Important Dates

Application Deadline:
November 15, 2023

Admission Notification:
February 2, 2024

Program Dates:
June 16–August 2, 2024

Contact Us

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

As a Junior Summer Institute participant at Harvard Kennedy School, you will join a diverse population of undergraduate students in a rigorous seven-week summer program that will prepare you for graduate programs in public policy and international affairs.

JSI@HKS will provide you with:

  • A greater understanding of career opportunities in public service fields
  • A deeper appreciation of current issues and trends in policy fields
  • Opportunities to develop a strong sense of belonging—that you, too, can excel in the policy arenas of your choosing 
  • A set of skills that will enable you to thrive in a graduate policy program

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 and is essential to our mission. To improve public policy and leadership, we must create an environment where students can thrive by learning more from people with different perspectives and by working in diverse groups that serve diverse communities.


The JSI@HKS curriculum includes a set of courses designed to develop your professional competencies and sharpen your quantitative, critical thinking, and leadership skills—building a strong foundation for success in graduate programs in public policy, administration, and international affairs. Course content will include examples of issues related to both domestic and global policy. 

Introduction to Economics will introduce you 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 will introduce you 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 examines the role that race and racism have played, and continue to play, in shaping policy. The course also examines 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 Incubator) is designed to guide groups of 3-5 participants through the process of public policy design around your own big ideas and to support you in thinking creatively about how to solve the real-world problems you care about. Throughout the incubator experience, you will be required to consider the implications of your policy proposals for international affairs. 

Because being an effective public leader depends upon effective communication, JSI@HKS will also focus on skill development in this area. You will write policy memos and professional reports, practice presentation skills, and learn the basics of data visualization—all skills relevant for policy makers and practitioners working at the regional, national, and global levels. 

Note that you will not receive credit for these courses from HKS, as PPIA Junior Summer Institute courses are not part of the undergraduate or graduate degree programs at Harvard University. You may, however, pursue credit at your home institution by submitting JSI@HKS course descriptions, grades, and evaluations.

Co-Curricular Activities

JSI@HKS will also include a suite of co-curricular activities designed to offer you:

  • 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
  • Exposure to careers in public and international affairs

Attend Workshops

Participate in weekly skill building sessions, such as an op-ed writing boot camp, as well as mindfulness and resilience workshops.


Meet Current HKS Students and Alumni

Hear from HKS master’s and PhD students and alumni about their academic journeys and career trajectories.


Interact with Faculty

Attend weekly talks with HKS faculty and learn about their policy areas of expertise and related research.


Learn About HKS's Research Centers

Attend panel discussions with leaders and researchers from a selection of HKS’s premier research centers

Your Summer in Cambridge

Harvard’s campus is in the heart of the Boston Metropolitan Area—one of the most vibrant metropolitan areas in the country. It is home to over 16 colleges and universities; world-class cultural institutions; thousands of acres of parks; top sports teams; and leading industries, including biotech, information technologies, engineering, finance, and marine trade. Throughout the summer, you will participate in a series of activities to give you a sample of what the Boston areas has to offer.

Application Information

All applicants must have senior standing at an accredited U.S. college or university after completing the summer institute.

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 one or more of the following:

  1. Completion of at least one course in college-level economics, mathematics, or statistics; or AP/IB calculus, economics, or statistics; 
  2. A public policy-related internship; and/or 
  3. Other public service-oriented work.

You can review additional eligibility guidelines on the PPIA website.

You will apply to JSI@HKS through the online application on the PPIA website. Please review the PPIA website for full application details.

JSI@HKS participants receive full tuition, housing and meals, reimbursement for domestic travel to and from the program, and books and related course materials. Participants also receive a $2,000 stipend for summer living expenses.

In addition, students participate in a GRE preparation course and receive GRE preparation materials. 

JSI Fellows who successfully complete any PPIA Junior Summer Institute and gain admission to a degree program at HKS will be guaranteed at least a $5,000 scholarship.

  • Application Deadline: November 15, 2023
  • Admission Notification: February 2, 2024
  • Program Begins: June 16, 2024
  • Program Ends: August 2, 2024

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a specific focus for the JSI program at Harvard, and how does it compare to JSI programs at other PPIA schools?

At Harvard’s JSI program, we aim to provide a snapshot of the public policy graduate student experience at Harvard Kennedy School. This includes a curriculum encompassing courses in economics, statistics, race and racism, and policy design. It is focused on helping students develop skills central to public service leadership including critical thinking, analytical abilities, and communication skills.

One unique feature of JSI@HKS is the Public Policy Incubator, an opportunity for small groups of students to select a policy issue that they care about and dedicate their summer to designing, developing, and testing innovative solutions. Through this incubator experience, students will master the art of crafting policy memos, professional report writing, and delivering professional presentations, complete with data visualization.

All PPIA schools’ JSI programs aim to prepare fellows for a graduate program in public policy. To find out more about each school's specific offerings, we recommend visiting their respective websites.

What classes will JSI@HKS participants take?

JSI@HKS fellows will participate in four classes that reflect the core curriculum of students in the Master in Public Policy (MPP) Program at Harvard Kennedy School. This includes: Introduction to Economics, Quantitative Analysis and Empirical Methods, Race and Racism in Public Policies, Practices, and Perspectives, and the Public Policy Incubator.

What extracurriculars and professional development opportunities are available for JSI@HKS fellows?

JSI@HKS fellows will participate in regular professional and leadership development programming outside of the classroom designed to provide participants with a holistic experience of graduate school life. This includes weekly skill-building sessions, panel discussions with current and former students, personal development workshops, and guest lectures from distinguished HKS faculty.

Moreover, given Harvard’s location in the vibrant Boston Metropolitan Area, to provide a glimpse of what the area offers, we arrange a series of activities that introduce participants to the local culture.

What are some of the attractions and activities available in the Boston area during the JSI@HKS program?

Downtown Boston offers a vibrant and culturally rich environment for JSI@HKS participants. Here are some highlights:

  • MBTA (“T”) Red Line: Downtown Boston is easily accessible via the Red Line subway (T), making it convenient for exploring the city.
  • Entertainment and Art: You can often find free concerts and music performances in parks and public spaces or explore Boston’s many museums.
  • Outdoor Recreation: Take advantage of the city’s proximity to the Charles River and enjoy activities like kayaking.

Are housing and meals provided?

Yes, participants will receive free University housing with a meal plan for the entirety of the program.

What is the stipend amount for the summer?

Participants will receive a $2,000 stipend.

What financial support is available after for PPIA Fellows pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy degree?

PPIA Fellows who are admitted to a master’s degree program at HKS are eligible for a minimum scholarship of $5,000. It’s important to note that many PPIA Fellows often receive financial offers exceeding this minimum scholarship. The actual amount of additional funding can vary.

How many people will be accepted?

For the summer 2024 program, JSI@HKS will accept 15 fellows.

Am I eligible for JSI@HKS if I have not completed a public policy internship?

Yes, even if you have not completed a public policy internship, you are eligible for JSI@HKS. However, strong applicants typically showcase a passion for public service, which can be demonstrated through involvement in on-campus activities related to social justice, economics, politics, and business and government.

I do not have a strong quantitative background. Should I still apply?

Absolutely. We encourage applicants from various academic backgrounds to apply. This includes students with non-quantitative majors such as history and political science. JSI@HKS is specifically designed to prepare students for graduate programs in public policy, so we do not require applicants to possess the skills we aim to teach. Your academic background should not deter you from applying from the program.