What is it really like to be a MIDP student at the Sanford School of Public Policy? We asked students to share 5 things about the program that surprised them.

Kyipyar Phyoe Paing - MIDP'23

Here are five things I didn't know about the MIDP program before I started:

  1. There are a lot of student-led organizations or groups on campus, as well as at Sanford! I did not know the MPP and MIDP student committees represent the diverse student community. I was able to join the Southeast Asian students group on campus (including both grads and amazing undergrads) and met many incredible, wonderful, smart, passionate people! This is the young generation advocating for brighter a future of the SEA region. 

  2. I did not know how diverse the Sanford community is. In the MIDP program, more than 90 percent are international students with different professional and cultural backgrounds. 

  3. Duke Puppy Kindergarten in the Evolutionary Anthropology department is one of my favorite things on campus. I visited them every week; these puppies contributed a lot to my physical mental wellbeing - especially for those of us who are international grad students overseas. 

  4. I did not know about the iStudents organization which does a lot of student activities on campus and off campus including hiking trips and picnics.

  5. Duke is such a free open society. The Freeman Center for Jewish Life and Duke Catholic Center are open to everyone. You do not need to be Jewish or Catholic to be there. I was able to exchange ideas and met good friends different religions. I honestly have had a very good interfaith experience on campus. And I am so grateful.


Solomon Ayehu MIDP'24 - Global Health Policy

Here are five things about the MIDP program that surpassed my expectations:
1. Sanford's faculty and staff are extremely supportive, kind, courteous, and dedicated to helping fulfill every prospect of MIDP dreams and aspirations.
2. The Duke Center for International Development (DCID) team at the Sanford School is enriched with top-notch, influential, and impactful researchers that not only span the public policy in the US but also the policy dynamics around the globe. I am interning in a project exploring climate migration, adaptation, rural development, and transformation in Ethiopia, and my supervisor, Dr. Kerilyn Schewel, has in-depth knowledge  and expertise of rural migration in Ethiopia.
3. The school provides emotional and mental support (as well as academic support) for navigating graduate study.
4. Sanford's MIDP program is way more international than I anticipated it to be!
5. An interdisciplinary master's program curriculum is not binding in any way and welcomes students to explore their desired career opportunities.


Goharik Tigranyan MIDP'24 - Education Policy


MIDP is a great surprise box, and once it is open, you can never have enough of it.
1. Family: MIDP is more than simply a graduate program; it is a large international family for the rest of one's life.
2. Life experience and diversity: MIDP is more than just an academic program; it is people from all over the world and their life experiences, stories, adventures, and diversity.
3. Change: MIDP broadens perspectives for learning about and contributing to solutions to key global issues, positively impacting the world as a whole, and improving the lives of vulnerable populations.
4. Strong value system: The MIDP program is a community (faculty, staff, and students) rooted not only in a commitment to positive social change and global development but also in their daily interactions.
5. Challenge and collaboration: MIDP is a continuous process of challenging yourself to think outside the box and work with peers from all backgrounds and nationalities. This improves your capacity to interact effectively in diverse teams. Furthermore, networking with other students, professors, and professionals in various fields might lead to future collaborations and possibilities.

Ainur Tuimebekova MIDP’24 - Bolashak Fellow

Here are 5 things I didn't know about the MIDP program before I started:

1. Diversity. The Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) is a flexible interdisciplinary degree program focused on mid-career professionals who will dedicate their careers to policymaking and public service. We all feel like one big family with different backgrounds, cultures, and languages, but with one aim to work for better policies and build better lives.
2. Opportunity. The Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center offers a Certificate in Peace and Conflict Transformation that is available to MIDP students. As part of this program, I had the opportunity to participate in a Rotary Peace Center professional development trip to Washington D.C. during the winter break.
3. Internships. I am interning at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) based in Paris, France as a Policy Researcher and Advisor.
4. Summer school abroad. I had the pleasure to be part of the Duke Global Program in Geneva on Humanitarian Crises, Refugees, and Human Rights.
5. Research. In the Fall Semester 2023, I was invited to serve with Winrock International’s John D. Rockefeller 3rd Scholars Program Committee as a part of USAID project on Safe Migration in Central Asia to evaluate the professional and technical expertise of proposals on research concepts.


Mira Thevan MIDP'24


Here are 5 things that surprised me about the MIDP program at Sanford:

1. The flexibility in designing my own path based on my interests, and the access to courses outside of Sanford.
2. Unconditional acceptance - I knew the cohort was extremely diverse and also that I'm one of the youngest among my classmates but they create a safe space for all of us to feel included and I feel that my opinions are valued.
3. Much like Hogwarts (haha) help will always be given to those who ask for it - the professors and support staff are excellent at guiding us and extremely empathetic to our needs. Be it advice on what courses to take or helping with mock interviews, they are always an email away!
4. You're never bored at Duke - there's something for everyone. We have an art annex, dance studios, probably one of the best gyms across the country and even soap making workshops. 
5. Nothing prepares us for how hectic life is at Duke - it forces us to grow and be able to prioritize and we are constantly put in high pressure, high responsibility environments that prepare us to become effective leaders.

Mansoor Akbar MIDP'23

Going to graduate school can have lots of hidden surprises. Here are 5 things I treasure about Sanford:

  1. The school has the friendliest faculty and staff who are willing to go beyond their way to help us grow professionally and academically. 

  2. Sanford has a truly world class faculty, with extensive industry experience.

  3. The Master of International Development (MIDP) degree is truly international; I was in a cohort of 29 students from 21 different countries. 

  4. MIDPs come with a wealth of experience; Each student is a body of knowledge in their area of expertise; you can meet a sociopolitical activist and a banker in one classroom talking development. 

  5.  MIDP is not only academic rigor and basketball; you make connections that will last a lifetime.