The Spring Consulting Project pairs teams of 3-5 Master's in Public Policy students with client organizations seeking to address a policy challenge related to their mission or operations. The student team will produce a detailed report advising the client on potential courses of action and brief the client on its findings.

A Good Project Has 3 Characteristics


A Public Policy Question

There must be a connection to federal, state, local, or international public policies. Projects should involve a question that can be answered within the project time frame.


Pragmatic Exploration

We expect student teams to engage in more than online research. Projects should involve research, analysis, and decision-making. Many teams conduct interviews, collect and analyze original data, perform site visits, or explore real-world situations.


Team-based, Client-centered

The SCP is designed to help our students develop valuable skills in teamwork and client management.

Successful clients understand these educational objectives and provide feedback and mentorship to their team.

SCP clients range from small non-profit organizations to large consultancies and federal, state, or local government agencies. The project can be especially valuable to organizations that are in need of additional research capacity, looking for a fresh perspective on a policy issue, or interested in cultivating future talent. There are no formal eligibility criteria or fees to participate.

Sanford MPP students are a talented, diverse, and experienced group of future public policy practitioners. Most students enter the program with at least two years of post-undergraduate work experience. The Sanford School ranks consistently among the top ten graduate public policy programs in the nation, with core strengths in policy analysis, environmental policy, social policy, and health policy.

SCP clients are expected to (1) designate a single point of contact to serve as the liaison for the project; (2) meet with their student team initially to discuss their policy question and agree on a scope of work; (3) facilitate access to people and resources (both internal and external to the organization) that will help their team answer their policy question; and (4) attend the team's client briefing in March/April. Clients are also expected to have a plan for using their team's work, such as briefing senior executives on the findings or publicizing the report online.

The project is led by a team of Sanford instructors who will provide guidance and oversight. Each instructor will review strategy, provide feedback on deliverables and presentations, troubleshoot challenges, and evaluate work. However, most communication will occur directly between students and clients.

There is no fee to participate. However, clients are expected to commit the staff time and resources needed for their team to answer their policy question successfully. Clients may also choose to cover the cost of travel, research, and other project expenses.

The instructor reviews every proposal and selects around 20 projects each year. We encourage organizations whose proposals are not selected to re-apply in future years. Instructors are also available to help refine clients' policy questions in advance of their submission.


Client application window

Early December

Client selection & notification

Mid-Late January

Initial Client-Team meeting

Late March-Early April

Client briefing

Late April-Early May

Final Client reports delivered


Our MPP students are eager for real-world work.

Sample SCP Projects


NC Health and Human Services

State Government Agency | Raleigh, NC

An SCP team helped this executive branch agency evaluate options for integrating foster care services with its state Medicaid program, identifying successful programs from other states.

The team's policy question was: "What best practices have been implemented for children in foster care in states with Medicaid managed care, and which are most appropriate for NC?"


RTI International

Research Organization | Research Triangle Park, NC

In partnership with RTI International's Innovation-Led Economic Growth practice, an SCP team documented obstacles to equitable economic development in metropolitan areas.

The team's policy question was: "What challenges are keeping cities from successfully implementing economic equity and inclusion initiatives for economic development?"


Education NC

Non-Profit Organization | Raleigh, NC

An SCP team analyzed the phenomenon of "summer melt," in which graduating high school students who intend to enroll in college fail to do so.

The team's policy question was: "Based on national best practices, what interventions would best reduce summer melt in the NC Community College System?"


NALEO Educational Fund

Non-Profit Advocacy Organization | Washington, DC

An SCP team studied the potential impact of natural disasters on census enumeration.

The team's policy questions were: "How can elected officials mitigate the effects of natural disasters on the accuracy of the U.S. Census, and how can they track displaced populations after a natural disaster to maintain the accuracy of the Census?"


Let's Connect

Connect with Ken Rogerson at if you are interested or have any questions.

More about our MPP program