Duke University



The Sanford School offers a PhD in Public Policy and two Master's degrees, the Master of Public Policy (MPP) and the Master of International Development Policy (MIDP).

The PhD in Public Policy is an applied, interdisciplinary social science degree. Graduates of the program are prepared for professional positions in domestic and international public agencies, research organizations and policy consulting firms, and for academic positions in public policy, public administration and policy-oriented schools. The program requires a two-course sequence in theories of public policy and coursework in three other social science disciplines. Students designate a disciplinary concentration such as economics, political science or sociology in which they take a minimum of five courses, as well as a policy focus, such as social policy, globalization and development or health policy. Students interested in environmental policy should apply to the PhD program in Environment, but may enroll in public policy courses.

Our MPP degrees, both the two-year degree and various dual degree programs in law (JD), business (MBA), environment (MEM) and medicine (MD), prepare students for diverse roles in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Students learn how to use economics, statistics and policy analysis to address complex problems, to appreciate the role of politics and ethics in reconciling conflicting values, and to think strategically. All MPP students complete policy internships that apply their new analytical skills, focus their career interests and can lead into their final Master's Project for a public, private or nonprofit client.

One of the MPP options is a Global Public Policy concentration, designed to prepare them for careers in international development, trade, civil society and foreign policy. Within the Global Public Policy concentration, students can specialize in Development, Environmental Policy, Security and Humanitarian Intervention, Human Rights and Democratization, Trade and Finance. Our Summer in Geneva program provides coursework and internships in international organizations located in Geneva.

The MIDP degree is for mid-career professionals who seek a graduate-level program and who are likely to dedicate their careers to policymaking and public service in developing countries and countries in transition. The MIDP provides interdisciplinary training in policy analysis on issues related to long-term social and economic development. In Fall, 2002, the Terry Sanford School and the UNC-Chapel Hill began jointly hosting a Rotary Center for International Studies. The Rotary World Peace Scholars will focus on the mechanisms for international cooperation, and democracy and development.

APSIA Membership: Full APSIA Member School



Sanford School of Public Policy
Duke University
Box 90239
Durham, NC 27708-0239

  • (919) 613-7401
  • (919) 613-7403
  • email


Sanford School of Public Policy
Master of Public Policy (MPP) Program
Director of Admissions
Duke University
Box 90243
Durham, NC 27708-0243

  • (919) 613-9244
  • (919) 684-3702
  • email

Career Services

Sanford School of Public Policy
Director of Career Services
Duke University
Box 90239
Durham, NC 27708-0239

  • (919) 613-7383
  • (919) 684-2153
  • email

Degree Requirements

Master of Public Policy (MPP) -

  • 17 courses, including 10 required core courses, 5 electives, and 2 credits for the master's project.
  • Global Public Policy Concentration has one additional required course, Globalization and Governance, and at least two electives must have an international focus.
  • Summer internship between the first and second years of study.
  • Completion of a master's project, a year-long policy research project for a real-world client.

Master of Arts in International Development Policy (PIDP) - Two-year Program

  • 16 courses, including 8 required PIDP development policy seminars and 8 electives from within the Sanford Institute or from other departments and professional schools at Duke.
  • Summer internship between first and second years of study.
  • Completion of a master's project related to policy issues the student intends to address upon completion of the Program.

Master of Arts in International Development Policy (PIDP) - One-year Program

  • Only for candidates with post-graduate degrees or at least one year of graduate-level coursework (decision on eligibility for one-year program is made during the admissions process).
  • 10 courses, including 4 required PIDP development policy seminars and 6 electives from within the Sanford Institute or from other departments and professional schools at Duke.
  • Completion of a master's project related to policy issues the student intends to address upon completion of the Program.

PhD in Public Policy (PhD) -

  • Minimum of 16 courses, including:
    • Core public policy requirements
    • Minimum of 2 courses in a focused policy area
    • Coursework in 3 other social science disciplines (economics, political science, sociology), including at least 5 courses in a disciplinary concentration
  • Qualifying for dissertation status
  • A Public Policy PhD dissertation which constitutes a significant contribution to policy-relevant knowledge, either through innovative application of social science methods to policy problems, or by innovation in theory or methods appropriate for addressing public policy problems

Fields of Specialization

Although the Public Policy PhD Program is truly interdisciplinary, it is also designed to ensure that students have strength in a particular disciplinary tradition. Students designate a disciplinary concentration when applying to the program. They may opt to concentrate in economics, political science or sociology. A minimum of five courses in a discipline is required. In addition to gaining strength in a particular disciplinary tradition through the Disciplinary Concentration, Public Policy PhD students acquire depth in the policy area in which they will write a dissertation. Students primarily focus on policy areas in which Duke has particular strength: social policy, globalization and development, health policy and environmental policy. Although these are the primary areas in which Duke's Public Policy PhD students concentrate, students have the option, subject to approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, to adopt another policy area focus.

For the MPP degree, there are fields of specialization within the Global Public Policy Concentration: International Development, International Environmental Policy, International Security and Humanitarian Intervention, Human Rights and Democratization, International Trade and Finance. Other policy specializations within the MPP program include Health Policy, Social Policy, and Environmental Policy.

MIDP students can focus on such topics as development management, public finance, peace and conflict resolution, social policy, environmental policy, international trade and economic policy.

Students in both the MPP and MIDP programs compete to attend Duke's Summer in Geneva, Switzerland program interning at one of many United Nations or non-governmental organizations. In addition students participate in a four-week course on Global Policy and Governance, which includes numerous guest speakers and institutional briefings at Geneva-based international organizations.

Students in both programs may pursue certificates from other departments, such as Latin American Studies, Health Policy, Women's Studies, East Asian Studies, and Slavic, Eurasian and East European Studies. Elective courses are available for MPP and MIDP students with other academic departments at Duke University, University of North Carolina, North Carolina Central University and North Carolina State University through an intra-institutional course registration agreement.

Joint Degrees

  • MPP/JD, a four year program with Duke or UNC Law School.
  • MPP/MBA, with the J.B. Fuqua School of Business at Duke University or Kenan Flagler Business School at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • MPP/MEM (Master's in Environmental Management) with Duke's Nicholas School of Environment.
  • MPP/MD (Medicine) with the Duke Medical School.


    Core Courses

    PhD Core Curriculum: Political Economy of Public Policy, Ethics of Public Policy, Microeconomics (2 semesters), and Research Methods for Public Policy.

    MPP Core Curriculum: Microeconomics and Public Policymaking, Microeconomics: Policy Applications, Politics of the Policy Process, Statistics and Data Analysis, Evaluation Methods, Policy Analysis I and II, Public Management, Ethics and Policy Making, Leadership Skills Modules (2 including negotiation, leadership, budgeting and others). Master's Project I and II.

    MPP Students pursuing the Global Public Policy Concentration are also required to take Globalization and Governance.

    PIDP Core Seminars: Economic Foundations of Development, Economic Analysis of Development, and Policy Analysis of Development.

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