Questions about the PPIA Junior Summer Institute Fellowship Program

What is involved in a PPIA Junior Summer Institute Fellowship and what is its purpose?

The PPIA Fellowship Program is a rigorous academic graduate level preparation program for undergraduate juniors committed to public service careers. The program was started to address the lack of diversity across the spectrum of professional public service, including government, nonprofits, public policy institutions, and international organizations. The purpose of the JSI Fellowship is to prepare students to obtain a Master’s or joint degree, typically in public policy, public administration, international affairs, or a related field.

What is expected of PPIA Fellows?

There are three basic expectations: (1) successfully complete a PPIA Junior Summer Institute; (2) pursue a graduate degree from a PPIA consortium school with a degree in public policy, public administration and/or international affairs; and (3) pursue a public service related career.

Is there any major difference between the PPIA Junior Summer Institutes host sites?

All JSIs share a basic core curriculum designed to prepare students for graduate studies in public and international affairs. However, you should review the courses and curriculum on the PPIA host site webpages and the websites of the host sites to learn more about each of them.

What are the dates for the 2020 Junior Summer Institutes?

The dates for the 2020 Junior Summer Institutes have not been finalized but they will be similar to the dates in 2019. This means that the University of Minnesota and University of Michigan will run from early-June to late July, while Princeton, Berkeley, and Carnegie Mellon will run from mid-June to early August.

Is PPIA designed for aspiring lawyers?

With respect to students interested in becoming a lawyer, PPIA provides alternative possibilities. The program is not designed to promote the legal professions and does not support admission into any school of law. The scholarship benefits for PPIA alumni do not include law school programs. If you are interested in the intersection of law and public policy, the Berkeley JSI offers a track for students interested in pursuing a joint master’s degree and JD.

What do you look for when selecting PPIA Fellows?

There are a variety of factors that come into play during the selection process. Selected students embody PPIA’s diversity goals, demonstrate a commitment to public service and possess the drive to succeed in graduate school. Our students will be impressive academically, and more importantly, they will be culturally aware, socially sensitive, committed to public service, and share a common vision about making the world a better place.

I still have some time before I’m eligible to apply for PPIA, what can I do until then to strengthen my chances of becoming a PPIA Fellow?

PPIA recommends that you volunteer and get involved in the community; be active in activities that develop your leadership skills and take challenging classes in college while maintaining reasonably good grades.

Can you send me additional information about PPIA or add my name to a mailing list?

All information related to PPIA is posted on the website and you can also signing up for our quarterly newsletter and mailing list here.

What schools are in the PPIA Graduate School Consortium?

Please click here to access the current list of consortium schools.

Are there different levels of JSI coursework available?

Some of the programs offer varying levels of economics and statistics courses, but not all do. Please refer to the host site pages for more information about each program.

How is the GRE portion of the institute incorporated?

GRE support is administered differently at each host site. This could be in the form of a prep course, study resouces, or a stipend to cover test prep. Each host site determines which is provided to participants.

Is the PPIA Law Fellow Program a portion of the JSI undergraduate program?

Yes. Students accepted to the PPIA Law Fellow Program take the same courses as other JSI students. Law Fellows take additional modules on law and policy and interact with Law School staff to better understand the application process and program in addition to the standard JSI curriculum.

Questions about the PPIA Junior Summer Institute Fellowship Application

What is the deadline to submit my application?

All application materials, including letters of recommendation, are due by 11:59 p.m. EST (Eastern Standard Time) on November 1 annually. No late materials will be accepted.

When will I know if I have been selected and is there a waitlist?

Applicants will be notified of their selection status the first week in February. If you are placed on the waitlist, you will know if you will be accepted within a month.

Can I apply to more than one Junior Summer Institute?

Yes, we strongly encourage you to apply to and rank all of the Junior Summer Institutes.

Where can I receive support to complete the application?

We recommend contacting your school’s national scholarship/fellowship office (or a similar department) for feedback on your application materials. They may also be able to connect you with past recipients of the fellowship at your school. PPIA does not have the capacity to provide individualized application review or connect potential applicants with alumni.

Who should I ask for a letter of recommendation?

