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Program History

Stanford Quad on a sunny day

Stanford University established a master’s program in International Policy Studies (IPS) in 1982 to train future leaders in the analysis and management of policy issues.  

In 2005, IPS was endowed as the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies, following a generous gift by Susan Ford Dorsey to the University’s International Initiative.  FSI Senior Fellow Stephen Stedman was appointed director of IPS and asked to design a new two-year IPS degree program.  Prior to his appointment, Dr. Stedman had been on leave from Stanford, serving as Assistant Secretary-General and Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, with responsibility for working with governments to adopt recommendations for strengthening collective security and for implementing changes within the United Nations Secretariat.

The two-year IPS program is designed to build on Stanford’s strengths.  Students take core courses in political science, economics, and international relations, while developing a specialization.  Students can concentrate on international finance and trade; economic and political development; security; energy and environment; or global health. Each area of concentration is linked to a research center at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).  In the second-year capstone Practicum course, students consult to real-world clients.  IPS also offers access to courses at the Graduate School of Business, School of Law, and School of Engineering, as well as the      

Dr. Kathryn Stoner, senior fellow at FSI and its Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, has served as director of IPS since 2010.  Dr. Stoner, who specializes in post-Soviet Russia, has introduced several new programs, including the IPS Student Association (IPSSA), the Practicum Travel Fund to support students’ international research, and the IPS Second-Year Research Assistantship Program to fund and match students with FSI faculty research projects.  The dual IPS M.A./M.B.A. degree program, launched under Dr. Stoner’s directorship, joins existing joint degree programs with the Stanford Law School and the Public Policy Program.  The Stanford-Vienna Exchange Program, inaugurated during Dr. Stoner’s tenure, supports the exchange of two students from IPS and the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna.

Since 1982, IPS has graduated nearly 700 students with Master of Arts degrees in International Policy Studies.