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Two IPS students meet with refugees in western Ethiopia
Solving Real-World Policy Problems

The Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies (IPS) trains the next generation of leaders who will influence policy in international finance and trade, security, energy and environment, global health, and political and economic development. 
In the IPS Practicum, or two-quarter capstone course, student teams guided by Stanford faculty conduct policy analyses for real-world client organizations. Our students’ Practicum work has attracted media coverage from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and CNN.

Through the support of the IPS Practicum Travel Fund, students may conduct research and present to clients anywhere in the world. Since 2013, Practicum students have traveled to Argentina, China, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Myanmar, South Korea, the U.K., and Washington, DC.

Students may also pursue a master’s thesis in lieu of the Practicum.  The master’s thesis option is granted by petition only to the IPS Director.

If you are interested in being a Practicum client, please read below about the client experience.  Practicum Brochure.

Practicum Project Highlights

Philippines map showing provinces with heavy communist activity that are frequently affected by storms

IPS 2015 students Scott McKay, Garrett Smith, Katherine Tice, and David Webb, all active duty officers or veterans of the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, or Navy, looked at tropical cyclones and insurgency in the Philippines for The Empirical Studies of Conflict Project, jointly run by CISAC, Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict.

IPS student interviewing refugees

Jessica Miranda Garcia (‘13) talks to Sudanese refugees about small-scale farming and economic self-sufficiency as part of the needs assessment conducted to help UNHCR redesign refugee camps.

Graphic of the sovereign fiscal responsibility index

IPS 2011 students Damilola Sobo and Di Wang developed a sovereign fiscal responsibility index that was featured on CNN and the Wall Street Journal.

Moritz Zander testifies before the California State Senate on pension reform

Moritz Zander (‘10) testifies before the California State Senate on California pension reform.

Pillars on Stanford's main quad

For a complete list of Practicum and Thesis projects, please visit the archive.

The Client Experience

Interested in becoming a Practicum client? Contact Sara Tung, IPS Associate Director, to discuss the feasibility of turning a policy issue or problem into a formal practicum project.

Each year, IPS selects five to six projects that are finalized over the summer and assigned to student teams, each of which is guided by Stanford faculty.

During the 20-week course, which begins in late September and ends in mid-March, clients meet with their student team at regular intervals to discuss the project and provide feedback.

Client meetings can be held through conference call or Internet video (e.g., Skype).

Each client will receive a progress report at the mid-point, as well as a final professional report and presentation. Practicum deliverables may be published or publicized depending on subject matter, findings, and client needs. In addition to being featured in the news, past groups have been invited to speak at conferences and to testify before legislative bodies. In some cases, clients have employed students after graduation to continue work on their practicum findings.