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Coterminal Program

The coterminal M.A. in Public Policy is a degree 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. 

The Public Policy Program's coterminal MA degree is available to undergraduates whether or not they major in Public Policy. This coterminal degree responds to the need for an intellectually-rigorous pathway for undergraduates from diverse backgrounds to approach public service. Most students complete their MA in a fifth year at Stanford, though it is possible to complete an undergraduate and coterminal program in fewer than fifteen quarters. The program offers three tracks, depending on a student's undergraduate major. Each track includes a variety of courses from fields related to public policy and allows students to use electives or a concentration to specialize in a specific field of policy analysis.

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.

The coterminal MA is also a gateway to the MPP degree program. Earning the MA and MPP typically takes at least five years. Students considering this option should be familiar with the University's coterminal degree policies and procedures and should consult the director and staff of the Public Policy Program early in their planning.

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Prerequisites

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 (not required for Track C applicants)
  • ECON 102A: Introduction to Statistical Methods (Postcalculus) for Social Scientists (not required for Track C applicants)
  • ECON 102B: Applied Econometrics (not required for Track C applicants)

Track Requirements

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

Track A for Public Policy Majors

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.

Concentration

Public Policy Track A coterm students must complete 29 or more units in an area of concentration. The concentration is referred to 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

Additional Requirements

Colloquium

All Public Policy graduate students are required to attend and enroll in three quarters of PUBLPOL 311 Public Policy Colloquium. Attendance and participation are mandatory.

Capstone

Completion of PUBLPOL 309 Practicum or a faculty-supervised internship or PUBLPOL 310 thesis.

Decision Making

Completion of one decision-making course:

  • LAW 7508: Problem Solving and Decision Making for Public Policy and Social Change (preferred choice)
  • GSBGEN 646: Behavioral Decision Making
  • ECON 137: Decision Modeling and Information
  • OB 381: Conflict Management and Negotiation

Concentration Courses and Electives

All 45 units must be taken in upper division (100-level) courses, and at least 25 of those units must be at the graduate level (200-level and above).  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. 

Transitioning to MPP

Track A students who are accepted into the M.P.P. program take advanced courses in those subjects where the standard M.P.P. curriculum would duplicate undergraduate coursework.

Track B: Economics Majors

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.

  • ECON 150: Economic Policy Analysis (fulfills the PUBLPOL 204 or PUBLPOL 301B requirement)
  • ECON 154: Law and Economics (fulfills the PUBLPOL 206 or PUBLPOL 302B requirement)
  • ECON 102C: Advanced Topics in Econometrics (fulfills the ECON 102C, PUBLPOL 205, PUBLPOL 157, PUBLPOL 303B, or PUBLPOL 303D requirement)

Core Courses

Students must complete one course from each of the following categories. Each course must be taken for 4 units, with the exception of the advanced econometrics requirement.

Politics

Law and Economics

Economic Analysis

Decision Making

  • LAW 7508: Problem Solving and Decision Making for Public Policy and Social Change*
  • GSBGEN 646: Behavioral Decision Making
  • ECON 137: Decision Modeling and Information
  • OB 381: Conflict Management and Negotiation

Political and Moral Philosophy

Organizations

Applied Econometrics

  • ECON 102C: Advanced Topics in Econometrics
  • ECON 102D: Econometric Methods for Public Policy Analysis and Business Decision-Making
  • PUBLPOL 205: Empirical Methods in Public Policy**
  • PUBLPOL 303D: Applied Econometrics for Public Policy
  • STATS 202: Data Mining and Analysis

*Preferred decision analysis course for Public Policy students

**Preferred econometrics course for Public Policy students

Additional Requirements

Concentration

Complete a concentration of at least 15 units, under the guidance of a faculty adviser and the Public Policy program director. Advisers must confirm that the courses proposed are likely to be taught during the applicable period, or that appropriate substitute courses are available. All units must be taken in upper division (100-level) courses.  Students may refer to the Concentrations Page for a selection of pre-approved elective courses. Note that this list is not exhaustive. Public Policy student services staff can verify scheduling of courses. The faculty advisor must be a member of the Academic Council.  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. 

Colloquium

All Public Policy graduate students are required to attend and enroll in three quarters of PUBLPOL 311: Public Policy Colloquium. Attendance and participation are mandatory.

Electives

Students must petition to count additional advanced policy skills courses (if needed) to meet the 45-unit degree requirement. All 45 units must be taken in upper division (100+ level) courses and at least 25 of those units must be taken at the graduate level (200-level and above).

Track C: All Other Majors

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.

Core Courses

Economics and Statistics

  • PUBLPOL 301A: Microeconomics for Policy (only required for students who have not completed ECON 51 or ECON 52 during undergraduate)
  • ECON 102A: Introduction to Statistical Methods  (only required for students who have not previously completed during undergraduate)

Students must complete one course from each of the following categories:

Politics

Law and Economics

Economic Analysis

Decision Making

  • LAW 7508: Problem Solving and Decision Making for Public Policy and Social Change*
  • GSBGEN 646: Behavioral Decision Making
  • ECON 137: Decision Modeling and Information
  • OB 381: Conflict Management and Negotiation

*Preferred decision analysis course for Public Policy students

Political and Moral Philosophy

Organizations

Applied Econometrics

  • ECON 102C: Advanced Topics in Econometrics
  • ECON 102D: Econometric Methods for Public Policy Analysis and Business Decision-Making
  • PUBLPOL 205: Empirical Methods in Public Policy**
  • PUBLPOL 303D: Applied Econometrics for Public Policy ***
  • STATS 202: Data Mining and Analysis

**Preferred econometrics course for Public Policy students who took ECON 102B as an undergraduate

***Recommended for students who did not take ECON 102B as an undergraduate

Additional Requirements

Concentration

Complete a concentration of at least 15 units, under the guidance of a faculty adviser and the Public Policy program director. For students who take PUBLPOL 301A and ECON 102A in Track C, a concentration is not required. Advisers must confirm that the courses proposed are likely to be taught during the applicable period, or that appropriate substitute courses are available. All units must be taken in upper division (100-level) courses. Students may refer to the Concentrations Page for Track A coterm students, for a selection of pre-approved elective courses. Public Policy student services staff can verify scheduling of courses. The faculty advisor must be a member of the Academic Council.

 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. 

Colloquium

All Public Policy graduate students are required to attend and enroll in three quarters of PUBLPOL 311: Public Policy Colloquium. Attendance and participation are mandatory.

Electives

Students must petition to count additional advanced policy skills courses (if needed) to meet the 45-unit degree requirement. All 45 units must be taken in upper division (100+ level) courses and at least 25 of those units must be taken at the graduate level (200-level and above).

Graduation Requirements

Graduation Requirements

  1. Take all courses for a letter grade (see exception for 2020-21). 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. 
  2. Secure a faculty advisor 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. 
  3. Achieve a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better for all courses taken towards the MA.
  4. If admitted to the MPP, coterminal MA students must transfer all applicable units to the MPP degree.
  5. Comply with all relevant University and program deadlines and policies.
Grading Policy 2020-21

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.