Pre-doctoral program in policy

Applications for the 2021-22 academic year are open


The Pre-Doctoral Program in Policy is a pilot program for exceptional policy school master’s students to develop the skills, experience, and mentorship needed to prepare for doctoral studies and an academic career in policy. 

Fellowship opportunities available at top-ranked policy schools, including: 

A goal of this program is to build a more diverse pipeline for doctoral programs and future policy school faculty members. The pilot 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 underrepresented in related doctoral programs.

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Program benefits

Recognizing that substantial research experience and individual mentorship are key to successful admission to top PhD programs, the new 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.

  • Up to two-years, full-time funded pre-doctoral research fellowship
  • Intensive mentorship and support for PhD application process
  • Opportunities to network across institutions

Who can apply

Eligible current or former graduate students may apply for a research fellowship appointment.


  • Current enrollment in one of the participating institutions' master’s degree programs with anticipated graduation date by Summer 2021 OR completion of a master's degree in a qualifying program during the previous year (i.e., 2020).
  • Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as expressed through research interests or service activities, and an economic, educational, cultural, or geographic background underrepresented in doctoral programs
  • Desire and potential to complete a doctoral graduate program in a field related to public policy
  • Authorization to work in the United States
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Attention to detail and quality in data analysis and written material
  • Ability to prioritize, adapt, and execute project tasks

How to apply

You can view all of the available opportunities at You can apply for an opportunity at more than one school. Interested in an opportunity at the Ford School? For full details and to submit an application for a Ford School fellowship, please visit here.

Application requirements 

  • Transcripts
  • CV
  • Cover Letter: The cover letter should clearly address 1) the applicant’s faculty mentor of interest, 2)  interest in pursuing a doctoral program, 3) discuss skills and experience that are relevant to the required qualifications described in this posting, and 4) describe how the applicant’s educational, economic, cultural, or geographic background and personal experience will help achieve the program’s goal of increasing and diversifying the pool of pre-doctoral candidates in policy. Please also include the names of three professors who could be contacted for a reference.


Applications are now open for positions beginning in fall 2021.

  • March 17, 2021: Application open
  • April 10, 2021: Application deadline
  • Early May: Decision notification
  • August/September 2021: Program start 

Faculty mentors

Dean Yang

Dean Yang

Dean Yang is a professor in the Department of Economics and the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. His research agenda spans a range of applied microeconomic topics, including international migration, microfinance, health, disasters, trade, religion, and political economy. Methodologically, much of his work involves randomized controlled trials in field settings, while other work involves unearthing and analyzing novel data sources. He is currently running randomized controlled trials on remittances among migrant workers in the UAE, and on HIV/AIDS interventions in Mozambique.

View Dean's faculty profile

Charlotte Cavaillé
Charlotte Cavaillé

Charlotte Cavaille

Charlotte Cavaille is an assistant professor at the Ford School. She received a PhD in Government and Social Policy from Harvard University. Her research examines the dynamics of popular attitudes towards redistributive social policies at a time of rising inequality, high fiscal stress and high levels of immigration. She is currently turning her dissertation, which received the 2016 Mancur Olson Best Dissertation Award, into a book manuscript entitled Asking for More: Support for Redistribution in the Age of Inequality. Building on that work, she also studies the relationship between immigration, the welfare state, and the rise of populism.

View Charlotte's faculty profile

Betsey Stevenson
Betsey Stevenson

Betsey Stevenson

Betsey Stevenson is a professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan. She is a labor economist who has published widely in leading economics journals. Her research explores women's labor market experiences, the economic forces shaping the modern family, and how these labor market experiences and economic forces on the family influence each other. Dr Stevenson earned a BA in economics and mathematics from Wellesley College and an MA and PhD in economics from Harvard University.

View Betsey's faculty profile

Brian Jacob

Brian Jacob

Brian A. Jacob is the Walter H. Annenberg Professor of Education Policy and professor of economics at the Ford School, and is co-director of the Youth Policy Lab. His primary fields of interest are labor economics, program evaluation, and the economics of education. Brian’s current research focuses on urban school reform, with a particular emphasis on standards and accountability initiatives. He received a BA from Harvard University in 1992 and a PhD in public policy from the University of Chicago.

View Jacob's faculty profile

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