MPP Tour of Sanford

What We Look For

Our MPP students are a community forged from different lived experiences and represent a rich spectrum of academic, professional, and cultural backgrounds. When reviewing applications for the program, we consider:

Motivation and dedication to public service

Public policy is a discipline that centers service to others through data analysis and informed policy implementation. The program looks for applicants who have a clear vision for how they seek to serve the public good and improve the lives others.

Work experience in relevant fields

The program looks for applicants with two or more years of post-undergraduate work experience in fields related to their policy interests. Previous work experience signals to the program that applicants are making an informed decision about their pursuit of graduate education in public policy.

The program admits a limited number of applicants directly from undergraduate programs, but we would expect those applicants to display exceptional academic acumen and ideally have robust internship, volunteer, or part-time work experience in fields related to their policy interests.

academic strength

The program reviews applications holistically and does not have a minimum GPA requirement. However, applicants have historically had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.5.

Prerequisite Coursework in Microeconomics & Statistics

Our MPP program has two quantitative prerequisites: prior to enrollment, our incoming MPP students must receive a grade of "B" or higher in at least one microeconomic course and one statistics course at an accredited college or university.

For applicants who have not completed microeconomics and statistics during their academic career, they may still apply to the MPP program, but will need to satisfy the prerequisite courses prior to August 1st of the year they begin the program.

Faculty and employer evaluations

Good letters of recommendation show that the recommender knows first-hand the applicant, their interest in public policy, their demonstrated skills and abilities, and their character.

For applicants with fewer than two years of work experience, we recommend two academic recommendations and one professional recommendation. For applicants with three or more years of work experience, we suggest one academic recommendation and two professional recommendations. Applicants with four or more years of work experience may provide three professional recommendations.

Current Student Profile

Student gesturing in a meeting
  • Post-undergraduate work experience: 2-6 years
  • Age Range: 24-32 years
  • Undergraduate GPA: >3.4
  • GRE (optional): Top 25% 
  • TOEFL (iBT): 110-115 (preferred)
  • GMAT Median (Dual-degree MBA students): 80th percentile/ 640-760
  • LSAT (Dual-degree JD students): 165-168


We always enjoy meeting prospective students! Contact us at You can also sign up for our mailing list, via our Sanford Inquiry Form below, for news about Sanford and the MPP program.

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Interested in visiting the Sanford School in-person or arranging a Zoom call with our Admissions team? Complete a our In-Person Visit/Zoom Appointment Request Form below.

Visit/Appointment Request Form


Our admissions team hosts and partners with numerous virtual and in-person events throughout the year, mostly between the months of June and December.

See our current recruiting event schedule

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

empowering environment

Maya Sood MPP/JD'26 was struck by the wide variety of perspectives in her cohort. "Everyone has done such cool work and has so much to offer," Maya said, adding "you are surrounded by people who are just as passionate about their area of interest as you are about yours. It’s an inspiring and empowering environment!"  Maya spent the summer of 2023 as a Rule of Law Intern at The Carter Center focusing on post-conflict Liberia. "Sanford thrives because of its community and the MPP community is truly one of the best!," she said.

Read Maya's story