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Office: Encina Hall West, 616 Jane Stanford Way, First Floor
Mail Code: 94305-6050
Phone: 650-725-0109
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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 Joint Degrees Programs website for more details.

University requirements for the master's degree are described on the Graduate Student Policies website.

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 students. More information about the required courses can be found on the certificate website.


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

Deputy Director: Christine Pal Chee (Public Policy)

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

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

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), Bruce Cain (Political Science, Bill Lane Center for the American West), Thomas Dee (Graduate School of Education), Rebecca Diamond (Graduate School of Business), Mark Duggan (Economics, SIEPR), Judith Goldstein (Political Science), David Grusky (Sociology), Deborah Hensler (Law), Gregory Rosston (SIEPR), Debra Satz (Philosophy), Christine Min Wotipka (Graduate School of Education)

Affiliated Faculty: Donald Barr (Medicine), Jonathan Bendor (Graduate School of Business), Eric Bettinger (Education), Jayanta Bhattacharya (Medicine), Michael J. Boskin (Economics, Hoover Institution), Timothy Bresnahan (Economics) Bruce Cain (Political Science, Bill Lane Center for the American West), Eamonn Callan (Education), James Campbell (History), Martin Carnoy (Education), Christine Pal Chee (Public Policy), Lanhee Chen (Hoover Institute), John Cogan (Hoover Institution), Thomas Dee (Graduate School of Education), Larry Diamond (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Hoover Institution), Rebecca Diamond (Graduate School of Business), Mark Duggan (Economics, SIEPR), Karen Eggleston (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), James Fearon (Political Science), Lawrence Friedman (Law School), Francis Fukuyama (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Judith Goldstein (Political Science), Mark Granovetter (Sociology), Henry T. Greely (Law School), Joseph Grundfest (Law School), David Grusky (Sociology), Stephen Haber (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Russell Hancock (Public Policy), Eric Hanusheck (Hoover Institution), Deborah Hensler (Law), Pamela Hinds (Management Science and Engineering), Daniel Ho (Law), Caroline Hoxby (Economics, Hoover Institution, SIEPR), Hakeem Jefferson (Political Science), Pete Klenow (Economics), William Koski (Law School), Mark Lemley (Law School), Jonathan Levin (Graduate School of Business), Lawrence Litvak, Thomas MaCurdy (Economics, Hoover Institution), Pamela Matson (Earth System Science), Terry Moe (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Thomas Mullaney (History), Norman Naimark (History), Joe Nation (Public Policy), Stephen Palumbi (Woods Institute for the Environment), Erica Plambeck (Graduate School of Business), A. Mitchell Polinsky (Law), Walter Powell (Education), Sean Reardon (Graduate School of Education), Rob Reich (Political Science), Gregory Rosston (SIEPR), Debra Satz (Philosophy), Kenneth Schultz (Political Science), Baba Shiv (Graduate School of Business), C. Matthew Snipp (Sociology), James Strnad (Law School), James Sweeney (Management Science and Engineering), Mark Tendall (Economics), Barton Thompson (Law, Woods Institute, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Milana Trounce (Medicine), Jeanne L. Tsai (Psychology), Michael Wald (Law), Greg Walton (Psychology), Michael Wara (Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment), Allen S. Weiner (Law School), Barry Weingast (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Jeremy Weinstein (Political Science), John Weyant (Management Science and Engineering), Patrick Windham (Public Policy), Frank Wolak (Economics, Freeman Spogli Institute for International , Christine Min Wotipka (Graduate School of Education), Amy Zegart (Freeman Spolgi Institute for International Studies)

Lecturers: Frank Benest (Public Policy), Bradley Boyd (Hoover Research), Jeremy Bulow (Graduate School of Business), Christine Pal Chee (Public Policy), David Crane (Public Policy, SIEPR), Russell Hancock (Public Policy), Preeti Hehmeyer (California Research Policy Initiative), Adrienne Jamieson (Bing Stanford in Washington), Lawrence Litvak (Public Policy, Urban Studies), Susan Liautaud (Public Policy), Jialu Streeter (Research Scholar, SIEPR), Joe Nation (Public Policy), Patrick Windham (Public Policy)