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Attention Public Policy/Affairs PhDs & Applicants!


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So I haven't been able to find a forum dedicated to those who want to do Policy PhDs. I see people here and there, and there are IR/PolySci/Econ vs Policy threads out there, but this is not one of those. Nor is it about MPPs & MPAs. Please. Policy only.

If you are or would like to apply for a PhD in PP or PA, I want to pick your brain. I am currently applying too! What are your research interests? What led you there? Did you do a master's? Work? Coming straight from undergrad?

Where are you applying? Are you applying to Econ/PolySci/IR programs as well? What's the dream school - your numero uno? Have you visited it?

For those who are currently doing your PhD in Public Policy/Affairs, tell us about your application process. Where did you apply? Where did you get in? Where did you choose?

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ASU gave me a stipend guaranteed for the first academic year, where renewal is contingent upon resources and satisfactory progress.  No guaranteed summer funding, but there are opportunities to assist

Yeah checking the results database has become a manic habit. But all that checking does allow me to see when people heard last year, so if anyone is applying to the same schools you might find this li

Ok, so I can see it's time to change the question. Anyone out here apply for PhD's in PP/PA? Which schools?

Hello PolyWonk,

This is my first time venturing to post here. I stumbled upon this topic and I thought I'd quickly respond. I am very interested in a PhD in policy.I don't have a lot of time now, but I live in New England and I'm going to stick to applying to at least one of the schools in this area. I just skimmed your post so please forgive me if I do not have the input you are looking for. I earned my MSW many years ago and discovered that I was drifting away from clinical practice and became drawn to policy. I got a job working for the state legislature and I took off. Initally I thought I wanted a PhD in Public Administration, but then I began researching policy programs and they were a much better fit for me. So, I'm looking at public policy programs with a strong economic/legal core. I'm pretty laid back about the "dream" school thing because I'm sort of over that (or I'm just too old to be concerned :D ). As long as the school and program are decent, I'll look into them. Anyway, I will keep you posted as I narrow my choice in schools if you're interested. Thanks for posting this. Policy isn't as popular a profession as, say, law, medicine, or business, but it's a much needed profession nevertheless.

Thanks!

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Thanks for the reply Shygeek! I am interested. It's a desert out here for people like us, and I just can't seem to wrap my fingers around what type of person is drawn to a PhD in Public Policy. It seems that there are a lot of MPPs and/or PhDs in political science.

Interesting journey you've had, so thanks for sharing. Good luck, and keep me updated!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm applying for Phd Programmes because after two years of foreign policy work I really want to get back into academia. My work in foreign policy has given me some memorable experiences thus far but technical public sector work can place contraints on research freedom, one's ability to be creative and it can get very monotonous. Further, at heart, I really love researching. I'm actually mostly interested in research on human capital and transnational migration. I have an MPA already, which more than prepared me for the policy analysis skills needed for my current job, but I yearn a bit more research freedom to set my own paramaters for the work that I do.

In terms of applications I'm basically applying to the current top PhD programmes in the US but my dream would be Berkeley.

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I'm currently doing my MA in economics and applying to PhD Public Policy programs for next fall. I'm interested in development economics, particularly income inequality and education. I'll be applying to 6 programs in Canada as well as 1 in Europe (some policy, some international affairs, some global governance). Good luck to everyone with applications!

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Thanks everyone! Public policy/affairs is such a wide reaching discipline. The programs very so widely, it's hard just figuring out which are the best programs.

I just finished my 9 -- aaahhhh -- applications to a variety of public policy/affairs & political science programs. It feels good to be done.

Good luck to you all too!

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My test for schools i decided to apply to was just trying to find programmes that had some strength in the areas that I wanted to research or do my dissertation in. It is hard though with so many good schools out there. Done applications now and its a bit nerve-racking waiting to see if i get in anywhere.

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Nervous would be a good way to describe me too. There are times when I am relaxed, and the thought of my submitted applications jumps into my head, and I am right back to almost shaking again!

 

Here's a question. I know that Duke Sanford does phone interviews, but I was wondering about some of the other schools. I'm curious because I will be out of the country starting the middle of the coming week, and I will not be back until the end of February. Do you think I should contact each of the schools and let them know, just in case?

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I'm applying to PhD programs this year with a strong emphasis on science policy and/or separate science policy programs: Princeton, RAND, Michigan, Maryland, Cornell (STS program, though they do some policy), GMU, CMU, and Berkeley.

