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This archived information is dated to the 2009-10 academic year only and may no longer be current.

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

Public Policy

Director: Bruce M. Owen (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research)

Deputy Director: Gregory L. Rosston (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research)

Associate Director and Senior Lecturer: Geoffrey Rothwell (Economics, Public Policy)

Acting Assistant Professor and Director of Undergraduate Capstone: Mary Sprague (Public Policy)

Director of Graduate Practicum and Lecturer: Joe Nation (Public Policy)

Executive Committee: Laurence Baker (Medicine), Jonathan Bendor (Graduate School of Business), David Brady (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Samuel Chiu (Management Science and Engineering), Morris Fiorina (Political Science), Judith Goldstein (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Political Science), Larry Goulder (Economics), David Grusky (Sociology), Stephen Haber (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Eric A. Hanushek (Hoover Institution), Deborah Hensler (Law), Daniel Kessler (Law), Sunil Kumar (Graduate School of Business), Roger Noll (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, emeritus), Leonard Ortolano (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Bruce Owen (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Sean Reardon (Education), Lee Ross (Psychology), Gregory Rosston (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Debra Satz (Philosophy), John B. Shoven (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Economics, Hoover Institution), Stephen Stedman (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies)

Affiliated Faculty: Jayanta Bhattacharya (Medicine), Coit Blacker (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Paul Brest (Law, emeritus), Jeremy Bulow (Graduate School of Business), Eamonn Callan (Education), Martin Carnoy (Education), John Cogan (Hoover Institution), Joshua Cohen (Political Science), Christophe Crombez (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Paul David (Economics, emeritus), Larry Diamond (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Hoover), Lynn Eden (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Walter Falcon (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, emeritus), Lawrence Friedman (Law), Lawrence Goulder (Economics, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Thomas C. Heller (Law, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Pamela Hinds (Management Science and Engineering), Daniel Ho (Law), Nicholas Hope (Stanford Center for International Development), Caroline Hoxby (Economics), Pete Klenow (Economics), Stephen Krasner (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Jon A. Krosnick (Communications, Political Science), Claire Lim (Graduate School of Business), Thomas MaCurdy (Economics), Robert McGinn (Management Science and Engineering), Milbrey McLaughlin (Education), Terry Moe (Political Science), Norman Nie (Political Science), James Phills (Graduate School of Business), A. Mitchell Polinsky (Law, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Robert Reich (Political Science), Samuel So (Medicine), Peter Stone (Political Science), Jeff Strnad (Law), Barton Thompson (Law), Michael Tomz (Political Science), David Victor (Law), Greg Walton (Psychology), Jonathan Wand (Political Science), Barry Weingast (Political Science), Jeremy Weinstein (Political Science), Frank Wolak (Economics)

Lecturers: Laura Arrillaga (Graduate School of Business), Frank Benest (Public Policy), Ward Hanson (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Tammy Frisby (Hoover Institution), Gopi Shah Goda (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Jonathan D. Greenberg (Law), Russell Hancock (Public Policy), Adrienne Jamieson (Bing Stanford in Washington), Damon Jones (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Anjini Kochar (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Eva Meyersson Milgrom (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), Mark Tendall (Economics), Teceta Thomas Tormala (Psychology), Scott Wallsten (Bing Stanford in Washington), Patrick Windham (Public Policy)

Program Office: Encina Hall West, Rooms 203 and 204

Mail Code: 94305-6050

Program Phone: (650) 725-0109

Web Site:

Courses offered by the Public Policy Program are listed under the subject code PUBLPOL on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses web site.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Public Policy

The mission of the undergraduate program in Public Policy is to expose students to the basic concepts and tools used in evaluating public policy options and outcomes, and to prepare students for entry-level positions in organizations concerned with such analysis. Although the concepts and tools are of wider applicability, the institutional context is chiefly American. Courses in the major provide students with background in economics and qualitative methods, political science, law, philosophy, ethics, organizational behavior, and cognitive psychology. Economics and quantitative analyses are central to but not sufficient for modern public policy analysis; political science, law, philosophy, organizational behavior, and cognitive psychology are among other necessary disciplinary perspectives. Political philosophy and ethics form the foundations of public policy. Political science offers insights to the decision making process and information needs of a democracy. Organizational behavior focuses on the decisions made outside the market environment in hierarchies, bureaucracies, and teams. Nearly all public policy is formulated as law, and economic analysis of legal rules and institutions is key to effective implementation of policy decisions. Students majoring in public policy are prepared for careers in business, law, and governmental agencies or for further study in graduate or professional schools.

The Public Policy Program offers a Bachelor of Arts, an honors program, and a minor for undergraduates, as well as a coterminal M.A. in Public Policy.


The program expects its undergraduate majors to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the Program in Public Policy. Students are expected to demonstrate:

  1. knowledge and understanding of Public Policy content material.
  2. ability to communicate their ideas clearly and persuasively in written and oral forms.
  3. ability to evaluate applied theoretical and empirical work in the discipline.
  4. ability to apply skills and knowledge acquired in the curriculum to analyze policy issues and make policy recommendations.

Graduate Programs in Public Policy

University requirements for the master's degree are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this Bulletin.

The Graduate Program in Public Policy offers two master's degrees: Master of Public Policy (M.P.P.), a two-year program leading to a professional degree, and Master of Arts (M.A.), a one-year program not intended as a professional degree. The following joint degree programs, permitting students to complete requirements for two degrees with a reduced number of total residency units, are also offered: Juris Doctor with a Master of Public Policy (J.D./M.P.P); Juris Doctor with an M.A. of Public Policy (J.D./M.A.); Doctor of Philosophy in Economics, Education, Management Science and Engineering, Psychology, or Sociology with a Master of Public Policy (Ph.D./M.P.P); Master of Business Administration with a Master of Public Policy (M.B.A./M.P.P.); Master of Arts in International Policy Studies with a Master of Public Policy (M.A./M.P.P.); Master of Science in Management Science and Engineering with a Master of Public Policy (M.S./M.P.P.). Requirements for the joint degrees differ from completing the two degrees separately. See the "Master's Degrees in Public Policy" section for more details.

Courses in the graduate program in Public Policy offer advanced skills necessary to assess the performance of alternative approaches to policy making and implementation, evaluating program effectiveness, understanding the political constraints faced by policy makers, and appreciating the conflicts in fundamental human values that often animate policy debate. After completing the graduate core curriculum, students apply these skills by focusing their studies in a 2-quarter, 10 unit practicum for the M.P.P., or a 5 unit master's thesis for the M.A. Students in the M.P.P. program also complete at least one concentration tailored to the student's primary degree program or the student's interests and skills.

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