Ford School in partnership to diversify and support PhD applicants

March 18, 2021

Pilot pre-doctoral program prepares policy school graduates to pursue academic careers, broadening and diversifying pipeline for future faculty  

The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy is launching a new pre-doctoral research program — in partnership with a consortium of leading policy schools — that seeks to expand and broaden research fellowship and faculty mentorship opportunities for public policy master’s degree graduates.

Focusing on graduates from a diverse set of experiences with an interest in and aptitude for academic research careers in public policy, the Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy’s goal is to build a more diverse pipeline for doctoral programs and future policy school faculty members.

It seeks to increase opportunities in academic policy research for those who have experienced financial hardship, are first-generation college students, or who come from an educational, cultural or geographic background that is underserved in related doctoral programs.

The innovative pilot program also includes New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy, and the University of California, Berkeley’s Richard and Rhoda Goldman School of Public Policy.

Recognizing that substantial research experience and individual mentorship are key to successful admission to top PhD programs, the Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy matches exceptional graduates of professional master’s degree programs in public policy and administration with opportunities for research training, additional coursework and faculty mentorship needed to prepare for an academic career.

The program will launch as a pilot in the 2021-22 academic year, offering a limited number of up to two-year, funded predoctoral research fellowship opportunities spanning diverse policy areas as represented by faculty interests at the consortium institutions.

These full-time, funded research positions will be coupled with intensive mentorship and support for the PhD application process and opportunities to network with fellow participants across institutions.

"I am thrilled to join my fellow deans in the consortium in building this new predoctoral training opportunity. The Ford School looks forward to welcoming predoctoral fellows as part of our strategy to expand opportunities in academic research in public policy for those who too often are underrepresented in the field," Ford School Dean Michael S. Barr said.

The program is open to graduates of any one of the participating institutions’ master’s degree programs who completed their programs in 2020, or who will have completed their program by this summer.

More information on eligibility criteria is available on the Pre-Doctoral Program website.

Those selected will work for up to two years as full-time research fellows for a faculty member, gaining intensive experience, coaching and mentorship in preparation for applying to a PhD program in a policy-related field.

Applications for the 2021-22 academic year opened March 18. For more information on the Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy, application requirements and research opportunities, visit