Program Overview

The four-week Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program at the University of Chicago offers top global students and young professionals the opportunity to immerse themselves in rigorous study of data analytics and policy research. The courses are comparable to an accelerated version of the first term of our graduate programs. 


Faculty Leads

Austin Wright
Faculty Director for the Data and Policy Summer Scholar Program Austin Wright

Austin Wright

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. He teaches the Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy course in the DPSS program. Wright is an Assistant Professor at Harris Public Policy, and faculty affiliate of The Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts.

Read Austin Wright's full bio.

Thomas Coleman
Manager of the Center for Economic Policy Thomas Coleman

Thomas Coleman

Thomas Coleman is a senior lecturer at Harris Public Policy and manages the Center for Economic Policy. Coleman co-teaches the Quantitative Analysis for Public Policy course in the DPSS program.

Read Thomas Coleman's full bio.  

Kara Ross Camarena
Affiliate of the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts Kara Ross Camarena

Kara Ross Camarena

Kara Ross Camarena is a Postdoctoral Researcher at Harris Public Policy and an affiliate of the Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts. She teaches one of the Capstone Research Projects for the DPSS program.

Read Kara Ross Camarena's full bio.


"I've always been in public policy, but the data element and how you can incorporate that into public policy is something that DPSS has really given me. Even after this, I want to go back and continue learning."

Manish Muthukrishnan, 2019 DPSS Participant, BC Economics and Marketing, University Of Canterbury


The curriculum of the program is designed to equip students with the ability to understand and address global issues from multiple perspectives and with data-analytical tools. Students participate in research projects by applying course concepts to real issues and incorporating feedback from faculty and team members.

Quantitative Analysis in Public Policy

This course provides an introduction to critical, quantitative thinking. Students will be introduced to the basic toolkit of policy analysis, which includes sampling, hypothesis testing, Bayesian inference, regression, experiments, instrumental variables, differences in differences, and regression discontinuity. More importantly, students will learn the principles of critical thinking essential for careful and credible policy analysis.

Introduction to Programming in R

This is an introductory course in programming and data analysis for students with no prior coding experience. The course has three goals: introducing students to the tools required to write and share code; translating self-contained questions into R programs; and learning how to retrieve, clean, visualize, and analyze data.

Faculty-led Capstone Project

Towards the end of the program students will work in small groups led by a faculty member on a capstone project, conducting a comprehensive policy analysis using real datasets. Through the process of writing a policy memo, students harness the skills of research design, policy recommendation and collaboration. The project enables students to work through real world problems, and collaborate with peers and faculty to design a solution.  Students can highlight the project on their resume.

Past capstone projects

  • Conflict and Insurgent Learning (PDF, 4 pages): How do insurgents learn and adapt to their enemies?

  • Cyber Attacks and Stock Market Prices: Do company strategically decide on the timing to release the hack news?

  • Hate Crimes in the United States (PDF, 4 pages): What are the trends and implications of hate crime reporting?

Capstone Project from 2019 led by Kara Ross Camarena

In the developing world, refugees are often sequestered to camps, prohibited from working, and dependent on aid. As such, they are often perceived as an economic burden. Nevertheless refugee camps can become vibrant centers of economic activity. We will study how refugees harness their resources to engage in economic activity, as consumers, workers, business owners and service providers. Using a series of surveys from the Rohingya refugees camps in Cox Bazar, Bangladesh, we will explore how refugees engage in the local economy inside and outside of refugee camps and the extent to which the camp economy interacts with the host local economy beyond the camp boundaries.

Writing in Policy

This course focuses on building skills that enable students to clearly and effectively communicate academic and professional policy. This course helps students convey the meaning and impact of their project data and translate it with real-world policy implications.