in their new positions with 84 percent indicating they are satisfied with their jobs, a 2 percent jump over last year’s robust figure. The strength of these job satisfaction numbers suggests that more often than not a solid fit has been found for candidate and employer alike, testifying to the caliber of Harris’ most recent graduates, as well as the commitment of and support provided by the Harris Career Development Office (CDO) throughout 2020. 

Adam McGriffin, director, career development

“With the unprecedented challenges confronting job seekers starting last spring, our team pivoted to deliver services virtually, rapidly innovating with new tools and resources and striving to operate even more nimbly,” said Adam McGriffin, director of career development at Harris. “We sought to ensure that our candidates had every advantage – above and beyond their much sought-after combination of critical skills and Harris experiences – to fulfill their next-phase career ambitions.”

To that end, Harris CDO transitioned all 2020 career coaching to a fully virtual model and extended the duration of that support to reflect hiring market delays. New online resources were added including VMOCK, an online resume review tool, and Vault, an online platform providing in-depth intelligence on what it’s like to work within an industry, company, or profession. And, the annual DC/NYC Career Trek was reimagined for a virtual setting, enabling a greater number of students to participate with employers ranging from national non-profits to top-tier consultancies and many others. 

This is the second year that the Career Outcomes Report features data from graduates of the Evening Master’s Program, Harris’ increasingly popular part-time program that graduated its first classes in 2019. The program reports stunning success at enabling its graduates to pursue a career change, with 82% of those students who sought a change making one, either securing a promotion within their organization or moving to a new employer. These career moves proved lucrative with graduates reporting a $17,000 average salary increase. Graduates have consistently reported successful career changes and larger paychecks since the program’s inception. 

The report also examines internship experience for the coming graduating class of 2021, demonstrating how Harris graduates successfully gain work experience while pursuing their degree. Comparable to last year, ninety-four percent of students who sought summer employment found an internship, often in fields relating to social impact, healthcare, urban housing, and data science. The CDO team worked hand-in-hand with employer partners to evolve many of these internships for virtual work last summer. Ninety-seven percent of all internships were paid. And, of those, a record number, nearly half, were funded through the generous support of Harris alumni and donors.

To view the full Harris Public Policy 2021 Career Outcomes Report, or to learn more about the Career Development Office resources for students, alumni, and employers, please visit