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Live Chat with Chicago Booth and Harris School of Public Policy

The Harris School of Public Policy and Chicago Booth offer a combined MPP and MBA degree program. This joint degree program allows students who want to make an impact on public policy issues to gain leadership and management skills. If you're considering the joint MPP & MBA degree, join this live chat with Kim Ge from Booth Admissions, Jenny Erickson of the Harris School, and current joint degree student Peter Biava


 Chat Transcript
 Guest: Is there a possibility for a foreign student to get a full financial assistance to study MBA at Booth?
* Kim Ge: All Chicago Booth scholarships and fellowships are awarded based on merit. In addition to financial support, fellowships provide further assistance, such as special programming and mentoring relationships with faculty, alumni, and industry leaders.  More information can be found here: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time/admissions/scholarships


Guest: Hi everyone! Thanks for hosting this session today. I am curious about the GMAT vs. GRE when applying as a dual degree candidate. Is there one that makes more sense over the other?
* Peter Biava: Both GMAT and GRE are accepted at both Harris and Booth. In my experience, I took the GMAT, which I knew most MBA programs would accept. Harris accepted my GMAT score in lieu of the GRE score that most Harris applicants finish.  I know some other students who took the GRE to apply to Harris and then used the same GRE score in their Booth application.  In terms of picking which standardized test to go with, there's no preference between the two, just make sure that it's a score that you'll be pleased with and you think represents your test-taking ability the best.


Guest: I know there's a history of dual degree MPP/MBA candidates, but what about MSCAPP/MBA candidates?
* Jennifer Erickson: Thank you for your question! At this time, we do not offer formal joint degree programs with MSCAPP and the MBA.


Guest: In what ways may an applicant emphasize that they are applying as a dual-degree candidate? Is it or is it not appropriate to highlight this in the personal statement / supplementary essays?
* Kim Ge: Thanks for joining us today! It is a great idea to include that insight in a personal statement/ supplementary essays.


Guest: I'd like to know the biggest differences you've noticed in your experience at Harris and Booth so far?
* Peter Biava: The biggest difference for me so far is the difference in social scene; Harris is a smaller class size and most Harris students live in Hyde Park. Booth is nearly 600 people and they live all over the city. Getting use to (and managing successfully) social environments at both schools has been a total change of pace.  There's a joke about grad school- “Social, Academic, Career Recruiting" -- you're allowed to pick two because you don't have time for all 3!


Guest: Hello! Thank you for hosting this webinar. I am interested in finding out what the Booth adcom recommends in terms of connecting with the MBA program. I am in the Houston area and have not yet been able to make it to campus for an info and tour.
* Kim Ge: Thank you for joining us today & for your interest in Chicago Booth! There are a number of ways to get to learn more about Booth (& Harris) without stepping foot on campus! Virtual events, like this one are a good way to engage with both admissions & current students.  As well as the Connect with a Student tools that both Harris & Booth have.  See here:  https://apply.chicagobooth.edu/portal/studentvolunteer and https://apply-harris.uchicago.edu/register/?id=369bb2d1-73ed-466b-95f5-cb6576266550


Guest: Thank you for arranging this chat. My question, in an average year how many MPP/MBA students are there in total?
* Jennifer Erickson: Thank you for your question! At this time, we have about 20 students who are pursuing the joint program.


Guest: Curious, in a typical 3 year program, do students find that they are closer to the students they started school with or the ones they will graduate with?
* Peter Biava: I think any dual-degree student would answer this differently depending on their personality type and career focus. I tend to get very involved in leadership, social, and community building positions wherever I'm at; I've done that Both at Harris AND Booth. I really do consider myself a "50/50 dual degree student".  However, I can think of someone else in my cohort that's a dual degree that spends a lot more time with the friends they made at Harris- that's a personal decision they've made. I think there are plenty of things to get involved with at both schools that help you develop deep and meaningful relationships with your classmates; an example for Booth is the "random walk" trips that happen prior to your 1st quarter. 


Guest: If you have recently been accepted to Booth, do you need to apply to Harris before enrolling at Booth or can you wait and apply during your first year at Booth?
* Jennifer Erickson: Congratulations on your acceptance to Booth!  If you have been accepted to Booth I would encourage you to apply to Harris now. Students typically start the joint program at Harris. We have a Round One Deadline of January 22nd and we can accept your GMAT scores instead of GRE if that is what you have taken. Here is the link to the application: https://apply-harris.uchicago.edu/apply/


Guest: Hi, Is there a possibility to finish the dual degree in two years?
* Jennifer Erickson: The program lasts three years.


