Office: Encina Hall West, 616 Jane Stanford Way, First Floor
Mail Code: 94305-6050
Phone: 650-725-0109
Web Site:

Courses offered by the Public Policy Program are listed under the subject code PUBLPOL on the Stanford ExploreCourses website.

The Public Policy program offers a Bachelor of Arts, an honors program, a minor for undergraduates, a coterminal M.A. in Public Policy, a two-year professional Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) degree, and a one-year non-professional Master of Arts in Public Policy (M.A.).

Admission to the M.P.P. and M.A. programs is restricted to current Stanford undergraduates and graduate students, Stanford alumni (who have graduated within the past 5 years), and external applicants seeking a joint graduate degree.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Public Policy

The mission of the undergraduate program in Public Policy is to provide students with the concepts and tools used in evaluating policy options and outcomes, and to prepare students for entry-level positions in organizations concerned with such analysis. The focus is chiefly on issues such as health, education, environmental, regulation, and science and technology policy, applicable anywhere in the world.

Courses in the major provide students with a background in economics and quantitative methods, political science, law, philosophy, ethics, organizational behavior, and social psychology. Economics and quantitative analyses are central to but not sufficient for modern public policy analysis; political science, law, philosophy, organizational behavior, and psychology are among other necessary disciplinary perspectives. Political science offers insights into the decision-making process and information needs of a democracy. Political philosophy and ethics form the foundations of public policy. Organizational behavior focuses on the decisions made outside the market environment in hierarchies, bureaucracies, and teams. 

Seniors have a research capstone requirement consisting either of an honors thesis or participation in a team practicum project, conducting applied policy research for an outside client, typically a nonprofit or government agency. Students majoring in Public Policy are prepared for careers in a wide variety of fields, including elected or appointed public office; business, law, and governmental agencies; research institutes; or for further study in graduate programs.

Learning Outcomes (Undergraduate)

The Public Policy Program expects its undergraduate majors to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the program. Students are expected to:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of public policy analytical tools.

  2. Evaluate applied theoretical and empirical work in policy-relevant research.

  3. Apply skills and knowledge acquired in the curriculum to analyze policy issues and make policy recommendations.

  4. Communicate complex ideas clearly and persuasively in written and oral forms.

  5. Demonstrate mastery of the above outcomes in the senior capstone project.

Mission of the Graduate Program in Public Policy

The mission of the graduate program in Public Policy is to provide students with the advanced skills necessary to assess the performance of alternative approaches to policy making and implementation, evaluate program effectiveness, understand the political constraints faced by policymakers, and appreciate the conflicts in fundamental human values that often animate policy debate. After completing the graduate core curriculum, students apply these skills by focusing their studies in a two-quarter, 10-unit practicum for the M.P.P. degree or a 5-unit master's thesis for the M.A. degree. Each student in the M.P.P. program also completes at least one concentration tailored to the student's primary degree program or the student's interests and skills. Current concentrations include:

  • Computational Public Policy

  • Education Policy

  • Health Care Policy

  • International and National Security Policy

  • Legal and Regulatory Intervention

  • Political and Moral Philosophy

  • Resources, Environment, and Energy Policy

  • Science and Technology Policy

  • Self-designed (requires detailed statement of study goals, relationship of each proposed course to those goals, and commitment by a supervising faculty member)

  • Urban and Regional Policy

Graduate Degrees Offered

The graduate program in Public Policy offers two master's degrees:

  • Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.), a two-year professional degree program; available to current Stanford students and Stanford alumni (who have graduated within the past five years)

  • Master of Arts (M.A.), a one-year program, not intended as a professional degree; available to current Stanford students

Joint Degree Programs

The following joint degree programs, which permit students to complete requirements for two degrees with a reduced number of total residency units, are also offered:

  • Juris Doctor with a Master of Public Policy (J.D./M.P.P.)

  • Juris Doctor with an M.A. in Public Policy (J.D./M.A.)

  • Doctor of Medicine with a Master of Public Policy (M.D./M.P.P.)

