The 2017 class is the largest in the school’s history, after a 42 percent increase in applications last year. A similar rise is expected this year after the final deadline passes in March.
“We’re on track for an increase in applications of about 30 percent,” said Ranjan Daniels, Harris’s Associate Dean of Student Recruitment and Global Outreach.
Harris had 1,505 applicants last cycle and expects to receive about 2,000 applications in this cycle.
Daniels attributed the increase in interest mainly to the current political atmosphere. “There’s a lot going on in the world in terms of very heated debates about public policy and politics,” Daniels said. “Harris hasn’t changed since November of last year. The world may have, but our approach to public policy—data-driven, evidence-based, multidisciplinary, looking at a host of different disciplines to come to the best policy solutions—I think one could say right now that that’s resonating with young people.”
Half of Harris students are international, a proportion that Daniels anticipates will remain constant once this year’s application process comes to an end. “We expect an even mix between U.S. and international students,” Daniels said. “We want to show diversity in terms of students of color and underrepresented minorities.… I think it will provide a richer experience for students if we have a student body that represents the vast diversity of the policy landscape.”
Daniels described Harris as currently being in the “fourth inning” of the application process. “Round One,” the next round of applications, will close on January 23, followed by “Round Two” on March 20.
Harris is currently the second-largest graduate program at the University of Chicago after the Booth School of Business. To accommodate the growing number of students matriculating at Harris, the Keller Center, named after donors Dennis and Connie Keller, will be the new main building for Harris classes, speakers, and events. The center, which is a renovation of what was formerly New Graduate Residence Hall, is currently under construction and scheduled to be completed by the end of this calendar year.