fbpx What We Look For | Harvard Kennedy School

Aspiring leaders like you enroll in the Master in Public Policy (MPP) Program to build up the conceptual framework and practical skills needed for successful careers in public service. 

What do we look for in our MPP students?

First of all, we’re looking for a demonstrated commitment to and passion for serving the public interest.

We also gauge your potential to excel in the multiple forms of analysis—economic, empirical, ethical, political, and integrative policy analysis—that are at the heart of our curriculum, and in management and leadership. You can demonstrate these qualities through your academic background, professional experience, and community or volunteer work.

You are not strictly required to have professional experience, but having at least two years of full-time professional employment will make you a stronger candidate.

We rarely admit applicants directly from undergraduate school.

What else you should know

There are also some key academic criteria you must meet to be considered for the MPP Program:

Strong academic record
A bachelor's degree and evidence of quantitative proficiency such as success in undergraduate-level economics, statistics, or calculus courses.

Competitive GRE or GMAT scores
Read our standardized test score policy for exceptions.

TOEFL/IELTS
If English is not your native language or your undergraduate degree program was not conducted in English, you must submit your Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS academic test only), or Cambridge English test score with your application. You must meet the minimum overall test score and sub-scores listed below in a single test sitting: 

  • 100 on the internet-based TOEFL (iBT) either in-person or on the Special Home Edition with a minimum of 25 on each section
  • 630 total score on ITP Plus with a minimum of 65 on each section
  • 7 overall band score on the IELTS with a minimum of 7 on each section
  • 185 on Level C1 or Level C2 proficiency on the Cambridge English with a minimum of 185 on each section

Letters of recommendation
We look for strong recommendations from individuals in academia or other professional sectors who know you well and can tell us about your qualifications for our program.

Simply meeting the criteria above does not guarantee admission. Our program receives many more applications from well-qualified candidates than can be admitted, but we carefully consider all aspects of each application we receive. Offers of admission are made to the strongest candidates.