You must submit TWO letters of recommendation. One letter should be from an academic source, like an advisor or professor who can address your academic potential. The second letter may come from anyone who can speak to your commitment to public service, like a supervisor or mentor. The letters of recommendation provide JSIs with a more complete picture of your academic and extracurricular interests and capabilities, so it is best to incorporate a variety of recommenders. Letters should not be written by family members or close friends. Use your best judgement about who you think will provide a solid letter of recommendation.

If you recently transferred, would letters of recommendation from someone at your former institution or the institution you transferred to be better?

We encourage students to think about people who can speak authentically about them. If you have a good relationship with a professor from your former institution that might be better than trying to find someone at your new school who may not know you as well. Use your best judgement about who you think will provide a solid letter of recommendation.

What if I need to change one of my recommenders?

If one of your recommenders becomes unable to submit a letter on your behalf, please resubmit the recommender section with the information for your new recommender. Please be sure to follow up with the individuals you select to ensure they have completed the process and monitor your Application Dashboard to check that all application components are complete.

If I have a grade on my transcript that I would like to explain, where can I include that?

You can include an explanation for an element of your transcript that you think does not reflect your true academic abilities by providing this information in the extenuating circumstances section. Please do not upload an additional personal statement.

Can I make any corrections or changes to my application after I submit it; even if it’s only to change my order of JSI preferences?

You will be able to save and return to the application form on your Applicant Dashboard as many times as you need to before the deadline. Please review your answers carefully. However, your application must be submitted as FINAL by the deadline to be considered.

How can I confirm my JSI application was received?

If you selected submit as FINAL and FINAL is displayed in the top upper right side corner of your application screen, we have successfully received the application. Applications still in DRAFT status will not be considered.

What financial documents must I provide in my PPIA application?

PPIA requires all applicants to submit the following:

  • A copy of your financial aid award letter issued by your school for 2019-2020.
  • A copy of the FAFSA Student AID Report (SAR) OR your parent/guardian’s tax forms for 2018. If you are classified as an independent student for financial aid purposes, you may upload your own tax forms for 2018 instead. Please only upload the first few pages of the tax form such as the 1040 form.

Remember to black out all social security number information before uploading the documents. Do not mail or email any financial documents to PPIA. They must be submitted through this application system to be considered.

Financial Aid Letter: This is the document provided by the university’s financial aid office specifying the grants, scholarships and other need-based awards given to the student for the current academic year. This document may have been mailed on paper, emailed as an attachment, or accessed online through the university’s financial aid website. PPIA will accept any version of this document provided it clearly indicates the current need-based awards and comes from an official source. PPIA cannot accept a summary written by the applicant. Acceptable versions are screenshots, scanned copies of physical documents, etc in PDF format.

Student Aid Report (SAR): This is a five page (and sometimes longer) report of the personal financial data supplied to the U.S. Department of Education through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students should have a login account with the U.S. Department of Education (Click here for more information). Some students may also have access to the same information through their university’s financial aid website.

What year does my financial aid information need to be from?

Financial aid information, including the breakdown of how costs are being covered, should be for the current academic year (2019-2020). If you are required to submit your parent/guardian’s financial information then that should be for the most recent tax year.

Can I submit grades for courses I am currently enrolled in?

No, current semester grades cannot be submitted after the November 1 deadline. The transcript uploaded should be the most current copy available and reflect the courses you are enrolled in for fall 2019.

How many applications do you get each year?

We receive around 600 applications each year.

What financial documents should students who have not filed FAFSA provide?

Students receiving any financial aid from their universities should submit their university aid letter and parent/guardian tax information.

Is there a page limit/expected length for the resume?

The typical undergraduate resume is one page. We recommend a maximum length of two pages due to the high volume of applicants. Concise and direct resumes are recommended.

If I attended a different university for the summer and that grade appears on my official university transcript, will I still need to include an academic transcript for that school?

The transcript(s) you submit should clearly present all courses you have taken and grades you received at all colleges and universities you have attended.

Questions about Eligibility and Benefits

If I am accepted, will I have to pay anything?

No, if you are accepted to attend a Junior Summer Institute the host university will help you pay for travel expenses, cover the cost of tuition, provide housing and meals, supply all books and materials you need for your courses, and give you a stipend to cover incidental costs throughout the summer.

What will we receive to prove that we completed this fellowship?

PPIA Fellows receive a certificate of participation and evaluations at the end of their program that confirms their successful completion of the program.