Guest: By being in an accelerated program, do you ever feel as though you are not able to fully participate in one program or the other? For instance, do you find yourself having to choose between MBA and MPP extracurricular activities?
* Peter Biava: There's a lot of wonderful things to get involved with in both degrees and certainly the "full" 2-year experience is one that has been well designed for each degree. That said, I really appreciate that the dual degree program is condensed from 4 to 3 years (my wallet and time appreciates it too!). A really important aspect of grad school is learning how to prioritize and figuring out which activities, which classes, and which other events will "move the needle" for you.  I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything though, I knew I was going to have a somewhat unique experience as a dual-degree student when I came in, and managing those expectations is important to stay productive and calm throughout the whole process. In other words, try to manage your FOMO!  =)


Guest: Could you discuss an example of how the Booth & Harris curricula complement each other during a dualie's time as a student?  How have you  been able to apply skills acquired from Harris at Booth and vice versa? How do you think you will able to apply it post UChicago?
* Peter Biava: I'm really glad I had foundations in econ and stats...it was useful when I got to Booth.  Alot of the coursework I'm taking now is actually easier because I’m not learning (or reviewing) these concepts for the first time.  I've been in an academic environment for over a year now and I'm use to the pace of work and expectations at UChicago. It's pretty rigorous- understanding those expectations allows me to budget enough time for school as I focus on another really important part of my graduate school experience- career recruiting! When you get to Booth, your 2nd year will heavily focus on career prep because you only have 1 more summer to try an internship before you graduate. So this quarter has been really great getting into the career prep and recruiting mindset.


Guest: Hi, can we apply Round 2 in Harris and still be eligible for the MPP/MBA?

* Jennifer Erickson: Our Round One deadline is January 22nd. You can still apply for Round One. https://apply-harris.uchicago.edu/apply/


Guest: If you apply and are admitted to both programs at the same time, what is the suggested order in which students complete the joint degree (i.e. first year MBA or first year MPP)?
* Kim Ge: Thanks for joining us today! The suggested order is to start at Harris for a year, and then begin courses at Booth following that. This strategy provides joint students with the opportunity to do an internship during their time at Booth, which is critical in the business setting.


Guest: Hi there, thanks for hosting this chat. I was hoping to ask about admissions for both schools. Are the processes completely siloed or do the schools communicate when deciding whether or not to admit a joint applicant?
* Kim Ge: We do our best to share information, but much of this information should be shared from the applicant.


Guest: How do students typically manage their third year? Do they split classes in one quarter across both schools, or do they tend to stick to classes from one school per quarter?
* Peter Biava: This depends on the individual student's career path and academic goals. I know some who have chosen to focus entirely on Booth Classes because they want that preparation for a specific career path. That said, 27 classes over 3 years gives you alot of flexibility and you shouldn't feel rushed to take booth foundations classes in your 1st year, if you're enrolled at Harris and enjoying the academic and social opportunities there.  The nice thing about UChicago is that they really do mean it when they say your curriculum is flexible. So you can pick the classes you want when you want them.


Guest: Hi, this is question to Peter: What made you choose this program? After you joined the program, what changes you most?
* Peter Biava: I applied to dual-degree programs with a Policy/Government component and a Business component. I chose UChicago because I knew it was a platform that was good for give/take with my personal skillset and experience. I knew I wanted skills, credibility, and network, and UChicago is a wonderful institution that gives me exactly that.


Guest: Thanks for hosting this chat! My question is if students need to apply to Harris and Booth in the same application cycle or if you can stagger your applications (say to be admitted to Booth initially and apply to Harris the following year)?
* Kim Ge: Joint students typically start classes with Harris for 1 year and then complete their courses at Booth, therefore it's up to you how you want to apply -- we've seen applicants stagger their applications, as well as submit them at the same time, it’s whatever works best for you!


Guest: Would you be able to describe the course load? Is it mainly a hybrid of classes from both programs or are specific semesters dedicated to one program?
* Kim Ge: Thanks for joining us today! The best way to describe the course load is that you will do half the courses at Booth and the other half at Harris -- it's a pretty even split of 12 or 13 classes through each program. Hope that helps!


Guest: Hello! Does the curriculum at either Booth or Harris involve working with businesses/organizations? Or is that experience largely left to internships?
* Kim Ge: Thank you for joining us today! Both programs provide experiences for working with businesses and organizations in and out of the classroom.


Guest: Can you continue research assistantships at Harris while you are enrolled at Booth?
* Jennifer Erickson: Great question. Yes, if you are enrolled at Booth you can still pursue a research assistantship at Harris.


Guest: Do you have access to Booth career resources while at Harris?
* Kim Ge: As a joint student, you have access to all resources across both programs, including career resources.


