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Application Process

Applications for 2023 are now closed. Stay tuned here or subscribe to our newsletter for news about next year's fellowship application. 

Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Public Policy Fellowship?

The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston encourages graduate students to spend part of their careers in public service through a paid, 10-week summer internship in key state and local agencies in the Greater Boston area. Fellows, who represent all graduate schools in Greater Boston, participate in a weekly seminar series with leading practitioners and scholars and receive a $8000 stipend for the summer. The seminar series is hosted in partnership with law Fellows from the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School's Fellowship in Law and Public Policy program.

Public Policy Fellows are also matched with mentors, who might include Rappaport Institute Advisory Board members, alumni, and local practitioners, to get support and guidance throughout the duration of the program.

Where do Fellows work?

Public Policy Fellows work in state and local agencies in the Greater Boston area. In previous years, they have worked for:

  • City governments in Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, Medford, and Chelsea;
  • The Massachusetts Legislature; and   
  • Massachusetts state agencies such as the MBTA, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Executive Office of Energy and the Environment, MassHealth, and MassDevelopment.

Public Policy Fellows may work at federal agencies as long as the work they are doing directly applies to public policy issues in the Greater Boston area.

Fellows may not work at nonprofit agencies. 

Fellows do not need to meet residency requirements of the municipalities in which they are placed to participate in the Fellowship.

What kind of projects do Public Policy Fellows work on?

In previous years, Fellows have worked on a diverse range of projects that include school reform plans, environmental risk assessment, public-private partnerships, community development projects, performance-management systems, racial bias in the juvenile justice system, health coverage for foster children, and reduction plans for greenhouse gases. Examples of past work include:

  • Drafting segments of legislative bills for the Massachusetts House and Senate on education, health care coverage, economic stimulus initiatives, and mental health issues
  • Writing a white paper on the Boston Public School's redistricting process
  • Working with the Office for Commonwealth Development to create an infrastructure and housing program to support Transit-Oriented Development
  • Creating a Main Streets program and starting a neighborhood farmers' market for Somerville’s Union Square
  • Crafting recommendations for a long-term plan on how the Department of Public Health addresses youth violence

Visit our alumni page to see more examples of projects completed by Fellows. If you need help determining which options are available to you, contact Rappaport Institute Associate Director Polly O'Brien.

Who is eligible to become a Public Policy Fellow?

Graduate-level students are eligible for the program if they:

  • Attend universities in Greater Boston such as Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, Suffolk University, Northeastern University, UMass Boston, Brandeis, Boston College, and Tufts University,
  • Will continue with their studies in the 2023-24 academic year* and
  • Are studying in programs with public-policy implications for the Greater Boston metropolitan area or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

*Students who are in one-year programs at Harvard's schools of public health and education and Boston University's School of Public Health are also eligible. Students who are graduating in May 2023 can also apply, but preference will fall to students who will be continuing their studies next year.

Students do not have to be a U.S. citizen to apply but must hold a valid student visa.

Students can come from a wide range of fields, including architecture and design, business administration, economics, education, ethnic studies, divinity, engineering, environmental studies, geography, medicine, nursing, political science, public health, psychology, public policy, sociology, social work, urban policy and planning, and women's studies.

Students from other disciplines are welcome to apply for the Public Policy Fellowship as long as their study somehow relates to public policy issues in Greater Boston. Law students are not eligible for the Rappaport Institute Public Policy Fellow Program but may apply for a similar program run by our sister organization, the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Policy at Boston College Law School. Please visit the Rappaport Center website for more information.

When does the application open and when is it due?

Applications can be submitted online starting in December 2022. The deadline for submissions is Friday, January 6, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET. 

Apply here


What are the application requirements?

Applications are due on January 6, 2023 and should include:

  • A cover letter, addressed to Ms. Polly O'Brien, Associate Director of the Rappaport Institute, that includes a list of issues and public agencies that interest you;
  • A resume;
  • A statement of two to three pages that describes an public policy issue or issues that you would be interested in working on, why the issue interests you and some preliminary thoughts on a project for the summer; and
  • A writing sample, three to five pages in length, from any work that represents your ability to explore complex policy issues.
  • Two letters of recommendation

All materials must be submitted in ONE (1) pdf.  Please DO NOT submit individual pdfs for each part of your application. Your recommenders should send their letters to you to be included to the pdf. DO NOT have them send their letters to the Institute directly.

How many Fellows are accepted into the program each year?

About 20 students are selected for the Public Policy Fellows Program each year from a highly competitive pool of up to 200 applicants. The application review committee includes local academics, Rappaport Institute Advisory Board members, Public Policy Fellow Program Alumni, and others. Finalists are given two weeks to confirm their participation in the program. If a finalist needs to depart the program, an alternate will be added to the final group.

When does the Fellowship take place?

Please see below for a high-level program calendar (subject to change):

  • Fall: Several information sessions held by Rappaport Institute staff where students can learn about the Fellowship opportunity and the application process. 
  • Early December: Application portal opens.
  • Friday, January 6, 2023: Applications due.
  • Early February: First round candidates announced.
  • Tuesday, March 7, 2023: Award letters sent.
  • March - May: Fellows interview agencies for placement opportunities and select their host agencies.
  • Early June: Fellows start 10-week internship with their host agencies. Actual start and end dates are agreed upon by the Fellow and their host.
  • June – July: Rappaport Institute hosts eight seminars that Fellows are expected to attend.
  • Late July or Early August: Celebratory closing dinner.
  • Mid-August: Fellows have concluded work for host agency, program concludes.