USC Price School of Public Policy

USC Price International Lab FAQ

Q: What are the Price Laboratories?

The “Price Labs” are special graduate courses offered by the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy based on the premise that professional practice is contextually embedded. These courses are thus designed to provide participants with opportunities to apply classroom knowledge to real world professional contexts in various settings elsewhere in the world.

Q: What’s the course structure of the Labs?

The Lab is composed of PPD 613a and PPD613b. PPD 613a is a 1-unit course that precedes and is the 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. Together, they comprise the USC Price Labs. 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 will guide the fieldwork in the summer. During the 3-unit summer course, PPD 613b, students will spend two weeks in the host country and environs meeting with experts and practitioners, doing site visits and working collaboratively on the project. For the syllabus of 2013 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 will be taken place in China and Brazil. For more information about previous Labs, please visit (provide a link).

Q: Who may participate in the Price Labs?

The Price Labs are designed for graduate students from Price’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, Price alumni and/or student counterparts from collaborating institutions may also join on a case-by-case basis.

Q: What’s the advantage of joining 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 portfolio. The intensive application of classroom knowledge to actual fieldwork transitions students into professional practice with a rich understanding of complex contexts and situations.

Q: What sorts of work are undertaken by the Price Labs?

Each Price Lab functions as a “consultancy” for a predetermined project focus 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?

Typically, 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, and then each team expands upon that 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 the 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 to 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. 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?

Unfortunately, the International Labs are only available for students who are enrolled in the Price School graduate programs. However, Global East Asia (GEA) summer study abroad program offered by the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences give USC undergraduate students the opportunity to live, study and travel in the foreign countries. The information session of GEA will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 22, and Wednesday, Oct 23, 2013 from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

For GEA detailed program information, please click here.