Gain the ability to understand and address global issues from multiple perspectives using data-analytical tools. There are three academic components to this program: Data Analytics, Introduction to R Programming, and a Capstone Research Project. Access a sample program syllabus.
This course provides an introduction to the statistical foundations, tools, and methods employed by public policy researchers. Explore the fundamental problem of causal inference and learn how to use data, research design, and statistical modeling to navigate around this problem.
This is an introductory course in programming and data analysis for students with no prior coding experience. The course has three learning outcomes: introduce students to the tools required to write and share code; translate self-contained questions into R programs; and learn how to retrieve, clean, visualize, and analyze data.
In the capstone research project, you will collaborate with Austin Wright, Assistant Professor and DPSS Faculty Director, and a group of peers on a real-world problem and design a policy recommendation.
You will harness the skills of research design, policy analysis, and team collaboration to conduct a research project using open-source or faculty-provided datasets. There are elements of data collection, analysis, and visualization, and result in a policy memo.
Learning outcomes and the policy memo become a portfolio piece that highlights your academic readiness for graduate program admissions or for applications for internships or jobs. The skills gained in the project are transferable for further research in your area of interest.
The program offers two-four capstone project topics. Topics are determined during the program. Faculty prepare a list of project topics, based on student input in the admissions process, and students vote to select their preferred topics during the program.
Before the program begins, we invite admitted students to share their suggested policy topics - a benefit of applying early! This will help shape which projects the faculty choose for the program.
View some example data visualizations from previous students:
Austin Wright is the Faculty Director for the Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program, ensuring the holistic curriculum is designed and taught to meet student needs in the UChicago way. Wright is an Assistant Professor at the Harris School of Public Policy, and faculty affiliate of The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the University of Chicago.
Watch the following video with Austin Wright to hear details about the curriculum, capstone research project, virtual format, and academic support resources.
Participants will receive two documents, issued electronically, upon successful completion of the credential program:
You are welcome to share your certification and transcript in job or graduate school applications, professional networks such as LinkedIn, etc.
Session 1: June 12 - July 28, 2023
Session 2: July 24 - September 8, 2023
The Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program occurs twice during the summer. The two virtual sessions are identical. Participants can apply to the session that best fits their schedule.
The virtual format allows students to engage with asynchronous (pre-recorded) lectures for Data Analytics and R Programming delivered via weekly video modules. Students can watch and re-watch on their own time from anywhere in the world. The Capstone Research Project, in the last two weeks of the program, includes synchronous lectures with faculty, office hours with teaching assistance, and remote collaboration with a group of peers.
Students receive daily support by joining synchronous office hours with faculty and graduate teaching assistants or chatting in the virtual discussion board. These interactive office hours, conducted in Zoom, are offered approximately 15 hours per week at various times to accommodate our global and working students.
Community Resources occur though synchronous, interactive sessions. These are approximately two-three hours of synchronous lectures or workshops per week.
Anticipate a commitment of approximately 15 hours per week. This weekly estimate is based on:
The weekly time commitment varies per student based on their own learning pace. This part-time, virtual format makes the program a compatible supplement your part-time or full-time academic study or internship/employment.
Synchronous office hours accommodate various time zones and occur multiple times throughout the week. These interactive office hours, conducted in Zoom, are often held in the mornings and evenings of Central Daylight Time (Chicago Time, UTC-5). The schedule is built based on the incoming student cohort. Apply early to tell us your time zone!
This program is open to the public and UChicago community. This program is available for undergraduate and graduate students, recent graduates and working professionals. We welcome domestic and international applicants from all around the world.
To enroll in the program, you must be at least 18 years old and have finished at least one year full-time study in an undergraduate institution one month prior to the start of the program. There are no prerequisites as this program is available for all academic backgrounds. All applicants are required to complete an online application.
Students are expected to have a stable internet connection and computer access to complete the virtual program.
The application for 2023 is closed. Sign up here to be notified when the application for 2024 opens.
|Early Action||January 24, 2023||early February||February 28, 2023|
|Priority Deadline||February 28, 2023||early March||April 4, 2023|
|Round 3||March 28, 2023||early April||April 18, 2023|
|Round 4*||April 18, 2023||late April||May 9, 2023|
|Round 5**||May 23, 2023||early June||June 6, 2023|
*Round 4 is the final application deadline for Session One.
** Round 5 accepts applications only for Session Two. The application may close earlier if space is no longer available.
Reply deadline is the date for admitted students to confirm their intent to enroll by submitting the Admission Reply Form and non-refundable Enrollment Deposit. Details are noted in the letter of admission and in the Admitted Student webpage.
