The application deadline is January 5th at 5 pm EST. This deadline includes receipt of the $80 application fee and all application materials. PLEASE NOTE: After entering the application portal, click on "Start New Application" and select Sanford School of Public Policy 2020.
For additional information, please visit our FAQ section.
A Completed Application Includes:
You must upload your "unofficial" undergraduate transcript(s) with your degree posted, along with all other transcripts from colleges and universities, to our online application. We require official transcripts after the applicant is admitted into the program. Applicants must have the equivalent of a four-year U.S. bachelor's degree; however, we will review three-year international degrees based on the European Ministers of Education, Bologna Declaration.
Guidelines for calculating your undergraduate GPA and information on study abroad coursework and transcripts may be found here.
The International Transcript Evaluation Form may be found here.
2. Required Tests
- GRE: We accept official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores taken within five years of application.
- TOEFL: We require all non-U.S. applicants whose native language is not English to submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) even if they have attended a U.S. academic institution or participated in an ESL program. We do not waive this requirement. Note that we do not require a TOEFL score for U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents. You must send official TOEFL scores electronically; we do not accept photocopies, faxes, “attested” copies, or notarized copies, and we accept only TOEFL scores taken within two years of the application.
Report all test (GRE/LSAT/TOEFL/GMAT) scores, via ETS, using the Duke University Institution code – 5156.
Dual Degree Applicants: You may submit LSAT or GMAT scores in lieu of the GRE if you are applying to either our dual MPP/JD or MPP/MBA programs, or if you are currently enrolled in the Duke or UNC Law (JD) or Duke or UNC Business (MBA) programs. We require the GRE for MPP/MD (Duke Medicine) applicants; we do not accept the MCAT. Duke or UNC Law School applicants: Upload a copy of your LSAT score report and indicate score and percentile on the "Grades and Tests" section of the online application. If you have taken the GRE within the past five years, you must report both your GRE scores and either your LSAT or GMAT scores. Learn more about dual degrees at Sanford.
3. Three Letters of Recommendation
Highlight for Basic Page
Meet Sanford's Dean
Dr. Judith Kelley studies how international actors influence domestic politics. “What can we do to get countries to stop mistreating people?” she asks. “Professors know very well that grades affect behavior. Nations that care about their reputations can also be influenced through ratings and rankings in what I call ‘scorecard diplomacy.’"
Judith Kelley grew up in Denmark, and was the first of her family to graduate high school. She joined a nonprofit theater troupe and spent five years traveling internationally, using art to try to change the world.
“I realized how naive I was, as a young person, thinking I could help. I needed better tools to think about and understand the problems and figure out what the heck I might be able to contribute,” she said. She eventually graduated from Stanford University with honors. She earned her MPP and PhD from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and joined Duke’s faculty in 2002. She became Dean in 2018.
We require both an evaluation form and letter of reference from three references. Each of your three references must fill out the form and write a personal letter that addresses your accomplishments and potential. Your references should upload and complete these online.
For applicants with fewer than two years of work experience, we recommend two academic and one professional recommendation. For those with three or more years of experience, we suggest one academic recommendation and two from work-related professionals. Applicants with four or more years of work experience may include three work-related references.
4. Statement of Purpose
In your personal statement, please describe:
- why you are interested in obtaining a masters degree in public policy
- how aspects of your professional, academic and personal experiences have shaped you
- what your professional goals are upon graduation
Please limit yourself to 1500 words.
Please upload a resume, not exceeding two printed pages, with your online electronic application.
6. Application Fee
The application fee is $80. We accept payment by Visa or Mastercard (debit/credit). We do not review applications until we have processed the application fee. We do not require application fees from qualified Pickering, PPIA or IIPP fellows. Contact MPPadmit@duke.edu prior to submission to request your fee waiver.
7. Video Essay (optional but strongly recommended)
Applicants are asked to prepare a short video (one-minute maximum) to inform the admissions committee who you are and what you are looking to achieve during your graduate study at the Sanford School. The video must be of the applicant (if there is more than one person in the video, please clarify which person is the applicant). What you do or say is up to you as long as you provide the information requested. You might consider sharing a unique perspective or life experience and describe how it would benefit classroom discussions at Sanford.
Upload the video to an easily accessible website, such as YouTube. Then provide us with the URL and any required access codes in the appropriate fields within the application for admission. It is the applicant’s responsibility to correctly configure the security and access settings for the video. We recommend that the applicant use the strongest privacy settings available while still allowing access to the Sanford School. If using YouTube, we suggest using the “Unlisted Video” setting so that only individuals who have the URL can view it (for help, review these written instructions on privacy settings or watch these video instructions.) The applicant is also responsible for adhering to the terms and conditions of the website used to share the video essay. We are unable to watch videos that come in any form other than a URL link and do not accept videos sent by email or on DVD through the mail.
Application Directions for Peace Corp Fellows
If you are a Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program Applicant, you must:
- Indicate your Peace Corps service dates, country, and description of service on your resume.
- Upload a copy of your Description of Service (DOS) within the online application. If you have not received the DOS, you should submit it no later than 14 business days after it is available.
To be eligible for the Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, volunteers need to have completed their Peace Corps service satisfactorily. Satisfactory completion means:
- You have completed the full two-year tour of Peace Corps service or the full tour minus up to 90 days if you returned home on emergency leave;
- You were granted an “Early Close of Service” or an “Interrupted Service” due to circumstances beyond your control; or
- You were medically separated.
We do not offer application fee waivers for Paul D. Coverdell Fellows applicants but do offer guaranteed tuition fellowships for accepted Peace Corps alumni.
Our admission offer is only for the year specified in the letter of admission. We do not allow applicants to defer an offer of admission to a subsequent academic term or year. You should submit your application during the academic year before your desired year of attendance (i.e. by January 5, 2019 to start in August 2019).
Dual degree applicants (JD, MEM, and MBA) begin the MPP program in the first year of academic study. Prospective candidates should coordinate in advance with their JD, MEM or MBA program to ensure that they may begin the MPP program in that first year.
Annual Security and Safety Report
The Annual Security Report and Annual Fire Safety Report include institutional policies concerning campus safety and security, as well as statistics for the previous three years concerning reported crimes that occurred on Duke University property and on public property adjacent to campus and fires that have occurred in residence halls. A copy of this Report can be obtained by contacting the Duke Police Department at 684-4602 or writing to 502 Oregon Street, Durham, NC 27708 or by accessing: https://police.duke.edu/news-stats/clery