Talented, committed policy professionals

Dedicated to finding big–picture solutions to urgent and complex policy challenges across a variety of sectors, students who choose the Ford School are diverse and gifted, active and engaged, and creative and passionate. Our programs teach students to think analytically across disciplines, to communicate clearly and effectively, and to work collaboratively to solve problems.

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Graduate students

Ford School Master's students acquire skills and problem-solving techniques relevant to the needs of private, public, and non-profit employers. They learn about the politics of public policy, effective public management, quantitative program evaluation, values and ethics, and other core knowledge necessary as a policy practitioner.

Our students also acquire a strong grounding in quantitative skills through courses in calculus, statistics, microeconomics I and II, and applied econometrics. Beyond these core courses, the Ford School focuses strongly on the application of these skills to real-world public policy challenges through a required 10-week internship, an intensive policy simulation, and an Applied Policy Seminar, now called Strategic Public Policy Consulting or SPPC, in which students complete a consulting project with a real world client under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

Students then choose from a range of elective courses, developing expertise in international affairs and diplomacy, policy advocacy, public finance, benefit-cost analysis, and statistical forecasting and modeling.

Our graduates have gone on to successful careers with thousands of organizations. To post your openings on our FordCareers (via Symplicity) system, please follow this link.

Here's just a small selection of our master's level employers:


Federal Government  
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Global HIV/AIDS Atlanta, GA
Congressional Research Service, Domestic Social Policy Washington, DC
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Washington, DC
Export-Import Bank of the United States Washington, DC
Government Accountability Office, Professional Development Program Washington, DC
The White House, Domestic Policy Council Washington, DC
U.S. Agency for International Development Washington, DC
U.S. Department of Agriculture, International Services Washington, DC
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Washington, DC
U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service Bangkok, Thailand
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water Policy Washington, DC
U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Homeland Security Branch Washington, DC
State Government  
California Legislative Analyst’s Office Sacramento, CA
Michigan Senate Fiscal Agency Lansing, MI
Oregon Department of Education Salem, OR
State of Michigan, Office of the Governor Lansing, MI
Local Government  
Chicago Public Schools, Office of Performance Chicago, IL
City of Boston, Boston Urban Mechanics Program Boston, MA
City of Detroit, Office of the Mayor Detroit, MI
City of New Orleans, Office of the Mayor New Orleans, LA
City of Philadelphia, Office of the Mayor Philadelphia, PA
City of San Francisco, Department of the Environment San Francisco, CA
International Organizations  
Inter-American Development Bank Washington, DC
International Food Policy Research Institute Washington, DC
International Organization for Migration Geneva, Switzerland
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Paris, France
The World Bank Washington, DC
UNESCO, Regional Unit for Social and Human Sciences Bangkok, Thailand
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Geneva, Switzerland
Non-Profit Organizations  
Amnesty International USA Washington, DC
Direct Relief International Santa Barbara, CA
Education Pioneers Chicago, IL
Innovations for Poverty Action Lilongwe, Malawi
Mercy Corps Washington, DC
National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices Washington, DC
The Asia Foundation Manila, Philippines
Urban Institute Washington, DC
The Broad Residency in Urban Education New York, NY
William J. Clinton Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative New York, NY
Anderson Economic Group Lansing, MI
Booz Allen Hamilton, Public Sector Practice Washington, DC
Chartis Group New York, NY
Huron Consulting Group, Higher Education Practice Chicago, IL
LMI Government Consulting Washington, DC
Stratus Consulting, Natural Resource Economics and Policy Washington, DC
Private Sector  
General Motors, Public Policy Center Detroit, MI
Khulisa Management Services Johannesburg, S. Africa
Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. Ann Arbor, MI
Moody’s Investor Services, U.S. Public Finance Group Chicago, IL
Pacific Gas and Electric Company, Demand Response San Francisco, CA


Undergraduate students

The Ford School bachelor’s degree program is a competitive, interdisciplinary, liberal arts program open to qualified students interested in local, national, and global policy challenges. Our undergraduate students develop both general and technical skills applicable to a wide range of careers.  For example, the ability to define a problem and conduct research may be equally useful whether working as a foundation project manager, a corporate recruiter, or a freelance journalist.  

Internships play an important role in helping BA students develop their skills and knowledge within the public policy realm.  While these internships are very beneficial, many of them are unpaid, but we do not want that to be the deciding factor in whether to pursue the internship.  Thus, the Ford School internship fund helps defray some of the costs associated with unpaid internships so that our students may benefit from obtaining these worthwhile experiences.  For example, recent recipients of internship funds were able to accept jobs in the U.S. State Department, in the Detroit Mayor's office, and in the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee, to name just a few.  These funds provide students with flexibility in pursuing a range of internship opportunities.

Employers recognize the versatility of the training that our undergraduate students obtain, and so the list of careers undertaken by public policy graduates is far-reaching, and includes positions such as budget or policy analyst for state, local, or federal government; legislative aide; policy analyst for non-profit organizations; elected official; journalist; public affairs officer; to name just a few. In addition, many of our graduates go on to work for Teach for America, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, and still others decide to pursue graduate or professional school.

PhD students

The joint doctoral program is designed to appeal to students who want to pursue research careers in a traditional social science discipline (sociology, economics, or political science) but who also see themselves as committed to the study of public policy. Our goal is for joint PhD students to bring the most rigorous tools of social science to bear on fundamental public policy questions.

Students receive a thorough grounding in the theory and methods of policy and their selected discipline. They develop sophisticated analytical skills including statistics, economic analysis, benefit-cost analysis, program evaluation methods, and qualitative and quantitative approaches to data collection. In addition, our students are actively engaged in research and interdisciplinary policy analysis.

Recent recipients of the joint PhD degree have taken academic positions at Brown University, Cornell University, Duke University, Harvard University, Penn State University, Princeton University, University of Maryland, University of North Carolina, University of Virginia, WestPoint, Williams College, and Yale University.

Other recent graduates have accepted research positions with the World Bank, the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. State Department, Rand, Mathematica, the International Food Policy Research Institute, the Gates Foundation, and McKinsey & Company. See the full list of our PhD graduates' positions here.