Welcome to Sanford!

Woman, short hair and red glasses, bright blouse and scarf, smiling
Judith Kelley, Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy

Do you have a desire to gain the practical skills to make a difference in the world? Do you want to develop expertise in analysis and help address the most pressing problems of today?

If so, the top-ranked Duke Sanford School of Public Policy is a great place for you. Welcome.

Terry Sanford was president of Duke University when he established Duke’s policy programs in 1972. He urged students to pursue “outrageous ambitions,”and his call to action remains central to our identity. We strive to be a great public policy school for the 21st Century: inspiring new leaders, engaging with the policy world, and producing pioneering research.

From environment and energy to health and education, whether locally or globally, today’s challenges are complex and interconnected. At Sanford, we apply creative, interdisciplinary approaches to identify and evaluate the options before us. We also draw strength from our different perspectives and personal backgrounds. All are welcome here.

The opportunities are huge here for students to engage and be active learners who shape their own trajectories. They gain strong skills in decision analysis, cost-benefit analysis, statistics and economics, as well as teamwork, communication, and leadership. And, all our students complete a policy internship. 

Throughout their time here, students find a degree of mentorship and interpersonal relationships with our distinguished faculty that are rarely found elsewhere. Our professors are dedicated to helping you succeed.

Sanford alumni are making federal policy, starting triple-bottom-line businesses, leading international aid agencies, and much more. They also continue to support and inspire each other -- because when you join Sanford, you join a community for life. 

I invite you to explore our website and our social media stories. See how Sanford can help you become the change maker you set out to be. And, please, if you have any questions reach out to us.

With best regards,

judith kelley's signature





Judith Kelley

Dean and Terry Sanford Professor of Public Policy

Professor of Political Science


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Judith Kelley's Path to Public Policy


Dean Kelley was first-gen

Judith Kelley grew up in poverty in Denmark. She enrolled in community college in the U.S., where she stood out as a bright student. In her second year, a professor encouraged her to apply to larger schools. “What’s a four-year college?” Kelley asked at the time. Kelley went on to graduate from Stanford and received two advanced degrees from Harvard. Now, she is an advocate for first-generation college students who are familiar with her experience of attending college without a role model and with financial struggles. 

Read her story

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