International Policy Studies

What You'll Study

The Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies trains leaders who will influence policy in international trade and finance, security, political and economic development, energy and the environmnent, and global health.  IPS was founded in 1982 and became a two-year program in 2005.  

The IPS program combines a rigorous scholarly focus with practical training designed to prepare students for careers in public service and other settings where they can have an impact on international issues.  The program is designed to integrate perspectives from political science, law, economics, history, and other disciplines while also incorporating research opportunities and a focus on implementation and administration of solutions addressing global problems.  

Distinctive aspects of the IPS program include a heavily subsidized spring break policy trip (2015 – Myanmar, with faculty leader Don Emmerson; 2014 – Argentina, with faculty leader Francis Fukuyama; 2013 – Rwanda, with faculty leader James Fearon), a funded summer internship between the first and second year of the program, and a second-year capstone practicum exercise where students serve as consulting teams for real-world clients.  Past practicum clients include the World Bank, the US Department of State, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and the Asian Development Bank, etc.  

The program is small (20-25 students per incoming class) and diverse with 50% of the students coming from outside of the U.S. 

Students receive a Master of Arts degree in International Policy Studies.  

Degree Requirements

To earn the M.A. degree in International Policy Studies, students must complete the courses listed in the curriculum below. These requirements include:

  • Two courses in the global core
  • Four courses in the quantitative core
  • Four courses in the skills core
  • Six courses in the area of concentration, including the gateway course
  • The practicum or master's thesis

The minimum number of units required to graduate is 73.  

During the first year of the program, students must complete required coursework in statistics, econometrics, international economics, advanced economics, international relations theory, policy writing, and an introductory (gateway) course in the area of concentration. During the second year of the program, students are required to complete either the practicum or master's thesis during Autumn and Winter Quarters.  Only students with two or more years of relevant policy work may petition to write a master's thesis.  

Language Requirement

In order to earn the M.A. degree in International Policy Studies, students must be proficient in a foreign language.  Foreign language proficiency can be demonstrated by:

  • Completion of three years of university-level coursework in a foreign language (verified by a transcript)
  • Passing an oral and written proficiency exam at Stanford prior to graduation
  • Status as a non-native English speaker

Prerequisite Course Work

The IPS program requires the completion of five prerequisites courses prior to matriculation. These are microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, international trade and international finance. International trade and international finance are often covered in a single international economics course.  Prerequisite courses may be taken at community colleges, at four-year institutions, or through online courses, and must be taken for a letter grade.  Proof of completion, which is usually verified by a transcript, is required.  Please see the Stanford Bulletin for complete information.

Degrees Offered: