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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Public Policy PhD Program

Welcome to the PhD Program!

The PhD Program in Public Policy, trains the next generation of scholars and professionals to address pressing national and international public policy issues. Our program combines a focus on substantive policy areas–ranging from education and health to regulatory and social policy–with advanced training in a disciplinary area, empirical methods, and multiple disciplinary approaches. Our multi-disciplinary faculty and students also work closely with the PhD programs in Economics, Sociology, and other graduate fields at Cornell. Across these specializations, Public Policy PhD students graduate with the skills to shape and evaluate policy in a range of settings, from faculty positions in academic institutions to leadership roles in the public and private sectors.

COVID-19 Update: Important Notes for Prospective PhD Students

We recognize that the pandemic has caused severe disruptions to many aspects of students’ lives. In recognition of these hardships, the Public Policy PhD Admissions Committee will:

  • Not penalize students whose transcripts have Pass/No Pass or other similar grading options from Spring 2020
  • Make the GRE optional as a condition of admission. We recommend that you take the test if feasible, but it will not be required. If you do not take the GRE, we will use your other application materials to assess math and verbal skills.
  • If you are able to take the GRE, we will continue to use a holistic approach to admissions that considers the GRE as only one part of a broader application that includes letters of recommendation, writing samples, personal accomplishments, and prior research and professional experiences
  • Inform applicants that the Graduate School will waive application fees in the event of financial hardship and for applicants affiliated with pipeline programs for underrepresented groups