Five supporting documents to be submitted
Five supporting documents are required for all applicants. Application materials must be received by January 15 for admissions consideration.
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The academic statement of purpose should be a concise essay about your professional and academic goals (500 words). The admissions committee is interested in how this graduate program will help you meet your career and educational objectives. The academic statement is uploaded on page 9 of the application under the section titled "Program-Specific Information."
A personal statement is also required for all applicants (500 words). This statement is meant to convey how your personal background and life experiences, including social, cultural, familial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree. The personal statement is uploaded on page 10 of the application under the section titled "Additional Essay and Information."
Both essays provide an opportunity for the applicant to convey to the admissions committee information that cannot be found in transcripts, letters of recommendation, test scores, or resumes. Essays should clearly explain the applicant’s reasons for wanting to pursue a Master of Public Policy, areas and questions of interest, and why the Ford School, in particular, is the best place to pursue these objectives. Applicants should be mindful that the statements are not only an opportunity to demonstrate their strong interest in public policy, but also to demonstrate their ability to communicate succinctly and clearly.
2. GRE test scores
At the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, we believe that our admissions policy should be comprehensive, equitable, and inclusive. The Ford School has historically used GRE scores as part of a holistic approach to evaluating students’ preparation for our MPP program and to ensure that we are prepared to offer necessary support, so that all matriculating students succeed in our curriculum.
Because the pandemic made it challenging for MPP program applicants to take the GRE exam, we have been GRE-optional for the last two application cycles. Many of our peer programs also suspended or removed the GRE requirement with the onset of the pandemic.
For years the Ford School faculty has discussed and grappled with use of the GRE in admissions. We know that GRE test scores reflect systemic biases. We also are aware that that is true of every other element of the graduate application (i.e., undergraduate GPA, written statements, letters of recommendation, etc.), as students draw upon unequal levels of economic, social, and cultural capital.
The Ford School is at its core deeply invested in research, teaching, and learning about structural inequalities. Through our discussions of these issues and research, we have come to believe that the degree to which test scores bias application decisions depends on how they are used by admissions committees. Rather than being used as cut-offs–as tools for exclusion—GRE scores can be used to help build a broader picture of the fit between program and applicant, and help understand the support needs of each incoming cohort as we prepare our students to succeed in statistics, program evaluation, economics, and other core MPP coursework.
We’re deeply committed to such support. For example, the Ford School has designed a summer statistics program, Springboard, which was launched in July 2022 and offered to all members of our incoming MPP and MPA cohorts. The three-week virtual program is an engaging and supportive learning experience, free of charge, in which policy students receive hands-on training in statistical models and quantitative reasoning while meeting and connecting with Ford School faculty and students.
Our values dictate that we recognize the significant financial investment that students make in coming to our program; we owe it to them to do all we can to ensure that they’re positioned to succeed. The GRE score is just one of many data points that help us consider this question.
Therefore after careful review and deliberation among the faculty, beginning with the 2022-2023 admissions cycle the Ford School will reinstate its GRE requirement for applicants seeking admission to the MPP program in the 2023-2024 academic year.
The optional GRE Statement
The admissions committee will consider GRE scores in context. We invite applicants to provide information in the additional information section to contextualize their GRE scores. Applicants are encouraged to describe relevant coursework in quantitative reasoning, employment experiences that utilized quantitative skills, or other strategies applicants have adopted in order to prepare for the quantitative reasoning and analysis that they will conduct at the Ford School.
GRE scores are due the same day your completed application is due (January 15). Our institution code is 1839.
3. Resume or curriculum vitae
A current resume or curriculum vitae must be submitted. Applicants who apply online should attach this under the section asking for a resume. The resume is uploaded on page 8 of the application under the section titled "Employment History; Resume and Financial Assistance."
4. Letters of recommendation
Three letters of recommendation are required and should reflect the academic and, if relevant, job capabilities and experience of the applicant. We encourage applicants to submit letters of recommendation electronically—please see the online application for instructions. If you have any questions or difficulty submitting your letters of recommendation, please email email@example.com.
All applicants: Please upload an official or unofficial transcript with your online application in ApplyWeb. You may also upload additional transcripts from any other institution you attended. Please note that if you wish to submit more than one transcript, you will need to combine them into one document to upload.
An official transcript from your undergraduate degree-granting institution must be submitted to Rackham Graduate School only after an offer of admission is made. Visit this link for information on how to submit an official transcript to Rackham Graduate School.
International students must submit additional documentation with their application. Please see our International Applicant Materials for full requirements.
Dual degree applicants
Dual degree applicants may need to fill out additional documentation as well. Please see our Dual Degree Applicant page for information.