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The Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of MichiganThe Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan

Integrated Policy Exercise

A required course for master's students, the Integrated Policy Exercise is a three-day simulation that takes place during the first week of January. The exercise is highly interactive and allows students to immerse themselves in a timely policy issue, demonstrating their understanding of the policy-making process while interacting with real policy experts.

Conor McKay at IPE

The Integrated Policy Exercise: an overview

Each year, all first-year master's students participate in a three-day simulation known as the Integrated Policy Exercise (IPE), which tests their ability to make sound, responsible decisions under "real-world" time constraints and pressures. The annual IPE alternates between issues of domestic and international significance, and recent topics have included freshwater resource allocation, regional transportation, immigration policy, an Iranian nuclear crisis, and more. 

The faculty leader of the Integrated Policy Exercise divides students into teams representing different constituencies with an interest in the problem at hand. Working in small groups, each student team is tasked with representing a particular viewpoint, such as a lobbying organization, an elected politician, a professional organization, or an advocacy group. In consultation with real-world experts on the topic, groups spend the week developing policy positions and political strategies to achieve their clients' objectives. The week culminates in a simulated negotiation process involving all groups, with feedback from outside experts.

Previous topics

To get a sense of the range of topics covered and how the Integrated Policy Exercise works, please visit the links below:

Graduation requirements

The IPE is a one-credit course required for all master's students.

  • All first-year master's students (MPP and MPA) are required to register for and participate in all scheduled activities of PubPol 638: The Integrated Policy Exercise (IPE).
  • Second-year students are encouraged to register for and participate in the Integrated Policy Exercise for a second time, or to register for PubPol 778: Project Skills Workshop (PSW), a one-credit, half-semester course with modules on selected policy skills such as project management, consulting, reading efficiency, and geographic information systems.
  • Dual-degree students are required to participate in two Integrated Policy Exercises, or in one Integrated Policy Exercise and one Project Skills Workshop.