The course has three components: a seminar on how school systems and other P-12 organizations can be led to change and to improve student outcomes; skills training on structured problem solving in broadly diverse teams; and research and consulting projects for transformative school systems and allied organizations on behalf of children nationwide and in Brazil. In order to learn the concepts and develop the skills needed for the demanding consulting projects, the seminar and skills training portions of the program are concentrated toward the beginning of the semester. Thereafter, the time devoted to project work expands to enable students to work nearly full time with teammates and Project Directors on the projects.
Students participating in this immersive, full-time course receive a semester’s worth of course credits and enroll in only this course, or in this course and a single additional course of no more than 3 credits. Students can expect to spend approximately 40 hours each week on class work (including preparation) and project work. During the semester, students spend roughly 55 hours in seminar classes and 25 hours in classroom-based skills training, with much of that time front-loaded into the first few weeks of the semester. Project work begins at about 10 hours per week and grows to full time (40 hours a week on average) during the semester. Law students receive all the credits needed to meet ABA experiential learning requirements.
CPRL strives to match preferences and skill sets to each of the projects in that semester’s portfolio and to balance professional disciplines and student backgrounds on each project. All teams are interdisciplinary, and the typical project group size is 3-5 students. CPRL conducts a comprehensive survey of participating students prior to the start of the semester to collect student preferences among education sectors and topics and to inventory student skills and experience. Student preferences are a leading factor in forming project teams.
CPRL serves public and non-profit education-related organizations across the U.S. and Brazil. Clients include state departments of education, school districts, charter school organizations, individual schools, national and local school support and education advocacy groups, community-based organizations, education-focused philanthropic foundations, child-welfare agencies, and other public- and social-sector agencies, non-profits, and start-ups.
Every project team works with one of CPRL’s Project Directors. Project Directors are professionals from business, education, law, and policy with 10 or more years of relevant experience. Project Directors guide and coach the project team, supporting students as they lead, develop and complete the project work. The Project Director serves as a resource to students and is responsible for ensuring that the project meets the needs of the client and the children the client serves, while simultaneously providing team members with a meaningful learning experience, with feedback on process and deliverables to assure they are of professional quality, and with help setting and making progress on development goals each team member chooses. Project Directors also often support team members in searching for and obtaining summer and full-time jobs. (See next.)
A central CPRL objective is to prepare students for leadership roles in public education and other public- and social-sector organizations and for academic positions oriented in those same directions. In project work, seminar, and classroom-based skills training, students have the opportunity to identify personal and professional areas of growth and to receive support and feedback in developing and refining their skills. The program also supplements (without supplanting) the career services provided by students’ home institutions. Both current students and the program’s alumni have access to a wide network of clients, alumni, funders, and sector leaders. CPRL aims to serve as a talent pipeline into public and social-sector organizations, and many past and current clients and other organizations are eager to recruit CPRL students and alumni. Directors and CPRL leadership provide 1:1 career support and routinely connect students and alumni to open opportunities.
The application process includes an online application, which asks for specific information about the applicant’s current graduate program and previous academic and professional experience. Students are also asked to write two short responses: a personal statement of interest and a reflection on a representative case. After the application is submitted and reviewed by CPRL, qualified applicants are invited for an interview.
CPRL invites students from most schools to apply through its online application, which is available on the CPRL website at https://cprl.law.columbia.edu/content/how-apply. All Columbia and NYU Law School students applying for the immediately upcoming semester should use the application portals those schools provide for students seeking experiential learning/clinical placements. If you are a student at one of those two schools, please refer to your home institution’s experiential learning/clinic websites for more information.
CPRL provides a small number of tuition-specific awards of last resort (CPRL Scholar Awards) to students (including international students) who demonstrate exceptional merit and need. To be eligible for a CPRL Scholar Award, students must be willing to make a legally enforceable commitment to work three of the first five years after graduation in a full-time government or non-profit position in or supporting the P-12 education sector. Depending on the location of the qualifying employment
Students do not pay extra tuition to participate in the program. With the one exception noted below as to fees, the tuition and other financial arrangements students have with their home professional school remain intact throughout the course of students’ participation in the program. Visiting Students are required to pay to Columbia the same facilities, student activities, and health services fees that Columbia students pay—typically around $1,100 in total. To account for this, non-Columbia universities and graduate programs with which CPRL partners typically waive their comparable fees for the semester in which their students are in residence at Columbia.