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Public Policy Faculty

Public Policy Faculty May 2019

Malcolm Taam

The coterminal M.A. in public policy is a structured program designed to impart the basic analytical tools of public policy analysis, or to permit public policy majors to specialize in an applied field of policy analysis. Most students will complete their M.A. in a fifth year at Stanford; occasionally students may be able to complete their B.A. and coterminal M.A. in the fourth year. The coterminal requirements list particular courses, but students are never required to take a course that substantially repeats material they have already mastered. Instead, students should submit a course petition form to substitute a more advanced course in the same field or a related or complementary course.


All applicants should have completed, or be currently enrolled in, required preparatory course work prior to application. These courses do not count towards the 45-unit M.A. requirement. Courses should be taken for a letter grade. 

  • ECON 1: Principles of Economics
  • MATH 51: Linear Algebra and Differential Calculus of Several Variables
  • ECON 50: Economic Analysis I
  • ECON 51: Economic Analysis II OR ECON 52: Economic Analysis III OR PUBLPOL 51: Microeconomics for Policy
  • ECON 102A: Introduction to Statistical Methods (Postcalculus) for Social Scientists
  • ECON 102B: Applied Econometrics

Track Requirements

Students seeking the coterminal M.A. in Public Policy follow one of three tracks through the program:

Track A

Track A is for students whose undergraduate major is Public Policy. This track allows students to complete an additional, upper-division concentration, or extend their undergraduate concentration. Students must also participate in a colloquium and a graduate-level practicum or write a masters thesis.

View full requirements

Track B

Track B is for students whose undergraduate major is Economics. Economics majors typically follow the requirements detailed in Track C; however, many Economics majors take courses for their major that also satisfy the content requirements of the Public Policy coterminal M.A. These courses, if taken for the undergraduate degree, can be used to fulfill content requirements, but not unit requirements, for the Public Policy coterminal M.A. In place of these courses, students may take advanced policy skills courses, or an approved (by petition) policy-related elective.

view requirements

Track C

Track C is for students whose undergraduate major is not Public Policy or Economics. This track gives students from other academic backgrounds exposure to the tools and frameworks of policy analysis through completion of a core of graduate-level public policy courses. Students must also in a one-unit colloquium for three quarters.

View full requirements

Graduation Requirements

To graduate with a coterminal M.A. in Public Policy, students must:

  1. The grading policy for 2020-21 has been modified due to the global pandemic per the following: The Public Policy program counts all courses taken in academic year 2020-21 with a grade of 'CR' (credit) or 'S' (satisfactory) towards satisfaction of graduate degree requirements that otherwise require a letter grade. While we understand the need for flexibility, we suggest Public Policy students take their courses for a letter grade whenever possible. 

  2. For courses with variable units, coterminal students in their graduate career should enroll in the course for 4 units. Courses offered only for C/NC or other non-letter grade system may be applied upon approval of a petition to the program director.  All units must be taken in upper division (100-level) courses.  NOTE:  If you plan to use any courses from your undergraduate degree for your coterminal masters degree, you must move the course(s) before your undergraduate degree is conferred. Fill out the Coterm Course Approval Form to move your course(s) from your undergraduate to graduate career. 
  3. Incomplete Course — Stanford policy states that students who plan to take an incomplete in a course must request to do so by the last class meeting. Faculty may determine whether to grant the request or not and may determine the conditions under which the incomplete is made up, including setting a deadline of less than one year. The "I" grade is restricted to cases in which the student has satisfactorily completed a substantial part of the course work. No credit will be given until the course is completed and a passing grade received. When a final grade is received, all reference to the initial "I" is removed. If Public Policy students receive an incomplete in a course for the degree, they must let the program know by the end of the quarter in which they are enrolled by contacting Kelly Walsh at 
  4. Secure a faculty adviser within the first two quarters enrolled in the coterminal M.A. degree program. The director, co-director, and student services staff can assist by suggesting suitable faculty advisers. The adviser need not be affiliated with the Public Policy program, but does need to be a member of Stanford's Academic Council.  Guidelines for Faculty-Student advising can be found here. 
  5. Achieve a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better for all courses taken towards the M.A.
  6. Coterminal M.A. students who are admitted to the M.P.P. must transfer all applicable M.A. units to the M.P.P. degree.
  7. Comply with all relevant University and program deadlines and policies.

Financial Aid

The Public Policy Program does not provide financial assistance to coterminal students. For information on student loans and other sources of support, please consult the Stanford Financial Aid Office. Students who enter public service employment with local, state, or federal agencies, schools, or certain not-for-profit organizations may obtain forgiveness for educational loans, based on years of public service employment. Additional links to financial aid resources, including emergency and other funding can be found on the Coterminal Resources page.