CAPP student studying in the John Crerar Library


The MSCAPP curriculum is a three-legged stool, building foundational knowledge of computer science, statistics, and public policy analysis.

All MSCAPP students complete a common set of courses in computer science and policy analysis—see the overview below. Courses marked with an [H] are taught by the Harris School of Public Policy; courses marked with a [CS] are taught by the Computer Science department.

  Fall Winter Spring
Year 1 Computer Science with Applications 1 [CS] Computer Science with Applications 2 [CS] Databases for Public Policy [CS]
Statistics I [H]
Standard option
Advanced option
Statistics II [H]
Standard option
Advanced option

Program Evaluation [H] *
OR Elective

Analytical Politics [H] Mathematics for Computer Science and Data Analysis [CS] Machine Learning for Public Policy [CS]
Summer Internship    
Year 2 Microeconomics I [H]

Microeconomics II [H]

Program Evaluation [H] *
OR Elective
Program Evaluation [H] *
OR Elective
Elective Elective
Elective Elective Elective
* Program Evaluation is offered in multiple quarters; students may choose to take it in the Spring quarter of their first year or the Fall or Spring quarter of their second year.

In the first year, students complete a core set of classes in computer science, statistics, and policy analysis. Further, students study the mathematical fundamentals necessary for more advanced coursework and then engage with critical technical skills in their databases and machine learning courses. In the second year, students complete a core set of classes in economics and can choose electives to deepen their understanding in econometrics, data science, applications development, and policy research.

Electives and Customizability

Students have the flexibility to take a wide range of electives from Harris Public Policy and the Department of Computer Science, as well as other departments and schools at the university (except courses at the Graham School for Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies). This often includes:

  • the Booth School of Business
  • the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice
  • the Department of Economics
  • the Department of Statistics
  • the Division of Social Sciences
  • the Law School
  • the Toyota Technological Institute at Chicago (TTIC)

Students also have the opportunity to engage in experiential learning coursework, further developing their skills by helping partner organizations with real world problems. Such courses include:

CAPP students speaking on panel at Harris eventSample Electives

For insight into the wide variety of interests students pursue in their second year, a comprehensive list of elective courses that CAPP students have taken in past academic years can be found here: Historical CAPP Student Elective Choices (PDF)

Please note this is not an exhaustive list of courses that are offered (courses change from year to year), and is not an endorsement of these courses.


The University of Chicago offers a number of optional certificates, which give MSCAPP students the opportunity to specialize in particular areas of inquiry. Some relevant certificates of interest to CAPP students include:

Waiver and Placement Exam Information

Waivers are available for a range of the core coursework for students who have a strong academic background in certain subjects. You can read about waiver opportunities in detail on this page.

CAPP students writing on whiteboard

Degree and Program Requirements

Curriculum requirements

The MSCAPP degree requires completion of 18 graduate-level courses (1800 units of credit), including a minimum of seven Harris courses (six core courses + one elective) and six Computer Science courses (five core courses + one elective). 

What counts as a Harris Public Policy elective:

Only PPHA-coded courses count as Harris electives. Courses cross-listed in PPHA, regardless of the home department, count as Harris electives. All MSCAPP students must take at least one Harris elective.

What counts as a Computer Science elective:

Courses coded as CAPP, CMSC, MPCS or TTIC count as Computer Science electives. Further, computer science-focused courses from other programs may count, subject to approval by an MSCAPP academic adviser. All MSCAPP students must take at least one Computer Science elective.

Practical Experience Requirement

Harris requires all students to complete a practical experience during their program of study. The practical experience requirement can be fulfilled in a variety of ways, including an internship, research assistantship, practical experience course, policy competition, or waiver. Read more about the ways to fulfill this requirement here.

Harris School of Public Policy Math Exam

The Harris Math Exam is taken during orientation week, and all students must pass it in order to graduate. See the Harris Admitted Student website for more details.

Other Requirements

  • A cumulative GPA of 2.7 for all courses, based on a 4.0 scale
  • A grade of C- or better for the seven Harris courses (six core courses + one elective) and six Computer Science courses (five core courses + one elective)
  • Completion of the math requirement (support available)
  • Completion of a practical experience requirement (more information)
  • No more than 2 reading/research, independent study, or internship courses
  • No more than 2 courses taken Pass/Fail (core courses cannot be taken pass/fail)
  • Courses with grades of F, I, W, or with no reported grade do not apply toward the 18-course requirement for the program.
  • Policies on the results of not meeting these requirements can be found on the Harris policies page.

Program Policies

Policies related to student conduct, academics, and the results of not meeting academic requirements can be found on the Harris policies page.

Program Contacts

Students with questions about program requirements may contact MSCAPP Program Director, Kim Kieras, their assigned academic advisor, or the Harris Dean of Students, Kate Shannon Biddle. Your contact at UChicagoGRAD is Amanda Young, Associate Director, Graduate Affairs.