Application Process

No, but we do like to know what policy areas interest you. There is an exception, however. If you are interested in applying to become a Ladd Fellow in Education Policy, you must indicate your interest in education policy.

We require all applicants to complete coursework in microeconomics and statistics at 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. Official transcripts and/or Certificates of Completion must be submitted by August 1st.

The important factor is whether the grades received from courses taken at such institutions are listed on the degree-granting institution's transcript. We require an official transcript from a study abroad/non-degree granting institution if the name of the course, credits transferred, and the grade from the courses taken at these institutions are not listed on the degree-granting institution's transcript.

You should include all components of your educational background, including undergraduate, graduate, and any individual courses taken outside of a degree granting program. Your study abroad course names and grades should appear on your official undergraduate transcript; if not, you must submit the international transcript(s) as well. 

If your transcripts are not in English, you must submit the original transcript along with an English translation.

We require all applicants to provide an undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) on their applications. You must use these guidelines when determining your UGPA: 

(Note: You are required to provide an undergraduate grade point average (UGPA) in the Academic History section of your application.)


We require the calculation of your UGPA if you have:

  • Attended a college or university outside of the United States for all or part of your undergraduate degree program (do not include study abroad)
  • Transferred 12 or more credits from another institution toward your bachelors degree
  • Failed a course and it appears on your transcript but is not included in your school’s calculation of GPA.

There are two options for calculating your UGPA:

  1. Utilize the GPA Calculator from Scholaro to create a line-by-line assessment of your UGPA. If you use the GPA Calculator from Foreign Credits, please copy and paste the full converted results (class, credits/hours, grade, US grade, and GPA) into a word processing or spreadsheet program to create a PDF document for upload.
  2. Purchase a credential evaluation from one of the following vendors and upload the official evaluation results: ECE, Scholaro, or WES.

If you graduated or will graduate from a US college or university, you should report the cumulative GPA and GPA grade scale that is stated on the degree-conferring transcript.

Below are some important points to remember when calculating your UGPA.

  • It is not necessary to pay for a credential evaluation if you are using the Foreign Credits GPA Calculator. Therefore, we suggest this method. You will need to cut and paste the converted results into a word processing or spreadsheet program to create a PDF document for upload. Otherwise, the results will be cut off. This may result in a significantly longer processing time.
  • The UGPA should include all undergraduate course work completed at the time of submission of the application.
  • If you attended more than one school, you must include the grades from all undergraduate schools in calculating your UGPA.
  • Do not include courses that were dropped or courses that did not award letter grades (e.g. satisfactory/unsatisfactory, pass/fail, credit only).
  • If you repeated a course or did not pass it (e.g. received an F or E grade), you must include both grades in your UGPA calculation.
  • Do not include graduate-level courses that you have completed unless they counted toward your undergraduate degree requirements. There is a separate place on the application for you to provide your graduate grade point average.
  • If you do not find a grade scale that exactly matches your undergraduate institution’s scale, please use the scale that matches it most closely (e.g., applicants who have attended an Indian university that use a 70-100 point scale may use the United Kingdom scale).
  • You do not need to include study abroad classes.

Yes, we require a 1-2 page resume with the online application.

Please describe why you are interested in a masters degree in public policy; how your professional, academic, or personal experiences have contributed to your interest; and your professional goals upon graduation.  Stories and anecdotes are welcome, as well as anything that helps us to get to know you better.  Your statement should be no longer than 1,500 words.

We require all evaluation forms and recommendation letters to be uploaded and completed online. We will not process applications until we have received all of your recommendations. Applicants should ensure that all three recommendations have been submitted online by January 5.

As we do not grant deferrals, admission is valid only for the year specified in the offer letter. Prospective students should submit their application by January 5 of the calendar year in which they wish to attend. If you decide not to enroll, you must decline the offer of admission by completing the online enrollment decision form. Should you change your mind, you must complete a new application to re-apply for a subsequent year, and previous financial aid awards no longer apply. Awards change each year as a function of budgets and the applicant pool. Those re-applying to our program will compete with a new applicant pool for merit-based financial aid.

We can retrieve and use some previous application materials for two years. If wish to reapply to the Duke MPP Program, please email the MPP Admissions staff and let us know the year you previously applied. We can obtain your GRE and TOEFL scores and transcripts, which may be used again for a re-application. We recommend revising your resume and providing updated information.

Applying to multiple programs may indicate indecision or a lack of clear goals. It may not hurt your chances of being accepted, but it does appear that you’re “shopping” for a program. Applicants should not apply to both the Duke MPP and Duke Public Policy PhD programs at the same time, as the goals of each degree are significantly different. For questions related to the PhD program, contact the PhD admissions staff.

We deliver admission decisions via online notification in mid-March.

