Watson Institute at Brown University
Public Policy


By the fall of their Junior Year, all Public Policy Concentrators must declare how they expect to fulfill their capstone requirement. These declarations must be approved by your Concentration Advisor, and in the case of university-based research Assistantships, by the concerned professor as well. Below are the different paths towards fulfilling the concentrations capstone requirement.

Check out capstone abstracts from the class of 2019 to get an idea of what is expected. 

Public Policy interns

Public Policy interns have worked in the Rhode Island Governor's policy office.

Senior Honors Thesis

A two-semester course [PLCY 1990 and 1991]. Paper and presentation required. See the honors and thesis page for more information.

Independent Study*

Can be taken with any public policy professor. Paper required; presentation optional.


An internship in the field of public policy can count as your capstone experience, but it must occur in the summer after junior year or during senior year and be approved in advance by your concentration advisor. Students completing capstones based on Internships, Research Assistantships, and UTRA Assistantships must write a 15 to 25 page paper reflecting on the nature of the work done, its relationship to the overarching goals of the institution in which it was carried out, the most salient policy implications of the work itself and/or the way it was organized by the relevant institution. Students are strongly encouraged to keep daily notes about the work they do and to consult the Guidelines for Writing Reflection Papers before beginning their internships or research assistantships. These guidelines be found here. Presentation optional.

UTRA Assistantship or Research Assistantship*

As with internships, students who expect to complete their capstone requirements must write a paper reflecting on their experience. Guidelines for capstone reflection papers can be found here. Presentation optional.

Designated Senior Seminar

Any class listed under PLCY 1820 fulfills the capstone requirement. Students may also petition to count a senior seminar offered through political science or international relations.

Students in the Engaged Scholars program should consult with their advisor to ensure that their concentration capstone, chosen from the options above, fulfills the requirements of the Engaged Scholar Program.

* Research and UTRA assistantships must be undertaken with a public policy professor and can take place during the summer of your junior year. Students who complete an UTRA or other Research Assistantship prior to the summer of their Junior Year may request –with the support of the concerned professor— to base their capstone project on work carried-out before the completion of their junior year