Guest: With regards to curriculum, do joint degree students find it more difficult to access in-demand classes at either school? I'm thinking about the four classes on offer through the Rustandy Center in particular - I'm curious about how the abbreviated course load affects bidding for classes.
* Peter Biava: Dual-degree students bid on Booth courses just like any other Booth student! In fact, it might be easier to get into the classes you want because you actually start off with more bidpoints than the rest of the MBA students in your class. (every student starts with the same number of bidpoints, but accrues new bidpoints when they complete graduation requirements or other required coursework .... since 1st years at Harris complete the MicroEconomics and Statistics requirements for Booth, we come into our Booth 1st year with significantly more bidpoints than other 1st year Boothies).  Most Booth students graduate with excess unused bidpoints, my advice is to bid them and use them wisely!


Guest: What kind of profiles are the admissions committee looking for MPP/MBA program?
* Jennifer Erickson: Great question! Our blog has helpful information about that. You can visit this link: https://harris.uchicago.edu/admissions/blog/what-do-we-look-application as well as the main blog: https://harris.uchicago.edu/blog


Guest: Does the MPP program prefer students with public policy experience/background?
* Jennifer Erickson: Thank you for your great question. No, we do not require students have a public policy background. In fact, many of our students come from diverse backgrounds and academic majors. We have essays questions as part of the application process where students can demonstrate their interest in policy. I would encourage you to apply to Harris now. Students typically attend their first year at Harris. We have a Round One Deadline of January 22nd and we can accept your GMAT scores instead of GRE if that is what you have taken. https://apply-harris.uchicago.edu/apply/


Guest: What are some of the most popular career outcomes for MPP/MBA students?
* Jennifer Erickson: This is a great question. Peter and I were just chatting about this topic. I think students who typically pursue this program are ones who know they have an interest in both policy and business or finance. Students complete a Harris internship as well as an internship with Booth that can be very helpful in determining your career path after graduation. This report details the Career Outcomes for our Harris students. https://harris.uchicago.edu/files/inline-files/2016%20Career%20Outcomes%20Report.final_.for%20web.pdf

Guest: How big are the joint degree cohorts? Are there any activities joint degree cohort activities that are planned throughout the year?
* Peter Biava: Class of 2019 MPP/MBA dual degree cohort is 11; I think the class of 2018 dual degree cohort is about 10.  There are other joint-degree programs with Law and Med School but I don't know those numbers. Re: official joint degree cohort activities: none officially planned by the schools, but we are all very close and good friends (we tend to have a lot in common) so we hang out a lot.


Guest: Hello, is the whole program based only in Chicago? Or this can be done in other places as experience share?

* Kim Ge: Thanks for joining; the whole program is based in Chicago. This is the Full-Time MBA, which takes place in Chicago, along with Harris.


Guest: Can you tell us how the dual degree program has enriched your experience and grown your perspective, versus just pursuing the MBA?

* Peter Biava: My undergrad degree with a BBA focused on finance. My professional experience was also heavily finance-oriented. Since I wanted to change careers to infrastructure finance, I knew I needed a better education around public policy, urban development, social policy, etc... (all the things that can affect government spending) ...  The dual-degree with Harris really helped me get a formal education in policy analysis and policymaking, and has been absolutely enriching both inside and outside of class. I really liked getting involved with all the lunch-n-learns at Harris & Booth where experts come in to talk about their work or their research.  I also really enjoyed getting involved with UChicago's Institute of Politics. Their YouTube page has video of almost every panel they conduct. Those are wonderful events to enrich your dual-degree experience.


Guest: I'm looking to apply to the full-time MBA program at Booth and hope to make it for the R2 pool. What is the best way to connect with the adcom and program outside of visiting campus?

* Kim Ge: Thank you for joining today! It is best to learn from the student experience. We have a tool for both Harris & Booth, where you can connect directly with current students.  The Booth tool can be found here: https://apply.chicagobooth.edu/portal/studentvolunteer; and the Harris tool here: https://apply-harris.uchicago.edu/register/?id=369bb2d1-73ed-466b-95f5-cb6576266550


Guest: The website says that you must be admitted to both Harris and Both to pursue the joint degree. I'm wondering if the selection processes for each degree are entirely independent or if the process is different at all for students applying to the joint program?

