To: Students interested in graduate school
From: Dean Hammer
About: Duke (Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy)
The following is information about the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy (Duke University). Much of it is based on a visit to the program and a conversation with Cynthia Peters, Graduate Program Coordinator. I will be placing this information and supporting information in an advising file.
The Sanford Program is an excellent program (in a beautiful new building) that offers a Masters of Public Policy (MPP). The MPP is a two-year program. Students take a core of courses in their first year that train them in methodologies in policy analysis. In the first semester, students take Microeconomics for Policy, Politics of the Policy Process, Statistics and Data Analysis, Ethics and Policymaking, and a Policy Analysis workshop that integrates course material. In the second semester, students take a second course in Microeconomics for Policy, Quantitative Evaluation Methods, a second Policy Analysis workshop that is a consulting project, and an Elective.
In the summer, students intern. In the second year, students take Public Budgeting or Non-Profit Management (often both), Public Management, 4 electives, and work on the Master’s memo (which is a 25-50 page policy paper for a real client).
The program attempts to balance quantitative preparation with a continued focus on the human aspect of any quantitative analysis. There is considerable emphasis on group/ team projects.
Strengths of the program include International Development, Analytic Journalism, Environmental Policy, Social Policy, Education, and Health Care. There is an International Development Center, a Journalism Center, and a new established Child Policy Center that is affiliation with the Institute. Students can choose a general MPP or can choose two specializations within the MPP: Journalism and Policy Analysis, and International Development Policy. Students may also pursue joint degrees with the School of Law and the School of the Environment.
1) Quantitative skills. A student should be advised to take at least 1 semester of Calculus, at least one course in Statistics, at least Microeconomics, and should have an ability to write well.
2) Public Service. The Program is looking for indices of commitment to public service. Involvement in community service is important. Students should also discuss any leadership responsibilities they have had.
3) Employment. A majority of entering students had at least 1 year of work experience. Most had 2-5 years of work experience. Seven of the 35 entering students came straight from college.
1) The program is a moderately sized program, with about 35-40 in each class;
2) The GRE average of accepted students was 680-90 (quantitative) and 640-50 (verbal). These scores placed students in the top 20%.
3) Average GPA was 3.4-3.5
Writing a Statement of Purpose:
This program, like all programs, will ask students to write a statement of purpose. What follows are some tips:
1) Students should convey a clear sense of why they are going into public policy and how Duke fits these goals (i.e.; what attracts you to Duke?).
2) Related to this, students should have some focus to their career goals;
3) Students should be able to demonstrate a commitment to public service.
Types of Jobs:
Graduates have entered a range of jobs, including at the GAO, OMB, as consulting firms (Anderson, Deloitte and Touche), environmental groups, and non-profit organizations.
Letters of Recommendation:
It is important that you do not use outdated letters for references, particularly since you will have gained valuable work experience before applying to graduate school. It is important that you talk with faculty members who may be writing reference letters. Give them a sense of what you have been doing, what experiences you have had, and what sort of goals and objectives you have. This will be important so that the faculty member can emphasize personal aspects in the recommendation.