PPOL PhD candidate Liz Walker


The application deadline for Fall 2017 admission is December 1, 2016 by 5 p.m. EST. Applicants will receive an admissions decision notification in mid-March.

The Admissions Committee admits students based on the strength of their academic records, test scores, letters of recommendation, and demonstrated ability and motivation to pursue research. Strong quantitative skills are an important part of a successful application as well. Applicants come from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and experience but all show interest in research and promise for distinguished careers.

How to Apply

The PhD in Public Policy application process is managed by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Office of Admissions. Applicants must send all admissions materials to the GSAS Office of Admissions, not to Harvard Kennedy School. Please visit the GSAS website to learn more about the application process, important deadlines, and how to submit your application online. Interviews are not conducted as part of the application process.

Applicants are not required to have a Harvard Kennedy School faculty advisor before submitting their application. Students will be assigned to an advisor after they are admitted to the program.

Course prerequisites and in-residence requirements

In order for students to be adequately prepared for the rigor of the PhD in Public Policy program, they are required to have completed and excelled in the following courses before enrolling:

  • A university-level course in microeconomic theory
  • A university-level course in statistics
  • At least two semesters of calculus
  • Mathematics courses up to and including multivariable calculus

In addition to these course requirements, applicants should be aware that PhD in Public Policy students must be in-residence at Harvard for a minimum of three years. Deferrals are made only on a case-by-case basis.

Supporting documents

All application materials must be submitted online. If you are interested in applying to the PhD in Public Policy program, you will need to prepare and submit:

  • An online application form
  • The application fee
  • Your CV or résumé
  • Official GRE scores (GMAT is not accepted)
  • Official TOEFL scores, if necessary
  • Official academic transcripts
  • A statement of purpose
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A research paper, authored by you, that has a policy focus

Additional application information

Graduate Record Examinations (GRE)

Applicants must submit their GRE scores for tests they have taken within the past five years; GMAT scores are not accepted. There is no minimum requirement for the GRE scores. Plan to take the GRE by mid-November 2016 for Fall 2017 admission. Applicants must send their GRE scores to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Office of Admissions, using ETS code 3451. A department code is not required.

International applicants

International applicants are required to submit scores from the TOEFL’s Internet-based test (iBT) if they hold an equivalent of a bachelor’s degree from an institution where the primary language of instruction is not English. No other test scores will be accepted.

We require international applicants who are non-native English speakers to submit TOEFL scores even if they hold master’s degrees from institutions where English is the primary language of instruction.

Plan to take the TOEFL by mid-November 2016 for Fall 2017 admission. Applicants must send their TOEFL scores to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Office of Admissions, using ETS code 3451. A department code is not required.

Current Harvard Kennedy School students

If you are currently enrolled at HKS and are applying to the PhD Public Policy program, you are required to submit an online application with new supporting documents. We cannot use your initial HKS application materials, including your academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, or test scores. Students who began the PhD Public Policy program but have not registered for five consecutive years will need to reapply to the program and redo all course prerequisites.

Apply to the PhD in Public Policy Program

Applications for the 2017-2018 academic year are due December 1, 2016 by 5 p.m. EST.

An information session will be held on Monday, September 26 from 4-5 p.m. in Littauer 119 for prospective students to learn more about the program and admissions process.

Public Policy Dissertations Archive

View a complete list of dissertations written by PPOL PhD candidates from 1973 to 2016.

John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page