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Bulletin Archive

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.

Master's Degrees in Public Policy

The program offers two master's programs in Public Policy. The Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) is a two-year professional degree and the Master of Arts in Public Policy (M.A.) is a one-year non-professional degree.

Currently-enrolled students in other Stanford graduate programs or applicants to those programs may apply for either of the Public Policy master's programs. Stanford undergraduates may apply for the coterminal M.A. in Public Policy and then, after one quarter, apply to the M.P.P. program, using the Graduate Program Authorization Petition. The same is true for coterminal master's students in any program. Students accepted to the M.P.P. program withdraw from the M.A. degree program and complete the requirements for the 90-unit M.P.P. degree. This does not reduce the total number of units required for the bachelor's or master's degrees. Earning the B.A. and M.P.P. 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 of the Public Policy program early in their planning.

All Public Policy master's programs, with the exception of the J.D./M.A., require at least one year of study at Stanford beyond the requirements for the other joint or dual degree.

  1. Public Policy Joint Degrees. Students enrolled in or applying to certain degree programs in the Schools of Business, Education, Engineering, Humanities and Sciences, and Law are eligible to apply for Public Policy joint degrees.
    • Juris Doctor and Master of Public Policy (J.D./M.P.P.)
    • Juris Doctor and Master of Arts of Public Policy (J.D./M.A.)
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Master of Public Policy (Ph.D./M.P.P.)
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Economics and Master of Public Policy (Ph.D./M.P.P.)
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Management Science & Engineering and Master of Public Policy (Ph.D./M.P.P.)
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology and Master of Public Policy (Ph.D./M.P.P.)
    • Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology and Master of Public Policy (Ph.D./M.P.P.)
    • Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy (M.B.A./M.P.P.)
    • Master of Arts in International Policy Studies and Master of Public Policy (M.A./M.P.P.)
    • Master of Science in Management Science & Engineering and Master of Public Policy (M.S./M.P.P.)

      For further information, see the "Joint Degree Programs" section of this bulletin and the University Registrar's site.

  2. Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) and Master of Arts in Public Policy (M.A.) Dual Degrees

    Any other Stanford graduate student (i.e., not covered in '1' above) is eligible to apply for a dual degree, either the M.P.P. or the M.A. in Public Policy, in addition to the degree program in which they are currently enrolled.


Graduate students in Public Policy are expected to be literate in mathematics and microeconomics at a level equivalent to MATH 51 and ECON 50 before beginning the curriculum. A no-credit refresher course in mathematics and economics is offered in the two weeks preceding the start of Autumn Quarter.

Application and Admissions

Applications for graduate study in Public Policy are accepted only from students currently enrolled in any Stanford graduate degree program or from external applicants seeking a joint degree. Coterminal M.A. or M.S. students in any program are eligible to apply to the M.P.P. program once they complete one quarter of coterminal study, using the Graduate Program Authorization Petition for this purpose.

External applicants for joint degrees must apply to the department or school offering the other graduate degree (i.e., Ph.D., M.A., M.S., M.B.A., or J.D.), indicating an interest in the joint degree program; applicants admitted to the other degree program are then evaluated for admission to the M.P.P. or M.A. program.

Students currently enrolled in any Stanford graduate program may, with the consent of that program, apply either for the applicable joint degree program or for the dual M.P.P. or M.A. degree. To apply for admission for the Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.) or Master's of Arts in Public Policy (M.A.) degree program, graduate students should submit the following materials directly to the Public Policy office by April 13, 2012:

Applicants will be interviewed. If admitted, students will submit a Graduate Authorization Petition through Axess.


  1. Core Curriculum—

    All core courses must be taken for a letter grade and must be completed with an overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better.

    • PUBLPOL 301A. Microeconomics
    • PUBLPOL 301B. Cost-Benefit Analysis and Evaluation
    • PUBLPOL 302A. Introduction to American Law
    • PUBLPOL 302B. Economic Analysis of Law
    • PUBLPOL 303A. Political Methodology I
    • PUBLPOL 303B. Political Methodology II
    • PUBLPOL 304A. Politics and Collective Action
    • PUBLPOL 305A. Judgment and Decision Making
    • PUBLPOL 305B. Social Psychology and Social Change
    • PUBLPOL 306. Writing and Rhetoric for Policy Audiences (M.P.P. students only)
    • PUBLPOL 307. Justice
    • PUBLPOL 317. Comparing Institutional Forms
  2. Colloquium—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.
  3. Practicum (M.P.P. and Track A Coterminal M.A. students only)—Completion of the two quarter practicum course, PUBLPOL 309 (10 units, Autumn and Winter Quarters), and presentation of a report in which interdisciplinary student teams analyze real world policy issues for an outside client.
  4. Concentration (M.P.P. 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 adviser and the program director.
  5. Master's Thesis (M.A. students only)—All M.A. students must submit a 5-unit master's thesis, written under the guidance of an adviser who is a member of the Public Policy affiliated faculty on a topic approved in advance by the program director. Students give the program office the name of their thesis adviser during Autumn Quarter and enroll in PUBLPOL 310 during a quarter of their choosing. The 5 units may be spread over multiple quarters, and an 'N' (continuing course) grade is given during any quarters prior to Spring. The thesis must be submitted to the Public Policy Program office in both electronic and printed form no later than the last Friday in May. The final grade for PUBLPOL 310 is the M.A. thesis grade, which is determined solely by the thesis adviser.

M.P.P. and M.A. Degree Requirements

  1. All graduate degree candidates must submit a Master's Degree Program Proposal to the Public Policy office by the end of Autumn Quarter and must amend this proposal formally if plans for meeting the degree requirements change.
  2. Public Policy students are never required to repeat a course which duplicates material they have already mastered. Students may, by petition, substitute a different course for a core requirement whose material would be duplicative. This flexibility does not reduce the unit requirements for any degree.
  3. M.P.P. degree students are not permitted to enroll in PUBLPOL 309, Practicum, without having completed the following Core Courses: PUBLPOL 301A, 301B, 302B, 303A, 303B, 306.

Public Policy Joint Degree Requirements

  1. A joint degree is regarded by the University as distinct from either of its component degrees, and requirements for the joint degree generally differ from the sum of the requirements for the individual degrees.
  2. Up to a maximum of 45 units, or one year, of the University residency requirement can be credited toward both graduate degree programs (i.e., the joint degree requirements may contain up to 45 units less than the sum of the individual degree unit requirements). For example, a J.D./M.P.P. has a four-year residency requirement, one year less than the sum of the requirements for the separate degrees. This recognizes that there is a subject matter overlap between the fields comprising the joint degree.
  3. The Public Policy Program strives to encourage an intellectual, professional, and social community among its students. For this reason, joint degree students are expected to devote one year of full-time study at Stanford (usually the second) entirely to the Public Policy Program, rather than spacing Public Policy courses throughout their graduate careers. Unavoidable scheduling conflicts involving joint degree students may be mitigated by substitution of equivalent courses approved in advance by petition.
  4. Joint degree students are expected to have and to consult regularly with an academic adviser. The adviser is generally a member of the faculty of both degree programs. The program director is available to make adviser recommendations.
  5. In order to take advantage of the reduced residency requirement, joint M.P.P. students must define their area of concentration from among courses offered in their non-Public Policy program. Students wishing to concentrate in another field should apply for a dual, rather than a joint, MPP degree.

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