 

I'm currently an astrophysics grad student at Berkeley in a PhD program, but am planning on bailing with a masters and switching to policy (unfortunately this means I had to apply to Berkeley's masters program first, as I don't have an MPP, though everywhere else was PhD).  I'd of course love to stay in something space-related in the long run, but am pretty open in terms of options, and have been writing in my applications that I'd like to do comparative science policy in China.  I spent a month there as an undergrad doing a study abroad program in math, and as China is becoming our next big competitor in technology, it seemed like a good way to go.  

 

I have a bit of a strange background, in that I have undergrad degrees in astro, physics, International Studies, and German, and did two other study abroad programs that were sustainability-related in Kenya and Bulgaria.  I'm mostly interested in the impact of the political structure of "communist" governments on technological innovation, and have already been accepted to be a policy intern at a summer statistics program in Pyongyang.  

 

That said, I have no idea how policy admissions work, and despite having a very extensive network of contacts in astrophysics, have not met anyone who has done a policy PhD (mostly people do a fellowship after their PhD via various societies to get into policy).  I have a reasonable list of publications, and a lot of leadership experience, so hopefully those are assets...

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Here's a question. I know that Duke Sanford does phone interviews, but I was wondering about some of the other schools. I'm curious because I will be out of the country starting the middle of the coming week, and I will not be back until the end of February. Do you think I should contact each of the schools and let them know, just in case?

 

Assuming you'll be in a place with internet access, I don't know that this is necessary.  If you have Skype or Google voice credits, you can check your voicemail regularly, and call them back if they want an interview.  Heck, in my current field everyone uses Skype, and an unsolicited phone call would be unheard of (granted, we're a tech-heavy group).

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Thanks for the advice! I'm really unsure of how much internet access I will have for 5 of the 6 weeks I'll be gone. (Rural Nigeria and Uganda) It will be at best, 2x daily. Worst case scenario... think life in the 90s. 

 

I will check with my top 3 choices, just in case :)

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Thanks for the advice! I'm really unsure of how much internet access I will have for 5 of the 6 weeks I'll be gone. (Rural Nigeria and Uganda) It will be at best, 2x daily. Worst case scenario... think life in the 90s. 

 

I will check with my top 3 choices, just in case :)

Sounds awesome!  Was in rural Kenya four years ago; it wasn't too hard to get internet and/or phone through safaricom, though I don't know if they extend into Uganda.  Have fun :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Polywonk - thanks for starting the forum! I've been lurking around for awhile trying to find one.

 

I'm applying to PhD Public Policy. Currently finishing my Masters in Public Policy, and just enjoyed the research that I got to do so much that I want to keep going. Applied to 8 schools for PhD Policy - Cal, Duke, UNC, Harvard, Chicago, CMU, Texas, Michigan - and 2 more (for good measure) in International Development - Oxford and LSE. Apps were pretty grueling but now that I'm done its just more waiting game...

 

I'm interested in regional development policy, economic development, that kind of stuff.

 

tmj - the science focus sounds like a really good one. I'm doing a little bit of that in my MPP studies. Seems like CMU would be a great place for that, yeah?

 

Anyone heard anything yet? From what I've seen on similar forums from past years, Feb is the main month for decisions.

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Hi everyone!

 

Thanks for this forum PolyWonk. 

 

My background is a bit all over the place... I studied psychology, worked in human resources and then in nonprofits, mostly doing program management. Now I'm finishing my MPP and want to pursue the PhD. I'm interested in international development, education and poverty issues. I only applied to schools in Los Angeles, RAND and USC. 

 

RAND said they will have application results the third week of February and USC said March.

 

I've only heard from RAND, I think they were contacting everybody to give us a chance to meet with alumni. But nothing more than that...

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Hi guys! I've been with limited internet for the last (almost) two weeks, and being away from GradCafe was like addiction withdrawal.

First things first, I saw a UNC admit!!! Congrats to that person! I got a culple of interview and I think the one I already did went well. But honestly, I've never done this before, so you know.

And welcome to you Giants and Waiting. The more the merrier!!

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Hi everyone!

 

Thanks for this forum PolyWonk. 

 

My background is a bit all over the place... I studied psychology, worked in human resources and then in nonprofits, mostly doing program management. Now I'm finishing my MPP and want to pursue the PhD. I'm interested in international development, education and poverty issues. I only applied to schools in Los Angeles, RAND and USC. 

 

RAND said they will have application results the third week of February and USC said March.

