Our Master of Public Policy graduate students are required to engage in real-world policy analysis as part of their education. The result is a body of research representing fresh thinking about longstanding topics in public policy and a more well-rounded graduate education.

Student Research

The MPP Program culminates in a mandatory three-quarter sequence of courses, led by faculty advisers, dedicated to the preparation and presentation of a major Applied Policy Project (APP) on behalf of a client agency, nonprofit organization, or firm working in the public interest. The objective is to challenge students to conduct a detailed investigation of a real policy problem facing the client and to develop evidence-based and actionable recommended solutions. Students are encouraged to grapple with the challenges of policy implementation in the midst of competing and often conflicting social, political, economic, and technical interests.

The department annually recognizes Distinguished Applied Policy Projects with the award of Highest Honors or Honors. Projects cover the variety of policy topics, including:

  • Education
  • Health 
  • Environment
  • Energy 
  • Transportation
  • International issues
  • Sustainability
  • Social Policy
  • Employment and labor
  • Urban poverty
  • Human rights
  • Science and technology
  • Regional development
  • Aging
  • Crime and drug abuse
  • Arts and culture

2020 APP Honorees

Highest Honors

Delivering on California College Promise: Implementing Effective Interventions and Reforms to Ensure Access and Preparation for Community College
Authors: Irma Castañeda, María Morales, Sam Lau, Yuri Han
Client: The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Manisha Shah


Utilizing E-scooters to Reduce Carbon Emissions Attributable to the Transportation Sector in the City of Santa Monica
Authors: Daisuke Kaji, Hank Kaplan, Jun Luo, Kerry Browne, Makoto Tanikura
Client: The City of Santa Monica’s Mobility Division
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Wes Yin


Sex Education in the Los Angeles Unified School District: Aligning District Policymaking and Policy Implementation with the California Healthy Youth Act
Authors: Ben Parnes, Devon Schechinger, Katie Solomon, Keara Pina, Zi Wang
Client: Timothy Kordic, Project Advisor, HIV/AIDs Prevention Unit in the Los Angeles Unified School District Health Education Programs Office
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Mark Peterson

2019 Honorees

Highest Honors: Establishing a Consent Policy for Youth Diversion in Los Angeles County

Authors: Erica Webster, Lindsay Graef, Nikki Lewis, Oceana R. Gilliam, Susan Baik
Client: Los Angeles County of Youth Diversion and Development
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Wes Yin

Honors: Choice, Community, and Reproductive Health: Expanding Access to Perinatal Education in Los Angeles

Authors: Hanna Christianson, Melissa Lopez, Camille McCallister, Lily Rhodes
Client: LOOM
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Manisha Shah

Honors: An Action Plan for Santa Clarita: Towards a Better Homeless Count in L.A. County’s 3rd-Largest City

Authors: Brian Harris, Caio Velasco, Irma Livadic, Jenny Rees, Michelle Viorato
Client: City of Santa Clarita
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Mark Peterson

2018 Honorees

Highest Honors: Reducing Delay to Promote Civil Rights: How Administrative Judges at the EEOC Can Resolve Employment Discrimination Complaints in a Fair yet Efficient Manner

Authors: Delvin Turner, Elizabeth Joun, David Lyons
Client: Louis Garcia, Administrative Judge, U.S. EEOC, Federal Sector Hearings Unit – Los Angeles District Office
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Meredith Phillips

Honors: Social Determinants of Health Literacy: Optimizing Public Health Outreach and Education Strategies in Long Beach, California

Authors: Stephanie Berger, Marisa Conner, Alexander Fung, Taylor Wyatt
Client: City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Emergency Management Division
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Meredith Phillips

Honors: LA TAP (Tap Water Action Plan): Evaluating the Customer Experience of Tap Water in Los Angeles

Authors: Virdiana Velez, Rachel LaCoe, Caleb Rabinowitz, Bei Zhao
Client: The Water Foundation
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Manisha Shah

2017 Honorees

Highest Honors: Prioritizing Workplace Electric Vehicle Charging Stations in Los Angeles County

