How to Write the Academic Statement for the Georgetown McCourt MPP Program

Guest Post from Heidi, consultant for The Art of Applying

3 Tips on Writing the Policy Analysis / Academic Statement for the Georgetown McCourt MPP Program

The Georgetown McCourt MPP application’s Academic Statement requirement reads as follows:


Academic Statement

Maximum length 500 words. Your essay should address the following:

MPP & MIDP: The McCourt School’s programs emphasizes analytical rigor and using sophisticated quantitative tools where appropriate. Why do you think analytical rigor is important for policy analysis? Use a current policy issue (MIDP applicants should use a development policy issue)  to demonstrate your reasoning.


The Academic Statement can be one of the more daunting application components. But this is all the more reason not to put it off until the last minute while you perfect your other materials. When it comes to your academic statement, you want to give yourself plenty of preparation and writing time. To get started, follow these three tips:

Tip #1: Pick your policy issue wisely

Your first challenge is selecting a current policy issue to focus on for this essay. The best choice is a policy issue about which you feel passionate and know well, and that lends itself to answering the question “Why do you think analytical rigor is important for policy analysis?”

Make a list of the top 4-5 policy issues that come to mind. Then put them to the test, by answering these questions:

  • How will you analyze your policy issue? What analytical tools will you use? Are you confident you are able to apply “rigor” to your analysis?
  • What are the key points of the policy issue? Can you easily summarize them? You only have 500 words to make your case, so you don’t want to waste too much of your word count explaining the actual issue.
  • What are your policy conclusions or recommendations? And, how does your analysis help you come to them?

Once you’ve answered these questions for each policy issue, it should be apparent that one is a stronger choice than the others. If you have several policy issues that would work well, pat yourself on the back! Then, just pick the issue on which you most want to spend time writing.

Tip #2: Make sure you thoroughly answer the question

The Admissions Committee is asking you to focus on a current policy issue to demonstrate why you believe analytical rigor is important to policy analysis, so you’ll need to address this in your Statement. Consider writing about what is lost when analysis lacks rigor. Show both that you can do the analytically rigorous policy analysis and that you can make the case for why analytical rigor this is critical.

Tip #3: Turn in a well-written essay

Finally, don’t get so lost in making your arguments that you lose sight of the fact that this essay—like all other essays in your application—is a way to demonstrate your writing ability to the admissions officers. Make sure your Statement is free of typos and grammatical mistakes, and edit with a close eye toward being clear and concise in your writing.

Your application may be number 507 in the pile, so you want to make it easy for the reviewer to quickly determine that you are a competent writer, that you understand public policy, and that you have strong analytical reasoning ability.

You got this! Good luck!

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