2019: The Refugee Simulation

Based on real-world data, this simulation tests participants’ ability to balance their budgets and their humanity.

Will you sacrifice one for the other?


February 23, 2019


~8 hours


Answers to frequently asked questions can be found here


There is no cost to participate in the competition. Travel assistance may be available: inquire here.


Any master's student (MPP, MPA, or related fields)


11 competition sites around the globe. See below for a complete list.

What is the NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition?

The NASPAA-Batten Student Simulation Competition is a day-long event that allows graduate students in public policy and related fields to test their skills on real-world data. This year, using a turn-based, participatory simulation developed for the competition by the Center for Leadership Simulation and Gaming, student teams will take on cabinet-level positions of a virtual country. Participants enter policy decisions in the simulation software to see how their policies affect their citizens, their economy, and the migrants themselves.

As part of the competition, teams will be expected to put together a policy memo and presentation. Evaluations of student performance will be based on two factors: 1) Their team’s simulation scores, and 2) Observations by subject matter experts serving as judges at each host site.

What happens on the competition day?

The competition is an all day event. Teams will travel to their host site, where they will undertake three rounds of the simulation: twice in the morning, plus once after lunch. Each round will last approximately one hour.

After the three rounds, student teams will be given time to put together a policy memo and presentation. Experts in related fields will serve as judges.

The experts will evaluate the policy memos and the presentations. Following the presentations, a short debriefing will explain the logic and data behind the simulation. Winners will be announced at the end of the day.

What are competition teams and how do I form one?

Teams are made up of three to five students. In previous years, participants have been randomly assigned to teams at their site. This year, we are also offering schools the option of placing all their participants on the same team, creating a “School Team.”

The option to have participants randomly assigned is still available.

If your school cannot field five participants, you can opt to fill out your team with randomly-assigned participants from other schools.

Deans/Program Directors/PAA Advisors can nominate students and/or student teams from October 15 to December 20. Nominators will provide the names of at least one and up to eight potential team members (five team members and three alternates). Nominators can decide whether these students will form a “School Team” or be randomly assigned. Alternates will be randomly assigned if all five team members register. Click here to nominate participants.

Each school can only nominate one team: five members and four alternates. Other interested students can apply as individuals.

Individual students may apply to compete from November 19 to December 20. Click here to self-register!

What if I’ve been nominated?

Students who have been nominated by a Dean/Director/PAA Advisor to participate in the competition will be notified by a NASPAA Simulation Competition team member. If you intend to participate in the competition, you will need to register here. As a Dean/Director/PAA Advisor nominee, you be placed in the priority applicant pool. The deadline to register is January 2, 2019.

Team Nomination

The Dean/Director/PAA Advisor student/team nomination process will be open from October 15, 2018 to December 20, 2018. Click here to submit nominations.

Each school can only nominate one team: five members and four alternates. Other interested students can apply as individuals.

The competition is open to masters students only. Undergraduate students may not apply nor be nominated.


Nominated Students must register by January 2nd, 2019


Individual Students

Student self-registration will be open from November 19, 2018 to January 2nd, 2019

Students can self-register by clicking here.