 

I've only heard from RAND, I think they were contacting everybody to give us a chance to meet with alumni. But nothing more than that...

Hi, waiting,,,

You mentioned you heared from RAND, what was that ? Was that an interview or something?

Thanks

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Hi guys! I've been with limited internet for the last (almost) two weeks, and being away from GradCafe was like addiction withdrawal.

First things first, I saw a UNC admit!!! Congrats to that person! I got a culple of interview and I think the one I already did went well. But honestly, I've never done this before, so you know.

And welcome to you Giants and Waiting. The more the merrier!!

 

That may have been me you saw with UNC, I got an email from (I think) my potential advisor saying that I was admitted! Very happy to hear from at least one.

 

What interviews did you get? Congrats, that's great! I saw on the results database one Duke interview - which kind of worries me because I haven't heard anything from them yet...but I'm crossing my fingers that they are just doing it in batches.

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Yeah, CMU seems good for science policy-- I ended up applying to their engineering and public policy department (it was really confusing, as it looked like there were 4 departments you could apply to science policy through), and got in last week.  


Also interviewing with RAND today, though that does seem like they contact everyone who's near an alum/current person working with RAND (my interviewer is RAND faculty who is off-site).

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Congrats tmj! CMU is a great school. Their econ-pp dual degree had a similar confusing application, you could do it either through PP or the B-school...but the B-school charged money for the app...so it was just kind of strange. Did you apply to CMU for the December deadline or the January one?

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Sorry about the typos in the last post. I was exhaustedly typing in Amsterdam airport.

Congrats on the admits guys! My interviews were UNC and Duke... But I'm feeling a bit nervous about them. I am starting to psych myself out.

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Hi, waiting,,,

You mentioned you heared from RAND, what was that ? Was that an interview or something?

Thanks

It was an email from admissions saying they were setting up "informational interviews" so applicants can meet with alumni. After that I got an email with an alumni and met with her last Friday. It was very helpful to get to hear her experience, but I'm not sure if it's part of the official admissions process. I asked questions and she did most of the talking...

Did you get an email like that?

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Congrats tmj! CMU is a great school. Their econ-pp dual degree had a similar confusing application, you could do it either through PP or the B-school...but the B-school charged money for the app...so it was just kind of strange. Did you apply to CMU for the December deadline or the January one?

Thanks!  I applied for the January deadline, so was quite surprised to hear back from them a week later.  This may somehow be related to the fact that the department head of the Engineering and Public Policy program was a radio astronomer and looking for someone with an astronomy background to do a space weather project with him and a former astronaut, though I don't know for sure.

 

Re: RAND interviews, I met with a RAND alum and current faculty member yesterday (he works offsite in Oakland most of the time).  It sounds similar to waiting's experience, with him mostly talking about the program.  It was pretty useful to get to know how the program worked, especially that you are hypothetically able to work with anyone at the institute who has money to pay you/time to advise you.  As I am very unfamiliar with the entire policy grad school process, does anyone know whether that often happens in PhD programs (since at CMU it seemed like you were admitted to work with someone)?

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It was an email from admissions saying they were setting up "informational interviews" so applicants can meet with alumni. After that I got an email with an alumni and met with her last Friday. It was very helpful to get to hear her experience, but I'm not sure if it's part of the official admissions process. I asked questions and she did most of the talking...

Did you get an email like that?

Hi, it is strange, I got a phone interview intead of face to face interview. And the person who interviewed me is a staff from the admission office.

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Thanks!  I applied for the January deadline, so was quite surprised to hear back from them a week later.  This may somehow be related to the fact that the department head of the Engineering and Public Policy program was a radio astronomer and looking for someone with an astronomy background to do a space weather project with him and a former astronaut, though I don't know for sure.

 

Re: RAND interviews, I met with a RAND alum and current faculty member yesterday (he works offsite in Oakland most of the time).  It sounds similar to waiting's experience, with him mostly talking about the program.  It was pretty useful to get to know how the program worked, especially that you are hypothetically able to work with anyone at the institute who has money to pay you/time to advise you.  As I am very unfamiliar with the entire policy grad school process, does anyone know whether that often happens in PhD programs (since at CMU it seemed like you were admitted to work with someone)?

 

I think the one-on-one thing is pretty common, but usually more like five (students) to one (advisor/professor). I think it depends a lot on your advisor and how much of their research they want you to do, as opposed to doing more of your own thing. Definitely something to consider when choosing between programs! (knock on wood)

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