Request for Proposals
Client-Based Capstone Projects 2019-2020

Deadline extended to July 29th


The McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University is seeking proposals for client- based policy analysis research projects to be conducted by graduate student teams, advised by Georgetown University faculty.

About the McCourt School of Public Policy

The McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University is a top-ranked public policy graduate school in the U.S. Our mission is to give our students the rigorous quantitative and analytic skills needed to design and implement smart policies. Our faculty and research centers study policy issues on today’s most critical topics including economic security, energy, the environment, education, health, and international development. Our location in Washington, D.C. puts our students at the epicenter of the policy world, allowing them to tap into a rich set of resources outside the classroom as they learn about policy and the policy-making process. Further information about the McCourt School can be found by visiting our website (

Client-Based Policy Analysis Capstone Projects

Students in the McCourt School’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) degree program have the opportunity to complete a client-based policy analysis capstone project as a requirement of their degree. Both programs emphasize quantitative and analytical skills for designing and managing sound public policy, within a core curriculum in microeconomics, quantitative methods, and policy process and management. The client-based capstone projects provide an opportunity for students to apply this knowledge to real-world policy and program challenges for real-world clients. 

Within the structure of a course led by a McCourt faculty member, groups of four to five students will work with clients over Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 semesters to analyze a significant issue or policy problem of importance to the client. In late April 2020, the students will submit a professional-quality written research report analyzing the problem, developing policy alternatives, considering their implications, and making suggestions for implementation of the proposed recommendations. The students will also make an oral presentation of findings to the client.

Please Note: This is not an internship, but a team-based research consultancy. Capstone students are supervised by their faculty advisor with whom they meet every week, while communicating and consulting with their client on a regular basis. 1

1 Clients who are seeking help with daily office functions or projects of more limited scope than that envisioned by the client-based capstone project are encouraged to contact Lindsey Thomas, Assistant Director of Employer Relations and Career Development, at

Request for Proposal

We are reaching out to invite you to propose a project, and ask that you share this invitation with colleagues or professional acquaintances whom you believe might be interested in serving as a client. In past years, the McCourt School clients have included government agencies, international organizations, consulting firms, as well as foundations, non-profits, and other non-government organizations.  

We are looking for projects in which students will analyze how a particular program or policy is working; or in which students are asked to develop policy alternatives and recommendations to solve a particular problem of concern to the client. To utilize the quantitative and analytical skills that students have been developing in their MPP degree programs, the client-based policy analysis project must involve, but need not be limited to, analysis of quantitative data. (Students will be enrolled in their third required semester of quantitative methods training at the time the client project begins.) Examples of such quantitative analyses include development and validation of program evaluation methodologies or metrics, estimation of elasticities, cost-benefit analyses, and/or regression analysis. In all projects, the students will review current published research in order to develop their analytical approach, and will include this literature review in their report. 

Proposals from clients who can supply or identify existing large-sample dataset(s) for quantitative analysis will receive preference.

Proposals should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than July 19th, 2019. Please address the proposal to and include the following information (you may wish to use this template):

  • Name of organization and a brief description of its organization, mission, services, and clients, if appropriate;
  • Organizational contact person who will serve as the primary point of contact and liaison with the capstone teams throughout the project, and contact information;
  • Brief statement of the purpose of the project (1-2 paragraphs) and problem to be analyzed by the student team. This section should include the motivation underlying the project, its research objective and key questions for which the client seeks answers;
  • Description of existing quantitative data that the client will provide or that our students will need to access, as well as any restrictions on its use, including the specific datasets to be used (proposals that do not identify data requirements cannot be considered);
  • Summary of client expectations for the collaboration with McCourt students, including the type of recommendations sought and how the project complements the client’s own work/agenda in this area.

Selection Criteria

Client projects will be chosen based on how well they meet the McCourt School’s requirements for analytical rigor and quantitative analysis within a practical setting, as well as their match with student areas of interest. We are interested in projects that are well-defined in terms of research questions, data requirements and availability as well as desired outputs. Client projects should allow students to provide empirical analysis primarily using quantitative methods, along with meaningful policy recommendations.

Project Priorities, Limitations, and Examples

Though we will consider substantive proposals in any policy domains, we particularly welcome project proposals requiring substantive, empirical analysis in these subject areas:

  • International development, including both issues and challenges faced by developing country governments and by international development organizations;
  • Evaluating organizational or program impact, including the development of plans and analytical models for future program impact evaluation processes;

  • Urban and local government issues, planning, and development;
  • Energy and/or environmental issues, such as climate change;

  • Organizational leadership and management;
  • Poverty and employment;
  • K-12 education and higher education;

  • Issues related to race, ethnicity, gender, or class;
  • National security and defense.

We regret that we cannot consider project proposals that:

  • Pose overly broad or primarily descriptive research questions, rather than seeking answers to concrete problems, concerns, or questions;
  • Consist primarily of the review and synthesis of other published research (a literature review should not be the primary project deliverable); or
  • Do not require significant data analysis, or proposals where suitable data is too limited or unavailable.

Examples of client projects that student Capstone teams have worked on in the past include:

  • Tracing the implementation of international development projects and identifying predictors of success and failure;
  • Developing a rigorous, empirical process for evaluating the impact of various housing security programs administered by a local nonprofit organization;
  • Developing quantitative measures of political budget cycles in election years;
  • Measuring and comparing the impact of various energy efficiency policies at reducing electricity consumption and increasing electricity savings in the United States;
  • Developing a predictive model for youth political violence in Sub-Saharan Africa;
  • Analyzing the impact of housing, education, and job opportunities on demographic changes in the District of Columbia;
  • Analyzing causes of job turnover among senior employees in federal government service and recommending policy options for increasing employee retention; and
  • Conducting cost-benefit analysis of several agriculture value chain interventions and analyzing the likely development impact of competing alternatives.
  • Creating comparative indices of government transparency, and women’s leadership in the public sector.


Please contact us at if you have any questions or would like to discuss a possible project before submitting a proposal.