To apply online, please visit the Graduate School website. When you are completing the online application, please upload the following supplemental information required by our department when prompted:

  • Personal Statement
  • Three Letters of Recommendations
    • (At least two from faculty members familiar with your academic ability.  For applicants with substantial work experience after college, letters from individuals who can describe applicant’s ability to be successful in doctoral level work may be substituted).

Application Deadline

All required materials must be received by December 13th to be considered for funding opportunities. For those who are not in need of funding, application materials must be received by February 14th. All official Graduate School deadlines are here. Applicants are encouraged to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) at the earliest possible date, preferably by October prior to the academic year for which you are applying. An Advanced Test, if one is given in the field of your undergraduate major, is optional. You may obtain a bulletin of information concerning the GRE from the nearest university, or by writing to:

Educational Testing Service, Box 6000, Princeton, NJ 08541-6000

International Students: Please be aware that failure to send in a Financial Certificate with the rest of your application will delay the process to secure your visa and enable you to enter the United States before courses begin. For the applicants whose native language is not English, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required by the Graduate School, with a minimum total score of 550 or better to be considered for admission. This can be waived if you have a degree from an American University and were resident here while attending.

Additional questions concerning the departmental requirements for the application or application process procedures should be directed to:

Mary Edwards
Student Services and External Affairs
The Ph.D. Program, UNC Public Policy
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Campus Box #3435, Abernethy Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3435
Telephone: (919) 962-1600
Fax: (919) 962-5824
Email: .

Frequently Asked Questions


When are applications due?
The deadline to be considered for internal UNC Fellowship Awards is December 13th; the final deadline to submit your application is February 14th.  We will begin reviewing applications after the December deadline and strongly encourage applicants to submit their materials by the Fellowship due date of December 13th. Most admissions decisions will be made by the end of January. For fullest consideration of your application, we strongly urge you to complete and submit all material by December 13th. Between December 23 and January 3 we will be on break and will be unable to answer any questions you may have.

General information about the UNC Graduate School is available here. Applications are submitted electronically here.  Please click here for the Graduate School official deadlines.

Do I have to submit a partial transcript if I am currently enrolled in classes at the time I apply to UNC-CH?
Yes. You will then send a complete transcript after you receive your grades or degree.
Do you accept copies of transcripts and letters of recommendation?
Please upload your unofficial transcripts and letters of recommendations through the online application. If admissions is offered, official transcripts are required.
What materials should I give my recommenders?
The online application will prompt you to submit the names and email addresses for your three required recommenders. You are allowed to submit a total of six recommenders in the online system.

Email invitations will be sent to recommenders once you select Save in the online application. You can also send reminder emails to your recommenders within the online application.

What is a PID and how do I get one?
The Person ID Number (PID) is an identification number assigned to all persons with a university relationship, as defined by an official university department. This number is designed to give all persons a universal number (PID or Person ID) that is unique to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The PID is the primary record keeping key for all departments within the university and must be used for all communication.

Details about how your PID is assigned can be found here.

How do I find out if I have any missing materials?
You can check the status of your application here.
If you have not received my TOEFL or GRE scores, what do I do?
You must contact the GRE and TOEFL offices directly. We cannot request these scores for you. Since your complete application is due in December, plan to take the required exams no later than October to be considered for admission. Contact information for TOEFL and GRE-ETS is below:

Princeton, New Jersey 08541-6151


P.O. Box 6000
Princeton, NJ 08541-6000.

We accept TOEFL scores that were taken within the last 2 years. In some exceptional cases, if you have a BA or MA degree from an English speaking University in the US, Canada or UK we may waive the TOEFL requirement, but this is done on a case by case basis and is not automatic. We recommend that you take the TOEFL if you are a foreign student and English.