Program Fee and Payment
The program fee for the 2023 program is $4,500.
UChicago Harris offers a modest, partial scholarship to top applicants based on qualifications presented in application.
As you proceed in the application, you will find the place in the Finance Section to indicate you would like your application to be considered for a partial, merit-based scholarship. There are no additional steps, prerequisites, or documents to submit in order to be considered for the UChicago Harris merit-based scholarship.
Scholarships are limited, and not guaranteed for all applicants. The scholarship average is $500. There are no full-funding scholarships. There are no other forms of discounts or financial aid provided by UChicago Harris.
Admitted students awarded a UChicago Harris scholarship will be notified at the time of their admission into the program in their letter of admission.
We encourage you to expand and diversify your funding resources. For example, past students received support from their current academic institution or employer. Other students found external scholarships based on their academic study, career goal, citizenship or other affiliations.
To start your search for third-party funding, consider reviewing our Opportunity Guide for Credential Programs and Opportunity Guide for Prospective Degree Students. Please note, this is not an exhaustive resource of all the available third party funding options, and the details subject to change. Please click through to the specific opportunity for up to date information.
After being admitted and accepting the electronic offer letter from the admissions team, you are required to submit a $1000 USD enrollment deposit to confirm your attendance. The deposit is non-refundable. The deposit will apply to your total program cost and be reflected in the bill.
Students who fail to submit the deposit by the deadline listed in their admission letter will be viewed as voluntarily giving up the seat to attend the program.
Payment for the enrollment deposit is accepted by credit-card in your application portal. If you have a third-party sponsor paying the enrollment deposit, then contact our office before your deadline (firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional instructions.
The program fee remaining balance is due June 28th for both sessions. This deadline is set by the University Bursar Office. Paying the remaining balance of the program fee is done in one transaction through your UChicago Student Portal, which is accessible during the summer term. Admitted students will receive detailed information about payment process. Additional details are listed on the DPSS Admitted Student webpage.
We intentionally create interactive spaces for students to connect with each other and the wider UChicago Community, fostering a sense of belonging and preparing themselves for academic or professional advancement. We host approximately one-three hours of community events each week of the program. These activities are hosted virtually.
Hear from UChicago faculty and policy practitioners on how they use data to make policy impacts in their professional and academic work. Topics ranging from energy, education, international development, healthcare, finance and more.
Meet diverse members of the UChicago Community such as university alumni, current graduate students, staff, and community partners. These spaces for you and a small group of DPSS peers are to hear community stories and gain insights to working and studying in the career field and graduate school.
Dive into the writing methods to convey rich information, such as the data in your capstone project, in a persuasive and informative way. These three-part series of workshops teach you policy writing that matters.
Learn from experienced career coaches on personal branding, resume building, networking tips and more. These interactive workshops get students thinking through their goals and skills and how to convey those in various settings.
Ask questions of UChicago graduate students and admissions staff. Learn more about UChicago Harris graduate degree programs, application tips and general advice on the graduate school process.
Join peers at weekly social events such as virtual living rooms, game nights, and more. Students also initiate activities around policy topics (policy debates, TED Talk reviews) and social activities (trivia nights, happy hours).
Attend a Roundtable with Alumni to hear their experiences with the community resources.
We are excited to offer an optional opportunity to connect in person on the University of Chicago campus. This optional weekend provides DPSS students space to connect with peers, the teaching team, and the UChicago community. Participation in the Chicago Weekend is 100% optional and does not impact the academic outcome of program completion.
Note: Events are subject to change based on local health and safety guidelines.
The Chicago Weekend includes part-day programming Thursday-Saturday with the majority of events on Friday. The 2023 Chicago Weekend will be held from September 14-16.
Additional details about the Chicago Weekend will be provided to admitted students.
Note: Visa sponsorship and lodging accommodations are not available for the Chicago Weekend.
Our 2021 DPSS cohort at a glance:
Average age of the 2021 cohort
Countries represented in 2021 cohort
Balanced a full-time job or internship
Completed during their undergraduate study
Completed during or after their graduate study
Had former full-time professional experience
The top undergraduate majors of the 2021 cohort include:
Summer scholars have enrolled in some great graduate schools. They have enrolled in graduate programs, at both Masters and Ph.D. levels, in the disciplines of Data Science, Business, Economics, Law, Math, Political Science, Public Policy, and Social Science.
DPSS supports students' path to graduate study, including at UChicago!
