What We Look For

We welcome applicants from a variety of academic and professional—as well as ethnic and cultural—backgrounds. In choosing our students, our selection committee carefully considers:

  • relevant work experience
  • statement of purpose
  • academic performance
  • faculty and employer evaluations
  • GRE scores (optional)
  • writing skills
  • video essay (strongly recommended)

We prefer students with two or more years of post-undergraduate work experience but admit a limited number of outstanding students directly from undergraduate programs.

Under an agreement with AmeriCorps, City Year, Peace Corps, Teach for America, and Yellow Ribbon programs, students who are accepted into the Duke MPP Program are guaranteed a tuition fellowship.


Post-undergraduate work experience2-6 years
Age Range24-32 years
Undergraduate GPA>3.4
GRETop 25% 
TOEFL (iBT)110-115 (preferred)
GMAT Median (Dual-degree MBA students)80th percentile/ 640-760
LSAT (Dual-degree JD students)165-168


How You Can Get Started


We look forward to meeting prospective students! You can also sign up to be on our prospective student email list.


In collaboration with Policy in Living Color, Sanford’s BIPOC MPP student organization, we have introduced a new resource, the Readying Applicants through Mentorship Pairings (RAMP) program. RAMP aims to connect MPP applicants with current Sanford students whose background, experiences, and interests would be a good fit with the applicant. Applicants of all backgrounds are welcome to sign up for the program; we particularly encourage applicants who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), first-generation, and/or come from other historically underrepresented backgrounds to sign up for RAMP.  

Learn more about RAMP


Due to the impacts of COVID-19, we are currently offering virtual visits in lieu of campus visits. Complete our Visit Request Form at least two weeks prior to your proposed virtual visit date. We suggest planning four to five hours for your visit. The itinerary usually includes a meeting with Admissions staff.

We cannot schedule visitations on Saturdays, Sundays or Duke holidays, breaks, or recesses. Visits are not scheduled December 15 - January 11. Summer visits (mid-May through mid-August) are available on a limited basis.  


We generally make decisions by mid-March. For Duke/UNC Round 1 MBA/MPP applicants, please contact us if you need your decision earlier. If you are admitted, we highly encourage you to attend our Open House in late March or early April.

What Else You Should Know


We require the completion of basic statistics and microeconomics courses from an accredited institution (with a grade of "B" or higher) prior to enrollment. Alternatively, applicants may obtain a Certificate of Completion through this microeconomics course and this statistics course to satisfy the prerequisite coursework. Students must submit official transcripts with the course name(s) and grade(s) and/or the approved Certificates of Completion along with their application (or by August 1st for courses taken during the summer prior to enrollment).


Conducting Research That Matters

Shuyi Qiu MPP’23 worked as a research assistant with professor John S. Ji at Duke Kunshan prior to moving to the United States to get her MPP degree. Shuyi says Sanford's professors are special. "I felt warm when I was greeted, they knew my research. And now, Sanford feels like home." Shuyi was lead author on a research paper published with Professor Ji in the International Journal of Epidemiology. She now serves as a research assistant for Professors Lisa Gennetian and Christina Gibson-Davis.

Read more MPP student stories

pushing boundaries

Andres Hernandez Jr. MPP'23 came to Sanford to prepare himself for a political career. He sees his tattoos as an integral part of his life after Sanford.  "I want to be not only one of the first Latinos in a political space, but also the first with large exposed tattoos. The political landscape is so scrutinizing and people are so cookie-cutter – combovers, no tattoos, no piercings, they talk and walk a certain way, they’re usually taller, clean-shaven. But I want to push the envelope and really represent the community."

See Andres' tattoos and read more student stories