Authors: James Di Filippo, Mahito Moriyama, Toru Terai, Kelly Trumbull, Jiahui Zhang
Client: Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)
Faculty Advisor: Prof. JR DeShazo

Honors: Promoting Healthy Food Choices for Children: A Strategic Analysis on How to Incorporate Behavioral Economics Into Nutrition Programs

Authors: Sydney Ganon, Hiroto Iwaoka, Jonathan McIlroy, Sarah White
Client: Common Threads
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Manisha Shah

Honors: Reimagining the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance

Authors: Ahmed Ali Bob, Cameron Burch, Karen Law, Susan Oh
Client: Center for Neighborhood Knowledge
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Manisha Shah

2016 Honorees

Highest Honors: Facilitating Sustainable Livelihoods Improvements: An Evaluation of Community Driven Development in South Asia
Authors: Kelsey Mulcahy, Ali Panjwani, Elizabeth Pratt, Anthony Rodriguez
Client: Overseas Development Institute
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Manisha Shah

Honors: Improving Access to Justice for Self-Represented Litigants in San Bernardino Self-Help Centers
Authors: Maria Abesa, Michelle Cordi, Rie Kudo
Client: Superior Court of California, County of San Bernardino
Faculty Advisor: Prof. JR DeShazo

Honors: Designing Enforceable Regulations for the Short-Term Rental Market in Los Angeles
Authors: Brian Nguyen, Kiana Taheri, Blake Valenta
Client: Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)
Faculty Advisor: Prof. Wes Yin

2015 Honorees

Highest Honors: “Reducing Obesity in Los Angeles: Toward a Tax on Sugar Sweetened Beverages”
Authors: Lenorre Clarke, Rachel Horst, Kenechukwu Izuchukwu, Chantal Lunderville and Sandeep Prasanna
Client: UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.
Faculty advisor: JR DeShazo

Honors: “Overcoming Behavioral Barriers to Efficient Residential Water Consumption”
Authors: Terra Bennett Brown, Kelsey Jessup, Sara Johnsen and KC McKanna
Client: City of Los Angeles Sustainability Team
Faculty advisor: JR DeShazo

Honors: “Bridging the Achievement Gap, An Analysis of the Implementation of the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Foster Youth Achievement Program”
Authors: Marcos Carvalho, Mayte Cruz, Adina Farrukh and Thomas Jacobson
Client: LAUSD.
Faculty Advisor: Mark Kleiman

Honors: “Income Support in Afghanistan”
Authors: Izabela Chmielewska, Michael Fonbuena, Hirofumi Kyunai, Michael Loeser and Jonathan Slakey
Client: World Bank South Asia Social Protection Sector
Faculty Advisor: Mark Kleiman

Honors: “Access to Health Care and the ACA: In- vestigating the Potential of Essential Community Provider and Network Adequacy Legislation to Improve Access to Health Care for Underserved Populations in CA”
Authors: Majna Dukic, Bo Espinosa-Setchko, Katja Nelson and Huixin Zheng
Client: Charles Drew Medical University
Faculty advisor: Aaron Panofsky

2014 Honorees

Highest Honors: “Fixing the Appeals Process at the Department of Veterans Affairs”
Author: Mark Lancaster
Client: Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Faculty advisor: Aaron Panofsky

Honors: “Building a Greener LA: Looking at Energy Efficiency Policies for the City of Los Angeles”
Authors: Saira Gandhi, Yuka Matsukawa, Amanda Morrall
Client: Los Angeles Mayor’s Office
Faculty advisor: Aaron Panofsky

Honors: “Improving Maternal and Child Health in Los Angeles: Implementing Postpartum Depression Screening and Care Through Newborn Follow-up Clinics”
Authors: Jacqueline Casillas, Lynne Chang, Nickie Fung, Cindy Her
Client:  Drs. Carol Berkowitz and Galena Kolchugina
Faculty Advisor:  Mark Peterson

Honors: “Chumash Educational Initiatives”
Authors: Samuel Krumholz, Emily  Scheines, Anna Blomberg, Vernessa Shih
Client:  The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Faculty Advisor:  Mark Peterson

