Outrageous ambition requires outstanding preparation.

Why Sanford MPP?

  • The MPP program is a close community. With cohorts of 90 – 100 students, shared schedules via the core curriculum, and an environment that emphasizes collaboration over competition, students develop strong connections with their peers, faculty, and staff.
  • MPP students come from all walks of life, have a wide range of interests, and share a deep commitment to public service.
  • We offer individualized academic advising and career counseling.
  • Sanford has a commitment to individual and communal wellness. Our community recognizes that students are drawn to the discipline of public policy for a myriad of reasons, and we want our students to bring their full selves to our community.
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    Students pose with graduation cookies
  • Students get hands-on, practical experiences, starting in their first year of study. The core curriculum is carefully constructed to build skills over time and give you real-world experience.
  • Leading academic experts and experienced practitioners make up our world class faculty. Their dedication to teaching and policy making is demonstrated by the wide range of courses they teach and the numerous centers and initiatives they lead.
  • The internship that takes place between year-one and year-two of the program provides students with an opportunity to apply valuable lessons and new skills acquired during the program. Students work locally in Research Triangle Park, Washington, D.C., across the United State and around the globe to make valuable career connections and see how policy works in action.

Listen to students talk about their internships:

The Sanford MPP program offers seven concentrations in domestic and global policy issues:

  • Education Policy
  • Energy & Environment Policy
  • Health Policy
  • International Development Policy 
  • National Security & Foreign Policy
  • Social Policy
  • Tech Policy

Students can choose to concentrate in a specific policy area, but they are not required to. Many students opt to focus on the intersectionality of different policies areas, while others choose to focus on specific policy making skills like public management, budgeting, data visualization, and human centered design.

To explore Sanford's course offerings, please visit Duke's course catalog. To see Sanford specific courses, please select "School of Public Policy" under the career dropdown menu. Please note, the course catalog represents a historic record of courses offered at Sanford. To see when specific courses are offered, please click on the [View Sections] option at the right of each course's name.

MPP students also have the option of taking graduate level courses across Duke's various departments, as well as at nearby universities like NC Central University, NC State University, and UNC Chapel Hill.

Our Sanford Career Services team is composed of experts who are focused on helping you grow professionally. Our team will help you navigate the early stages of your policy career. The team hosts numerous panels and workshops, meets with students in individualized career advising appointments, offers Career and Professional Skill Development course, and assists students with identifying and accessing a meaningful and impactful professional opportunities, both for the required summer internship and for post-graduation careers.

    For more information, please visit our Career Services Fast Facts and view our Career Services 2022-2023 Annual Report.

    Sanford offers connections to the world-class, worldwide Sanford and Duke alumni networks. Sanford has more than 9,000 alumni in over 100 countries, and Duke university has over 180,000 alumni around the world.

    Sanford School Board of Visitors standing outdoors in front of the Sanford Building
    Sanford's Board of Visitors.

     Take Durham Virtual Tour

    Students at Durham Bulls ballpark, twilight
    Durham is home to the Durham Bulls - a Minor League Baseball team, Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.  

    Recent Graduation Rates

    Cohort Entry Year


    Graduation Rate


    Graduation Rate


    Graduation Rate

    August 2017100%100%100%
    August 201896%97%97%
    August 201996%97%97%
    August 2020*97%99%99%
    August 2021*96%98%98%

    * Cohort August 2020 and August 2021's graduation rates are projected based on students' course completions and registrations. Students pursuing dual-degree options require 3 - 4 years to complete the combined degrees.

    Occasionally, students take a year or two off in the middle of their studies and thus take a little longer to complete the program. 

    Recent Employment Outcomes

    May 2021 graduates (data collection is estimated to be as of Dec 31, 2021; unknown if dual-degree students are included)

    71 Graduates

    • 68 known outcomes:
      • City, county, or other local government in the United States – 7%
      • Nonprofit organization (domestic-oriented) – 20.8%
      • Nonprofit/NGOs (internationally-oriented) – 5.6%
      • Obtaining further education – 4.2%
      • Private Sector – research/consulting – 32.4%
      • Private sector but not research/consulting – 9.9%
      • State, provincial, or regional government in the United States – 5.6%
      • United States Federal Government – 8.5%
    • 3 Unknown

    May 2022 graduates (data collection is estimated to be as of Dec 31, 2022; unknown if dual-degree students are included)

    77 Graduates

    • 69 known outcomes:
      • A government entity outside of the United States – 1.3%
      • City, county, or other local government in the United States – 3.9%
      • Military – 2.6%
      • Nonprofit organization (domestic-oriented) – 13%
      • Nonprofit/NGOs (internationally-oriented) – 6.5%
      • Obtaining further education – 3.9%
      • Private Sector – research/consulting – 29.9%
      • Private sector but not research/consulting – 3.9%
      • State, provincial, or regional government in the United States – 7.8%
      • United States Federal Government – 7.8%
      • Non response – 10.1%
    • 8 Unknown

    May 2023 graduates (data collection as of Dec 31, 2023; includes dual-degree students)

    111 graduates

    • 99 known outcomes:
      • City, county, or other local government in the United States – 0.9%
      • Military Service – 1.8%
      • Nonprofit organization (domestic-oriented) –  7.2%
      • Nonprofit/NGOs (internationally-oriented) – 3.6%
      • Obtaining further education – 3.6%
      • Private sector – research/consulting – 16.2%
      • Private sector but not research/consulting – 7.2 %
      • State, provincial, or regional government in the United States – 9%
      • United States Federal Government – 9%
      • Other – 7.2%
      • Non response – 26.3%
    • 12 unknown outcomes

    Steps to Apply


    Create an Account

    Visit Duke's application page to create an account or log in.

    Trouble entering the portal?  Contact Duke's Duke's OIT Help Desk. Please include a screenshot or details of the error message you encounter.

    (919) 684-2200 | help@duke.edu


    Start an Application

    Once you've created an account, on the application page, click “Start a New Application” and select the right application cycle. (Ie “Spring 2024-Fall 2024 Application Cycle.”)


    Select Sanford

    Make sure to choose “Sanford School of Public Policy” in the next drop-down tab. This will open Sanford School applications.

    Need help? Contact us!  mppadmit@duke.edu

    Note: The application window for the 2025-2026 MPP cohort opens in September 2024 and closes January 5, 2025.


    Need more information or clarification? Contact us! A member of our team will respond promptly.


    Find out more about the Master of Public Policy program and the Sanford School of Public Policy.

    Access Brochure

    'Something Just Clicked'

    "Prior to grad school, I was teaching myself a lot on the job, but nothing beats a classroom setting. I love when a professor talks about an old concept in a new way, and something just clicks for me that hadn’t before. In many ways, Sanford has felt like another chapter of my pursuit of social impact reform, which will hopefully be a lifelong journey.” - Tamsin Chen MPP'23 

    Tamsin won the MPP Class of 2023 Outstanding Student Award. After graduation she took a position as Social Impact Manager at The International Foundation For Valuing Impacts.

    Read Tamsin's story

    Making Opinions Actionable

    "When I saw an ad for Duke Sanford's public policy program, it was a tumultuous time– the height of the pandemic, the George Floyd response was still very salient – and I had opinions. I thought Sanford would be an opportunity to find ways to make those opinions actionable. Policy affects people, and the goal is to make a better world. So, within 48 hours of the deadline, I applied." - Chandlee Jackson MPP'23

    Chandlee came to Sanford after serving in the Air Force for eight years, and he will continue to serve in the federal government as a Presidential Management Fellow.

    Read Chandlee's story