Started or completed a graduate program after DPSS
Enrolled in a graduate program at UChicago
Enrolled in a graduate program at UChicago Harris School of Public Policy
Summer Scholars advanced professionally to internships, part-time and full-time employment. They’ve earned positions such as Business Analytic Intern, Data Analyst Assistant, Congressional Intern, Development Coordinator, Financial Analyst, Management Consultant, Software Engineer, and Research Assistant.
Here are some example organizations:
Macias is an MPP Class of 2024 and DPSS’21. Macias seeks to combine the statistical background he gained in DPSS with his MPP experience to leverage big data to reshape national security policy recommendations and deterrence doctrines.
“In the short-term, I wanted to apply the quantitative skills I gained from DPSS to better analyze cyber conflict in the context of the Department of Defense Cyber Strategy of Defending Forward,” he said. "However, long-term, I hoped my exposure to policy practitioners and UChicago faculty would prepare me for graduate study."
Alexandra Garney, Data and Policy Summer Scholar (DPSS) program Class of 2020, says she went into education because she wanted to do something that would have an impact. “Education has been such a powerful force in my own life. It’s the surest way I know how to elevate to a different profession or access a different income, so the idea that I could contribute to that was really exciting.”
With the goal of becoming a teacher, Garney earned her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Penn State University in 2014. It wasn’t until she started pursuing her Master’s in Education at the University of Central Florida, however, that her goals started to shift toward a career in higher education. “I wound up working in undergraduate resident life in grad school and specifically loved that within higher education I could talk with students about things like social justice, leadership, and community partnership in a different way, because that was the content they were learning about.”
Olivia Gunther credits the Data & Policy Summer Scholar (DPSS) program as her first major exposure to the programming language R. “I had briefly used it during my undergraduate stats course,” she said, “but that was less diving into the program and more being given pieces to copy and paste.
“Not only was Harris the best quantitative program that I researched, but after experiencing DPSS, it was the best place to resolve the coding gap I had in undergrad. I really appreciated that coding is built into the curriculum.”
Brandon Williams, born and raised in a small town in southeastern Wisconsin, didn’t intend to ever leave his home state. It wasn’t until he was in his final years of studying Economics and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that he felt compelled to explore the world.
For Williams, the Data and Policy Summer Scholar (DPSS) program was that bridge. "I was especially drawn to it because of the program’s focus on research—it helped me solidify my decision to pursue a PhD. My DPSS experience was sort of my nudge and affirmation that I can do this—that sort of intense academic life after a couple of years of working.”
Wrojensky decided to study economics after witnessing poverty in his native country of Haiti. While at Florida State University getting his bachelors, professors advised him to explore policy and development. He received a National Science Foundation fellowship to join the economics master’s program at Pennsylvania State University, and then completed the Harris one-year Master of Arts in Public Policy in 2021. Participating in DPSS in 2020 helped Wrojensky be better prepared to start his Harris career.
"Transitioning from undergrad to master’s level was challenging when I made the jump a few years ago, and I didn’t want the same thing to happen at Harris. After completing DPSS, I felt much better prepared than when I’d enrolled at Penn State."
Born and raised in the greater Chicagoland area, Amethyst Davis has spent the past two years as an administrator at New York University (NYU), where she earned her bachelor’s in political science and government in 2019. “Working at the same university where I was once a struggling student, I am a firm believer that knowledge is to be shared and not owned,” Davis said.
“DPSS made me a better listener and changed the sort of questions I ask as a journalist. For example, I just did a story for NABJ on the eviction crisis. What I learned in DPSS helped me to consider the factors involved in housing equity—things like wage gaps, race relations, politics—and how those factors interplay with one another. Being able to take a step back and be critical of the data and ask questions about it is not something I did as much prior to DPSS,” said Davis.
Originally from India with an undergraduate degree in Design, Sanika’s educational experience led her to become more curious about how human behavior influences policy and design in the social sector. She chose DPSS in 2018 as a way to explore her budding interest in policy and experience what attending graduate school is like in the United States.
Sanika is currently paving her path by engaging with policy through a design lens at Carnegie Mellon. Her master’s thesis focuses on designing methods and tools for participatory policy-making with a focus on futures and foresight. She is exploring how decision-making processes organizations and other policy issue areas can be tackled through a participatory futures approach.
“I loved the level of energy and knowledge that others brought to DPSS. It was a very productive space to be in. DPSS allowed me to feel more comfortable having conversations with people from different."
Attend upcoming events or watch a recording of a recent Roundtable with Alumni to hear from multiple alums on their DPSS experience and advice for you.
Read the blog post Alumni Advice: Navigating the Data on tackling the quantitative and coding coursework.