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So you’re about to take the Policy Capstone…

Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  1. If you’re still in the first few semesters of your program, be sure to take classes that lean into skills you want to learn (e.g., GIS, research design, accounting) and/or policy issues you are passionate about (e.g., housing, K-12 education, transportation).
  2. Take all required courses that are offered on Tuesday evenings before your last semester! The Policy Capstone is offered on Tuesday evenings. If you have required courses that typically meet on Tuesday evenings, be sure to take those courses prior to your last semester, otherwise this might push your graduation date out by a semester! 
  3. Learn about Boston, Oakland, and Arlington. Policy Capstones are locally sourced. This means that most projects come from partners in the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs’ local communities. If you’re based at or near one of our campuses, take the time to learn about your local landscape. What are the big policy issues? For whom? Are there differences by neighborhood or community? What is the local political landscape? Who are the other local actors, including non-profits and funders?
  4. Learn more about how we select partners and partner projects here.
  5. Talk to current Policy Capstone students! Ask them about their experience, what they did to prepare, what they wish they did to prepare, and more.
  6. Speak to your Advisor and Program Director about what you’re interested in. Get connected to others at the School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs (including alumni!) and others in our communities who work on similar issues or topics. 
  7. Learn from the Capstone student info session powerpoint.

Student Policy Capstone FAQs

The Policy Capstone is a class. MPP and MPA students are all required to take this course to graduate. MUPP and SRS students can elect to take this course to fulfill their Capstone graduation requirement. 

The structure of the course is a team consulting project. This is meant to provide students with real experience of working in a consulting relationship, which is how much policy work is conducted: the work is project-based, it is done in collaboration with a local partner, and a team with diverse skills push the project forward. Because this is still an academic course, student teams are guided by a faculty instructor. 

In some programs, students might receive an MA in Public Policy. These students would be required to write a Master’s of Arts Thesis. Your degrees are applied degrees, meaning that your demonstration of learning Master’s level work is shown through your performance in this course, on this project.

Learn about the partner and partner project selection process here.

The faculty instructor guides each team with the understanding that the work is largely student-driven. This includes giving advice on defining the scope of work, locating useful resources, thinking through challenges and obstacles, and providing general feedback on the final deliverables. The faculty instructor also maintains a relationship with the project partners.

Approximately ten hours per person per week. Because this is a class, you should spend the same amount of time on this course as you would with any other course. 

Student teams are usually three to five students.

No. The course is designed to provide the experience of a team consulting project, where most teams are not self-selected. That said, students are asked to provide information that aids the faculty instructor in building teams.

Students are asked to provide information that aids the faculty instructor in matching teams to projects and project partners.

No. Students who are enrolled as in-person students will be enrolled in an in-person Policy Capstone course. Students who are enrolled as online students will be enrolled in the online Policy Capstone course.