Public Policy Research Scholars (PPRS) is a selective three-year certificate program intended for undergraduates with a background in Economics who want to explore the impact of U.S. public policy on the domestic economy. Students must apply for admission at the end of their freshman year and matriculate into the program at the start of their sophomore year. 

The program is administered through the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative; our goal each year is to admit just 15 rising sophomores into the program. Students from all four of Penn’s undergraduate schools are eligible to apply, and the program can be pursued alongside any major. Students that complete the PPRS program will have the designation “Public Policy Research Scholar” noted as an honor on their transcripts and will receive a certificate upon graduation.

The only academic prerequisite for admission is two semesters of Economics.Students are expected to earn credit (or receive waivers) for ECON 001 and 002, or ECON 010/FNCE 103 and BEPP 250, prior to entering the program at the start of their sophomore year. Students who will not have completed the two semesters of Economics by the start of their sophomore year must provide an explanation within their personal statement.

You can learn more about the program by browsing the other pages listed in the side navigation. The PPRS application, including all application instructions, is also available for your review.



In Their Own Words

  • Megha Agarwal

    What unique opportunities has the Public Policy Research Scholars program afforded you?

    “When I made the decision to spend a summer in Washington, D.C., I was apprehensive. An internship at the White House and work in the public sector did not fit into my plan of entering the corporate world. As it turns out, stepping out of my self-imposed comfort zone was one of the best decisions I could have made.”
  • Stephanie Aliaga

    How did your interest in public policy develop?

    I first became interested in the intersection of policy and finance when I worked for a tax accounting firm in high school and discovered the impact that government tax policies had on client’s everyday lives. During my freshman year at Penn, I became involved with the student association to the Wharton Public Policy Initiative where I devoted articles to researching, analyzing, and providing solutions to fiscal and monetary policy issues. My interest in policy grew even more this past summer when I worked at the Department of Commerce and saw how trade policy can increase GDP, augment job growth, and fight poverty worldwide.
    I view every policy issue as multi-dimensional—there are many externalities to every policy decision, as there are many stakeholders to every corporate decision—and I have strived to consolidate various interests, values, and stakes of different parties to advocate for solutions that serve to increase the social and economic utility amongst all participating parties.
    I aspire to utilize my Wharton education to become a pioneer for economic reform, create policies that would maximize employment, battle inflation, and manage long-term growth. While my professional life will likely not begin in government, I am hopeful that I will later serve my country in an advisory role on economic policy to make a positive impact on America and the world.
  • Lauren Anders

    What inspired you to pursue PPRS?

    There are two reasons why I pursued PPRS: personal interest and societal impact. I first became interested in public policy as a delegate to the Missouri Youth in Government Conference for five years and the Conference on National Affairs for three years. At these conferences, I enjoyed writing and debating public policy proposals with 600 delegates of varying political ideologies. I was eager to work with my peers to find creative solutions to the varying problems facing our society. Beyond pure interest, I believe it is important to have a firm understanding of public policy due to its large societal impact. Every policy enacted by our government affects both individuals and corporations. I hope to utilize my Wharton education and my knowledge of public policy to make and advocate for policy decisions that provide the highest utility to all societal actors.
  • Tanner Bowen

    What attracted you to the Public Policy Research Scholars program?

    “At Wharton, I am considering doing concentrations in Business Economics & Public Policy and Legal Studies & Business Ethics. I thought these opportunities were great in themselves, but once I found out about the PPRS program, I knew that this would be an excellent learning opportunity to take my public policy interests to the next level.”
  • Christian Butts

    What do you want to do in the future?

    “While my Wharton studies are geared towards understanding how to encourage growth among developing nations, the PPRS program can allow me to work alongside scholars in the fields of international development and trade law that can make my time at Penn even more fruitful and allow me to view my path with more context.”
  • Jordan Dewar

    What inspired you to apply to be a Public Policy Research Scholar

    “One of the major reasons I applied to Penn was the multidisciplinary potential of the Penn curriculum. Ever since I was young, I’ve had a passion for government and politics, but all the majors in government, international relations, or political science tended to oversimplify the economic aspect of policymaking. PPRS combines the areas of policymaking and quantitative analysis in a way that will allow me to better understand the intersection of economics and governmental affairs.”
  • Sean Egan

    Why are you interested in public policy?

    “One of my proudest accomplishments was founding Hearing Our Heroes, a nonprofit that aims to assist veterans… Through my experience with Hearing Our Heroes, I have realized that many veterans do not get the benefits they deserve, and even more have difficulty obtaining those benefits. Those are both issues that I hope to address one day through public policy.” 
  • Jeffery Gao

    What do you hope to gain from the PPRS experience?