What is your department code?
We do not have a department code. The only code you need is for UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School (institution #5816).
Do you offer an MPA/MPP program?
No. The School of Government offers a Master in Public Administration program.  For more details on the School of Government’s MPA program please click here.
Do I need an MPA or MPP prior to applying for the PhD program?
No. However, many of our strongest applicants do have prior work experience in public policy or Masters Degrees in related fields such as Urban and Regional Planning, Public Health, Social Work and Environmental Sciences.
What policy field should I choose?
To help us identify possible advisors for you and your eligibility for some fellowships, you must specify at least one policy field on your application. Policy fields support by UNC’s Department include: Demography and Population Policy, Economic Development and Science & Technology Policy, Education Policy, Environmental Policy, Domestic Health and Social Policy (e.g., welfare and poverty policy), and International Health and Social Policy.
What are the minimum TOEFL or GRE scores you will accept?
For foreign applicants, the graduate school requires a minimum TOEFL score of more than 213 for the computer-based exam, more than 550 for the paper-based exam, and more than 79 for the internet-based exam. In addition, all applicants must obtain a minimum combined score of 100 on the GRE, and should have scores at or above the 50th percentile on the Math and Verbal components of the GRE.
What are the math and economics requirements for admission to the doctoral program in public policy?
A Ph.D. in public policy from UNC-CH requires students to complete a 1-year sequence in advanced microeconomic theory for public policy analysis. A minimum of one year of calculus (i.e. differential and integral calculus) and one semester of intermediate microeconomic theory with calculus are required for entry into this course. Students who have not completed these prerequisites at the time that they apply to the doctoral program in public policy will be conditionally admitted. These students must complete 1 year of calculus and intermediate microeconomic theory prior to their matriculation in the Fall and must receive a B or better in each course.
I need to brush up on my calculus and intermediate microeconomic theory. What books do you recommend that I review?
Even students with considerable background in calculus and microeconomic theory may benefit from reviewing these topics prior to their matriculation. We recommend that students purchase and review the following two books:

  1. Chiang, A. and Wainwright, K. (2005). Fundamental Methods of Mathematical Economics, 4th Edition.
  2. Nicholson, W. (2005) Microeconomic Theory: Basic Principles and Extensions, 9th Edition.

All matriculating PhD students will be required to take our Math Review Class during the two weeks prior to the initiation of Fall semester classes. For many applicants who have
had Algebra II and Calculus some time ago, this course will be a sufficient review to prepare you for the program.

Do foreign students have to submit the financial certificate at the application stage or can they wait until admitted?
You must submit your financial certificate at the application stage. This indicates to us that you are seriously considering our program, and allows us in turn to seriously consider your application. The financial certificate is required for obtaining a foreign student visa for entry into the US. Our experience is that some students, when admitted, either cannot provide the certificate or delay submitting it which jeopardizes their ability to obtain a visa, and uses up one of our valuable admissions spots.
What type of funding can doctoral students in the public policy program receive?
The Department makes every effort to arrange funding for doctoral students we admit. Sources of funding include a combination of loans, fellowships, traineeships, graduate teaching assistantships, and graduate research assistantships.
The majority of doctoral students in the Department of Public Policy receive at least 2 years of financial support through graduate teaching assistantships. For these teaching assistantships, students typically work 15-20 hours per week and have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in teaching undergraduate courses in public policy. In their third and fourth years, many students are also offered graduate research assistantships with their faculty advisers. Graduate research assistantships also require students to work 15-20 hours per week and provide students with the opportunity to collaborate with their advisers on research.Highly qualified doctoral students can be awarded 1-year to 5-year merit awards and other fellowships from The Graduate School. Additional, fellowships are available to members of underrepresented groups.
Students interested in health, demography, minority populations, gender, and environmental policy should also apply separately to traineeships in these areas. For more information, please contact Drs. Krista Perreira or Ashu Handa and review information on traineeships available through the Carolina Population Center and the Sheps Center for Health Services Research.

Additional research support and funding is available for students who are completing their dissertations. Doctoral students in the Department of Public Policy have received dissertation research support from the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School, federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, and private foundations such as the Spencer Foundation and the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

For more information on Tuition and Costs.

For more information on Financial Aid.

For the Graduate School Handbook.