PhD admissions

How to apply to our joint doctoral programs

The Ford School of Public Policy’s joint PhD program offers three degrees: the PhD in public policy and economics, the PhD in public policy and political science, and the PhD in public policy and sociology. Applications for each program are due by December 1.

PhD student getting hooded at commencement

Admissions process summary

  • Students must designate one of the three degree tracks—economics, political science, or sociology—at the time of application.
    • The application requires a program code. Please choose the code associated with the program you will be applying for: public policy & economics (01677), public policy and political science (01679), or public policy and sociology (01681)
    • Level: doctoral
    • Sub-plan: economics, political science, or sociology
  • Note: Applicants for the joint PhD in public policy & sociology are recommended to choose a second subplan (topic of research) in sociology. Please list your research topic in your Statement of Purpose. Visit the Sociology Department website for a list of subplans.
  • The application files for admission by the Ford School PhD admissions committee are then forwarded to the appropriate department admissions committee counterpart for consideration.
  • Key dates are as follows:
    • December 1: Applications are due and the administrative process begins.
    • January 15: Applicants are encouraged to view their online application status. Note: Please do not contact the Joint PhD Program Office regarding application status (including incomplete materials) until January 15.
    • January 16 – April 1: The admissions committees review applications and determine admission status. The Joint PhD Program Office notifies all applicants to the Joint PhD Program and updates the Rackham Graduate School.
    • April 2 – April 15: Applicants who have been recommended for admission must notify the Joint PhD Program Office and the Rackham Graduate School of their decision.

Application requirements

Step 1: These three degree programs are part of the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. Prospective applicants begin the application process by registering as a Prospective Rackham Graduate Student.

Step 2: Complete the application

Application: To help you determine which application is appropriate for you, please visit the admissions section of Rackham’s website and choose from among:

Typically students who wish to transfer from one Rackham program to another must submit a new on-line application. You do not need to submit new test scores. For further information please see Rackham's website.

Step 3: It is important that all prospective students apply via the Rackham Graduate School (College Net). In addition to submitting the online application, prospective applicants must also submit the following documentation to Rackham Graduate School via the online application process (College Net):

To Rackham via the on-line application process:

  • Three Letters of Recommendation: Recommenders should submit letters electronically via the Rackham online application.
  • Official Transcripts: Please upload an official or unofficial transcript with your online application. Transcripts from non-U.S. institutions (if not in English) must be accompanied by certified English translations.  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 more information on submitting official transcripts to Rackham Graduate School.
  • Official Test Score Report(s)--GRE and TOEFL: GRE general test scores are no longer included in the admissions process for Rackham's doctoral programs as of the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. The TOEFL is required for international applicants. For further information, please visit Rackham’s admissions page. All scores must be sent directly from the testing service to Rackham. The U-M institution code for the TOEFL is: 1839 
  • Academic Statement of Purpose: The Statement of Purpose describes your skills, achievements, and relevant experience; professional, intellectual, research interests; and career objectives. Submit it electronically via the online application.
  • Personal Statement: Tell us about yourself. How have your background and life experiences, including cultural, geographical, financial, educational, or other opportunities or challenges, motivated your decision to pursue a graduate degree at the University of Michigan? Submit the statement electronically via the online application.
  • Writing Sample (≤ 20 pages): A writing sample is required for those applying to the Joint PhD with Political Science or Sociology. It is not required if applying to Economics. Submit electronically via the online application.
  • Admissions Conduct Code: For those applying online, complete the Conduct Code electronically via the online application. All others may mail the conduct code to Rackham (address below).
  • Affidavit of Financial Support (international applicants): Send to Rackham only if you have been recommended for admission and plan to matriculate. Do not send unless matriculating at U-M.

Contact information

Rackham Address:

University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School
Attn: Admissions
915 E. Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070

[email protected]

Download our PhD brochure

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