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Frequently Asked Questions

When are applications due?

All required materials must be received by the deadline of November 28, 2023.

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?

Yes, UNC Public Policy offers an accelerated dual bachelor’s-graduate degree. Details on our Master of Public Policy program can be found 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 supported by UNC’s Department include

  • Education and Labor Markets
  • Environment and Human Welfare
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship; Science and Technology Policy
  • Social Policy and Inequality
  • Health Policy, Bioethics, and Human Rights
  • International Development Policy
  • Global Conflict and Cooperation

What are the minimum TOEFL or GRE scores you will accept?

For foreign applicants, the graduate school requires a minimum TOEFL score of 90. In addition, all applicants should have scores at or above the 50th percentile on the Math and Verbal components of the GRE. You can read more about GRE and TOEFL scores here.

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. Exposure to multivariable calculus and intermediate microeconomic theory with calculus are required for entry into the program. Students who have not completed these prerequisites at the time that they apply to the doctoral program in public policy may be conditionally admitted. These students may complete these prerequisites prior to their matriculation in the Fall.

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. (2011) Microeconomic Theory: Basic Principles and Extensions, 11th 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 international applicants have to submit the financial certificate at the application stage or can they wait until admitted?

You are wait until you are admitted to submit the financial certificate. International applicants who are offered admission to a graduate program are required by United States federal regulations to certify that you have sufficient funds to pay for your expenses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the entire length of your studies. Every international applicant offered admission, including applicants who may receive teaching or research assistantships or other awards, must complete and upload the International Student Data Form and Financial Certification Instructions/Worksheet to their ConnectCarolina Student Center after being offered admission. The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will send you information and instructions for completing and uploading these forms in order to document that you meet necessary financial requirements. ISSS will then send you the appropriate documents to use in obtaining or updating your visa once it has been determined that you have met the necessary financial requirements.

What type of funding can doctoral students in the public policy program receive?

UNC’s PhD Program in Public Policy is a full-time, cohort-based degree that prepares students for careers in research and teaching. The Department helps secure funding for all graduate students making good academic progress in their studies. Sources of funding include a combination of fellowships, traineeships, graduate teaching assistantships and graduate research assistantships. Each PhD student receives full tuition reimbursement, health insurance, and a stipend of at least $20,000 per year.

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. For teaching assistantships, students typically work 15-20 hours per week and can 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.

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 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.