M.Phil. or Ph.D.: Which is Right for You?
All students in our M.Phil. and Ph.D. degree programs take the same set of core classes and gain on-the-job training by working on RAND’s research teams. Both programs also offer scholarships and a research fellowship to support your studies.
The M.Phil. program offers the ability to gain work experience while completing a master's degree. This program is ideal for students who are not certain they want to spend the extra time required for a Ph.D., who are eager to gain practical policy skills and experience, and who want to apply those skills in the real world.
The Ph.D. program includes additional required coursework, your choice of a policy engagement stream, a dissertation, and a longer timeline. This program is ideal for students who want to pursue a career in academia or research, as well as the public and private sectors.
Program Comparison: M.Phil. vs. Ph.D.
|Core coursework (9 units)
Covers tools of policy analysis, empirical research design, statistics, economics, tech and society, ethics, and more
|Elective coursework (9 units)||✔||✔|
|Faculty drawn from RAND research staff||✔||✔|
|Strong student community built by taking core coursework together||✔||✔|
Work on RAND research teams for real clients; students can work more days and earn more money
|150 days||300 days|
|Choice of policy engagement stream
Constitutes 3-4 units of the 9 units of elective coursework
Awarded to all students; amount varies by degree program
|Earned research fellowships
All students earn same amount in year 1; amount varies by degree program after year 1
Graduation and Beyond
|Time to degree completion||21 months||4‑5 years|
|Graduate with applied research and analysis work experience, critical thinking, and an analytic toolbelt||✔||✔|
|STEM designated degree program
International students may apply for up to 3 years of OPT in the United States post-graduation
Note: 1 unit is equal to 1 full-quarter course
Which one is right for you?
|M.Phil. in Policy Analysis||Ph.D. in Policy Analysis|
|What is it?||Master’s level degree in tools of policy analysis||Doctoral level degree in tools of policy analysis|
|Who is it for?||Variety of disciplines and majors, early to advanced career individuals who seek additional training in policy analysis
||Variety of disciplines and majors, individuals seeking comprehensive training in policy analysis
|How does it differ?||
|Choose this degree if you want to:||
|Frequent post-graduate job opportunities||
Still not sure? There’s flexibility.
- You can apply to both programs.
- Those who start in the M.Phil. program but decide they want to continue in the Ph.D. program may apply to do so after their first year. If accepted, they would start in year 3 of the Ph.D. program after their M.Phil. degree is completed.
- Pardee RAND Ph.D. students receive an M.Phil. along the way to their Ph.D.