I am a college senior, already graduated from college, or enrolled in a masters degree program. Is there any way to apply for a PPIA Fellowship or another component of the program?

Currently PPIA does not offer fellowship opportunities besides the Junior Summer Institutes. However, PPIA has generated a list of other public service/social justice fellowship programs in our Student Resource Center. PPIA also offers short-term conference opportunities, Public Service Weekends, across the country open to undergraduates and recent grads depending on the host site.

Why do you only accept college juniors?

This requirement is designed to allow PPIA Fellows time after completion of the JSI to take classes during their senior year to improve, if necessary, in a particular area of study or to register for classes that are more relevant for admission into graduate programs in public and international affairs.

How do students know if they are eligible if their status as a college “junior” is unclear or defined differently by their school?

Sometimes it is difficult to determine a student’s classification as a junior because some schools operate differently or there are unique student circumstances regarding credit hours and anticipated date of graduation. PPIA requires at least one full semester or two quarters of coursework after completion of a PPIA Junior Summer Institute. This generally means a minimum of 4 full time semester classes or the equivalent. PPIA reserves the right to make a final determination on eligibility.

Can I receive credit at my undergraduate institution if I complete a JSI?

Generally, PPIA Fellows do not receive college credits. However, it is up to an individual school whether they will give any credit for JSI participation. Students should check with their home institution in advance of attending a JSI for any potential transfer of credits. PPIA does not get involved in such decisions.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement to apply for a PPIA Fellowship?

There is no GPA minimum to apply for the PPIA Fellowship program. However, your transcript and application should demonstrate an ability to succeed at the graduate school level. GPA is considered as well as other factors including the type of classes you take, the difficulty of your coursework and academic progress.

Economic need is listed as part of the eligibility to apply. Are wealthy families ineligible?

All other factors being equal, a student from an economically disadvantaged background will receive extra consideration. However, students are not disqualified based on wealth and there is typically some degree of socioeconomic diversity among PPIA Fellows.

I am not considered to be part of a historically underrepresented community. Does that make me ineligible or otherwise affect my application?

All individuals are welcome to apply. If you can demonstrate involvement with diverse communities or convey how your cross-cultural experiences enable you to contribute to PPIA’s goal of building a diverse and more representative generation of leaders then your application will tend to be considered more favorably.

Is there an age requirement for the JSI?

No, there isn’t an age requirement to participate in a Junior Summer Institute. As long as you meet the graduation date requirements for the cycle and have not previously earned a bachelor’s degree in any area of study, you are eligible to apply.

Will I be guaranteed admission into a PPIA Consortium School if I complete a JSI?

Although PPIA Fellows are aggressively recruited by many of the top graduate programs in the nation, all Fellows must still submit a strong application and compete for limited admission slots. We encourage you to explore schools listed in our Graduate Consortium to get more information from the graduate programs you are interested in to help you strengthen your application.

If I participate in the Junior Summer Institute Fellowship program do I have to go straight to graduate school after finishing my undergrad?

Some PPIA Fellows gain work experience before applying to graduate school, while others attend directly after undergrad. We encourage students to review the specific admissions criteria of schools they’re considering. Our Graduate School Consortium section can be a great resource as you research programs.

Are students still eligible to apply if they are not currently enrolled in classes?

All students who meet the eligibility criteria, including planning to graduate with their first undergraduate degree between December 2020 and August 2021 qualify to apply.

Do applicants have to attend a university in the United States?

Applicants are not required to attend a U.S. institution if they are U.S. citizens or legal residents. All international applicants must be attending a U.S. institution.

Is there any prerequisite statistics or economics coursework required to participate?

There are no required courses in statistics or economics, but some basic mathematics courses are recommended to demonstrate your potential to handle quantitative coursework.

Would my chances of being selected diminish if I do not have much experience in public service?

JSIs look for quality over quantity when it comes to experience in public service. Even if you have only had a few experiences in public service that led to personal benefit and enrichment, it is important to discuss these experiences in your essays.

Can I work or participate in other programs during the JSI? Can I arrive late or leave the program early due to other fellowships, studying abroad, etc.?

By accepting a spot in the program, you must agree to refrain from any employment, activity, or other time-consuming commitment during the seven-week institute. Participants are required to attend the full seven-week program.

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