If you are currently considering a PhD in political science or political economy, or if you are advising students in this position, we encourage you to consider Harris Public Policy at the University of Chicago. In particular, if you want to study political institutions, political behavior, the political economy of democracies (including American politics), or the politics of the policymaking process, and if you want to develop skills in formal theory or design-based causal inference, this is the program for you.

1. Our core faculty in the political economy of democracies is world class and excited to work with PhD students. For formal theoretical work, you can take classes from and work with Scott Ashworth, Ethan Bueno de Mesquita, Konstantin Sonin, Peter Buisseret, and Wiola Dziuda. For empirical work, we have Chris Berry, Will Howell, Anthony Fowler, Alexander Fouirnaies, and Luis Martinez. Because our program is small and we are all highly motivated to train and work with PhD students, there are few programs that offer the level of personal attention that the Harris School’s political economy program offers.

2. Other faculty members at Harris doing related work in political economy include Jim Robinson, Oendrila Dube, Chris Blattman, Maria Bautista, and Austin Wright. Outside political economy, Harris faculty members are experts in microeconomics, econometrics, data science, and applied policy areas including energy, environment, education, development, public economics, and health. Similarly, your classmates and peers will be doing interesting work in these areas. If you’re a political scientist doing empirical or formal theoretic work on democracies, you will benefit greatly from being around people doing similar work in other areas.

3. All Harris PhD students take a rigorous set of core courses in political economy, microeconomics, and econometrics. This provides the technical skills necessary to conduct cutting-edge theoretical and empirical work in political science.

4. Our students have lots of opportunities to see the cutting edge work in the field and present their own work. Our Political Economy Workshop meets most Thursdays, bringing in the best political economy scholars from around the world. Our Political Economy Lunch meets most Fridays, allowing students and faculty members to share their work, get feedback, and hone their presentational skills. Also, our PhD Workshop meets most Mondays, where students have more opportunities to practice their talks and get feedback in a supportive setting with peers and advisors.

5. There are opportunities to develop skills and build relationships with other departments on campus. Harris students regularly attend workshops, take classes, and work with faculty members in other departments on campus. Roger Myerson (Economics) and Mark Hansen (Political Science) have formal appointments in the Harris School, and many others regularly attend our workshops and work with our students. For example, a student studying American politics could bolster their substantive training through the two-course American Politics Field Seminar, participating in Justin Grimmer’s weekly lab meetings, and attending both the American Politics Workshop and John Patty and Maggie Penn’s Theory and Models Workshop. Students with those credentials and connections but who are also rigorously trained in econometrics and formal theory will be hot commodities on the job market. 

6. Students with different kinds of backgrounds can succeed here. Although our core classes are technically rigorous, and although we expect our students to come in with more math experience than most political science department would, don’t let this prevent you from applying. Smart students who work hard will succeed in this program, regardless of whether they took real analysis, linear algebra, etc. in college. If we admit you, it means that we think you can succeed, and we will help you obtain the tools you need.

7. We’re not your typical public policy school. You might not naturally think to apply to public policy schools for political economy, but Harris has a first-rate political economy group that is academically oriented and closely engaged with political science. We’re not for everyone, but if you’re focused on doing careful and rigorous empirical or formal theoretic work, or if you’re the kind of person who might consider applying to Rochester, Stanford GSB, Harvard PEG, or Caltech, you should apply to Harris as well. After you get in, we’ll try to convince you that, although we think highly of those programs, Harris is the best place for you!