Shilin Liu
Shilin Liu, Executive Director of Partnerships and Credential Programs

This year, the Data and Policy Summer Scholar (DPSS) program at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy has upgraded our program experience with two distinct tracks: Academic and Professional. Why? Because we know one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to education. In this blog, we chat with Shilin Liu, Executive Director of Partnerships and Credential Programs to learn more about this upgrade.

What inspired the two tracks in the DPSS program this year?

Our DPSS participants come with different goals and backgrounds: some want to succeed academically, while others want to have a greater professional impact. By offering two tracks, we’re making sure you can focus on what matters most to you. Whether you’re planning to pursue a graduate degree or aspire to become a data-savvy project manager, DPSS can provide the skills you’re seeking.

What sets apart the Capstone Project deliverables between the Academic and Professional Tracks?

For those on the Academic Track, you’ll be crafting a Research Note, a format that helps you organize information and generate evidence in the academic research world. Professional Track participants will produce a Policy Memo, perfect for highlighting your data visualization and storytelling skills in a professional context.

Can I choose my own Capstone topic?

Every year we collect topics of interest from our DPSS participants as part of the pre-program survey. Based on the majority interest, our teaching team puts together three distinctive Capstone Projects from which you will choose. Whether you’re passionate about economic policy, urban and social policy, or international development, we use the feedback we gather from participants to present relevant policy topics.

When do we get to know what these Capstone topics are?

We’ll share the Capstone Project topics during the first week of the program so that you’ll have time to decide which one you’ll tackle.

Is there a difference in time commitment between the two tracks?

Only slightly. Both tracks share a foundational curriculum, but as the program progresses, the Professional Track has a slightly leaner assignment load, which may save you an hour or two each week. Also, all learning modules—including the optional ones—are available for all participants, so there is always something you can learn on top of your required coursework.

Whether you’re drawn to the deep-thinking world of academia or ready to tackle the dynamic professional arena, the DPSS program can help you prepare. For more details and to begin your application, visit our website.