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This archived information is dated to the 2011-12 academic year only and may no longer be current.

For currently applicable policies and information, see the current Stanford Bulletin.

Coterminal M.A. in Public Policy

The coterminal M.A. in Public Policy is a structured 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 coterminal M.A. is also a gateway to the M.P.P. degree program. Coterminal students in any program may apply for admission to the M.P.P. program after one quarter. Most students complete their M.A. in a fifth year at Stanford; occasionally students may be able to complete their B.A. and coterminal M.A. in the fourth year.

Application and Admission

There are three application deadlines for the 2012-13 academic year: November 16, 2011; February 22, 2012; and April 25, 2012. Seniors wishing to apply to the coterminal program must apply by the November or February deadlines.

To apply for admission to the Public Policy coterminal M.A. program, students should submit the following materials directly to the Public Policy office:

  1. the coterminal application
  2. 1-2 page statement of purpose
  3. one-page resume
  4. a preliminary program proposal
  5. a current unofficial undergraduate transcript
  6. two confidential letters of recommendation from Stanford faculty members familiar with the student's academic work.

Applicants will be contacted for an interview. All applicants should have completed, or be currently enrolled in, required preparatory course work (MATH 51, POLISCI 2, ECON 1A, 1B, 50, 51, 52, 102A and 102B) prior to application.

University regulations govern both the coterminal M.A. degree application process and the requirements for the degree. Undergraduates with strong academic records may apply for admission upon completion of 120 units, but no later than the quarter prior to the expected completion of the undergraduate degree. The University requires that units for a given course may not be counted to meet the requirements of more than one degree; that is, no units may be double-counted. No courses taken more than two quarters prior to admission to the coterminal master's program may be used to meet the 45-unit University minimum requirement for the master's degree.

The University requirements for the coterminal M.A. are described in the "Coterminal Bachelor's and Master's Degrees" section of this Bulletin. For University coterminal degree program rules and University application forms, also see


To graduate with a coterminal M.A. in Public Policy, students must:

  1. Take all courses applied to the coterminal master's degree for a letter grade (with the exception of PUBLPOL 311, which is only offered C/NC). For courses with variable units, coterminal students in their graduate career should enroll in the course for 4 units. No units are counted for courses in which a student earns a grade less than 'B-'. Courses offered only for C/NC or other non-letter grade system may be applied upon approval of a petition to the program director.
  2. Achieve a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) or better for all courses taken towards the M.A.
  3. Comply with all relevant University and program deadlines and policies.
  4. Students seeking the coterminal M.A. in Public Policy follow one of two tracks (A or B) through the program, as described below.
  5. Students who apply successfully to the M.P.P. program must transfer all applicable M.A. units to the M.P.P. program.
Track A

For students who have completed, or will complete, the Public Policy core course curriculum. Track A consists of at least 45 units of course work:

  1. 27 or more units in an area of concentration. There are six concentrations:
    • Health Policy
    • Education Policy
    • International Policy
    • Regulatory Policy
    • Environmental Policy
    • Science and Technology Policy

    Each concentration includes a set of required core courses and a variety of electives. Students must present a coherent written study plan to support concentration course choices, designed in consultation with a faculty adviser and approved by the program director.

  2. 4 or 5 units of applied econometrics (ECON 102C, ECON 103, ECON 104, STATS 202, or PUBLPOL 303C).
  3. PUBLPOL 302A. Introduction to American Law.
  4. All Public Policy graduate students are required to attend three quarters of PUBLPOL 311, Public Policy Colloquium, and enroll for 1 unit during any quarter of their choosing. Attendance and participation are mandatory.
  5. Completion of a 10-unit practicum or a faculty-supervised internship or thesis.
  6. 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).
  7. Track A students must also complete ECON 52, which does not count toward the 45 units.
  8. 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 major requirements.
Track B

For students who will not complete the Public Policy core curriculum. Track B consists of at least 45 units of core subjects in the analysis of public policy.

  1. The following preparatory courses are required, but do not count toward the 45-units:
    • ECON 1A, 1B, 50, 51, 52, 102A, 102B
    • MATH 51
    • POLISCI 2 or equivalent
  2. The following core courses are required and do count toward the required 45 units:
    • PUBLPOL 201. Politics and Public Policy or PUBLPOL 304A. Politics and Collective Action
    • PUBLPOL 301A. Microeconomics
    • PUBLPOL 202. Organizations and Public Policy or MS&E 180. Organizations: Theory and Management
    • PUBLPOL 307. Justice
    • PUBLPOL 301B. Cost-Benefit Analysis and Evaluation or PUBLPOL 204. Economic Policy Analysis
    • PUBLPOL 302A. Introduction to American Law
    • ECON 102C, ECON 103, ECON 104, STATS 202, PUBLPOL 303B, or PUBLPOL 303C .
    • PUBLPOL 206. Economics of Legal Rules and Institutions or PUBLPOL 302B. Economic Analysis of Law
    • PUBLPOL 305A. Judgment and Decision Making or PUBLPOL 305B. Social Psychology and Social Change
  3. All Public Policy graduate students are required to attend three quarters of PUBLPOL 311, Public Policy Colloquium, and enroll for 1 unit during any quarter of their choosing. Attendance and participation are mandatory.
  4. Students should petition to count additional advanced policy skills courses 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).

Coterminal M.A. students must meet with their faculty adviser upon acceptance to the program. For Track A students, advisers must confirm that the courses proposed are likely to be taught during the applicable period, or that appropriate substitute courses are available. Public Policy student services will verify scheduling of courses.

Financial Aid

The Public Policy Program does not provide financial assistance to coterminal students. For information on student loans and other sources of support, please consult the Stanford Financial Aid Office. Students who enter public service employment with local, state, or federal agencies, schools, or certain non-for-profit organizations may obtain forgiveness for educational loans, based on years of public service employment.

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