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Economics, Education, Management Science and Engineering, Psychology, Sociology or Structural Biology with a Master of Public Policy (Ph.D./M.P.P.)

  • Master of Business Administration with a Master of Public Policy (M.B.A./M.P.P.)

  • Master of Arts in Education (Policy, Organization, and Leadership subplan) with a Master of Public Policy (M.A./M.P.P.)

  • Master of Arts in International Policy with a Master of Public Policy (M.A./M.P.P.)

  • Master of Science in Management Science and Engineering with a Master of Public Policy (M.S./M.P.P.)

Requirements for the joint degrees differ from the requirements of completing the two degrees separately. See the Master's Degrees in Public Policy section for more details.

University requirements for the master's degree are described in the Graduate Degrees section of this Bulletin.

Learning Outcomes (Graduate)

The purpose of the master's program is to develop knowledge and skills in public policy and to prepare students for a professional career or doctoral studies. This is achieved through completion of courses, in the primary field as well as related areas, and experience with independent work and specialization.

The M.P.P. or M.A. degree is conferred upon candidates who have demonstrated substantial scholarship and the ability to conduct independent research and analysis in public policy. Through completion of advanced course work and rigorous skills training, the graduate program prepares students to make original contributions to the knowledge of public policy and to interpret and present the results of such research.

Graduate Certificate in Policy Analysis

The Stanford Public Policy Program offers a graduate "Certificate in Policy Analysis" for current Stanford graduate students. This highly flexible 25-unit program is designed for students who are interested in policy but may not be able to complete a formal one or two-year policy degree. The program's coursework provides a solid background in economics and quantitative methods, political analysis, ethics, and writing for policy audiences. 

These courses will equip students with a set of skills necessary to design and evaluate policies, conduct research, and advocate policy solutions. The certificate provides formal recognition for a coherent plan of policy studies. In addition to completing coursework, students will produce a final paper reflecting on the policy lessons from their time in the program. Upon completion of the program, a certificate is provided. Note that the certificate is not included on the diploma or transcript. Grading policy: students may take two courses for a non-letter grade, in addition to the one-unit required colloquium course. The remaining courses must be taken for a letter grade. 

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Master analytical tools for evaluating public policies and programs in terms of their absolute and comparative efficacy in achieving social objectives.

  • Participate in policy and political discussion as citizens and as professionals in a variety of fields.

  • Appreciate the complexity of large organizations as it relates to the implementation of public programs.

  • Understand the conflicts in ethical and value commitments that pervade public policy issues. 

How to Apply

The application to the Certificate in Policy Analysis is available here and can be submitted at any time. Upon submission, a member of the Public Policy program staff will contact the applicant to confirm the course plan and answer any questions. The certificate is only available for currently enrolled graduate student. 


Course List


Required Courses - 13 Units total


Microeconomics for Policy



Applied Econometrics for Public Policy (or equivalent course)



Economic Policy Analysis for Policymakers


or course

Economic Policy Analysis


Public Policy Colloquium (one quarter)


Course List

Required Courses with Selection Options - 8 units total


Writing and Rhetoric for Policy Audiences


or course

Justice in Public Policy


Political Analysis for Public Policymakers


or course

Science and Technology Policy

Course List

Optional Course(s) - 4 units total


Law and Economics



Economic Analysis of Law



Public Policy Colloquium



Problem Solving and Decision Making for Public Policy and Social Change



Director: Gregory L. Rosston (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research)

Director of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies: Gregory L. Rosston (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research)

Directors of Graduate Practicum Program: Joe Nation and Christine Pal Chee (Public Policy)

Director of Domestic Policy Studies and Lecturer: Lanhee J. Chen (Public Policy and Hoover Institution)

Director of Honors Program and Lecturer: Marcelo Clerici-Arias (Economics and Public Policy)

Executive Committee Chair: Mark Duggan (Economics, SIEPR)

