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Graduate Program

The Graduate Program in Public Policy offers two master's degrees:

  • Master of Public Policy (MPP), a two-year program leading to a professional degree;
  • Master of Arts (MA), a one-year program not intended as a professional degree.

The MPP is available to current Stanford seniors and graduate students, Stanford alumni (who have graduated within the past 5 years), and external applicants seeking a joint degree. The MA is available to current Stanford graduate students.

The purpose of the master's program is to further 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 MPP or MA 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.

Curriculum Requirements

Core Coursework

  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. Select one of the following courses (3-5 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. Note: Public Policy staff will work with the SLS to enroll students)
    • ECON 137: Decision Modeling and Information
    • SUSTAIN 242: Negotiations (3 units)
  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 Public Policymakers (4 units)
  9. PUBLPOL 311: Public Policy Colloquium (2 units, 1 unit/quarter for 2 quarters)
  10. PUBLPOL 314: Justice in Public Policy (4 units)

* For MPP students, required in first year prior to enrollment in PUBLPOL 309, Practicum.

For law classes, fill out a non-law student registration form to enroll and contact Kelly Walsh for specific details on enrollment. 



  1.  All units must be taken in upper division (100-level) courses per university policy.
  2. All courses are to be taken 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. 
  3. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better is required for all courses taken towards the MA or MPP. 
  4. 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.
  5. Colloquium: All Public Policy graduate students are required to attend and enroll in two quarters of PUBLPOL 311 Public Policy Colloquium (2 units) during their first year of the program. Attendance and participation are mandatory.
  6. Practicum (MPP 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.
  7. 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 advisor 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 advisor. Prior MA theses are published in the Stanford Digital Repository and may be viewed there.
  8. 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 advisor 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.
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.