Policy Research Laboratory

The goal of the course is to train the students with the programming, applied mathematics, and economics tools needed to participate in cutting-edge policy research.

The program is split into two phases: the training and the research phases. During the training phase (Spring semester), the students take a three-credit independent study course that focuses on the fundamentals of economics, programming, and applied mathematics that are necessary for policy research. Then, over the following year, the students will be actively engaged in research projects with faculty members from the center to both apply the skills they have learned in the training and to gain more experience in the specific field of research in which they choose to work.

The goal of the course is to train the students with the programming, applied mathematics, and economics tools needed to participate in cutting-edge policy research. The training will be a rigorous course in which the students will attend lectures for three hours a week, a TA help session for one hour a week, and work together for 15 to 20 hours a week to complete homework assignments and coding lab projects. The programming curriculum is in Python and centers on training the students to work with data (such as scraping data from websites and machine learning techniques) and numerically computing policy relevant models. The applied mathematics component of the course focuses on enabling the students to read and solve the models that they will be asked to setup and compute in their research. The economics training will focus on game theoretic modeling, since an understanding of game theory lends itself to an understanding of the underpinnings of the theories used in policy research.


Near the end of the course, the faculty from the Center will present research that they would like research help on, and the students will be attached to projects for the following school year. These assignments and updates on the students’ progress on their research will be posted here.

Policy Research Laboratory Course