The Batten Applied Policy Project

Our two-year, full-time Master of Public Policy program offers more than the typical policy research and data analysis education found at other public policy schools. The program’s core curriculum combines rigorous data analysis with hands-on policy experience and a foundation in the concepts of leadership—how it works, why context matters in decision-making, and which actions lead to tangible results. The culmination of the program is an Applied Policy Project that challenges students to perform a professional-quality study for a real-world client. Divided over two semesters, APP I provides students with the opportunity for a semester of research and information gathering in the policy field of the student's external client, while in APP II, students produce a final report of approximately 50 single-spaced, professionally bound pages. The report is presented to both the faculty member and to the client.

We asked our most recent graduates to share more about their Applied Policy Project, and as you can see from their responses, our students worked on a wide range of policy issues last year:

“I looked at ways to improve the housing navigation process and timeline in Charlottesville for lower-income individuals through various landlord engagement strategies.”

  • Jasmine, MPP Class of 2021

“I researched how Maryland can attract and retain veterans with the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs as my client. We've seen a continual decline in the veteran population which has drastic effects on the workforce and broad economy of the State. It's my hope to make the Department itself more inviting as well as think about ways the State can improve to make the cost-of-living and employment opportunities better for the veteran population.”

  • Morgan, MPP Class of 2021

“My APP studied American Indian student outcomes in Minnesota Public Schools. My client is the Minnesota Department of Education.”

  • Allie, MPP Class of 2021

“I researched how markets react to carbon pricing and applied these findings to estimate outcomes associated with a new carbon tax in Germany. I then outlined policies that could help mitigate the negative effects of a carbon pricing model (e.g., worse labor market outcomes, higher energy prices in the short term).”

  • Geoff, MPP Class of 2021

“My APP focused on strategies to reduce incarceration for low-level offenders at the federal level. I believe there are alternative justice models that can provide for more equitable outcomes in the justice system - including restorative justice programs.”

  • Jordan, MPP Class of 2021

“My APP is to recommend policy proposals to create legislation that counteracts China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the digital and telecommunications space. Through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for global infrastructure development, China is expanding into the international digital infrastructure space with its Digital Silk Road (DSR) program. The U.S. currently lacks an adequate response to the BRI, leaving China unchecked in their expansion and the U.S. falling behind in telecommunications development.”

  • Niki, MPP Class of 2021

“I worked with Church World Service (a refugee resettlement organization) on refugee underemployment in Virginia. Many refugees have training in high skilled professions like medicine and law but are unable to practice here due to regulations written without them in mind.”

  • Christian, MPP Class of 2021

“I've looked at the best options to decarcerate the Dallas County Jail in Dallas, TX! This is where my client is based, but most of my research and analysis is applicable to other jails and prisons, too. We unnecessarily lock up far too many people all over the country.”

  • Emily, MPP Class of 2021