Student Success

Summer Policy Research Institute

The Summer Policy Research Institute (SPRI) is a 6 to 8-week program for University of Iowa undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in policy research. The mission of SPRI is to develop a model for exposing students to academic research through a mentored, team-based experience. This program is part of the University’s Path Forward Strategic Plan Engagement Work Group initiative to provide more students with high-impact, meaningful experiences outside the classroom.

Explore the 2020 Summer Policy Research Institute

Student Fellowship Program

The Public Policy Center (PPC) Fellows program is designed to recognize the contributions of students who, under the mentorship of our faculty and staff, create and share new knowledge from policy-relevant administrative and research activities, while contributing to the vitality of the PPC. Student research fellows will have a title consistent with their enrollment status and role at the Center (e.g. Undergraduate Research Fellow).

  • What are the benefits of being a student Research Fellow?
    • Student research fellows get a heads-up on policy-related events and courses being offered by the Public Policy Center;
    • Students may use their PPC title on their resume, signature block, grant submissions, applications, and elsewhere
  • How do I become a PPC Research Fellow?
    • Student employees of the PPC are automatically enrolled in the program;
    • Students who enroll in PPC coursework or programs may request to be included in the program (some are automatically enrolled, so ask your instructor);
    • Many faculty members across campus are doing policy-relevant research with students. If you’re working with such a faculty member, you’re eligible! Just ask your faculty mentor to request your enrollment in the program.

Course Work

The Public Policy Center is pleased to offer several courses to help students explore their communities, discover what they are innately drawn to do, and study contemporary policy issues. Our courses are housed in University College and taught by Public Policy Center faculty members, staff, and post-docs.

  • Explore Iowa
    CSI:1400 – Summary:

    Explore Iowa is a one-of-a-kind experience that allows students to explore the University of Iowa and beyond. Students attend concerts, plays, museum showings, food festivals, and sporting events, among other events, and reflect on these experiences both in class and in written reflections. A lecture series accompanies the class, exposing students to experts in a variety of fields including: the FBI, astronomy, national politics, and University organizations. Small discussion sections are led by Peer Mentors -- undergraduate students who have been through the Explore Iowa experience already. The cool news? You can apply to be a Peer Mentor once you've completed the course.

    This course is offered in the Fall.

  • Life Design
    CSI:1410 – Summary:

    Through stories, lectures, assigned readings, guest speakers, and reflective writing, Life Design is organized to help students discover what they are innately drawn to do. Topics include the integration of one’s worldview and professional life, practical skills and exercises for investigating different career paths, cultivating mentors, the relationship between ambition, drive, and success, and the role of happiness in achieving excellence and fulfillment. This is an 8-week course offered during the second half of each semester.

  • Iowa Criminal Justice Policy & Reform
    CSI:TBD – Summary:

    Students will be introduced to contemporary discussions of policy and reform across all stages of the criminal justice system, including policing, pretrial detention, sentencing, incarceration, and reentry. Students will learn about current practices and policies and develop their applied skills in policy analysis and communication. Course material will extend beyond policies for crime reduction and will also consider policies geared towards other outcomes, such as reducing inequalities and racial disparities in the criminal justice system. This course will explore these criminal justice policies through an Iowa lens, both at the state and local levels. Students will be provided opportunities to learn from and meet with Iowa legislators, policy makers, and practitioners that have a specialized understanding of the topics discussed in the course. This is a Spring semester course.


The Public Policy hosts and co-hosts dozens of events each year to engage our community, share our research, and contribute to the vitality of the university by engaging with others who have diverse perspectives and experiences. Students are welcomed and encouraged to attend PPC events and many of our course lectures are open to PPC students, even if they aren’t enrolled in the class.

Student Highlights

See what other PPC students are up to with our monthly student highlights. Find those with similar interests and connect!


The Public Policy Center and the Iowa Social Science Research Center (part of the Public Policy Center) typically hire about 100 students annually. Open positions are posted here. The Iowa Social Science Research Center is almost always looking for students to work in research as Telephone Research Interviewers. Contact for more information.

Other resources for student researchers