Applicants applying to the PhD in Public Policy program are expected to have:

  1. First or upper-class second honors degree (or equivalent: Cum Laude; Magna Cum Laude; and Summa Cum Laude) or a master’s degree in a cognate discipline;
  2. The required level of English proficiency.
    Overall IELTS test score of 6.5 (with sub-score requirements no less than 6.0), or the equivalent TOEFL score as posted on the ETS website);
    Applicants to the PhD in Public Policy program, at the discretion of the Admissions Committee, can be exempted from submitting the language proficiency test report if:
    – one of their earlier academic degrees was earned in a country with English as the language of official communication, academic instruction, and daily life;
    – an undergraduate degree was earned in a program which was officially taught in English;
    – the applicant is a graduate of Nazarbayev University.
  3. GMAT/GRE (may be submitted);
  4. 2 (two) letters of recommendation;
  5. At least 3 (three) years of relevant work experience.
    Based on GSPP’s Admissions Committee discretion, applicants with work experience less than 3 (three) years may also be considered if the applicant can demonstrate high academic performance as decided by the Admissions Committee.

Applicants to the PhD in Public Policy program are required to complete and submit online the application form available at the University website (, as well as a complete package of admission documents before the deadline.

Applicants will be required to pay a non-refundable application fee (for Kazakhstani citizens – KZT 5,000, for international applicants – KZT 14,000).

Shortlisted applicants must provide original copies of all documents.

The checklist for the application package for the PhD program:

  • Complete Application form for PhD in Public Policy program;
  • Official copy of degree diplomas/certificates with transcripts(with notarized English translation);
  • IELTS or TOEFL test report/certificate valid as of commencement of the program (if applicable);
  • Notarized copy of Passport/national ID;
  • GMAT/GRE test reports/certificates (optional) valid as of commencement of the PhD in Public Policy program;
  • 2 letters of recommendation;
  • CV/resume;
  • Notarized copy of Labor card with English translation or another documented proof of work experience (if applicable);
  • Cover letter explaining the motivation to enroll on the PhD program;
  • Preliminary research proposal (2,000 words).

Submission of complete application package does not guarantee admission to the PhD in Public Policy program.

Application process



Please take 10 minutes of your time before you start the application process to read and follow the guidance which is given below.

The whole application process is done via Nazarbayev University online admissions portal. All the applications and the documents required have to be submitted through the online admissions portal: no application or document will be accepted by email.
To apply online, you will be asked to set up a user account using your email address, and you should use this email for all enquiries. All correspondence during the selection process will take place by email.

Press the “Sign up” button to set up your account (see picture 1).


On the “Registration” page select “Doctorate” from the dropdown list, tick the program(s) you wish to apply for, fill in all the boxes below, and press the “Registration” button.
Attention! Make sure to provide accurate information (you must write your name in English as it appears in your passport) as this information will automatically appear in your application form.

In order to complete the registration process and activate your account you need to click the link that was sent to your email address.
Once you activate your Nazarbayev University account, go to “My Application Forms” menu and choose the PhD program.

Now you are able to open, complete and upload the application form (see picture 2).


The application form will be opened in a separate tab/window. Fill it in and attach a passport size picture of yourself. The fields highlighted in yellow are mandatory fields.

Please make sure you provide accurate information for your two referees (you can provide only one email address for each referee). As soon as you press the “Submit” button on your personal page, an email will be generated automatically and sent to the referees’ email addresses you have provided.
In addition, please ensure that your referees reply to our request with the scanned copy of the reference letter to within 10 days of receiving the email.
Applicants are not permitted to view their reference letters. They are strictly confidential and will only be read by those people responsible for assessing your application.

After you press the “Upload” button, your application form will automatically appear on your personal page (refresh the page if necessary).

The next step is to attach all supporting documentation.

After you press the “Submit” button, the application will be sent to the Graduate School of Public Policy and you will not be able to make any further changes.
Once your application is submitted, a confirmation email will be sent to your email address.

You will be asked to pay an application fee at the time of submission (for Kazakhstani citizens – KZT 5,000, for international applicants – KZT 14,000).

The fee can be paid online by credit card. Cash is not accepted. Your payment is non-refundable, even if you withdraw the application or if the application is denied. The fee can be applied only to the admission term indicated on your submitted application.


Once we get your application, fee, and supporting documentation, the NU Admissions Department will review your documents and contact you by email if additional information is needed. You will be notified if you are not eligible for the program. All eligible applications will be carefully reviewed and assessed by GSPP Admissions Committee members. Successful applicants will be invited to the interview.

GSPP Admissions Committee is composed of faculty members and/or senior administrative staff from GSPP and at least 1 representative from GSPP’s strategic partner.


Interview with the Admissions Committee members takes place on campus in Astana. Applicants may choose among 2 options: either to attend face-to-face interview or have it remotely (usually via skype). The interview lasts from 15 to 30 minutes. You will be asked questions about your background, research interests and your aspirations, and how the program you are applying to fits with your future career plans. We recommend that you prepare for this interview as you would for a job interview.


After all interviews have been conducted, the Admissions Committee will invite top bright and talented applicants to join the program. Every applicant will be notified of the outcome by email.
Successful applicants are expected to confirm their intention of enrolment otherwise


Step 1. Online application
15 November – 1 April (annually)

Step 2. Application screening

Step 3. Interview with the admissions committee

Step 4. Admissions decision


Annually the GSPP provides certain number of state educational grants (scholarships), covering:

  • tuition fees,
  • free of charge housing on campus,
  • monthly stipend,
  • transport expenditures, etc.

Monthly allowance

According to government regulation on state scholarships, the monthly allowance for PhD students of Nazarbayev University who hold state grants is KZT 81,899. Only students with “Excellent” grades (A and A-) and “Good” grades (B+, B, B-) for any module/course upon the semester results are eligible for this monthly allowance. The monthly allowance is not paid during academic leave except for medical leave reasons based on medical assessment (a conclusion by a medical board is needed).

Students who are on medical leave receive 50% of the monthly allowance amount; students with disabilities (hearing/vision) receive 75% of the monthly allowance amount. Students on maternity leave receive a monthly allowance on a pre-departure rate during the whole period according to Kazakhstan legislature. The monthly allowance is not paid during the childcare leave until the child reaches three years of age.

General Information

For inquiries about admissions please contact Admissions Department
+7 7172 709149
+7 7172 706568