Join the next generation of promising international leaders.

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program features a graduate degree tailored for promising international leaders – the Master of Arts degree in International Development and Policy (MA-IDP) – offered by the world-renowned University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. 

“We are thrilled to be able to welcome a new cohort of rising international leaders to our growing Harris community. What unites our faculty, students, and alumni is a desire to effect change on a global scale using today’s best science to improve policy and improve lives."

Katherine Baicker, Dean of Harris Public Policy and the Emmett Dedmon Professor

Structure and Approach

Harris Public Policy applies evidence-based analytical approaches to the world’s most pressing problems, combining cutting-edge tools with on-the-ground practical policy innovation. Drawing on the core strengths of a Harris education, the MA-IDP is a one-year degree program that provides a solid foundation in policy design and analysis, with particular emphasis on international development and policy.

As an entering Obama Foundation Scholar, you will have demonstrated a commitment to making a difference in your community and now want to accelerate your impact in the world. The Harris MA-IDP curriculum has been tailored with your experiences and goals in mind as rising international leaders. You’ll have the opportunity to study topics based on your background and interests, including international development, global conflict studies and resolution, energy and the environment, health, human rights, and more – all from Harris’ and UChicago’s leading faculty.

And through the Obama Foundation Scholars Program, your coursework will be supplemented with extensive Obama Foundation programming and activities outside of the classroom.

A Multi-Faceted Curriculum

The nine courses in the Harris MA-IDP curriculum can be completed in one academic year and cover three categories: foundational skills for policy analysis, international development and policy, and electives.

Foundational Skills

Modeled after our core curriculum, a hallmark of the Harris education, the Harris MA-IDP program includes three foundational courses in data analytics, analytical politics, and economics tailored specifically for promising international leaders like you. While the powerful toolkit imparted by these foundational classes is flexible enough to apply to a wide range of policy problems, these courses will emphasize applications in international contexts.

  • Microeconomics

  • Analytical Politics

  • Data Analytics

International Development and Policy

You will take a two-course sequence focusing on governmental policies and their impact on economic development and improving population outcomes. The first course addresses economic issues, and the second focuses on political questions. You'll learn how a country's economy, distribution of resources, and population are affected by government structures, policies, labor markets, conflicts, trade agreements, infrastructure, and other policy levers – and how to use those levers most effectively.

  • Economic Development & Policy

  • Political Development & Policy


The curriculum allows you to choose four electives at Harris or from across the University of Chicago.

Participate in Policy Labs with real-world clients or choose from among a wide range of elective courses while engaging with the broader student community at Harris and UChicago. Explore courses in international development, governance, leadership, energy and the environment, education, health, conflict resolution, regional studies, law, or human rights – or pursue other topics in international policy.

In doing so, you'll gain additional expertise on topics related to your interests and understand their connection to policy issues.

Extraordinary Opportunities

You won’t just be working in the classroom. If you are accepted into the Harris MA-IDP program as an Obama Foundation Scholar, you will receive a full scholarship and participate in one-of-a kind programming outside the classroom in partnership with the Obama Foundation.

Through your supplemental work with the Obama Foundation, you’ll be connected to their broader network, actively engaged in the community, and gain additional skills, training, and inspiration that will help you change your communities and, ultimately, the world.

Christopher Blattman

Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies

Christopher Blattman

As a faculty member in The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, Christopher Blattman is helping the Institute pursue its global mission by focusing on some of the biggest social challenges in Africa and Latin America: conflict, crime, and state building.