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Degree Requirements

  1. All graduate degree candidates must submit a Master's Degree Program Proposal to the Public Policy office by the end of Autumn Quarter and must amend this proposal formally if plans for meeting the degree requirements change.

  2. Public Policy students are never required to repeat a course that duplicates material they have already mastered. Students may, by petition, substitute a different course for a core requirement whose material would be duplicative. This flexibility does not reduce the unit requirements for any degree.

  3. All Public Policy graduate students must secure a faculty adviser within the first two quarters they are enrolled in the M.A. or M.P.P. degree program. The 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. To check the status of a faculty member, login to Stanford Who and after the faculty member's name, it will list if he or she is a Member of the Academic Council. Guidelines for faculty and student advising can be found on the VPGE site.

  4. MPP degree students are not permitted to enroll in PUBLPOL 309 Practicum without having completed the following core courses: PUBLPOL 301A Microeconomics, PUBLPOL 301B Cost-Benefit Analysis and Evaluation, ECON 102A Introduction to Statistical Methods (Postcalculus) for Social Scientists, PUBLPOL 303D Applied Econometrics for Public Policy, and PUBLPOL 306 Writing and Rhetoric for Policy Audiences.

Curriculum Requirements


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. 


All units must be taken in upper division (100-level) courses per university policy.

  1. PUBLPOL 301A: Microeconomics (4 units)
  2. ECON 102A: Introduction to Statistical Methods (Postcalculus) for Social Scientists (5 units)
  3. PUBLPOL 301B: Economic Policy Analysis for Policymakers (4 units)
  4. PUBLPOL 206: Law and Economics (4 units) or PUBLPOL 302B: Economic Analysis of Law (3 units)
  5. PUBLPOL 303D: Applied Econometrics for Public Policy (4 units)
  6. Select one of the following courses (3-5 units):
    • LAW 7508: Problem Solving and Decision Making for Public Policy and Social Change*Preferred Option
    • GSBGEN 646: Behavioral Decision Making
    • ECON 137: Decision Modeling and Information
    • OB 381: Conflict Management and Negotiation
  7. PUBLPOL 306: Writing and Rhetoric for Policy Audiences *Requirement for MPP students only; MA students may take as an elective (4 units)
  8. PUBLPOL 308: Political Analysis for Policymakers (4 units)
  9. PUBLPOL 311: Public Policy Colloquium (3 units)
  10. PUBLPOL 314: Justice in Public Policy (4 units)


  1. Coursework — Grading policy for 2020-21 has been modified. See above.  All units must be taken in upper division (100-level) courses per university policy.
  2. 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 
  3. At least two electives are taken during the first year. At least one must be from the Concentration Electives List. Elective courses offered only for C/NC or other non-letter grade system may be applied upon approval of a petition to the program director.
  4. Colloquium: All Public Policy graduate students are required to attend and enroll in three quarters of PUBLPOL 311 Public Policy Colloquium (3 units) during their first year of the program. Attendance and participation are mandatory.
  5. Practicum (MPP and Track A Coterminal MA students): Completion of the practicum course, PUBLPOL 309 Practicum (10 units, Autumn and Winter quarters), and presentation of a report in which interdisciplinary student teams analyze real world policy issues for outside clients. Visit the Practicum page for more information on the Practicum Program.
  6. Master's Thesis (non-coterminal M.A. students): Completion of a 5-unit master's thesis, written under the guidance of a Public Policy-affiliated faculty adviser who is a member of Academic Council on a topic approved in advance by the program director. Students need to enroll in the Master's thesis seminar PUBLPOL 310A in autumn quarter for 1 unit and submit a thesis proposal at the end of the quarter.  They will then enroll in PUBLPOL 310 for 4 additional units during quarter(s) of their choosing. The 4 units may be spread over multiple quarters, and an 'N' (continuing course) grade is given during any quarters prior to degree conferral. The thesis must be submitted to the Public Policy Program office in both electronic form no later than the third Friday in May. The final grade for PUBLPOL 310 Master of Arts Thesis is determined by the thesis adviser.
  7. Concentration (MPP students only): Advanced course work in a specialized field, chosen from the approved list of concentration courses with the prior approval of the student's faculty adviser and the program director. The Registrar will list your concentration as a "Degree Subplan." Subplans are printed on the transcript and diploma, and are elected via the Declaration or Change to a Field of Study form. Please see the concentrations page for more information.