We require all applicants to possess the equivalent of a four-year U.S. bachelor's degree. However, we will review three-year degrees based on the European Ministers of Education, Bologna Declaration.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted the lives of students around the world, the Sanford School of Public Policy is adopting the following approach in considering applicants to its graduate and professional programs so that we take into account the effects of the disruption. Many institutions have adopted Pass/No Pass grading policies for the Spring 2020 semester. Duke will not penalize applicants whose transcripts show Pass/No Pass or other similar grading options from Spring 2020, regardless of whether it was the individual student or the institution that chose a particular option. When examining academic records such as transcripts, Sanford will focus primarily on an applicant’s performance before and after Spring 2020 rather than during this time of unprecedented disruption. Sanford’s review of academic records focuses on whether applicants pursued a rigorous curriculum that was relevant to their graduate or professional school plans. More than ever, we are interested in the potential of our graduate students to make significant, real world policy contributions, which is often not reflected in grades, and certainly not in one semester’s achievements. Accordingly, Sanford takes a holistic approach in evaluating applicants, one that examines a combination of many factors. Academic records are only one of these factors and are considered alongside letters of recommendation, personal accomplishments, personal statements, and test scores, among others.

Some applicants may decide to retake the GRE in order to improve their scores. Once you have received your second set of scores, you may self-report the highest scores from each of the two GRE's within the online application, using Institution Code 5156 to report your GRE scores via ETS.  They will automatically provide us both sets of GRE scores for review. We will use the highest test scores from each exam.

When your GRE scores are sent from ETS, we will receive all test information but will use the highest scores in each area when considering your application.

No. Beginning with the Fall 2021 application, GRE score submission will be optional. Students may, if they choose, submit GRE scores for consideration in the application process, but it is not required.

Yes, if you’re applying for the MPP/JD dual degree program with Duke or UNC- Chapel Hill Law Schools, we accept the LSAT. You submit applications separately to both the Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill Law School and the MPP program. If you have taken the GRE within the past five years, you can report your GRE scores via ETS to us even though you are applying as a dual degree JD/MPP applicant.

No. The program's curriculum and course sequence requires full-time study.

Due to the structure of our curriculum, our program does not offer spring admission.

We target an enrolling class of 65-80 students each fall. Core courses contain 40-45 students; elective courses range from 15-30 students per class.

We are affiliated with the following organizations:

  • Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (APSIA)
  • Association for Public Policy and Management (APPAM)
  • Idealist - Action Without Borders (
  • National Association of Graduate Admissions Professionals (NAGAP)
  • National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA)

Please email the MPP Admissions staff or call us at 919-613-9205.

The following are the most recent MPP graduation rates (entry years 2015-2020).

MPP Graduation Rates (Entry years 2015-2020)
Graduation rate on time95.77%98.36%100%94.03%97.26%93.59%
Graduation rate after 3 years95.77%98.36%100%100%100%100%


The following table is the distribution of placement of MPP graduates, graduating from the year prior to the data year.

Distribution of Placement of MPP Graduates
 PrivateUS FederalUS State/LocalIntl OrgIntl NGOUS Nonprofit


The following are 10 examples of MPP internship opportunities:

  • NC Growth: Complete economic development research and analysis projects for a specific NC community.
  • Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: Work on electric policy issues affecting the Eastern U.S., including the three organized markets (PJM, NYISO, ISO-NE) and the Southeast.
  • Urban Institute, Income and Benefits Policy Center: Work with the CCDF and welfare rules databases coding state policy changes in the past year.
  • Booz Allen Hamilton: Support the US General Services Administration on procurement policies, best operations practices, and inter-agency collaboration.
  • Development Finance Corporation (formerly OPIC), Structured Finance Team: Work on specific transactions including reviewing applications, running financial models, preparing policy risk analyses.
  • Government Accountability Office (GAO), Homeland Security and Justice Team: Work on all phases of a GAO project from preparing and leading research interviews, engaging in quantitative and qualitative research, and drafting portions of the project report.
  • Hunt Institute for Educational Leadership, Early Childhood Policy Team: Gather and track data on early childhood education policy, work with state-specific data and emerging leaders to inform new initiatives.
  • World Bank Doing Business Project: Maintaining a specific set of indicators, administering surveys to local experts, and analyzing data to assess indicators on a country by country basis.
  • NC Office of State Budget and Management: Helping create university-agency partnerships to provide research to state government on improving program outcomes and designing evaluation protocols.
  • City of Durham, NC: Collecting and managing student research for the Durham Safety and Wellness Task Force and helping create the new Community Safety Department.



The MPA core curriculum emphasizes management courses and explores public organizations and budgeting, while the MPP often includes economics and quantitative courses, with policy analysis at the heart. 

MPA vs MPP degree