Executive Committee: Laurence Baker (Medicine), Jonathan Bendor (Graduate School of Business), David Brady (Political Science, Hoover Institution, Graduate School of Business, SIEPR), Paul Brest (Law), Bruce Cain (Political Science, Bill Lane Center for the American West), Samuel Chiu (Management Science and Engineering),  Thomas Dee (Graduate School of Education), Rebecca Diamond (Graduate School of Business), Judith Goldstein (Political Science), David Grusky (Sociology), Deborah Hensler (Law), Roger Noll (Economics, emeritus, SIEPR), Bruce Owen (Public Policy, emeritus, SIEPR),  Gregory Rosston (SIEPR), Paul Oyer (Graduate School of Business), Debra Satz (Philosophy), John Shoven (SIEPR, Economics), Christine Min Wotipka (Graduate School of Education)

Affiliated Faculty: William Abrams (Human Biology), Donald Barr (Medicine), Jonathan Bendor (Graduate School of Business), Eric Bettinger (Education), Jayanta Bhattacharya (Medicine), Lisa Blaydes (Political Science), Adam Bonica (Political Science), Michael J. Boskin (Economics, Hoover Institution), Paul Brest (Law), Jeremy Bulow (Graduate School of Business), Bruce Cain (Political Science, Bill Lane Center for the American West), Eamonn Callan (Education), Martin Carnoy (Education), John Cogan (Hoover Institution), Larry Diamond (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Hoover Institution), Lawrence Friedman (Law), Francis Fukuyama (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Lawrence Goulder (Economics, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Justin Grimmer (Political Science), Stephen Haber (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Deborah Hensler (Law), Pamela Hinds (Management Science and Engineering), Daniel Ho (Law), Nicholas Hope (Stanford Center for International Development), Caroline Hoxby (Economics, Hoover Institution, SIEPR), Hakeem Jefferson (Political Science), Daniel Kessler (Law, Hoover Institution, Graduate School of Business), Pete Klenow (Economics), Stephen Krasner (Political Science, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Hoover Institution), Jon A. Krosnick (Communication, Political Science), Mark Lemley (Law),  Thomas MaCurdy (Economics, Hoover Institution), David Magnus (Medicine), Milbrey McLaughlin (Education), Terry Moe (Political Science, Hoover Institution),  A. Mitchell Polinsky (Law), Walter Powell (Education), Robert Reich (Political Science), Lee Ross (Psychology), Baba Shiv (Graduate School of Business), Ken Shotts (Graduate School of Business), Stephan Stedman (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Jeff Strnad (Law), Barton Thompson (Law, Woods Institute, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Michael Tomz (Political Science, SIEPR),Milana Trounce (Medicine), Michael Wald (Law), Greg Walton (Psychology), Barry Weingast (Political Science, Hoover Institution), John Weyant (Management Science and Engineering), Frank Wolak (Economics, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Cristobal Young (Sociology)

Lecturers: Newsha Ajami (Woods Institute), Tanya Beder (Law), Frank Benest (Public Policy), David Crane (Public Policy, SIEPR), Dennis Gale (Urban Studies), Russell Hancock (Public Policy), Preeti Hehmeyer (Public Policy, Bill Lane Center for the American West), Adrienne Jamieson (Bing Stanford in Washington), Lawrence Litvak (Public Policy, Urban Studies), Susan Liautaud (Public Policy), Eva Meyersson Milgrom (SIEPR, Sociology), Christine Pal Chee (Public Policy),  Patrick Windham (Public Policy)

Graduate Advising Expectations

The Program in Public Policy is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the adviser and the advisee. As a best practice, advising expectations should be periodically discussed and reviewed to ensure mutual understanding. Both the adviser and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity.

All graduate students must submit a signed faculty adviser form by the end of their first quarter. The form is available on the Graduate forms website. The adviser need not be affiliated with the Public Policy Program, but does need to be a member of Stanford's Academic Council.  The Director and student services staff can assist by providing individualized support in identifying a faculty adviser, if necessary. 

Faculty advisers guide students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing of teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways.

Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program. Students are encouraged to communicate clearly and frequently with their adviser. 

For a statement of University policy on graduate advising, see the Graduate Advising section of this bulletin.