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Public Policy

The PhD in Public Policy Program trains candidates to conduct policy analytic research, help shape and execute public policy, and teach the next generation of educators, researchers, and practitioners.

The flexible nature of the program allows you to choose your own path in areas that most interest you—from microeconomic research to international development to climate change. Whichever program track you choose—economics, politics & institutions, judgment and decision sciences, and science, technology, and policy—you will have the opportunity to conduct scholarly research using the vast resources of Harvard University.

Students in the program have been involved in many diverse projects such as water research allocation in Zambia, racial disparities in the criminal justice system in Massachusetts, and the politics of the American welfare state.

Graduates of the program have gone on to teach at MIT, Duke, University of Texas, Penn State, and Yale. Others now have influential positions with NGOs like Resources for the Future, private institutions such as JP Morgan and Analysis Group, and multilateral organizations including the World Bank and Global Innovation Fund. Among the many illustrious graduates of the program is Larry Bacow, president of Harvard University.

Additional information on the graduate program is available from the Public Policy Program and requirements for the degree are detailed in Policies.

Admissions Requirements

Please review the Harvard Kenneth C. Griffin Graduate School of Arts and Sciences admissions requirements and other information before applying. You can find degree program-specific admissions requirements below and access additional guidance on applying from the Public Policy Program.

Academic Background

Applicants are admitted and matriculate into one of the four tracks listed below. Ordinarily, matriculated students cannot change to a different track from the one to which they were admitted. In rare and exceptional circumstances, students can apply to change tracks by submitting an application to the Program. Visit the Public Policy program site for more information and to review the track-specific admissions prerequisites.

  • Economics
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Politics and Institutions
  • Science, Technology and Policy Studies

Writing Sample

A writing sample is required as part of the application and should be no more than 20 pages long. The writing sample must be single-authored and written in English.

Standardized Tests

GRE General: Required
Writing Sample: Required
iBT TOEFL minimum score: 103
IELTS minimum score: 7

Theses & Dissertations

Theses & Dissertations for Public Policy


See list of Public Policy faculty


Degrees Offered


Questions about the Program?

Department of Public Policy