Master of Public Policy (MPP)

MPP Capstone

The MPP capstone is a one-semester class that culminates in a final paper and oral presentation. Students begin the semester with a topic in mind and hit the ground running, building their project over a 13-week period that mirrors the timing of preparing a real world policy brief. Students work with the capstone professor to ensure that their topics are focused.

Generally students choose a topic that is relevant to their concentration, which helps them bring background knowledge to the policy area and any relevant literature. After selecting a topic, students conduct significant research and literature reviews to diagnose the policy problem and weigh the pros and cons of several potential policy solutions.

Capstone is designed to highlight the policy analysis skills students will have gained during their first 3 semesters of MPP coursework. The final result is a 25-30 page policy brief and an oral presentation. The capstone has a strong focus on concise, cogent writing and verbal communication.

Caroline Swaller, MPP joint with WGSS'17, presenting her capstone
Student Caroline Swaller, MPP'17, responding to a question from Professor Anita Hill on her capstone presentation about paid family leave policy.
Mary Brolin, PhD'05, Behavioral Health Policy Concentration chair
MPP capstone course professor Mary Brolin, PhD'05

Mary Brolin, scientist at the Institute for Behavioral Health and lecturer in the MPP program, where she teaches the capstone course, says, “One of the things that amazes me is that the topics the students present on for capstone are the same things I hear on NPR every day when I ride in. Often I’ll hear stories on the radio about topics that students wrote their capstones on two or three years ago, which tells me our students are doing cutting edge, relevant work that is in the news and continues to be in the news.”

Some recent capstone topics have included:

  • “Period Poverty in the United States: Recommendations to Achieve Menstrual Health Equity,” by Lily Scheindlin, MPP’21

  • “Federal Policy Options to Improve Nutrition Outcomes in ‘Food Deserts’ and ‘Food Swamps,’” by Taylor Nelson, MPP’21

  • “Solution-Oriented Policy: Expanding Evidence-Based Harm Reduction Services to Combat the Overdose Crisis,” by Jordan Brandt, MPP’21

  • “Unfounded: An Examination of Recommendations by the Massachusetts Mandated Reporter Commission,” by Sarah Esposito, MPP’21

  • “The Income Achievement Gap: Adopting a Community School Model in Massachusettts’ Chronically Underperforming Schools,” by Madeline Grant, MPP’21

  • “Building Up Preschool in New Hampshire: Equitable Investments in the Granite State,” by Ben Koller, MPP’21

  • “Essential Workers, Suppressed Wages: How Child Care Workers Subsidize the Public Good,” by Marlana Ann Wallace, MPP’21

  • “Restoring ‘Teeth’ to the AFFH Provision: Implementation Options for a Renewed Effort to Affirmatively Further Fair Housing,” by Katharine Elder, MPP’21

  • “Expanding Health Coverage for Non-Citizens: A State-Level Policy Analysis,” by Catherine Ramirez Mejia, MPP’21

  • “Coverage, Cash, and COVID-19: The Case for Post-Pandemic Medicaid Expansion,” by Alec Lebovitz, MPP’21 

  • “We Can’t All Be Anti-Racist: A Review of Race and Institutional Culture within Higher Education Policy for Black Students on Predominately White Campuses,” by Sara Jean-Francois, MPP’21 

  • “Broadening the Student Debt Debate: An Evaluation of Three Federal Policy Approaches,” by Kyle VonRuden, MPP’21

  • “Precarious Work Schedules: An Intersectional Look at Policy Solutions,” Claire Connacher, MPP’21

  • “Assessing High Profile Redistributionary Measures,” by Charles Mokriski, MPP’21

  • “Saving for the Future: Policy Solutions for a Secure Retirement,” by Jeffrey Ames, MPP’21