The Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) is the culmination of your Harvard Kennedy School experience. Many of our MPP graduates consider it to be one of the highlights of their HKS education.
During the PAE, you examine and develop solutions for a public or nonprofit sector policy or management issue presented by a client organization. The final analysis—usually around 40 pages or 10,000 words—gives you the opportunity to integrate the technical skills and specialized knowledge you have gained from the MPP curriculum while also helping a client organization tackle an existing concern.
Your Analysis, Your Recommendations
In your second-year fall semester, you enroll in a year-long seminar in your Policy Area of Concentration (PAC)/Concentration. The PAC Seminars serve to familiarize you with key issues and policy debates in your particular area and guide you through the PAE writing process. Once you declare your PAE topic, you will be assigned a faculty advisor whose expertise aligns with that topic.
In completing your PAE, you essentially serve as an unpaid consultant to a client organization. You and your client work together to define specific issues, design research strategies, gather data, formulate and evaluate options, and, finally, make actionable recommendations. It is not unusual for client organizations to implement the PAE recommendations made by students.