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

2017 APP 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
Faculty Advisor:  Prof. JR DeShazo
Client:  Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG)


 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
Faculty Advisor:  Prof. Manisha Shah
Client:  Common Threads


 Reimagining the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance
Authors: Ahmed Ali Bob, Cameron Burch, Karen Law, Susan Oh
Faculty Advisor:  Prof. Manisha Shah
Client:  Center for Neighborhood Knowledge

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 2017-18

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 – Ahmed Ali Bob

Vice President – Reid Meadows

Treasurer – Cameron Burch

Communications and Marketing Officer – Heidi Schultheis

Professional Development Officer – Sydney Ganon

Events and Programming Officer – Emma Watson

Alumni Relations Officer / Community Liaison – Diego De La Peza

Diversity & Outreach Officer – Chika Fukugama

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!

2016-17 Leadership

Co- Chairs: Delara Aharpour and David Ou

Advocacy Chair: JC De Vera

Equitable Policy Symposium Co-Chairs: Jessica Noel and Emma Watson

Finance and Communications Chair: Natasha Oliver

Outreach Co-Chairs: Ahmed Ali Bob and Diego De La Peza

Programming Co-Chairs: Kelsey Chesnut and Chika Fukugama

PRIDE at UCLA Luskin

PRIDE at UCLA Luskin serves to encourage education, social justice, and activism around issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. The student organization also exists to provide a welcoming and inclusive community for LGBTQ+ students and allies in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.

Co-Chairs: Anna Nelson, Lauren Mandel

Find us on facebook: UCLA LuskinPRIDE

Contact email: PrideLuskin@gmail.com

UCLA Graduate Students Organization

The Graduate Students Association (GSA) was established in 1936 to promote the interests of all graduate and professional students at UCLA. More than simply graduate student government, GSA is a student-run, ASUCLA-affiliated organization that sponsors a variety of social, academic, and community programs. Our representatives serve on several campus committees to give graduate and professional students a voice in administrative decisions. Our goal is to enrich and improve the entire graduate educational experience. For more information about our organization, and how you can get involved, please explore this website or stop by our office in Kerchkoff 316.

UCLA Advanced Degrees Consulting Club

Founded in 2009, this graduate student group consists of advanced degree candidates interested in consulting careers. More information is available on Facebook.

Asian / Pacific Islander (API) Student Caucus

The API Caucus strives to bring awareness to the social issues faced by the diverse communities represented in the Asian (American) Pacific Islander population. These issues include, and are not limited to APIs in mental health, immigration, education, and so forth. We hope to foster community coalition building amongst all API students within the three departments of the Luskin School of Public Affairs, and additionally open our caucus to other students of different cultural and ethnic identities. We hope that unity amongst API students and allies within Luskin can foster an intersectional community to engage in social transformation happening all around SoCal and across the nation. Come learn more about the API community!

Co-Chairs: Gonji Lee and Rita Phetmixay

Black Caucus

The Social Welfare Black Caucus is a student organization established to serve as a network of support for African American students and all interested students in the Department of Social Welfare located in the School of Public Policy building. The Black Caucus will act as a service oriented resource, providing both information and a forum where all students can dialog about social welfare issues as they pertain to the Black community.

Co-Chairs: Dominique Coronado, Kelly Cooper, Symone Berry

Christian Caucus

The UCLA MSW Christian Caucus holds a commitment to represent Christ through education, community, and service. Our aim is to glorify God through our words and actions as a caucus. We plan to meet through- out the year for bible study, prayer meetings and social gatherings, as well as present events focused on religion in social work. We hope to collaborate with other caucuses, students and faculty. People of all religious backgrounds and spiritual walks are welcome.

Co-Chairs: Cathy Gomez, Brent McCloud, Jennie Rivas and Joanna Williams

Find us on Facebook: UCLA MSW Christian Caucus

Email: mswcc.ucla@gmail.com

Dialogue Facilitation Caucus

This group was born out of student efforts to enhance their intergroup dialogue facilitation skills. Inter- group dialogue facilitation skills are tools that can be utilized to increase the communication, efficacy, and feelings of safety during discussions around privilege, race, religion, ability, gender, sexuality, and other points of orientation. These challenging discussions prove to be of continuous importance and priority in our world, and with students who participate in IGR efforts (intergroup relations) and/or with students who are just interested in participating in a dialogue, trainings will hopefully be offered and community will most likely be built. To be the best social workers, it is ethical to engage in these discussions and to learn how to do so respectfully and openly.

Co-Chairs: Jennifer Moore, Kathleen Baca

Disability Caucus

The goal of the Disability Caucus is to increase awareness of issues and concerns that affect the disabled population. Our mission is to support and encourage students with a disability to obtain their educational goals, as well as to promote and implement activities/projects that help bring awareness to this population.

Chair: Christabel Cheung

Feminist Caucus

The Feminist Caucus is a non-hierarchical student run organization that seeks to empower students to cultivate and nourish their feminisms. As an organization we intend: To promote an inclusive academic community that is supportive of feminist thinking, scholarship, and practice. To advocate for social justice for marginalized populations; acknowledging the complexities of gender, social identity, privilege, oppression, and power on women’s and girls’ experiences. To contribute to building a politically, socially, environmentally, economically just world through feminist scholarship, and activism.

Co-Chairs: Melissa Hunt, Javi Espinoza, Eva Ray

Contact: UCLAfeministcaucus@gmail.com

Gerontology Caucus

 Older adults are a severely underserved population with unique strengths and needs. The Gerontology Caucus will open a dialogue between students and professionals currently working in the field to  increase interest in and raise awareness about the issues and  opportunities in this growing and changing field.

Co-Chairs: Lily Abt and Nina Shenkar

Latina/o Student Caucus

The mission of the UCLA Department of Social Welfare Latina/o Caucus is to support and supplement the edu- cation of social workers interested in working with Latino populations. We fulfill our mission through social, educational and political activities. Some of the activities we engage in include: The Social Services in the Latina/o Community Conference. Informational sessions on topics relevant to the Latino population and social services field. Workshops facilitated by social work profession- als and leaders in the community. Fundraisers. Social gatherings and many more activities. Also, the caucus provides a safe and welcoming environment where students can receive support and resources in their journey to becoming great social workers.

Co-Chairs: Sandra Bernabe, Jessica Camargo, Elsie Silva

Email: LatinosdeUCLA@gmail.com

Self-Care Caucus

This caucus helps promote self care among MSW students through various events and activities. Our goal is to remind students to take time for themselves to enjoy and relax. We aim to promote wellness through tips and workshops and by connecting students to others who share interests and self care activities. We also encourage using the skills and habits we learn to care for ourselves in working with our clients. We are here to motivate and remind each other that we need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others.

Co-Chairs: Emma Albrow, Tali Bar-or, Kaite Buckner

Social Justice / Community Action Caucus

The Social Justice/Community Action Caucus connects graduate students at the Luskin School of Public Affairs to social justice issues at UCLA and in the greater Southern California community. The Social Justice/Community Action Caucus will create a space for collaborative dialogue and learning about social justice through educational opportunities, volunteer experiences and community actions.

Co-Chairs: Paulina Celaya, Gonji Lee, Tamara Marzouk

Email: sjca.ucla@gmail.com


Department Calendar

If the calendar does not display properly on your device, click here.

Class resources

UCLA Academic Calendar

Winter 2018 Class Schedule

UCLA Library Public Policy Resource Guide

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