2013 Honorees

Highest Honors: “Increasing Student Learning: Teacher Bonus Program in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil”
Authors: Chloé Cornuéjols , Soledad De Gregorio, Nobuko Goto, Cody Reneau
Client: World Bank and the Secretaria Municipal de Educação, Rio de Janeiro
Faculty Advisor: Mark Peterson

Honors: Joint Financing Strategies for the Metro to LAX Airport Connector Project”
Authors: Jonathan Overman, Gregory Maul, Masashi Sato
Client: Los Angeles World Airport
Faculty Advisor: Mark Kleiman

Honors: “Restoring Public Confidence: Recommendations for Improving Oversight of the Los County Sheriff’s Department”
Authors: David Cho, Brandon Dowling, Erica Quintana
Client: Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office
Faculty Advisor: Aaron Panofsky

Honors: “Evaluation of the Medical Marijuana Program in Washington DC”
Authors: Stephen Collett, Thomas Gariffo, Marisa Hernandez – Morgan
Client: Irvin Nathan, Attorney General for the District of Columbia
Faculty Advisor: Mark Kleiman

2012 Honorees

Highest Honors: “Funding Postabortal Contraception for Low-Income Women”
Authors: Jennifer Salcedo and Andrea Sorensen
Faculty Advisor:  Mark Peterson

Honors: “Tutoring Program Returns to LAUSD: Designing a District Tutoring Program”
Authors: Logan Contreras, Gregory Srolestar and Chen Wang
Faculty Advisor: Mark Peterson

Honors: “Increasing Electric Vehicle Charging Access in Los Angeles’ Multifamily Housing”
Authors: Judith Balmin, Gregory Bonett and Megan Kirkeby
Faculty Advisor: Aaron Panofsky

Honors: “Alternative Financial Services in Los Angeles: Evaluating Policy Options for Financial Access Initiatives Aimed at Low-Income Consumers”
Authors: Ricardo Gutierrez, Sarab Sarung Khalsa, Joshua Low, Elycia Mulholland and Thomas Schumacher
Faculty Advisor: Rob Jensen

2011 Honorees

Highest Honors: “The Lowest Emissions at the Least Cost: A Comparative Study of Alternative Fuel Vehicles”
Authors: Jenneille Hsu, Vahagn Karapetyan, Román Lopez and Jasmine Tilley
Faculty Advisor:  Rob Jenson

Honors: “Eyes in the Sky: A feasibility study of implementing Unmanned Aerial Systems in the Los Angeles Police Department”
Authors: Kaohu Berg-Hee, Lusine Martikyan, Grant Murray and Joon Bae Suh
Faculty Advisor: Mark Kleiman

Honors: “Improving Teacher Quality in Los Angeles’ Turn-Around Schools: Teacher Hiring in the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools”
Authors: Quyen Dinh, Annie Kuo, Cara Priestley and Karissa Yee
Faculty Advisor: Mark Kleiman

2010-1998 Distinguished Applied Policy Projects

2010  |  2009  |  2008  |   2007  |   2006  |   2005  |   2004  |   2003  |   2002  |   2001  |   2000  |  1999  |  1998

List of all applied policy projects from 1998 to the present

Click here.

APP Handbook for 2019-20

Click here to download the PDF

Client organizations needed! Does your organization have a policy question it needs to address? This brochure provides information for organizations that would like to have a team of UCLA MPP students consult on these issues.

Student Organizations

Association of Master of Public Policy Students

The Association of Master’s of Public Policy Students (AMPPS) is a student organization representing and advocating for the interests of public policy students. Every student is a member of AMPPS and is invited to attend AMPPS events and meetings. Each year, AMPPS organizes events such as quarterly town hall meetings with the department’s chair, faculty, and staff; professional development lunchtime talks; a department graduation celebration and award ceremony; and the composition of memos to the department from the first-year and second-year classes offering suggestions for continuous quality improvement in the MPP program and the Luskin experience.

