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PhD Admissions

FAQs - Applying to the PhD Program

Q: What is the Sanford School looking for in applicants to the PhD in Public Policy Program?

A.  We seek applicants who demonstrate academic excellence, and we welcome applicants from diverse academic, cultural and professional backgrounds. Applicants who possess practical work and/ or research experience are encouraged.

Q: Do I need to have a master’s degree?

A. No, a master’s degree is not required for admission to the PhD program.

Q. What is the application deadline?

A. The priority deadline for beginning the program in fall 2017 is Dec. 1, 2016 for applicants wishing to be considered for departmental or institutional awards for the fall semester. Late applications may be considered for admission only if all spaces have not been filled, and for financial aid only if funds are still available. To ensure that your application receives full consideration, submit all materials (test scores, recommendation letters, transcripts, etc.) by the Dec. 1 deadline.

Q. How do I apply?

A. Applicants to the PhD Program in Public Policy will be applying to the Duke Graduate School using its electronic application. Please review the Duke Graduate School Admissions Website for detailed instructions on all application requirements.

Q. Are there any additional items required by the Public Policy PhD program?

A. Yes. In addition to completing the Graduate School requirements, applicants must also:

  • Designate a disciplinary concentration in the electronic application. In the drop-down menu section of the electronic application, after selecting “Public Policy Studies – PhD” in the “Proposed Department/Program and Highest Degree Sought,” the next section of the application is “Intended Special Field.” The Public Policy PhD special fields are the disciplinary concentrations: economics, political science, psychology or sociology. You must indicate one of these four concentrations on your application.
  • Submit a resume (not to exceed two printed pages), which should be uploaded to the online electronic application with your “Statement of Purpose and Educational Objectives.”
  • Submit a writing sample of no more than 20 pages, demonstrating academic or professional research, which should be uploaded to the online electronic application under “additional documents.”  For more information on how to submit the writing sample, visit the application instructions on the Graduate School website.

Q. What should I talk about in my statement of purpose?

A. We carefully review each applicant’s essay. Please utilize this essay to discuss your goals in pursuing the PhD in Public Policy at Duke University. We are interested in your academic and professional experience, your intended course of study (including a disciplinary concentration and policy area focus) and your longer-term career objectives.

Q. Should I come visit? Do you conduct personal interviews?

A. Personal interviews are not part of the application process, and most applicants wait until admission decisions are made before visiting our campus. Learn more about our location.

Q. May I apply for both the Master in Public Policy Program and the PhD Program at the same time?

A. No, you may only apply to one of the programs.

Q: Who can I contact if I have questions about the application process?

A. Please contact the Public Policy PhD Program Coordinator with any questions.

Q: Who can I contact if I have questions about professors with whom I am interested in studying?

A. Visit Find an Expert to learn about faculty areas of expertise. You can find out more about individual faculty members by visiting their webpages. Each faculty member’s email address is listed; feel free to contact individuals whose research aligns with your interests.

Q. Who should I contact with questions about the curriculum, requirements or other matters?

A. You may find answers in the Sanford PhD Student Handbook. If not, please contact the Public Policy PhD Program Coordinator with any questions.