* Jennifer Erickson: Thank you for attending and great question. The selection process for both programs is independent, but it can be helpful if you share with both schools that you are interested in the program and where you are in the application process. I would encourage you to apply to Harris in Round One if you are interested. Students typically start the program at Harris. The Round One deadline is January 22nd and we can accept your GMAT scores instead of GRE if that is what you have taken. https://apply-harris.uchicago.edu/apply/


Guest: Hi Peter, thank you for being a part of this chat. I read that you have background in infrastructure and investments. I am also interested in infrastructure investments, especially in the emerging markets. Do you think the joint degree is a better option than just the MBA?

* Peter Biava: Certainly you could pursue a career in emerging markets infra with just one degree, but I felt that there was a bit more academic preparation (and signaling) that I needed on my resume so that's why I chose to do a dual-degree. I felt like both schools would give me the skills, credibility, and the network I needed to be effective in a long-term career.


Guest: Does the MPP program prefer students with public policy experience/background?

* Jennifer Erickson: Thank you for your question. Students are not required to have a policy background or experience.


Guest: If a candidate is not currently employed by a public-sector / non-profit org, how may that candidate emphasize his/her interest in pursuing a degree in public policy? For example, are extracurricular/volunteer experiences considered in lieu?

* Jennifer Erickson: Thank you for your question. Our students come from a variety of academic and career background. During the application process, you will have an opportunity to demonstrate your interest in policy in your essays, resume, and from the letters of recommendation. We certainly take extracurricular and volunteer work into consideration, and many students list this work on their application and resume.  Our Harris blog discusses many parts of the application. I would recommend these posts: https://harris.uchicago.edu/blog and https://harris.uchicago.edu/admissions/blog/what-do-we-look-application and check out some of our student and alumni profiles: https://harris.uchicago.edu/news-events/news/profile


Guest: If you have been admitted to Booth in R1, should you let Harris know about it or will Booth pass down this information?

* Kim Ge: You should let Harris know!


Guest: When applying, is it best to build your application around being a dual degree student? Or keep the applications in two separate veins?

* Kim Ge: It's best to be honest in your goals and what you are looking to get out of the experience, therefore sharing in both applications that you are interested in Booth & Harris is a good strategy.


Guest: Is there an option for on campus housing for graduate students?

* Kim Ge: UofC has graduate school housing options. Chicago Booth and Harris does not offer graduate student housing.


Guest: What kind of scholarships does booth offer?

* Kim Ge: Hi! Chicago Booth scholarships are merit-based. All admitted students are eligible to receive a merit-based scholarship.


Guest: I've noticed an overlap in the core curriculums for the two schools (spec. statistics and micro). Is it possible to use Harris credits to place out of these requirements at Booth?

* Peter Biava: Yes, stats and micro overlap and count for both! Also, there's a course called "Decisions and Organizations" at Harris that is also overlapped with general management courses here at Booth.  The overlap is part of the reason why the dual-degree can be compressed from 4 years into 3 years without losing any quality of educational experience.


Guest: I recognize that Harris prefers LORs from former professors. However, what about candidates that have been out of school for 5+ years... may LORs from professional references be accepted in lieu?

* Jennifer Erickson: It’s common for students who have a few years of work experience to submit professional letters from colleagues, mentors, or supervisors rather than professors. This does not negatively impact the review process for students who have been working for a few years. I would encourage you to apply to Harris in Round One if you are interested. Students typically start the program at Harris. The Round One Deadline is January 22nd and we can accept your GMAT scores instead of GRE if that is what you have taken. https://apply-harris.uchicago.edu/apply/


Guest: Do students with no prior experience in the private sector have a hard time at Booth?

* Kim Ge: Booth accepts applicants from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. For a look at the class breakdown, visit our webpage:  https://www.chicagobooth.edu/programs/full-time (scroll down to the bottom of the page)


Guest: For the merit-based scholarship, what does the adcom consider in evaluating merit?

* Kim Ge: Scholarships and fellowships do not have additional applications. All award decisions are determined from your MBA application by the Admissions Committee. The eligibility for many scholarships and fellowships is defined by the criteria of individual alumni and foundation donors. Award amounts will vary. Chicago Booth does not negotiate scholarship and fellowship decisions. Candidates are evaluated based on a variety of aspects, including: Educational achievement, Intended concentration, Quality of interview, Competitiveness, Life experiences, Professional goals


Guest: Given the heavy course load, how do you think about your time outside of class? I am interested, for example, in the Policy Labs and the Institute of Politics, but am worried that pursuing an MPP/MBA will mean sacrificing involvement in campus activities.

