The University of Chicago | Graduate Admissions

Public Policy - PhD

Division: University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy
Degree Type: PhD

Program Description

The Harris School's doctoral program (PhD) prepares qualified students interested in research-oriented careers involving the substantive and institutional aspects of public policy. The program emphasizes the acquisition of skills needed to design and conduct policy-relevant research, and allows students to develop individualized and innovative courses of study in which they work closely with faculty members of the School and the University.

Explore program faculty »


  • 1155 East 60th Street
  • Chicago, IL 60637
  • Phone: 773.702.8401

Application Method

Applications should be initiated through the online application. Paper applications are not accepted.


Deadline for admissions and financial aid: December 3

Campus Visits

Interviews are not required, but you are welcome to visit campus, sit in on classes, and meet with current students. You may contact faculty with questions, but there is no expectation that you do so.

Degree Objective

Students can apply for a PhD, a Master of Arts in Public Policy, or a Master of Public Policy.

Program Requirements

PhD students should expect to complete their program of study after a minimum of four to five years in residence. PhD students must complete a minimum of 27 courses, including demonstrated mastery of the School's core subjects, unless they enter the program with a master's degree in the same or a related field, in which case the number of required courses may be reduced by up to nine courses. Following completion of their coursework and examinations, PhD students will be able to take advantage of opportunities to obtain financial support for their doctoral research from internal and external sources and to participate in research projects in the School and the University. Students receiving internal financial support will also serve as course assistants beyond their first year of study.

PhD students are required to pass four qualifying examinations after their second year: methods (statistics and econometrics), microeconomic theory, political economy, and a field exam in a substantive field of public policy studies chosen by the student and the student's advisor.

During their third year of study, PhD students make the transition from coursework to dissertation research. As a first step, they complete a qualifying paper and present it at a Chicago Harris workshop or other University forum.

Following completion of the qualifying paper, students will write and defend a dissertation proposal before the student's dissertation committee and other interested University faculty and doctoral students.

The dissertation should be a significant public policy research project carried out under the supervision of the student's dissertation committee, which is composed of at least three qualified members approved by the director of doctoral studies. The dissertation defense is a public meeting of faculty and students directed by the chair of the dissertation committee.

Costs & Financial Aid

Total estimated living cost including living expenses: $58,663. Doctoral students, unless funded by an outside source or agency, are awarded full tuition plus a stipend for the first three or four years of study, depending on prior academic training.