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M.A. Degree Program

Arches in the Stanford Main Quad

The Master of Arts degree in International Policy Studies (IPS) is a two-year, full time program that supports students to develop knowledge and skills to prepare for professional careers in international policy. The program is interdisciplinary in nature, and students are encouraged to pursue coursework that spans academic fields at Stanford. The M.A. degree is earned through completion of core coursework and depth of study in an area of concentration.  

The five areas of concentration are:

Academic Overview

Year 1

Students take a broad range of courses designed to build a foundation of core policy skills:

  • Concentration gateway course

  • Policy writing

  • Statistics

  • Econometrics

  • International economics

  • Advanced economics

  • Decision making

  • Justice

Year 2

Students complete coursework in their declared concentration.  In addition, they will take the practicum course, working in teams to provide real-world clients with policy recommendations on current global issues.  

  • Concentration electives

  • Practicum


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:

  • IPS Director's Seminar

  • Four courses in the quantitative core

  • Four courses in the skills core

  • Six or more courses in the area of concentration, including the gateway course

  • Practicum or master's thesis

The minimum number of units required to graduate is 73.  

Official degree requirements can be found in the University Bulletin.
Course descriptions can be found in Explore Courses.

Prerequisite Coursework

The IPS program requires the completion of five prerequisite courses prior to matriculation:

  • Microeconomics

  • Macroeconomics

  • Statistics

  • International finance*

  • International trade*

*International trade and international finance are often covered in a single international economics course.  

Prerequisite courses may be taken at community colleges, four-year institutions, or through online courses. All courses must be taken for a letter grade.  Proof of completion, which is usually verified by a transcript, is required.

Completion of prerequisite coursework is not required to apply. However, we encourage you to begin taking these courses as soon as possible so you can complete all five prior to matriculation.

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


Please read through Frequently Asked Questions for additional details.