* Peter Biava:  Time outside of class is really valuable! There's social, career-stuff, and extracurricular academic enrichment to do. There's also the great city of Chicago to explore, etc.. If you came to school because you're really excited about Policy labs and IOP, then what else could you possibly be more excited for that you didn't already know about!?  I think this is where prioritizing comes into play. Certainly, it would be great to do everything, but there's just so much going on that you have to pick a few things and go with it. I spend a lot of time with IOP because it's an incredible value-add for my experience.  I have a few personal hobbies (like music composition and recording) that have had to take a back-seat to my grad school experience going on because I can always return to those hobbies when life goes back to "normal"....but since grad school is a finite 3 years I’m really milking my experience here for everything I can.


Guest: Can you share what the opinion of Chicago Booth to Re-applicants is? Are they in an inferior or superior position comparing with other candidates?

* Kim Ge: If you were not admitted (or if you declined an offer of admission), you may reapply in the next academic year. Students who are successful in the reapplication process are competitive in the current year's applicant pool and have demonstrated growth through career progress, academic preparation, community involvement, or self-awareness.


Guest: Can you speak to the GMAT score ranges you guys look for when reviewing applications? Is this more or less on par with Booth admits? Or is there less of an emphasis at Harris on high GMAT scores?

* Jennifer Erickson: We look at everything a student submits. So, while the scores are an important piece of the process, we are also looking for students to demonstrate an interest in policy in their essays and we are looking closely at work experience and recommendations.


Guest: Given the rigor of your course load, are there things you wish you had done before matriculating to better prepare you for Booth and Harris? Maybe subjects you wish you had gotten a refresher course in, or habits you adopted/ditched?

* Peter Biava: I would make sure you're not coming in to grad school cold turkey-meaning that you should be up to date with world events, and generally follow the news so that discussions about policy and business can be enriching and value-add for you from day 1.  I read a lot, I naturally listen to a ton of podcasts, and that's my way of staying sharp.  In terms of academic stuff (like micro, stats, calculus, etc....)  I wouldn't worry too much about trying to buy textbooks and read them before you get here, that's what class is for and that's what you're paying tuition for!

Habits that are helpful: Time management!  Also, make time for your personal health. Eat right, sleep right, and get exercise. That’s the only way to make this busy time in your life sustainable.


Guest: Aare there any common themes/interests (e.g., healthcare, infrastructure, environment) from the cohort of joint degree students?

* Peter Biava: Taking a step back, I would say the common theme is that everyone is incredibly optimistic and genuinely feels like they can make a difference in the world with the work that they do. That said, people's policy focus can vary depending on their prior experience or their career goals. All the focuses you mentioned are popular for dual-degree students ... (and they are popular focuses for students just doing 1 degree too)…social impact is a big theme right now as well. The dual degree experience is a lot about figuring out where you can actually move the needle in the policy AND business world given your particular set of interests.


Guest: Thank you for your time, can you give us a sense of what has been the reaction of recruiters when they learn that you are a dual-degree student?

* Peter Biava: It depends on whom I’m speaking with. If it is a consulting firm like McKinsey, then there's an appreciation for the broad-based education and preparation that I'm doing.  But personally, I’m focusing on infrastructure, and a lot of that recruiting process has me interviewing with investment bankers that may not exactly know what a degree in public policy actually teaches you. In those cases, I have to explain why I'm doing another degree (and why I would spend a year of my life doing so)...

the recruiting experience has been generally really successful for me; I think the dual-degree makes my resume stand out in a pile of resumes, and in conversations I can bring up memorable anecdotes about experiences that I've had on both sides of my education. So I think it makes me a more memorable and better prepared candidate. Firms out there have never expressed an explicit preference for dual-degree students, but I can see marginal benefits of it in my own personal career and academic preparation.


Guest: Can you share the weight of GMAT, work experience, GPA, recommendation letter and Essay when you make the admission decision?

*Kim Ge: Hi! All aspects of the application are weighed equally.


Guest: Hi Peter, thanks for all the great answers, in class while at Booth or Harris, would you say that the older part of the class (+28) is wiser or has more input during class discussions?

* Peter Biava: Interesting question! I’ll answer it this way: if anyone has experience that can add depth to discussions, then it's valuable. So it doesn't necessarily have to be age that drives that- it can be someone's travel or someone's in-depth community or public service. The great thing about coming back to school is that it throws you into a diverse pool of perspectives- not just diverse backgrounds and cultures, but also diverse professional experiences.... when I think of my own experience I see the world very differently today at 31 than I did 10 years ago at 21 and that might be just ONE of my value-adds during class discussions. Certainly I worked thru 2007 and 2008 and I have anecdotes to share about the financial crisis, etc…I've learned so much from my classmates who don't have as much work experience, but perhaps they had a really international focus, or perhaps they were successful entrepreneurs who sold their startup before coming back to MBA. Those are experiences that can add wisdom regardless of age.