Image of HKS students.

Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE)

The Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) is the capstone of the Master in Public Policy (MPP) curriculum. It is a professional product, usually around 40 pages in length, in which MPP students examine an existing public or nonprofit sector policy or management issue presented by a real-life client organization.

The PAE provides MPP students the opportunity to integrate the technical skills and specialized knowledge they have gained from the MPP curriculum. This includes a core set of skills centered around economics, statistics, strategic management, political advocacy and leadership, professional ethics, and professional management as well a specific Policy Area of Concentration (PAC) or Concentration. PACs represent distinct policy areas students focus on through progressively more advanced classes and research seminars. They provide a basis from which students choose their PAE topics.

To complete their PAEs, students essentially serve as unpaid consultants to client organizations, working with clients to define specific issues, then continuing on to design strategies, gather data, formulate and evaluate options, and finally, make actionable recommendations to their clients.