Get professional training in the growing field of data science in public policy while still in the College.

The Harris School of Public Policy, in conjunction with the Department of Computer Science, offers University of Chicago undergraduate students an opportunity to begin their professional training in the growing field of data science in public policy while still in the College. The BA/MSCAPP is one of two programs Harris offers for UChicago undergraduates. The five year Master in Public Policy with the Undergrad College (BA/MPP) is the other.

Students earn a four-year undergraduate degree in their declared major and a two-year Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) after five years of study at the University of Chicago.

The BA/MSCAPP is a professional degree program that provides rigorous training in the emerging and critical role of technologists fluent in public policy skills and issues:

  • The policy component of the core curriculum draws on a variety of disciplines and fields, including economics, sociology, political science, statistics, econometrics, political economy, organizational theory, and program evaluation.
  • The computer science core curriculum augments the core policy training with courses in computer programming, data analytics and machine learning, and database management.

This unique combination equips students with technical expertise that is useful for many aspects of society but increasingly in demand in the public sector.

UChicago students from all majors are strongly encouraged to apply. Interested students should apply during their junior year. Students are encouraged to consult with their College advisor and the Admissions team at Harris.

Program Details

  • Students are encouraged to complete all BA requirements in their third year before beginning the MSCAPP degree program in the fourth year. Students with two or fewer courses remaining in the BA, excluding any thesis, research, or final paper requirements, are eligible for admission with approval from the senior associate dean.
  • Students must complete all BA requirements before beginning the fifth year. The final two courses can be double-counted toward the BA and the MS, but these courses must be graduate-level courses (course number 30000 or above). Students who wish to count these courses toward their undergraduate major must receive permission from their major’s director of undergraduate studies.
  • Students enter joint residence status during the three quarters prior to the anticipated date of College graduation, during which time they will be charged tuition at the Harris School's graduate rates. At that point, they must complete all requirements of the MSCAPP program. Students register for nine courses (900 units of credit) in their fifth year.


Other Requirements
  • Admission to the BA/MSCAPP program assumes no prior computer science course work or coding experience. Candidates are evaluated on the strength of their application, similar to the metrics used for admission to the BA/MPP program.
  • Applicants are expected to have an overall GPA of 3.25 or higher.
  • Students must have completed at least one course, at any level, in at least two of the following three areas in the College: microeconomics, statistics, or calculus. Examination credit (i.e., AP credit) will not be accepted for this requirement.
  • No courses taken in CMSC (Computer Science) or PPHA (Public Policy/Harris School) prior to entering the BA/MSCAPP program will be allowed to count toward the requirements for the MSCAPP. If the courses taken before entering the program would have fulfilled MSCAPP requirements, students will be permitted to replace those courses with approved electives during their fifth year.
  • The undergrad catalog provides more information about requirements for admission.
Application Process

During your second-year in the College:

  • Before beginning the application process with Harris Public Policy, students should make appointments during their second year to ensure that all College requirements are met. After reviewing with their College adviser, students should speak with the College joint degree adviser and the Harris Admissions team, early in the third year.

During your third-year in the College:

  • Interested students should submit their formal application to the program by April 15 of their third year in the College. Please note that BA/MSCAPP program applicants are exempt from the application fee.
  • The GRE is not required for admission to the BA/MSCAPP program for students who have taken at least two MATH (Mathematics) courses and received a B grade or higher. Applicants who have not taken MATH courses should submit a GRE as part of their application.
Brett Goldstein
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Urban Legend

Harris Senior Fellow Brett Goldstein is helping city officials unleash the potential of their data.