    “I am studying international relations with a focus on international political economy and trade. An international relations degree gives a strong cultural and theoretical basis for understanding government actions, but it lacks the quantitative training that allows for measuring the economic impact of laws and regulations – a skill the PPRS program emphasizes. By taking part in the PPRS curriculum, I hope to be able to interpret numbers and connect them to regulations, policy, and government action.”
  • Frank Geng

    What interests you about public policy?

    “My interest in public policy is rooted in research. For the past year, I’ve done research on infrastructure policy—first at Penn as part of the Global Infrastructure Project Research Network, and then this past summer at the University College London, though the Global Research Internship Program. Many aspects of research aren’t so glamorous, but it is exciting to apply my interest in economics in a way that is socially meaningful!”
  • Radhika Gupta

    What inspired you to apply to be a Public Policy Research Scholar?

    “Living in England during the Brexit vote was extremely influential in my decision to apply to the PPRS program. It opened my eyes to the direct impact that politics has on the local and global economy, and through PPRS, I can begin to learn about the impact that domestic U.S. policies have on the economy.”
  • Erin Hartman

    What attracted you to be a Public Policy Research Scholar?

    “Nursing gives me clinical experience; PPRS gives me the language in which to translate the issues and inadequacies that I find in the health care field into policy.”
  • Yana Kaplun

    What do you want to do in the future?

    “Business cannot operate in isolation from government. Whether my future path leads me toward working in business or government, I hope to maintain an understanding of how business and policy decisions impact each other. The PPRS program will provide me the resources, as well as the connections to students and faculty, to help me develop this interdisciplinary perspective.”
  • Geeta Minocha

    Why are you interested in public policy?

    “My close relationship with my younger cousin, who has cerebral palsy and mild autism, led me to create the nonprofit organization Kids In Special Situations, Inc. (K.I.S.S.) in 2011. K.I.S.S. brings together special needs children in small groups to improve their social interactions, then hosts large events in which these children can interact and form friendships with their neurotypical peers. While working with public schools around Florida to organize such events, I became aware of the various problems and inadequacies of Florida’s education system, and hence, America’s at large. Knowledge of these issues sparked my interest in public policy more broadly.”
  • Prakash Mishra

    How does PPRS fit with the rest of your curriculum?

    When I see a problem, my first thought has been “how can I address that so people do not have to do deal with it?” That thirst to solve problems is what brought me to Penn’s M&T program. As a systems engineer, I learn how to model the behavior of literally anything and understand where that unit falls apart, where that unit gets its power, and where that unit collapses. I have used that knowledge for policy already—last semester I created a simulation in class which created a live view of the Syrian refugee crisis and created quota and policy projections as to how much should be spent on refugee supplies by country and by district of each country. Through PPRS, I’m continuing to build on this acumen for problem-solving.
  • Nile Nwogu

    What inspired you to apply to be a Public Policy Research Scholar?

    “My interest in public policy has developed since high school, when I won an award from C-SPAN for a short documentary. My partners and I made our film about why the federal budget deficit should be the top priority of 2014. Urging Congress to pass more of the budget caps and sequestration seen in 2011 is how I discovered my passion for fiscal policy and economic policy at large. I also ran a tutoring and coaching business in high school and have always loved education. Moving to Philadelphia and seeing the problems with urban schooling ignited my interest in education reform. Efficiently allocating taxpayer money is an important responsibility and I hope to learn about the best strategies for doing so.”


    Are there specific skills you hope to develop?

    “PPRS will provide me with a different perspective when approaching problems in finance. When studying companies and the broader markets, it is helpful to have an understanding of how public policy affects them. For example, if a new environmental tax credit bill were to pass in a state, the ability to analyze this policy and make a hypothesis about how it will affect certain businesses in the area helps an investment team to make the best assumptions when modeling potential transactions and the best operational recommendations when advising its portfolio companies.”