AMPPS Leadership:

President – Jason Ballou

Vice President – Dan Flynn

Treasurer – Joshua Segui

Director of Engagement – Tamera Hyatte

Director of Events – Robin Kaloustian

International Students Representatives – Punn Herabat and Rocky Wang

Director of Alumni Relations –  Bret Weinberger

Director of Communications – Sara Omanovic

Email: ampps.luskin@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AMPPS-The-Association-of-Masters-of-Public-Policy-Students-at-UCLA-78557431556/

Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity

Policy Professionals for Diversity and Equity (PPDE) is committed to cultivating future policy makers who reflect California and the nation’s increasingly diverse communities. We believe that the experiences that come from members of underrepresented communities enrich the public policy decision making process and broaden the perspectives and discussions that occur in public policy.

PPDE’s mission is to provide a platform for underrepresented students and their allies to advocate for diversity and equity within the MPP program at UCLA. PPDE advances this mission through:

  • Outreach: By connecting prospective students with current students, outreach aims to create a space at Luskin for underrepresented students. We do this with our peer advising program, assisting with Welcome Day, and reviewing incoming MPP applications.
  • Advocacy: Voicing and representing student concerns regarding equity and diversity, including but not limited to: the academic curriculum, faculty and student diversity, and graduate school affordability. We do this through action-oriented campaigns, strategic partnerships, and solidarity with similar causes.
  • Programming: Providing students with opportunities to share ideas and understand diversity and equity issues, opportunities to lead on diversity and equity projects, and connecting students with local communities. We do this through facilitating discussions, putting on a policy symposium, and volunteering with nonprofit and community organizations.

PPDE is open to all UCLA MPP students and alumni at UCLA. We invite you to join us to ensure diversity and equity in UCLA’s MPP program!

2020-21 Leadership

Outreach & Communication Chair: Belinda Gaspar

Advocacy & External Affairs Chair: Isabelle Liu

Programming & Budgeting Chair: Karishma Shamdasani

Outreach Chair: Kathreen Lopez

Communications & Advocacy Chair: Savannah Ramirez

External Affairs Chair: Savannah Walker

Questions about the organization can be directed to ppde@ucla.edu.

Ask us about our prospective MPP student mentorship program, student-led course on “Social Justice in Public Policy”, “UCLA Luskin Diversity Day”, “Welcome Day”, and “Social Justice Policy Symposium”. We are here for you!


Class Resources

UCLA Academic Calendar

Department of Public Policy AY ‘20 - ’21 Class Schedules

UCLA Library Public Policy Resource Guide

Campus Resources

Please click here for a list of campus resources.

Our Courses

Student Initiated Courses

Any group of seven or more students may petition any faculty member to organize a new course to be offered during a subsequent term. The petition must be countersigned by

  1. the faculty member willing to offer and/or supervise the course and
  2. the students who will take the course if offered.

The petition should be submitted to the Director of the MPP Program and the Curriculum Working Group. Following Curriculum Working Group review and MPP Program Director approval, final approval of the course resides with the Department Chair.  Such approval will take into account the demand for courses that the faculty member would otherwise teach.

Student initiated courses can be student-led under faculty supervision (and numbered 298), or may lead to special topics courses taught by faculty or visitors,  resources permitting.  Students may complete a maximum of two student-initiated (PP 298) courses for credit during their degree program.  All PP 298 courses are graded S/U, while special topics courses may be taken for a letter grade or S/U.

Faculty agreeing to supervise a student-initiated course are responsible for determining that the readings, topics, and assignments are appropriate in scope and scale to a graduate course in Public Policy. Faculty  are expected to attend each of the class meetings, except by special arrangement (as with other courses that they teach),  and are responsible for overseeing and approving the grading of assignments and the assignment of final grades.

Funding Your Studies

A number of resources are available to UCLA Luskin students to fund their studies, including fellowships that can provide multiple years of funding to students who know to apply for them. The basis for eligibility can vary: they can be broad in availability and awarded based on academic merit, or selective and available only to students meeting precise conditions. Many may only be available to students in their first or second year. It is imperative that students inform themselves and begin the application process early.

The following resources are available for all students as they begin their search:

UCLA Graduate Education database

On-Campus Fellowship Directories

Fellowships for International Students

The Department of Public Policy itself awards several fellowships based on merit and policy focus. Like many others fellowships, some have specific qualifications, while others are awarded based on overall academic performance, professional experience, and future potential in public policy.

