A couple of opportunities to learn more about the Ford School

Tomorrow, November 30th, our admissions team will be hosting a webinar about our masters’ programs beginning at 11:30 a.m. EST, which will cover both the structure and content of the program as well as the application process. If you are interested, you can find instructions on how to participate here: http://fordschool.umich.edu/graduate-fairs

We will record the webinar and make it available on the website as well. Also, for any applicants who would like guidance from a current masters’ student, you may want to consider participating in our Pipeline Initiative, which pairs a prospective student with a current student who will serve as a mentor through the application process. The priority registration deadline for this program is this Friday, December 1st. More info about pipeline is available on this page: http://fordschool.umich.edu/mpp-mpa/admissions

As always, our admission team is always happy to answer your questions. Please feel free to email us at fspp-admissions@umich.edu or call our office at 734-764-0453. Thanks!

Reclaiming My Time: Leveraging Professional Development Funds by Lee Taylor-Penn, MPH/MPA student

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While the Ford School of Public Policy offers a rigorous curriculum, they also recognize that not all learning takes place in the classroom. For that reason, they offer $500 in professional development funding per year to each graduate student. This year, I used a portion of my professional development funding to attend The Women’s Convention in Detroit, Michigan from October 27th to 29th.

Founded by the organizers of the Women’s March, the Women’s Convention brought together activists, politicians, and women* for a weekend of learning, movement building, and artistic expression. When I arrived on Friday morning, I was overwhelmed by the palpable energy of the more than 4,000 conference attendees. The main hall was filled with thousands of people from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico that had come together with a shared intention to “reclaim our time” through resistance and action.

As a straight, cis-gender, white woman, I was thrilled to see diversity in race, age, gender, and ability represented in the attendees, panelists, and keynote speakers. It was clear that the organizers had prioritized intersectionality—the belief that we all have overlapping identities that affect our life experience. The focus on intersectionality gave attendees an avenue to better understand other’s experience of power and oppression and how they could use their privilege to fight for equality for all women.

The highlight of the conference was the keynote speech by Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California) on Saturday. A tireless advocate for women, children, and people of color, Congresswoman Waters focused her speech on sexual assault and harassment, centering on the recent #metoo movement.  She spoke about the cost of silence, saying “We cannot afford to be shut down or shut up by any man.” I was struck by her passionate rallying cry to “keep up the resistance” and “provide the leadership” for the progressive movement. Throughout her speech, she received several standing ovations and she ended her talk by leading a chant to “Impeach 45.”

The conference offered a multitude of panels on topics including community organizing and advocacy, public speaking, equitable labor policies, incarceration, and much more. Here is a brief overview of a few of the panels I attended:

  • Future(s) of Work—what the growth of the food and domestic industry means for women and economic security
  • Leverage Local Power: Winning on the Inside—lobbying and grassroots strategies to affect change
  • This is What Democracy Looks Like! Engaging New Voters in 2018—voter engagement and the changing demographics of the Democratic party

Through these workshops, I learned organizing tactics and strategies to build power in my local community and I gained a better understanding of the challenges to creating transformational change. I was also inspired to run for political office, and I hope to one day run for city council or as a state representative. I am grateful to the Ford School for providing me with the opportunity to hear from the women that are changing our nation for the better!

The word “women” refers to significantly female-identified people, including trans women, genderqueer women, and non-binary people. 

Choosing the right policy school – by Hannah Bauman (MPP 2018)

This is a post by one of our current M.P.P. students, passing along information and ideas about how to assess the right program for you.


I’ll start this out by saying: obviously, I’m biased. As a student at the Ford School, I personally think it’s the best place to get a policy degree for many reasons; but as someone who applied to twelve (yes, twelve) graduate schools with no idea what she was looking for, hopefully a look into my decision process will help someone out. Below I’ve listed 5 questions aimed at helping prospective students with their decisions about where to apply to policy school and where to go.

