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Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Established 1914
Type Public
Parent institution
University of Michigan
Dean Susan M. Collins
Academic staff
Students 126
Location Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
Campus Urban
Affiliations APSIA

The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, often referred to as the Ford School, is a leading public policy school in the United States. Founded in 1914 as the Institute of Public Administration, it was named in 1999 after former President Gerald Ford, who was a 1935 graduate of the University of Michigan. In the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, the Ford School was ranked #1 in social policy (tied with Harvard University), #3 in public-policy analysis and environmental policy, and #6 in environmental policy.[1]

The Ford School offers wide-ranged research in public policy and is known for its strong quantitative orientation. The school runs dual degree programs with the University of Michigan Law School, Ross School of Business, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, School of Information, School of Social Work, School of Natural Resources and Environment, and School of Public Health, as well as the Departments of Economics, Sociology and Political Science.


  • History 1
  • Programs of study 2
  • Research 3
  • Notable alumni 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The Great Hall, which is most often used as a study area but also hosts events.

The Ford School was founded in 1914[2] as the Institute for Public Administration. Consequently, it is the oldest public policy institution in the United States. It was part of the Progressive Era movement for clean government and well-trained professional civil servants. For the first half-century of its existence, the institute focused on training individuals who would serve in state and local government in the United States.

In the mid-1960s, academic work in the social sciences suggested that the analytic methods of the social sciences could be usefully applied to the understanding of public concerns. The institute, which was renamed the Institute for Public Policy Studies, redesigned its curriculum to include rigorous training in the social sciences, particularly quantitative analysis of economic, political, and organizational questions. The focus of faculty research and student training moved to national and international issues.

The University of Michigan established the institute as the School of Public Policy in 1995, with Lorch Hall as the host building. Since achieving this status, the school has been expanding. In 1999, the school adopted as its current namesake Michigan alumnus and former U.S. President Gerald Ford.

In the fall 2006, the Joan and Sanford Weill Hall became the new permanent home of the Ford School. The Weill family donated $8 million, $5 million for construction of a new $35 million building (dedicated on October 13, 2006), which houses classrooms, offices, and meeting space for students, faculty and staff, and $3 million to endow the position of dean of the School. The five-story structure, designed by Robert A. M. Stern, houses several research centers, a policy library, and study areas for students. At the same time, the school has begun admitting junior-level undergraduate students for two-year programs for public policy majors.

Programs of study

Three graduate degrees and one graduate certificate are currently offered:

Undergraduate degree:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy (B.A.)

Discontinued degree:

  • Accelerated Master of Public Policy. The Accelerated M.P.P. was a sub-matriculation program for exceptional undergraduates that allowed them to complete a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Policy fully in five years time. The prerequisites consisted of extensive undergraduate political science, economics, and mathematics coursework. It was discontinued with the creation of the undergraduate policy degree. The final Accelerated M.P.P. students graduated in 2009.

The doctoral program is conducted jointly with the economics, sociology, or political science department.

Of the doctoral program, the MPP program, and the undergraduate program in public policy, the MPP program is the largest. The Ford School has developed dual degrees with many professional programs,[3] which enables students to complete work on two degrees simultaneously. The most common dual degree programs include coursework in business, education, information, law, natural resources and the environment, public health, Russian and Eastern European studies, social work, or urban and regional planning.

MPP students specialize in a wide range of policy fields, including domestic social policy, international trade, and nonprofit management.[4] Students are encouraged to participate in interdisciplinary work by incorporating graduate courses from other schools at the university. Most students choose a particular area on which to focus, generally from: U.S. Social Policy, Economics, International Development & Politics, Public & Nonprofit Management, Politics of Policymaking, or Methodologies of Policy Analysis.

A key component of the MPP course of study is hands-on experience, which takes the form of a required ten-week internship, typically completed in the summer between the program's two years.

Students also have opportunities for specialized study and travel during the academic year. Currently, there are four courses which allow students to gain practical experience with policymaking and/or international exposure:

  • Applied Policy Seminar – A semester-long course in which students are assigned to real-world projects for local governments, often requiring assessment of costs/benefits and implications of a policy change.
  • Integrated Policy Exercise – A week-long, school-wide simulation addressing either a local or international issue.
  • Distance Learning Project for Quantitative Social Science – A year-long course that trains students in social science techniques for policymaking and partners them with social scientists in South Africa via the web and a country trip in the winter term.
  • International Economic Development Program – A semester-long course in which students, in conjunction with a faculty member, study the economic, political, and social development of a developing country, culminating in a visit over the winter break.

In September 2007, the school began its first undergraduate program with 50 third-year students beginning the two-year program of study.


The Ford School is home to or co-sponsor of a number of multi-disciplinary research centers that focus on policy concerns including:

  • Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP)
  • Center for Public Policy in Diverse Societies
  • Education Policy Initiative
  • International Policy Center
  • National Poverty Center
  • Nonprofit and Public Management Center
  • Science, Technology, and Public Policy Program (STPP)
  • Research and Training Program on Poverty & Public Policy
  • Michigan Program on Poverty & Social Welfare Policy

Several members of the school's faculty have joint appointments in other departments, and there are visiting professors from around the U.S. and other countries. The Ford School also has a Diplomat in Residence program to provide students with firsthand access to information about the U.S. State Department.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "University of Michigan – Ann Arbor – Public Affairs". U.S. News. 
  2. ^ About the Ford School [3], Retrieved on February 7, 2013
  3. ^
  4. ^ Master of Public Policy (MPP) Program [4], Retrieved on February 7, 2013

External links

  • Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy official site
  • US News Guide to Public Affairs Programs
  • Ford School Timeline
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