Students at Student Simulation Competition

Simulation Competition: Judges

Here you will find everything you need to know about being a judge for the NASPAA Simulation Competition.

If you or someone you know is interested in becoming competition judge, please contact and we will be happy to meet with you. Accepted judges will receive a formal invitation letter from NASPAA.

About the Simulation Competition

NASPAA's Simulation Competition is an annual event held in late February and early March at 10 or more NASPAA-member Universities around the world. Graduate students in Masters of Public Administration, Masters of Public Policy and related degree programs work together on small teams to engage with a computerized simulation that uses real-world date to generate a realistic model of a relevant and important public service issue. The goal of the simulation competition is for students to learn and grow as future public service professionals through an educational experience that uses experiential learning and connects the theory of the classroom to the practical skills of the real world. 

Competitions are typically held from 9 AM - 5 PM on a Saturday in late February or early March.

Competition Judges

Every year, NASPAA and our competition host schools ask public service professionals to attend the competition to observe and evaluate students during the full-day Saturday event. Judges are enthusiastic, public service professionals or academics who use their knowledge and expertise to evaluate students' use of communication, negotiation, teamwork, and critical thinking skills during the competition. These skills are needed to excel in public service and in the professional world. Judges also determine how well students have considered the diversity, equity, and inclusion facets of the simulation topic, and the impacts of their policy decisions. Judges are recognized on NASPAA’s website, social media, newsletter, and in the post-competition program book.

    Judge Expectations

    Competition judges use their public service knowledge and real-world expertise to evaluate how well each competition team demonstrates the communication, negotiation, teamwork, and critical thinking skills needed to excel in public service. 

    • General
      • The competition runs from 9 AM to 5 PM on a Saturday in late February or early March.
      • (Optional) Every year, before the Saturday competition, there is a Friday evening reception to relax, network and enjoy refreshments. Judges are more than welcome to attend, but it is not a requirement.
    •  Pre-Competition Preparation
      • Judges are expected to attend a pre-competition virtual training session to familiarize themselves with the simulation and what the students are being evaluated on.
      • Judges are expected to have reviewed all materials provided to them in advance of the competition. 
      • Working with the hosting university and NASPAA to make your travel arrangements. Please note that travel, accommodations, and other related costs will be at each judge's expense, or at the expense of the university that invites you.
    • During the Competition Saturday
      • Judges will circulate during the simulation to ask student teams questions and score their answers.
      • Judges will review and score each team’s final one-page policy memo and presentation.
      • Judges will give an informal 30-45 minute panel at the end of the day to discuss what they observed during the day, how they think the students did, how the simulation appears to prepare them for the real world and what students should keep in mind when reflecting on this experience in their future careers.

    The most important criteria are that you are fun-loving and enthusiastic about innovative public service education. The most important expectation is that you bring your postivie attitude and your joy of preparing the next generation of public service professionals.

    Judge Criteria

    • Academics and practitioners are both eligible to judge the NASPAA Simulation Competition.
    • Judges do not need to be subject matter experts, but they should be well-versed in some of the following areas:
      • Communication
      • Leadership
      • DEIJA (diversity, equity, and inclusion), negotiation
      • Budgeting
      • Group decision-making
      • Management
      • Organization
      • Challenges of the professional environment
      • Issues related to the simulation topic (this changes every year)
    • The most important criteria for judges are that they are dependable, passionate about education and have a positive attitude. 

    NASPAA Responsibilities

    • NASPAA will host an onboarding Zoom meeting to go over the expectations and procedures for the competition and answer any questions you may have. There will be several options to join this onboarding session during January and February.
    • NASPAA staff will provide you with simulation materials, judge guidelines, scoring procedures and a scoring rubric shortly after accepting the role.
    • A site leader will be on-site to guide and support you through the judging and scoring process.
    • NASPAA will be responsible for communicating with judges and preparing them for the competition day. After you make the introductions, your responsibility regarding the judges is done.

    Questions? Interested?

    If you or someone you know is interested in becoming competition judge, or if you have any questions for the competition staff, please contact and we will be happy to assist you. Accepted judges will receive a formal invitation letter from NASPAA.