The following fellowships are designated for the Public Policy Department to honor distinguished applicants who have demonstrated outstanding merit in their preparation for engaging in graduate studies in public policy. These fellowships will be awarded based on the applicant rankings by the Admissions Committee.

David and Marianna Fisher Fellowship

This fellowship was created to strengthen UCLA Luskin’s efforts to compete for, recruit and retain outstanding graduate students to its excellent academic and professional degree programs.

Calvin and Marilyn Gross Fellowship

Calvin and Marilyn Gross are long term supporters of the School of Public Affairs, having given the founding gifts to the Dukakis Internship endowment. They have established an endowment that will enable the Department of Public Policy to annually fund an outstanding graduate student demonstrating commitment and involvement to public service.

Bette and Hans Lorenz Endowed Fellowship

A fellowship awarded by the Public Policy Department to recognize the excellence of outstanding applicants and students.

Hal E. Martin Fellowship in Health and Social Policy

This fellowship recognizes outstanding students pursuing policy analysis and graduate education in various aspects of health and social policy. Applicants need to provide a brief statement (half-page double-spaced, 100 words) indicating their interest and/or background in health and social policy. This fellowship has additional eligibility qualifications and requires a supplemental statement.

ITS Fellowship

The Public Policy Department offers a concentration in transportation policy and planning. Transportation policy students can choose from among five graduate transportation policy and planning courses and three other transportation-related courses in designing their program of study. The School houses a branch of the University of California Institute of Transportation Studies, which offers renewable one-year graduate fellowships, research assistantships where students work with faculty on transportation policy research, and financial aid to students attending transportation conferences. Fellowship recipients must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents, must take or waive out of at least four approved transportation policy and planning courses during their studies, and must complete their Applied Policy Project on a transportation-related topic. To apply for this fellowship please include a brief statement (half-page double-spaced, 100 words) describing your interest in the transportation policy and planning concentration or any background that you may have in this area. This fellowship has additional eligibility qualifications and requires a supplemental statement.

Ronald Reagan Public Policy Fellowship

The Ronald Reagan Public Policy Fellowship, underwritten by The Draine Family Charitable Foundation Inc., supports UCLA Luskin graduate students in studying Ronald Reagan and the effects of his economic, social, and international policies on the State of California, the Federal Government, and the world. The Fellowship allows its recipients, as interns, to gain access to the archives at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and with agreement by the Foundation’s Executive Director, to publish their findings as a resource to scholars, teachers, and students on the Foundation website. For more information, visit the Ronald Reagan Library website.

Learn more about school-wide fellowships and internships here.

Teaching and Research Assistantships

“Academic Apprentice Personnel” is the term applied to registered graduate students who have fulfilled the University’s established criteria for appointment (no more than 50% time) to teaching or research assistantships, and for which they are compensated at rates approved annually by the Regents of the University of California. These apprenticeships are intended to provide qualified students with relevant training experience for academic and academic-related careers in teaching and research and to augment limited resources from within the University for graduate student support. As a matter of University policy, apprentice personnel in both the teaching and research series are considered primarily as students being professionally trained. Graduate students who are recipients of teaching and research assistantships must meet all registration and enrollment criteria established by the Graduate Division and the department. They must also maintain satisfactory progress throughout their appointments. Teaching assistants are selected on the basis of scholarship and promise as teachers and serve an apprenticeship under the tutelage and supervision of regular faculty members who are responsible for curriculum and instruction in the University. Research assistants are appointed to the title graduate student researcher (GSR), and are selected on the basis of scholastic achievement and promise as creative scholars and serve an apprenticeship under the direction and supervision of a faculty member.

Academic Apprentice Personnel Manual

Academic Apprentice Salary Scales
Current salary scale tables for teaching & research series, readers & special readers, and remedial tutors.

Fee Remission Benefits & Statement of Understanding
Summary of benefits, requirements for maintaining benefits, and acknowledgment statement.

Graduate Student Researcher (GSR) Salary Scales