Four students in a library, with a laptop open in front of them, laughing.

Summer Policy Research Institute


The Public Policy Center offers the Summer Policy Research Institute (SPRI) each summer from mid-June through late July. SPRI is a 6-week program for University of Iowa undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in policy research. 

In 2022, SPRI offered two tracks – one for students with no (or little) experience with social science research; and a second track for students who know the basics of social science research and have some experience working on a research team.

Both tracks exposed students to academic research through a mentored, team-based experience.

Track 1 – A weekly 1-hour seminar on introductory, policy research-related topics, plus discussion of assigned readings and/or learning modules. Possible topics include the scientific method, quantitative and qualitative research basics, research ethics, and data analysis.

Track 2 – A weekly 1-hour Journal Club that dives a little deeper into policy research, including data analysis methods, developing research questions, and communicating research effectively. Students will have the opportunity to produce a policy memo/brief.

Both tracks of the Summer Policy Research Institute included a weekly, instructor-guided sharing session of research activities among students’ peers to provide feedback – an essential part of the research process. Students also had opportunities to meet with UI researchers in informal environments that encourage the sharing of experiences, ideas, and questions. SPRI is a virtual course, with some optional in-person activities. 

SPRI is offered each summer and is currently a 1 semester-hour class with Pass/Non-pass grading. 

For more information about SPRI, please contact Julianna Lee at