  • <h3>Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED®)</h3><p><strong><img width="180" height="79" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/79/481_fred-logo.rev.1407788243.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image481 lw_align_right" data-max-w="222" data-max-h="97"/>An online database consisting of more than 72,000 economic data time series from 54 national, international, public, and private sources.</strong> FRED®, created and maintained by Research Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, goes far beyond simply providing data: It combines data with a powerful mix of tools that help the user understand, interact with, display, and disseminate the data.</p><p> Quick link to data page: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Center for Education Statistics</h3><p><strong><img width="400" height="80" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/400/height/80/479_nces.rev.1407787656.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image479 lw_align_right" data-max-w="400" data-max-h="80"/>The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education in the U.S. and other nations.</strong> NCES is located within the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences. NCES has an extensive Statistical Standards Program that consults and advises on methodological and statistical aspects involved in the design, collection, and analysis of data collections in the Center. To learn more about the NCES, <a href="" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p><p> Quick link to NCES Data Tools: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p> Quick link to Quick Tables and Figures: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p> Quick link to NCES Fast Facts (Note: The primary purpose of the Fast Facts website is to provide users with concise information on a range of educational issues, from early childhood to adult learning.): <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Congressional Budget Office</h3><p><img width="180" height="180" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/180/380_cbo-logo.rev.1406822035.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image380 lw_align_right" data-max-w="180" data-max-h="180"/>Since its founding in 1974, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has produced independent analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the Congressional budget process.</p><p> The agency is strictly nonpartisan and conducts objective, impartial analysis, which is evident in each of the dozens of reports and hundreds of cost estimates that its economists and policy analysts produce each year. CBO does not make policy recommendations, and each report and cost estimate discloses the agency’s assumptions and methodologies. <strong>CBO provides budgetary and economic information in a variety of ways and at various points in the legislative process.</strong> Products include baseline budget projections and economic forecasts, analysis of the President’s budget, cost estimates, analysis of federal mandates, working papers, and more.</p><p> Quick link to Products page: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p> Quick link to Topics: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>HUD State of the Cities Data Systems</h3><p><strong><img width="200" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image482 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/200/482_hud_logo.rev.1407788472.jpg 3x" data-max-w="612" data-max-h="613"/>The SOCDS provides data for individual Metropolitan Areas, Central Cities, and Suburbs.</strong> It is a portal for non-national data made available through a number of outside institutions (e.g. Census, BLS, FBI and others).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>National Bureau of Economic Research (Public Use Data Archive)</h3><p><img width="180" height="43" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/43/478_nber.rev.1407530465.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image478 lw_align_right" data-max-w="329" data-max-h="79"/>Founded in 1920, the <strong>National Bureau of Economic Research</strong> is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization dedicated to promoting a greater understanding of how the economy works. The NBER is committed to undertaking and disseminating unbiased economic research among public policymakers, business professionals, and the academic community.</p><p> Quick Link to <strong>Public Use Data Archive</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>MapStats</h3><p> A feature of FedStats, MapStats allows users to search for <strong>state, county, city, congressional district, or Federal judicial district data</strong> (demographic, economic, and geographic).</p><p> Quick link: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Federal Aviation Administration: Accident & Incident Data</h3><p><img width="100" height="100" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image80 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/100/height/100/80_faa-logo.rev.1402681347.jpg 3x" data-max-w="550" data-max-h="550"/>The NTSB issues an accident report following each investigation. These reports are available online for reports issued since 1996, with older reports coming online soon. The reports listing is sortable by the event date, report date, city, and state.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The World Bank Data (U.S.)</h3><p><img width="130" height="118" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image484 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/130/height/118/484_world-bank-logo.rev.1407788945.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1406" data-max-h="1275"/>The <strong>World Bank</strong> provides World Development Indicators, Surveys, and data on Finances and Climate Change.</p><p> Quick link: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>Internal Revenue Service: Tax Statistics</h3><p><img width="155" height="200" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image486 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/155/height/200/486_irs_logo.rev.1407789424.jpg 2x" data-max-w="463" data-max-h="596"/>Find statistics on business tax, individual tax, charitable and exempt organizations, IRS operations and budget, and income (SOI), as well as statistics by form, products, publications, papers, and other IRS data.</p><p> Quick link to <strong>Tax Statistics, where you will find a wide range of tables, articles, and data</strong> that describe and measure elements of the U.S. tax system: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>NOAA National Climatic Data Center</h3><p><img width="200" height="198" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image483 lw_align_left" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/200/height/198/483_noaa_logo.rev.1407788692.jpg 3x" data-max-w="954" data-max-h="945"/>NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is responsible for preserving, monitoring, assessing, and providing public access to the Nation’s treasure of <strong>climate and historical weather data and information</strong>.</p><p> Quick link to home page: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p> Quick link to NCDC’s climate and weather datasets, products, and various web pages and resources: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p> Quick link to Text & Map Search: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>USDA Nutrition Assistance Data</h3><p><img width="180" height="124" alt="" src="/live/image/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg" class="lw_image lw_image485 lw_align_right" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/4/width/180/height/124/485_usda_logo.rev.1407789238.jpg 3x" data-max-w="1233" data-max-h="850"/>Data and research regarding the following <strong>USDA Nutrition Assistance</strong> programs are available through this site:</p><ul><li>Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) </li><li>Food Distribution Programs </li><li>School Meals </li><li>Women, Infants and Children </li></ul><p> Quick link: <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>
  • <h3>The Penn World Table</h3><p> The Penn World Table provides purchasing power parity and national income accounts converted to international prices for 189 countries/territories for some or all of the years 1950-2010.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank">Quick link.</a> </p><p>See all <a href="/data-resources/">data and resources</a> »</p>