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.

  • Academic record: a bachelor's degree and evidence of quantitative proficiency, such as success in undergraduate-level economics, statistics, or calculus courses
  • TOEFL/IELTS: evidence of fluency in English if it’s not your native language, demonstrated by a TOEFL score of at least 25 on each section of the iBT; 58 (reading section), 59 (listening section) and 61 (writing section) on the PBT; or a 7 on each section of the IELTS
  • Recommendations: 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.
  • GRE or GMAT scores

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.