1. Is going to graduate school the right choice for me?

I think the first mistake people make when looking towards graduate school is simply returning to school because they have no idea what else to do and they think school might be the answer to feeling “stuck” in their current position. Before you apply to graduate school I would encourage everyone to think honestly about why they want to return to school and why policy school specifically is the next right step. As a former teacher, policy school made sense for me because I wanted to use my MPP to pivot career paths. I saw very few other ways to move out of education and into the types of social policy jobs I wanted without an advanced degree. However, if I wanted to stay in education policy then I could have probably done that through shifting to work in an education nonprofit of some type, eliminating policy school as a necessity. Before investing time, resources, and money into a graduate degree, make sure you really need it. Are there ways you could advance in your current path without a degree? Are you sure policy is the right fit and not a law degree or a social work degree? Policy school can be as general or as specific an experience as you want it to be, so having some idea of the reasons why you are applying can help you narrow down both where you apply and where you decide to go.

2. Where do I see myself in 10 years?

I know, this question is a terrible one. But bear with me–the exercise is a useful one. Even if you are totally unsure of what you want to be or how you will use this degree, it can be helpful to at least think through a few larger questions. Do you see yourself in a big city or a smaller town? Does federal government work interest you or not? Would you like to have a job that is more centered around desk work or interacting with people? Does direct service energize or exhaust you? Thinking about these questions can help decide what kind of school you’re looking to attend. Wanting to work in federal government might limit your school choices to those in DC or those with already strong connections to federal jobs (like the Ford School), whereas wanting to work on the west coast might encourage you to focus your energies in schools out there. Knowing that a more research-focused job appeals to you makes the case for a more quantitatively-focused program or one that allows you to practice your research skills with a thesis of some sort. Or perhaps you recognize your resume lacks examples of your writing skills–you might want to look at schools that offer opportunities for bettering your craft and even publication. One note here–this thought process might lead you back to Question 1, and that’s ok! Maybe thinking about where you want to be in 10 years illuminates paths you never considered like business school or a master’s in public health. Listen to that.

3. What do I value in an educational setting?

Maybe you’re someone who really cares about facetime with professors. Maybe you’re a liberal-arts graduate like me who values seminar-style classes with heavy discussion and analysis. Maybe you prefer to attend a school with a big sports profile, or maybe you’re going to graduate school just so you can force yourself to finally take statistics. Maybe your first priority is finding a school that can help you finance your education or one that allows you to study a very specific niche area. Whatever your reasons, part of choosing the right school for you is choosing what you value from your education and what you need your master’s degree to do for you. Obviously, graduate school is a very different beast from undergrad, but these questions still apply. One of the reasons I chose the Ford School was because of its outstanding career services department. From a graduate degree I really wanted to expand my network in order to get a job, and I saw the Michigan community and Ford’s career services as a huge part of that. Grounding yourself in what you want from your education can be a helpful step in selecting programs that allow you to reach your goals.

4. How much do I care about location?

Here’s the thing–there are top-tier public policy schools all over the world. Pretty much wherever you choose you are guaranteed to get a great education and move your career forward. However, it’s important to remember that school is not your life, and where you spend the next two (or more) years has an important impact on not just your degree but also your personal life and happiness. Attending school in Ann Arbor is going to be a different experience than going to Boston, or Chicago, or Austin (and not just because of the weather). Choosing the right school for you means considering every aspect of that school, including where it’s located and what that location offers. Maybe you really value being in a big city, or maybe you enjoy the clarity and focus that a college town offers you. If you’re coming to graduate school with a partner or a family that obviously also informs your decision. Having a well-balanced and happy personal life goes a long way towards making graduate school a more enjoyable experience.

5.Can I afford it?

A graduate degree is very valuable, but one of the questions you should absolutely be considering is how much your degree will cost. Saddling yourself with thousands of dollars of loans and entering a life of public service might not be setting yourself up for future success. The balancing act between school and loans is always a difficult one, and so it’s important to consider every aspect of that decision before you commit. One of the great things about Michigan is the plentiful opportunities for grad school students to work as TAs and fund their schooling that way, as well as taking advantage of in-state tuition and grants for those who completed service opportunities such as Americorps. Making sure that the finances make sense for you and your future should be an important part of any decision.

At the end of the day, only you can make the right decision for you. There are so many excellent programs out there (first and foremost, Michigan) that wherever you go will provide you with opportunities that you could not have otherwise had and allow you to impact policy in ways you would never have imagined. Good luck!