Goldman School of Public Policy - University of California, Berkeley

Client-Based Projects

Every year, clients engage Goldman School students during the regular school year to work on policy analysis projects. Students bring together the skills learned in core courses to solve real-life problems for off-campus clients. Such projects are of two kinds:

  • Advanced Policy Analysis (APA) Projects. In their final (fourth) semester of study, Goldman School students are required to write a high-quality professional paper (Advanced Policy Analysis, or APA) in order to complete the Master of Public Policy degree. With faculty supervision and advice, each student conducts a thorough analysis of a major policy question facing a "real-world" organization/practitioner, applying the interdisciplinary methods, approaches, and perspectives studied in GSPP’s core curriculum. This paper must meet not only the academic standards of the School’s faculty, but also the standards and needs of a practitioner who acts as a "client" for the work.
  • Capstone Analytic Projects  (CAP) Projects. In their final (third) semester of study, MPA students work with a client organization to address a problem, challenge or missed opportunity facing the organization.  MPA students are highly-qualified mid-career professionals enrolled in the 12-month Berkeley MPA. They typically arrive with at least 10 years’ experience in professional workplaces ranging from consulting, government, military, and philanthropy, through social policy, the arts and tech.  Their GSPP coursework is varied, incorporating the same disciplines as in the MPP core, but for fewer hours.

    During the spring semester, MPA students spend 10-15 hours per week on their CAP, for a total of 150-250 hours.  A student’s findings and recommendations are most often presented as a professional-quality written report, but may take other forms (such as, for example, a reorganization plan) as agreed between student, client and instructor.     

  • Introductory Policy Analysis (IPA) Projects. In the spring of their first year (second semester), Goldman School students take a workshop class called Introduction to Policy Analysis, or IPA. During the course, students work in three- or four-person teams to write a policy analysis for use by a real world "client," typically an individual in a public sector organization confronting some policy problem or opportunity.

Submission Deadline for APA, CAP and IPA Projects: We are no longer accepting APA proposals for Spring 2017. Please visit this page in Summer 2017 for infromation on submitting a proposal for Spring 2018.

Which MPP Client-Based Project is Right for Your Organization?



Introductory Policy Analysis


Advanced Policy Analysis


 3 or 4 first-year students with some guidance from a faculty coach


 1 second-year student with weekly advice from 8-10 peers plus a faculty coach

 PROJECT TIMING  Early February to early May    Mid-January to early May (by mutual agreement between the student and client, students  sometimes begin work earlier than January)

Over the three months, each student will spend approximately 80-120 hours on their IPA project, which translates to roughly 300 to 450 hours per team, depending on whether there are 3 or 4 (or occasionally, 5) students on the team.


The APA is typically one of two courses taken during the spring semester, and averaged across the semester, represents 20 to 30 hours per week of the student’s time.  Because students usually have their topics before the start of the spring semester, potentially they can spend up to 15 weeks on the project (for a total of about 450 hours per student).


1 semester of MPP coursework already taken.  Most students have prior work experience before starting GSPP.


3 semesters of MPP coursework already taken, plus one summer internship.  Most students have prior work experience before starting GSPP.


Clients are expected to reimburse the students for incidental expenses including travel, conference registration fees, phone calls, photocopies, etc.


Clients are expected to compensate the student as well as reimburse for incidental expenses. Typical range is between $6000-$8000, but some clients pay more than this.


During the preceding fall semester, the IPA coordinator and  instructors work with potential  clients to select and refine  proposals for the IPA.  Several criteria apply, including match  with  distribution of student interests, project scope, analytic challenge  and relevance to an  actionable decision.  All reviews and rewrites  are finished by early December, when the  project menu is  distributed to students.


Client and student directly negotiate project goals and tasks. The final project topic and scope is subject to faculty approval to ensure that it meets academic requirements.


Not all proposals are suitable for the project menu, and a few of the projects on the menu do not appeal to enough students to warrant a team.  Clients whose project is not selected by enough students for IPA can have it added to the list of projects available to second-year students for their capstone APA project, although the chances of a second-year student selecting the project at that late of a date are not high.


There is more certainty that the client's project will be chosen, assuming 1) there is student interest and 2) the client and the student agree on scope and compensation. GSPP faculty do not match students with projects.


Submit IPA Proposal


Lindsay Maple, IPA Coordinator


Jane Mauldon

Assoc. Professor of Public Policy

 Phone: (510) 847-1619

 Amy Lerman
 Assoc. Professor of Public Policy

 Mia Bird
 Lecturer in Public Policy


 Submit APA Proposal

 Cecille Cabacungan
Director of Career &  Alumni Services and
 Ph.D. Admissions & Student Affairs  Advisor

 Phone: (510) 642-1303