For MPP and joint MBA/MPP students, the Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) is the culmination of the Harvard Kennedy School experience. In fact, many of our MPP graduates consider it to be one of the highlights of their HKS education.

During the PAE, second-year MPP students essentially serve as a consultant to a public or nonprofit sector organization and develop solutions to a policy or management issue. Students and their clients work together to define specific issues, design research strategies, gather data, formulate and evaluate options, and, finally, make actionable recommendations. The final analysis—usually around 40 pages or 10,000 words—gives students the opportunity to integrate the technical skills and specialized knowledge gained from the MPP curriculum while also helping the client organization tackle a real-world concern. It is not unusual for client organizations to implement the PAE recommendations made by students.

PAE Showcase

Each spring, a select group of MPP students present their PAE projects and share their findings and recommendations with the HKS community.

Photos from the 2022 PAE Showcase. Photo credit: Lydia Rosenberg

During the 2022 PAE Showcase on April 26, students presented projects focused on a range of topics—female representation in the start-up ecosystem, anticipating climate disasters in Yemen, a community-based approach to early childhood education in Brazil, analyzing threats to security and democracy in South Africa, improving 311 awareness in the city of South Bend, and much more. Clients included the World Health Organization, U.S. Department of State, Human Rights Watch, San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and more.

Learn more about the 2022 PAE presenters and projects.

The article was originally published on the HKS Admissions Blog.