Pilot pre-doctoral program prepares exceptional policy school graduates to pursue academic careers, broadening pipeline for future policy school faculty

Today the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy announced that it will launch a new pre-doctoral research program – the Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy – in partnership with a consortium of leading policy schools, including NYU (Wagner), University of California - Berkeley (Goldman), and University of Michigan (Ford). The innovative pilot program seeks to expand and broaden research assistantship and faculty mentorship opportunities for exceptional policy school master’s degree program graduates from a diverse set of experiences with the interest in and aptitude for academic research careers in public policy.

A goal of this program is to build a more diverse pipeline for doctoral programs and future policy school faculty members. The pilot seeks to increase opportunities in academic policy research for those who have experienced financial hardship, are first-generation college students, or who come from an educational, cultural, or geographic background that is underserved in related doctoral programs.

Recognizing that substantial research experience and individual mentorship are key to successful admission to top PhD programs, the new Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy matches exceptional graduates of professional master’s degree programs in public policy and administration with opportunities for research training, additional coursework, and faculty mentorship needed to prepare for an academic career.

The program will launch as a pilot in academic year 2021-22, offering a limited number of up to two-year, funded pre-doctoral research assistantship opportunities spanning diverse policy areas as represented by faculty interests at the consortium institutions. These full-time, funded research positions will be coupled with intensive mentorship and support for the PhD application process and opportunities to network with fellow participants across institutions.

“Tackling the big, thorny research questions in public policy requires drawing on diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences, now more than ever,” said Katherine Baicker, Dean and Emmett Dedmon Professor at Harris Public Policy. “By partnering with other leading schools in our field, we have the potential to create more opportunity for exceptional students from all backgrounds to pursue career pathways in academic policy research at a time of urgent need.”

The program is open to graduates of any one of the participating institutions’ master’s degree programs who completed their programs in 2020, or will have completed their program by Summer 2021, with more information on eligibility criteria available on the Pre-Doctoral Program website. Those selected will work for up to two years as full-time research assistants for a faculty member, gaining intensive experience, coaching, and mentorship in preparation for applying to a PhD program in a policy-related field.

Applications for the 2021-22 academic year are now open. For more information on the Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy, application requirements, and research opportunities, visit PolicyPreDoc.org.