Policy Practice

As part of the practice and professional development component of the one-year MAPP program, students are required to fulfill a mandatory practice requirement. Students can choose between the completion of an internship or participation in a Policy Lab. 


The purpose of the internship is to provide students with an opportunity to gain insights into the day-to-day operations of an organization in the public, private, NGO, or multilateral sector, thereby gaining practical experience and advancing their understanding of how policies and processes are shaped by context, institutions, and culture. Most students take advantage of the internship to acquire policy-related professional experience, including knowledge and skills that will help them progress towards their long-term professional goals. Some students choose to do internships dedicated to research within an academic or research-focused institution.

Read our internship FAQ here.

Internship Requirements

The minimum duration of the internship is 40 working days or 320 hours. Students enrolled in the one-year MAPP program may not commence their internship until after they submit the master's thesis. Students may pursue internships in their home country, their country of residence, or internationally.

In order to fulfill the mandatory practice component, internships must have a clear learning agenda and be clearly relevant to the practice of public policy. The host organization is expected to provide interns with a substantive, policy-relevant professional development experience. Students are required to obtain a document from their host institution that specifies their tasks and responsibilities and designates an individual at the host organization to serve as a supervisor or mentor during the entire period of the internship. The supervisor/mentor designated by the host institution is expected to provide guidance and instructions to the intern and to serve as the host organization's contact for CEU Careers.

Policy Labs

Policy Labs are part of the mandatory practice component of the one-year MAPP program, and can be an alternative to the internship.

Policy Labs are run over three terms with mentoring support from the Center for Policy Studies, as well as other CEU faculty. Students work for an external client in three-four person teams to produce a piece of original research that will be used in public policy advocacy, implementation, and development. Clients are drawn from a range of organizations from the public, private, and civic sectors and share a common interest in using social science research to inform and support their work. Past clients have included the International Federation of the Red Cross, the Justice Initiative, Education Support Program, and the Roma Initiatives Office of the Open Society Foundations, Habitat for Humanity, as well as local NGOs and policy research centers in the region.

Policy Labs are designed to provide practical experience on how policy research is commissioned and used. It is based on the assumption that it is more common for teams than for individual researchers to work on policy-oriented research. Reflecting this, labs offer hands-on experience of group work, client negotiation, and research design and joint presentation. Participants learn how to communicate their research to non-academic audiences from very different backgrounds and interests. They will be expected to show imagination and creativity in presenting and explaining their findings taking into account the real world context in which their research will be used. Research design needs to demonstrate relevance as well as feasibility; participants have to demonstrate confidence that their chosen research design is rigorous and can stand up to scrutiny. Following a series of engagements with the client and invited interested parties, participants make their final recommendations in the form of a written report.

Subjects vary depending on the clients. Past projects have included impact studies of grant programs, briefing papers on latest trends in alternative development indicators, critical evaluations of programs and projects, comparative reports on access to legal services, the strength of trade unions, and the implications of the financial crisis on food security to reviews on current trends in disaster management. Whatever the topic, the goal is mutual gain, making academic research and researchers more accessible to those working in public policy.

For more information on past projects see the Policy Labs home page here.

Credits Earned

The completion of an internship OR a Policy Lab earns 0 credits and fulfills the mandatory practice component. If students take a Policy Lab in addition to completing an internship, students earn 2 credits.