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#2021APPAM Spotlight: University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy


The #2021APPAM Fall Research Conference will feature some fantastic sponsors from across the policy research spectrum. Today we're shining a spotlight on the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy. 


What types of programs does your school offer?

Harris offers several flexible part-time and full-time master’s programs with various certificate options, as well as numerous joint degree programs and a doctoral program.

Our flagship degree is the Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree. It emphasizes rigorous modeling and analysis, evaluating information to solve complex policy problems. In addition, Harris offers the MS in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP); the MA in Public Policy with Certificate in Research Methods (MACRM), for people who want to do serious research or a PhD; and the MA in Public Policy. Students can specialize in one or more specific policy areas with Certificates, or pursue a degree part-time with our Evening Master's Program. In addition, Harris offers several joint degree programs as well as a PhD program.

Many students ask what's the difference between an MPP and an MPA, or Master of Public Administration. MPP and MPA programs are complements to one another, although courses and specializations can overlap. MPA students typically excel in management and technical implementation of policy, whereas MPP students are trained to analyze and recommend sound institutional policies. Some students pursue an MPA part-time. Those thinking about that option should consider our Evening Master's Program, which allows you to earn an MA in Public Policy in just four quarters.

What would you list as your school's greatest accomplishments in the last 5-10 years?

Harris has seen exceptional growth over the last several years. Harris’ enrollment has more than tripled over that time to 1,100 students for the past academic year, and its staff has grown in parallel. At the same time, Harris has increased the ranks of its faculty to 54, adding 34 new faculty members since academic year 2015-2016. The faculty includes three Nobel laureates: James Heckman (2000), Michael Kremer (2019), and Roger Myerson (2007).

On May 3, 2019, Harris had the grand opening of its state-of-the-art new home, which offers a world-class destination on Chicago's South Side where students, scholars, policymakers, and civic leaders can learn, work, and collaborate in confronting the challenges facing our city and the world. The building is LEED Platinum certified and Living Building Challenge Petal certified.

Why should potential students choose your school or program?

“I will tell you that there is nothing like the education you get at the University of Chicago. When I was in the White House interviewing people, if I saw they went to the University of Chicago Public Policy school on their resume, it caught my attention.” ¬– Valerie Jarrett

Today’s world needs a new generation of leaders who are driven to find the best solutions to society’s problems, and Harris graduates bring a range of in-demand skills to employers around the world.

Business and nonprofit leaders, consultants, lawyers, securities analysts, government contractors, professionals in heavily regulated industries (e.g., finance, telecommunications, energy, healthcare, or education), and even social entrepreneurs need to understand how to influence policy and measure the impact of their programs.

Here, you will develop the skills you need to ask the hard questions, follow the evidence to the answers, and make a real and lasting impact. Here, you’ll combine a rigorous education with immediate, hands-on experiences that come by being part of a preeminent, global university in a world-class city. Here, you’ll find support in a lifelong network of mentors and peers, as you turn your passion for doing good into an impactful career.

Our yearly Career Outcomes Report provides a snapshot of the short-term effects of those efforts: with graduates representing 37 countries surveyed for the 2021 report, 94% of job-seeking students secured employment, with 81% of employed students having accepted offers within three months of graduation. They found policy-related careers in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, with the three primary responsibilities being data analytics, project management, and research.

If you are hiring, what makes your school a great place to work?

The Harris community is a diverse collection of people from all walks of life, all committed to making social impact through data-driven, evidence-based public policy. With ideas (and equations) bustling and students from countries around the globe, there is no lack of opportunities to learn, collaborate, and grow. In addition, Harris staff benefit from living and working in the world class city that is Chicago, and from the many amenities that Hyde Park and the University’s urban setting have to offer.

What is your teaching/research divide?

Harris is committed to both world-class instruction and rigorous inquiry. In keeping with this commitment, all of Harris’ tenure-track faculty do both research and teaching. In addition, Harris lecturers and research associates contribute to the teaching or research portfolios of the school.

What is your undergraduate/graduate divide?

Founded in 1988, the Harris School of Public Policy is the University of Chicago’s graduate school in public policy studies. In addition, Harris administers the undergraduate public policy degree, one of the most popular majors at the University of Chicago.

Is there any other information you'd like us to include in your Spotlight?

The Harris School of Public Policy is the home to The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts, which examines the root causes of conflict and studies conflict resolution. The school is also part of a newly redesigned University of Chicago Obama Foundation Scholars Program, which provides second-year graduate students with programming from the Obama Foundation to help engage in local communities.

What is an interesting, unique, or fun fact about your school?

For 2019 and 2020, Harris has welcomed two exceptional Dean’s Award winners to campus to address the Harris and University communities: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (2019) and Dr. Anthony Fauci (2020).

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