USC Price School of Public Policy

USC Price International Lab FAQ



Q: What are the Price Laboratories?

“Price Labs” are special graduate courses based on the premise that professional practice is contextually embedded. These courses are designed for students to apply classroom knowledge to real-world, professional contexts in various settings around the world.

Q: What is the course structure of the Labs?

Labs are built on PPD 613a and PPD613b courses. PPD 613a is a 1-unit course that precedes and is prerequisite for a companion 3-unit intensive field course offered in the summer term. Although the two are closely coupled, they are technically two distinct courses.

The primary purpose of the 1-unit course is to lay the groundwork for activity to follow in the companion course. Students will conduct background research, form thematic teams, and develop a proposed work plan that guides their fieldwork in the summer.

During the 3-unit summer course (PPD 613b), students spend two weeks in a host country meeting with experts and practitioners, making site visits, and working collaboratively on their project. For the syllabus of our recent China or Brazil Labs, please click on the links below:

Q: Where do the Price Labs take place?

Labs have previously been held in Brazil, the United Kingdom, and China, but the list of host countries is always growing and changing. This summer, Labs took place in China and Brazil.

Click here for more information about previous Labs.

Q: Who may participate in the Price Labs?

Price Labs are designed for graduate students enrolled in the school’s core Master’s Degree programs: Public Administration, Urban Planning, Public Policy, Real Estate Development and Health Administration. While Price graduate students form the core of each Lab, alumni and/or student counterparts from collaborating institutions may also join on a case-by-case basis.

Q: What’s the advantage of participating in a Price Lab?

While the Price Labs are a unique opportunity for participants to build credentials and gain professional contacts, they also provide depth and diversity to the graduate’s educational experience. The intensive application of classroom knowledge to actual fieldwork transitions students into professional practice with a rich understanding of complex global contexts and situations.

Q: What kind of work is undertaken by the Price Labs?

Each Price Lab functions as a “consultancy” for a predetermined project and designated client. Potential clients are typically public or quasi-public institutions that may welcome policy analysis and recommendations formulated by the Price Labs. The Labs focus on a wide range of issues related to policy and development, including housing, health, environmental issues, infrastructure, institutional design and management practices.

Q: What do participants actually do?

Most of the work is collaborative research and intensive fieldwork. The setting for the Lab is determined in conjunction with the client. Students work in thematic research teams, investigating different aspects of the project. Basic research begins several months beforehand. Teams expand upon this once they are established in the field.

Each team’s work culminates in a presentation to the client, as well as a final report document. While Labs can provide real adventure and a great deal of fun, they are first and foremost a professional experience. Because the Price Labs have contracted agreements with their clients, students are expected to conduct themselves with the highest degree of professionalism and produce work of the highest quality.

Q: What is the cost?

The base tuition cost is the same as for any other 4-unit course at USC Price. Participants are usually expected to cover the cost of airfare and related travel costs, lodging, and daily living expenses. There is also a non-refundable lab fee. In some cases, Lab costs are partially underwritten by outside funding, but this occurs on a case-by-case basis.

Q: Are the international Labs available for undergraduate students?

International Labs are only available to students enrolled in Price School graduate programs. However, Global East Asia (GEA) summer study abroad program and Problems Without Passports — both offered by the USC Dornsife College — offer USC undergraduate students the opportunity to live, study and travel in foreign countries.