Ph.D. in Policy Analysis

Students in Pardee RAND's selective and multidisciplinary Ph.D. program focus on policy analysis and the ways it can shape our world, and graduate with two or more years of real-world experience working on RAND research projects.

Our Ph.D. students undertake an interdisciplinary course of study focusing on one of three policy engagement streams, work side-by-side with RAND experts to complete their experiential learning requirement, and develop and defend a policy-relevant dissertation.

Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Curriculum

Core Courses

A total of 9 units

  • Designing Empirical Research
  • Ethics in Policy and Practice
  • Perspectives on Public Policy Analysis
  • Policy Making in Complex Environments
  • Statistics for Policy Analysis I
  • Statistics for Policy Analysis II
  • Technology and Society
  • Understanding Economic Systems I
  • Understanding Economic Systems II
  • Understanding Human Systems

Electives and Stream Requirements

Pardee RAND Ph.D. students follow one of three policy engagement streams, each of which has a unique set of focused learning objectives, requirements, and mechanisms for mastering relevant skills and techniques.

In addition to the 9 units of core courses, students take 9 units of stream requirements and elective courses to total 18 units.

Visit our three policy engagement streams to learn more about their curricular requirements and focus:

Experiential Learning

At Pardee RAND, experiential learning has been a graduation requirement since the School’s inception. Students begin acquiring practical experience through project-based research (which we call on-the-job training, or OJT), working as paid members of RAND research teams for client-sponsored projects in areas such as health care, education and labor, national security, social and economic well-being, and more.

Each stream requires additional hands-on learning in a variety of environments, including a Tech + Narrative Lab and immersive projects to promote policy development in partnership with, and in service of, communities facing complex challenges.

Policy-Relevant Dissertation

To complete their Ph.D., students develop, write, and defend a doctoral dissertation. The process begins in the second year of the program with a year-long dissertation workshop to launch their idea. With the guidance of a faculty member and their cohort peers, students identify some of the most pressing and difficult policy problems of the day, develop research questions, and explore ways to address the issue. Given the varying requirements of each stream, the dissertation may have a different scope and set of parameters depending on the individual’s program path.

Admission Requirements

  • Be available to participate in our full-time research-and-study program at RAND's headquarters in Santa Monica, California
  • Have completed a bachelor's degree by the program start date; a master's degree or prior research or work experience is desired
  • Demonstrate strong quantitative skills; all majors and disciplines are welcome
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Graduate Debt-Free

Pardee RAND's fully funded Ph.D. program enables students to cover their tuition while receiving a regular stipend for living expenses each year and graduate debt-free. Our Ph.D. students benefit from:

  • A full-tuition scholarship for the first year, partial scholarship in the second year, and reduced tuition thereafter
  • A research fellowship earned by working on RAND projects of the student's choice that covers remaining tuition and provides a stipend to cover living expenses
  • Generous health insurance and other benefits, including paid parental leave
  • Use of a laptop computer
  • Support for conference attendance and travel to other RAND offices
  • Opportunity for affordable housing in West L.A., a short commute to campus
  • Competitively awarded internal dissertation funding
Learn more about our generous financial aid »

Ph.D. Graduates and Career Paths

Pardee RAND graduates are sought after by employers that value their intellectual agility, project experience, and unique ability to apply analytic tools and methodologies across a wide range of policy problems. Graduates can be seen as:

  • Policy Analyst
  • Professor
  • Data Scientist
  • Economist
  • Research Associate
  • Program Evaluator
  • Consultant
  • Program Officer
  • Policy Researcher
  • Executive Director
  • Methodologist
  • Policy Advisor