Mission of the Sanford School of Public Policy

The mission of Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy is to educate tomorrow’s leaders and improve the quality of public policymaking through research, professional training, and policy and community engagement.

In 2009, the Sanford School of Public Policy became Duke University’s tenth school, building on almost forty years of interdisciplinary public policy research and education. The Sanford School is named for its founder, the late Terry Sanford, North Carolina governor from 1961 to 1965, Duke University president from 1969 to 1985, and US senator from 1987 to 1993.

The school is expanding faculty and research in several key policy areas: health policy; social policy; energy and environment; media and democracy; security policy; technology policy; and international development.

The faculty includes eighteen distinguished chairs, four members of the National Academy of Sciences, and one member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. It also includes experienced professionals such as journalist Bill Adair, founder of PolitiFact, and Asher Hildebrand, former chief of staff for Congressman David Price.

The Sanford School has one of the nation’s largest public policy undergraduate programs, graduating about 200 majors each year. Undergraduates work in internships in state, local, and federal governments and nongovernmental organizations, both in the United States and abroad. The school offers master’s degrees in public policy and international development policy, as well as the PhD in public policy.

With a concentration in global public policy in the Master of Public Policy Program, the Master of International Development Policy, the Master of National Security Policy and the professional education programs offered by the Duke Center for International Development, as well as the International Master in Environmental Policy at Duke Kunshan University, Sanford is a national leader in providing public policy studies in the international arena. The Sanford School’s graduate program is consistently ranked among the top ten policy analysis programs in the United States. A number of multidisciplinary research centers and programs collaborate closely with the Sanford School. These centers conduct grant-funded research and sponsor activities dealing with child and family policy; health policy; philanthropy; international development; media and democracy; terrorism and homeland security; leadership; and more. For more information, see the chapter Research Centers & Programs or visit sanford.duke.edu/faculty-research/centers-initiatives.

Undergraduate Degree

The Sanford School of Public Policy in conjunction with the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences offers a bachelor of arts in public policy studies. The Sanford School also offers two certificate programs to undergraduates: the policy journalism and media studies certificate, and the child policy research certificate. Courses are taught by Sanford School faculty and by professors in cooperating departments and schools within Duke University.

Graduate Degrees

The Sanford School’s graduate programs attract highly qualified national and international students. Sanford alumni are engaged in meaningful, exciting work and hold professional positions at the top levels of governments, businesses, and nonprofit organizations worldwide.

The professional, two-year Master of Public Policy (MPP) Program prepares students for diverse leadership roles in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. The core curriculum combines economics and quantitative analysis with political analysis, ethics, management, and leadership.

MPP students have multiple opportunities to apply skills learned in the classroom, beginning with the first-year spring consulting project completed as part of a team. Between their first and second years of study, MPP students participate in a required internship to apply their analytical skills and knowledge in workplace settings, and to focus their career interests. A final, year-long master’s project allows each student to conduct an in-depth analysis of a real-world policy issue for a client.

The Master of International Development Policy (MIDP) Program is designed for mid-career professionals seeking to dedicate their careers to policymaking and public service in developing countries and countries in transition. The MIDP Program, offered by the Sanford School’s Duke Center for International Development, provides interdisciplinary training in policy analysis on issues related to long term social and economic development.

MIDP students self-design a program of study with help from an academic advisor. Through the interdisciplinary, flexible curriculum and interactions with faculty and peers from more than thirty countries, MIDP students receive a firm grounding in development theory and policy analysis, preparing them to be leaders in the development field. The program offers one- or two-year degree options and a nondegree certificate.

The Master of National Security Policy (MNSP) is a one-year executive program for those currently working in national security. Participants have at least seven years of work experience. While the program has online components, it requires occasional trips to Duke for on-campus immersion experiences. The hybrid program is designed so that students can continue to work during the program while completing their degree in as little as one year (June to May) or up to 20 months. As a rigorous 30-credit program in one year, the program is intense but quick to completion. The program includes several immersion experiences at Duke, weekly interaction with faculty, projects directly related to work in national security and online learning that can be done any time of the day convenient to the student.

The Sanford School of Public Policy and the Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) offer a two-year International Master of Environmental Policy (iMEP) Program at Duke’s Kunshan campus (Duke Kunshan University). The iMEP Program creates a highly analytical master’s degree based on the Duke Master of Public Policy (MPP) and Master of Environmental Management (MEM), with an emphasis on both international and Chinese experience and contexts. The environmental policy program at Duke Kunshan University combines a world-class faculty, a cutting-edge research center, an innovative curriculum, and unparalleled career opportunities. The core curriculum combines economics, science, law and governance, policy, and program evaluation. The program allows Duke Kunshan University students to spend one semester at Duke. At the same time, internships with a range of international organizations, NGOs, and corporations round out the opportunities available to iMEP students.

The PhD in public policy is a research-focused, interdisciplinary social science degree. Graduates of the program are prepared for academic careers or for professional positions in research and consulting or in public agencies.

The program requires a two-course sequence in political economy and coursework in three other social science disciplines. Students designate a disciplinary concentration such as economics, political science or sociology, as well as a policy focus, such as social policy, globalization and development, or health policy.