The M.S. in Computational Analysis and Public Policy (MSCAPP) is a rigorous, two-year program offered jointly by the Harris School of Public Policy and the Department of Computer Science at the University of Chicago. Students of the program come from a variety of backgrounds, educational focus and geographies, but all have a passion for using data to bring about change in public, private, and non-profit sectors.

Below are our top ten takeaways to highlight the value MSCAPP brings to its students:

  1. A shared vision. People come to CAPP with a wide variety of backgrounds and experience, but a shared desire to learn how to use technology and data science to make a positive impact. More and more governments, non-profits, and mission-driven organizations are looking to computer scientists and data scientists to help them solve problems and achieve their goals. 
  2. A foundational first year. The first year of CAPP focuses on building foundational skills in computer science, statistics, data science, and economics. CAPP students then have the opportunity to practice these skills in a summer internship between their first and second year.
  3. A customizable second year. The second year of CAPP gives you the flexibility to take electives that help you deepen your technical skills and sharpen your policy expertise in the areas that you are passionate about. You can work with your academic advisor to come up with a curriculum in your second year that will help you prepare for the career you are interested in.
  4. We’ve got your back. CAPP is challenging, but there are a lot of people there to support you. From academic advisors, to tutors, to study groups—there are many support systems in place to make sure that you have what you need to be a successful in your courses.
  5. Career support and professional development. The Career Development Office focuses on preparing you for interviews, making sure you have a great cover letter and resume, and building relationships with employers.  In this session, we had a chance to hear about CAPP students’ internships this summer with BallotReady, The World Bank, and The Thierer Family Foundation—all of which they found through the CAPP and Harris networks.
  6. Lots of ways to get involved. CAPP students get involved in Harris Student Organizations, The Chicago Policy Review, TechTeam, and many more organizations from their first day as students. 
  7. A vibrant community. The CAPP community, made up of students, alumni, staff, and faculty, is a dedicated to supporting each other.  Even while virtual, students have stayed connected and found creative ways to hang out and get to know their classmates. 
  8. A unique program. CAPP was the one of the first of its kind to combine technology, data science, and public policy.  Last year, CAPP graduated its Seventh cohort! Students choose CAPP because it is offered jointly between the Computer Science Department and the Harris School of Public Policy – students have a chance to learn from experts in both of those domains. 
  9. CAPP alums are doing big things. CAPP alums are changing the world in roles at mission-driven organizations, incredible non-profits, and in all levels of government.  They are helping to solve problems and better serve constituents leveraging data and technology.
  10. Get started soon. Students talked about the importance of asking yourself, “Why do I want to go to grad school anyway?”  It’s important to do some introspection and think through what is motivating you to get this degree—and then write about it in your statement