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This archived information is dated to the 2010-11 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)

Director of Undergraduate Capstone and Senior Lecturer: Mary Sprague (Public Policy)

Director of Graduate Practicum and Professor of the Practice of Public Policy: Joe Nation (Public Policy)

Executive Committee: Laurence Baker (Medicine), Jonathan Bendor (Graduate School of Business), David Brady (Political Science, Hoover Institution, Graduate School of Business, SIEPR), Samuel Chiu (Management Science and Engineering), Joshua Cohen (Political Science, Philosophy, Law), Morris Fiorina (Political Science, Hoover Institution), David Kennedy (History, emeritus), Lawrence Goulder (Economics, SIEPR), David Grusky (Sociology), Stephen Haber (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Eric A. Hanushek (Hoover Institution, SIEPR), Deborah Hensler (Law), Sunil Kumar (Graduate School of Business), Roger Noll (Economics, emeritus, SIEPR), Leonard Ortolano (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Bruce Owen (SIEPR), Sean Reardon (Education), Lee Ross (Psychology), Gregory Rosston (SIEPR), Debra Satz (Philosophy), John B. Shoven (SIEPR, Economics), Kathryn Stoner-Weiss (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies)

Affiliated Faculty: Jonathan Bendor (Graduate School of Business), Jayanta Bhattacharya (Medicine), Coit Blacker (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Michael J. Boskin (Economics, Hoover Institution), Paul Brest (Law, emeritus), Jeremy Bulow (Graduate School of Business), Eamonn Callan (Education), Martin Carnoy (Education), John Cogan (Hoover Institution), Joshua Cohen (Political Science, Philosophy, Law), Christophe Crombez (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Larry Diamond (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Hoover Institution), Walter Falcon (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, emeritus), Lawrence Friedman (Law), Lawrence Goulder (Economics, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Deborah Hensler (Law), Pamela Hinds (Management Science and Engineering), Daniel Ho (Law), Nicholas Hope (Stanford Center for International Development), Caroline Hoxby (Economics, Hoover Institution, SIEPR), Jakub Kastl (Economics), Daniel Kessler (Law, Hoover Institution, Graduate School of Business), Pete Klenow (Economics), Stephen Krasner (Political Science, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Hoover Institution), Jon A. Krosnick (Communication), Claire Lim (Graduate School of Business), Thomas MaCurdy (Economics, Hoover Institution), Robert McGinn (Management Science and Engineering; Science, Technology and Society), Milbrey McLaughlin (Education), Terry Moe (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Norman Nie (Political Science), Jean Oi (Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Joan Petersilia (Law), James Phills (Graduate School of Business), A. Mitchell Polinsky (Law), Walter Powell (Education), Robert Reich (Political Science), Lee Ross (Psychology), Ken Shotts (Graduate School of Business), Samuel So (Medicine), Jeff Strnad (Law), Barton Thompson (Law, Woods Institute, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies), Michael Tomz (Political Science, SIEPR), Greg Walton (Psychology), Jonathan Wand (Political Science), Barry Weingast (Political Science, Hoover Institution), Robert M. White (Materials Science and Engineering), Frank Wolak (Economics, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies)

Lecturers: Laura Arrillaga (Graduate School of Business), Frank Benest (Public Policy), Ward Hanson (SIEPR), Tammy Frisby (Hoover Institution, Political Science), Dennis Gale (Urban Studies), Jonathan D. Greenberg (Law), Russell Hancock (Public Policy), Adrienne Jamieson (Bing Stanford in Washington), Anjini Kochar (SIEPR), Camille Landais (SIEPR, Economics), Jeffrey Lax (Hoover Institution), Eva Meyersson Milgrom (SIEPR, Sociology), Alyssa O'Brien (Program in Writing and Rhetoric), Nick Sanders (SIEPR), Mark Tendall (Economics), Patrick Windham (Public Policy)

Program Office: First Floor, SIEPR Gunn Building

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 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. The focus is chiefly on domestic policy issues, applicable anywhere in the world. Courses in the major provide students with background in economics and qualitative methods, political science, law, philosophy, ethics, organizational behavior, and social psychology. Economics and quantitative analyses are central to but not sufficient for modern public policy analysis; political science, law, philosophy, organizational behavior, and 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. Seniors have a research capstone requirement consisting either of an honors thesis or participation in a team practicum, conducting applied policy research for an outside client, typically a local or regional agency. 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.

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 two 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.

The Graduate Program in Public Policy offers two master's degrees:

The following joint degree programs, permitting students to complete requirements for two degrees with a reduced number of total residency units, are also offered:

Requirements for the joint degrees differ from completing the two degrees separately. See the "Master's Degrees in Public Policy" section for more details.

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