FAQs for Prospective PhD Students
Click on the questions below to see the answers to a list of the frequently asked questions about the Ford School of Public Policy’s PhD program.
Can I apply to both the Master’s in Public Policy (MPP) and Doctoral in Public Policy programs?
Should I apply for the MPP or PhD?
If you are interested in a research career in think tanks or government or if you are interested in a research/teaching career as a faculty member in a social science department or professional school, you should apply for the PhD. If you are primarily interested in working in the public sector as a manager, running government programs, or evaluating government programs you should apply for the MPP.
Can I apply for spring admission?
No. We accept applications for fall admission only.
Can I apply for part-time study?
No. The joint doctoral program is a full-time program.
Can I participate in the program from off-campus?
No. The joint doctoral program requires a full-time presence on the Ann Arbor campus through at least the end of the third year. The program requires continuous enrollment for fall/winter terms.
Is it possible to be accepted into your program without taking the GRE (GRE and TOEFL for International students)?
No. Complete GRE (general) test scores (and TOEFL for International students) are required. The Admissions Committee will be unable to consider your application unless we receive these test scores. We do not accept the LSAT, GMAT, or other test scores. The U-M/Rackham Institution Code is 1839. You are not required to send copies to the Joint PhD Program Office.
What is the application deadline?
The firm application deadline is December 15.
In order to review your application, we must have access to all of your materials, letters of recommendation, and test scores by the beginning of the deadline day. Please submit all materials on or before the December 15 deadline (online for new prospective students and for current Rackham students who wish to transfer to the Joint PhD Program).
How do I know if the program is the right fit for me?
Read through all of the program information for both the Ford School Joint Doctoral Program and the Social Science department of your choice (Economics, Political Science, or Sociology). If you begin with the information on the Ford School program you will be able to link to the department from our site.
Contact faculty who share your interests via email (see “are interviews required?” below). You can also contact the Joint PhD Program Office at email@example.com with questions.
Finally, there is an excellent website that addresses the issues surrounding the process of applying to a doctoral program. It's called: Questions to Ask When Thinking About Pursuing a PhD.
How do I apply?
You should apply online through the Rackham Graduate School.
Please check your online application status to ensure materials were up-loaded properly.
Note: It is important to wait until January 15 before inquiring about missing application materials. It takes time (over the winter holiday break) to process and post all the applicant materials received by the Joint PhD Program Office.
Can I send materials electronically or by fax?
NO. New prospective applicants and transfer applicants must apply online. Additional materials, such as writing samples should be uploaded electronically with the online application.
Again, all application materials should be submitted online.
Should I check my application status?
It is highly recommended that you check electronically via your on-line College Net application (online application).
Please note: the Ford School does not contact applicants automatically. It is your responsibility to check your status and contact the Joint PhD Program Office after January 15 regarding missing application materials.
When will I find out whether I am accepted or denied admission?
Applicants will be notified of admission decisions by early April. Please check your admission status via the online Rackham Friend Account.
How will I be notified about a decision on my application?
You will be notified via the online application process for new applicants and by electronic mail (current Rackham Change of Program applicants/students).
Are interviews required?
No. Interviews are not required. Read through the section on this topic in: Questions to Ask When Thinking About Pursuing a PhD.
Can I visit campus?
Yes. You are welcome to visit the U-M campus at any time. As a prospective student you are responsible for arranging your visit; the Ford School does not arrange individual visits. The Ford School invites prospective applicants who have been offered admission to the program to visit the campus during the spring recruiting season.
What is the most important part of the application?
Every part of the application is important and is considered. There are no strict cut-offs for the GPA or GRE scores.
How large is the applicant pool?
We receive over 100 applications per year. In December 2012, we received 175 applications.
How many students are accepted?
For fall 2012, we recommended 13 students for admission to the Joint PhD Program. Our goal is to matriculate 6 students across the 3 joint programs.
Can international students get financial aid?
All accepted students receive a five-year funding package.
Will my chances of admission be affected if I apply for financial aid?
Your application will be considered equally regardless of whether you have funding.
What kinds of financial aid are available for PhD students?
Students will be supported by a combination of fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching stipends. Students are encouraged to seek both teaching and research experience. All students who apply to the joint program are considered for financial aid from the Ford School. Students are strongly encouraged to seek out fellowships from external sources.
The Rackham Fellowships office provides an exhaustive list of university and non-university sources for graduate students. Applicants can access this information on Rackham’s website by following links for prospective students, fellowships, and recruitment.
What does a typical financial aid package look like?
Students receive a full fellowship their first and fifth years in the program, which covers tuition and fees, pays a monthly stipend during the academic year (September 1 through April 30), and offers health insurance.
Students work as a GSI (Graduate Student Instructor) in their social science department during their second and third years (earning full tuition and fees, monthly stipend, and health insurance), and as a Graduate Student Research Assistant (GSRA) during their 4th year.
All students in good standing (including achieving candidacy by the end of year three) receive fourth and fifth year funding.
What is the program’s time frame?
The joint doctoral program is a five-year program.
Students spend most of their first two years in a department taking the same sequence of theory and methods courses as departmental students.
In year three, students finish up the course requirements and write an original policy research paper.
In years four and five, students complete a dissertation under the supervision of Ford School and departmental faculty.
Can I apply for a leave of absence?
Yes. A leave of absence must be approved by the chair of the Ford School doctoral program and by the chair of graduate studies in the social science department. In some cases, the Rackham Graduate School must approve the leave.
How is advising done?
Students are assigned a departmental faculty advisor and a Ford School faculty advisor in their first year.
How many advisors are needed for a thesis committee?
Dissertation committees must have at least four faculty members, three of whom are regular faculty members of the graduate faculty. Two of these advisors must be from the doctoral candidate’s home program and one must be from the Ford School.
Where have Ford School PhD graduates accepted jobs recently?