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Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the Hertie School in Berlin are bringing together data science and public policy, to offer a compelling new opportunity to earn two valuable master’s degrees.

A new dual degree developed by the schools merges the Master of Data Science for Public Policy (MDS) with a Master of Public Policy (MPP). The two-year MDS/MPP dual-degree program combines rigorous data science and evidence-based policy to prepare students to become solutions-oriented leaders in the public sector.

For the first year of the program, participants will begin their studies at the Hertie School, focusing on the MDS. Throughout this year, students will delve into the fundamentals of data science and public policy, exploring topics such as algorithmic decision-making and the transformative potential of artificial intelligence. At the Hertie School, students will have access to cutting-edge resources, including a state-of-the-art supercomputing tool for data science-based research, and a creative space equipped with the latest tools for collaboration and invention. Students will also benefit from the Data Science Lab's online learning resources, via which they will further enhance their technical and quantitative skills. 

For the second year, students will continue their studies, focusing on the MPP at the Sanford School. The top-ranked program cultivates ethical and inclusive leaders committed to solving public policy challenges and strengthening society through public service. Students have the opportunity to choose from seven policy-area concentrations. At Sanford, MDS/MPP students will have the opportunity to refine their analytical skills. They will gain unique experience in bringing together data science and public policy insight to address complex societal issues.  

“We are delighted to launch the new MDS/MPP dual degree programme with the Sanford School,” says Hertie School Dean of Graduate Programmes Thurid Hustedt. “The programme combines public policy and data science to prepare our students to work in an increasingly data-driven world. We are proud to expand upon our successful partnership with Duke University after more than a decade of collaboration through our semester exchange programme.”

Ken Rogerson, director of graduate studies of Sanford’s MPP Program, said the program’s global focus provides tremendous value. “The Hertie School is a globally respected institution and Sanford is honored to be partnering with them in this endeavor. There is so much value in having a full year’s experience with a global institutional partner and then coming to Duke. Students will have studied with students from around the globe at Hertie and then will bring those valuable experiences to Duke. Additionally, students at Duke will benefit from those perspectives in and out of the classroom,” Rogerson said.

The dual-degree program at the Hertie School and Sanford School of Public Policy is open to candidates from around the world. Admission is highly competitive, focusing on academic excellence and a strong commitment to public policy and data science.

The new dual degree expands professional offerings in public policy, says Cory Krupp, associate dean of academic programs at Sanford. Duke is ranked No. 6 in public policy analysis among graduate programs nationwide by US News & World Report.

“This new Hertie/Sanford dual degree program expands on a successful inter-institutional partnership with the Hertie School in Berlin and offers the opportunity for students to pursue deeper, more focused training in data analytics and policy analysis. There is strong complementarity between the disciplines already, and this dual-degree program expands exposure to tools in data science such as causal inference, machine learning and the mathematics of data science, as well as providing a solid foundation in political, economic and ethical policy analysis. We are excited to diversify our offerings and expand the scope of experiences open to the future leaders and policymakers who join this program,” Krupp said.

Rogerson added that the dual-degree program builds upon a decade of partnership and collaboration with the Hertie School and Sanford, and positions graduates for a strong future in data and policy.

“This dual degree is valuable for a few reasons. First, it is important for the program to increase its emphasis on crucial “skills-based learning.” By creating a dual-degree program that combines both public policy and data science, we are better preparing our students to be able to do more work with impact after graduation in our increasingly data-driven world. Second, we are strengthening our relationship with an existing international partner. Hertie and Sanford have had more than a decade’s worth of collaboration through our semester-exchange program, and now we are able to do more for our students through this full degree program,” Rogerson said.

The program will welcome its first cohort of students in fall 2024. The application deadline is March 31 for fall 2024 admission.

Learn more about the MDS/MPP program

For more information about the program, contact: Sanford School MPP Admissions

More about the program

About the Duke Sanford School of Public Policy

The Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University is among the nation’s leading public policy schools, offering undergraduate, master’s and doctoral-level degrees in public policy and international development policy. Launched in 1971 as the Institute of Policy Sciences and Public Affairs by Terry Sanford — president of Duke, former governor of North Carolina, and later a U.S. senator — it is one of the oldest and largest public policy programs in the nation. Sanford is a community of excellence committed to producing knowledge and leadership to truly transform policy challenges. Faculty are working to improve lives and communities by researching the most pressing public policy issues and preparing students for lives of leadership, civic engagement and public service. Sanford’s 10,000+ alumni are making an impact worldwide. The community of 700+ students pursues the Sanford approach of analysis plus action.

Ranked among the nation’s top graduate schools in public policy and specialty areas, Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy also offers a two-year residential Master of Public Policy, an executive hybrid Master of National Security Policy program, an executive hybrid Master of Public Affairs and a Master of International Development Policy program. In collaboration with the Nicholas School of the Environment, the school also offers a two-year international Master of Environmental Policy at Duke Kunshan University in China.


Key Details

  • Applications open: March 2024
  • Deadline for applications: March 31, 2024
  • First cohort begins: Fall 2024

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