For over four decades, the Ford School has hosted a Public Policy and International Affairs (PPIA) Junior Summer Institute - an intensive seven-week summer program that focuses on preparing diverse undergraduate students from all over the United States for graduate programs in public policy and international affairs.

Students will take statistics, microeconomics, and a writing course for the full seven weeks of the program, as well as shorter two to three week policy modules on a specific policy topic.

Policy topics in 2022 included Diplomacy in Africa taught by Susan Page, the former Ambassador to South Sudan, and Health and Healthcare in America featuring Abdul El-Sayed, political contributor at CNN and former executive director of the Detroit Health Department. Students will participate in weekly lunch meetings with our internationally recognized faculty and guest speakers. Additionally, Ford School JSI participants will also attend professional development, career planning, resume workshops hosted by our Career Services staff, and sessions on preparing for the graduate school admissions process with our admissions team.

Previous year’s programs have included site visits to Detroit, Lansing, Flint, and Chicago to meet with government officials, community organizers, and policy makers. These opportunities allow students to learn about policy issues that are affecting citizens in real-time and allow students to envision themselves as future leaders in public policy. Learn more about the Ford School here.


Each student enrolled in the Ford School JSI receives a $1,500 stipend, on-campus housing and meals, travel expenses for arrival and departure from the program, and books and related course supplies. Students will participate in a full GRE preparation course, as well as receive GRE preparation materials. PPIA Fellows who successfully complete any PPIA Junior Summer Institute and who are admitted to the Ford School’s Master of Public Policy will be guaranteed at least a quarter tuition fellowship. They are also eligible to be considered for a Rackham Masters Award which consists of four semesters of tuition and fees, a living stipend, and health care.


Courses focus on improving students’ communication and quantitative reasoning skills, which are vital to their success in graduate programs. There are no prerequisite courses, but previous experience in algebra is helpful. Students do not receive any course grades, but they will receive a detailed qualitative evaluation which can be used during the graduate school application process so that admissions committees can gain a deeper understanding of the student’s abilities.



This course covers descriptive statistics, probability theory, probability distributions, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. It also includes an introduction to experimental design. The emphasis in the course is on preparing competent users and consumers of basic statistics.


This course teaches the fundamental concepts in microeconomic theory that are essential as a foundation for the study of public policy, law, and international affairs. Students learn economic theory in order to model decision-making processes. They also learn how to evaluate whether an outcome is good for society and what incentives are needed to achieve a desired outcome. Each course lecture includes a policy debate where students use economic models to analyze a policy problem and propose solutions.

Policy Modules

In these courses, Ford School faculty introduce students to current policy issues, enabling them to apply analytic tools and to improve their communication skills – particularly writing composition. The three policy modules will each have a different focus, with a mix of international and domestic topics. The material and approaches used in these modules will draw from the statistics and economics courses. Students will write policy memos analyzing each topical area, and will gain expertise in oral presentation. Previous module topics have included Counterterrorism, Transportation Policy, Health Policy, Irrational Actors: Psychological Approaches to Decision Making; International Economic Policy; Mass Incarceration; Public Management and Environmental Protection; U.S-China Relations and many more.

Writing Instruction

Students will work with the writing instructor for the duration of the program. The writing instructor conducts seminars on the norms and best practices of policy writing, opinion writing, graduate school application statements, and career documents. The instructor also meets with students in individual writing conferences to give assistance and feedback on any writing the student is working on during the program.


Application deadline November 1, 2022
Admission notification February 1, 2023
Program begins June 12, 2023
Program ends July 28, 2023


Ann Arbor is nationally ranked as one of the most livable communities in the United States. Energetic and intellectual, attracting students from all over the country and the world, the city features outdoor concert series, and farmer’s markets. Ann Arbor is within an hour drive of Detroit and about five hours from Chicago and Toronto. New York City, Boston, and Washington D.C. are ninety minutes away by plane. The University of Michigan is only blocks away from downtown, where you'll find museums, restaurants, music venues and independent bookstores, as well as record stores, comic shops and movie theaters. Historic bungalows and Victorians make up much of the housing surrounding the city. To the north and east of downtown you can find canoe liveries and boat launches on the Huron River, along with dozens of miles of running trails in the Nichols Arboretum and in the city's enormous park system.


PPIA Junior Summer Institute at University of Michigan

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

735 S. State Street, #2245 Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091

Phone: 734-764-0453


Learn more about the program here!