Image credit: Kayana Szymczak


Building off of our longstanding membership in the PPIA Consortium and our own Public Policy Leadership Conference, beginning the summer of 2024, HKS will offer a rigorous 7-week summer program. JSI@HKS has two primary objectives in mind: to help prepare a diverse population of JSI participants for the rigors of graduate training in public policy and international affairs programs and to provide participants with a greater understanding of career opportunities in public service fields, a deeper appreciation of current issues and trends in policy fields, and opportunities to develop a strong sense of belonging – that they, too, can excel in the policy arenas of their choosing.  

At HKS, we believe it is a matter of basic fairness to foster a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community where everyone feels they belong. This is a core value of our institution. It is also essential to our mission. Indeed, to improve public policy and leadership, not only must we recruit the best people, but we must also create an environment where they can thrive by learning more from people with different perspectives and by working in diverse groups that serve diverse societies.  

Competitive applicants will have strong academic transcripts and compelling narratives, as well as completed coursework, internships or other extracurricular work that reflects demonstrable policy-relevant skills and experience, including: (1) completion of at least one course in college-level economics, mathematics, or statistics; or AP/IB calculus, economics, or statistics; (2) public-policy-related internship; or (3) other public-service-oriented work. All applicants must have senior standing in an accredited U.S. college after completing the summer institute.


The JSI@HKS curriculum will include a set of courses designed to develop professional competencies – including economics, quantitative methods, and race and racism in the US – all designed to sharpen participants’ quantitative, critical thinking, and leadership skills. Further, these courses will include content on and examples of issues of both domestic and global policy and relations. 

Introduction to Economics

This course introduces participants to basic economic concepts, including supply and demand, incentives, markets, and market failures with a focus on applications in real domestic and global policy issues. 

Quantitative Analysis and Empirical Methods

This course introduces participants to concepts and techniques essential to the analysis of domestic and global policy issues, including an introduction to probability, statistics, and decision analysis emphasizing the ways in which these tools are applied to practical policy questions. 

Race and Racism in Public Policies, Practices, and Perspectives

This course examines the role that race and racism have played, and continue to play, in shaping policy as well as how social policy itself has contributed to making race and created and maintained inequitable systems that produce disparate outcomes by race and ethnicity. These perspectives are required for leadership in a 21st century, multi-racial democracy, to help lead and transform institutions for a more diverse America and world.

The Public Policy Incubator

The Public Policy Incubator (The Incubator) is a recent innovation in HKS’s educational program. It is designed to guide small groups of participants (3-5) through the process of public policy design around their own big ideas and to support participants in thinking creatively about how to solve the real-world problems they care about. Throughout the incubator experience, participants will be required to consider the implications of their policy proposals for international affairs. 

Through these courses we seek to build new skill sets for those new to these topics or strengthen current skills for participants with previous exposure, thereby providing a strong foundation for those advancing into graduate programs in public policy, administration, and international affairs. Because public policy and administration depends upon good communication, JSI@HKS will also focus on a range of skill development in this area – skills for policy memo and professional report writing, and professional presentations, including data visualization. In this way, the participants will begin to build professional skills relevant for policy makers and practitioners working at the regional, national, and global levels.  


JSI@HKS will also include a suite of co-curricular activities designed to offer participants a broad sense of what life in graduate school is like, beyond the classroom; insight into public service, policy making processes, and policy-oriented research; and exposure to careers in public and international affairs. These events are also intended to help participants build professional identities, a strong sense of self-efficacy, and resilience. We will do this through the following activities and events: 

Weekly sessions focused on skill-building, including an op-ed boot camp session, where participants are placed in small groups and tasked with writing an op-ed on a given topic for a specific outlet.  

A panel discussion with current master’s and PhD students about the insights they have gained from their own journeys – scares, obstacles, triumphs, and failures; A panel discussion with former master’s and PhD students about their trajectories post-graduation and the impact that HKS has had on their careers; Workshops that deploy culturally responsive scholar development tools to help build self-efficacy and a sense of belonging among participants. Topics will include but are not limited to identifying and combating stereotype phenomena and imposter syndrome. Workshops focused on developing participants’ mindfulness and resilience practices. 

Weekly talks by HKS faculty about their policy areas and related research; Panel discussions of policy areas with leaders from a selection of HKS’s premier centers – Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Bloomberg Center for Cities, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, Center for Public Leadership, Institute of Politics, Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Taubman Center for State and Local Government, and Women and Public Policy Program. 

Harvard’s campus is in the heart of the Boston Metropolitan Area – one of the most vibrant metropolitan areas in the country – the home to over 16 colleges and universities, world-class cultural institutions, over 450K acres of parks and recreation, top sports teams, and leading industries, including biotech, information technologies, engineering, finance, and marine trade.

To give JSI participants a sample of what the local area has to offer, we also plan a series of activities that will introduce participants to so much of what the Boston Metropolitan Area has to offer.


There is no credit given by HKS, as PPIA Junior Summer Institute courses are not part of the undergraduate or graduate degree programs. However, individual students may pursue credit at their home institutions by submitting JSI@HKS course descriptions, grades, and evaluations.


JSI@HKS participants will receive full tuition, housing and meals, reimbursement for domestic travel to and from the program, and books and related course materials. In addition, students will participate in a full GRE preparation course, as well as receive GRE preparation materials. JSI@HKS Fellows who successfully complete any PPIA Junior Summer Institute and who are admitted to a degree program at HKS will be guaranteed at at least a $5,000 scholarship. Finally, participants will receive a $2,000 stipend for summer living expenses.


Application deadline: November 1, 2023

Admission notification: February 1, 2024

Program begins: June 16, 2024

Program ends: August 2nd, 2024


Harvard Kennedy School JSI@HKS

Office of Admissions & Financial Aid

79 John F. Kennedy Street

Cambridge, MA 02138

Phone: 617-495-1155

E-mail: AdmissionsandAid@hks.harvard.edu

To learn more, please visit HKS’s website here: https://www.hks.harvard.edu