Master of Philosophy in Policy Analysis

Welcome to the Master of Philosophy in Policy Analysis program at Pardee RAND Graduate School. Our program is designed to jumpstart your career and prepare you to make a positive impact on the world.

Learn More in Our Admissions Webinars

Pardee RAND had more than a dozen admissions events, both in person and online. A recording of our October 18 M.Phil. overview webinar is available upon request.

Request the M.Phil. Overview Recording

Why Choose Pardee RAND?

Pardee RAND students meet in the RAND Courtyard, photo by Diane Baldwin

In today's world, the ability to interpret data and analyze policies is more important than ever. At Pardee RAND, we offer a unique educational experience that will equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to tackle complex policy challenges.

By pursuing the Pardee RAND M.Phil. in Policy Analysis, you will

  • Engage in an interdisciplinary curriculum that challenges you to think critically and creatively about complex policy issues.
  • Conduct real-world policy research at a global policy research organization, giving you hands-on experience and exposure to cutting-edge research.
  • Graduate with a valuable set of skills, connections, and experience that will prepare you for a successful career in policy analysis and related fields.

Our program is designed to provide you with a comprehensive and intensive education that will prepare you to make a difference in the world. We invite you to explore our website to learn more about our program and the opportunities it offers.

Program Basics

Santa Monica, CA
Full time, on campus, 18 months; fall quarter start
Tuition and Fellowship:
Students are paid for their on-the-job training research requirement. Learn more »

M.Phil. Curriculum

Pardee RAND requires students to take a total of 18 units of core and elective courses and encourages students to follow an interdisciplinary path.

Core coursework

A total of 8 units

  • Designing Empirical Research
  • Ethics in Theory, Policy, and Practice
  • Perspectives of 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

*Students may waive out of Statistics for Policy Analysis I and/or Understanding Economic Systems I if they pass an exam at the start of the program. They will need to take another course (or courses) to fulfill the total unit requirements.

Elective coursework

Students choose from an additional 10 units of elective courses. Sample electives* include:

  • Advanced Econometrics
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Big Data Applications
  • Cost Benefit and Cost Effectiveness Analysis
  • Economic Development
  • Engaging Communities in Research
  • Game Theory
  • Intersectionality of Policy
  • Introduction to Data Science
  • Issues of Modern Labor Economics
  • Operations Research
  • Performance Measurement
  • Principles of Client-Centered Policy Analysis
  • Program Evaluation
  • Qualitative and Mixed Methods
  • Robust Decision Making
  • Social Network Analysis
  • Survey Design

*Availability of electives may change from year to year; students may also enroll in graduate-level courses at the UCLA Luskin School, per availability and approval.

View our Course Catalog Compare our degree programs

On-the-Job Training

Pardee RAND Graduate School stands out from other programs by requiring master's students to complete 150 days of on-the-job training (OJT) as part of their two-year degree. This experiential learning opportunity allows students to work on real-world research projects, both at RAND and with external partners. During the first year of the program, students have weekly mentoring sessions to support their experiential learning.

As active members of multidisciplinary RAND project teams, students engage in research and data analysis while gaining a deep understanding of the role analysis plays in solving complex policy problems. This "learning by doing" approach provides students with hands-on experience and prepares them to make meaningful contributions to the field of policy analysis.

Interested in National Security?

Pardee RAND Graduate School also offers a 9-month Master of National Security Policy to prepare working professionals for advancement in national security-related careers. Course instructors are drawn from Pardee RAND faculty who conduct national defense-related policy research at RAND.

Learn more

Sample Schedule

The following is an example of the course and on-the-job training mix that students can expect over the two years of our program. Courses listed in bold are required core courses. Students will complete 150 days of on-the-job training throughout the program, beginning in the fall quarter of the first year and concluding in the spring quarter of the second year. Please note that actual schedules may vary based on course availability and student preferences.

Year 1


OJT Days
Experiential Learning Mentoring Sessions

  • Perspectives of Policy Analysis
  • Understanding Economic Systems I
  • Math for Policy Analysis


OJT Days
Experiential Learning Mentoring Sessions

  • Designing Empirical Research
  • Statistics for Policy Analysis I
  • Understanding Economic Systems II


OJT Days
Experiential Learning Mentoring Sessions

  • Ethics in Theory, Policy, and Practice
  • Policymaking in Complex Environments
  • Statistics for Policy Analysis II
  • Technology and Society


OJT Days (optional)

OJT Total: 75 days

Year 2


OJT Days

  • Applied Statistics for Policy Analysis
  • Data Visualization
  • Principles of Client Oriented Policy Analysis
  • Robust Decision Making


OJT Days

  • Cost Benefit and Cost Effectiveness Analysis
  • Data Science and Artificial Intelligence: Introduction to Modern AI
  • Engaging Communities in Research
  • Social Network Analysis


OJT Days

  • Energy Markets
  • Intersectionality of Policy: Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Class and Immigration Status
  • Issues of Modern Labor Economics
  • R Programming for Scientific Analysis

OJT Total: 75 days

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; some prior research or work experience is desired
  • Demonstrate strong quantitative skills; all majors and disciplines are welcome

If requested, international students must also provide proof of funds before a formal letter of admission and a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (Form I-20) will be issued.

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Pardee RAND Graduates and Career Paths

Employers highly value Pardee RAND graduates for their intellectual agility, research experience, and ability to apply analytical tools and methodologies to a variety of policy problems. Graduates with international backgrounds also benefit from Pardee RAND's STEM designation.

Our graduates are well-suited for a range of roles, including:

  • Policy Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Research Specialist
  • Program Evaluator
  • Consultant
  • Program Officer
  • Policy Researcher
  • Local Government Officer
  • Executive Director
  • Policy Advisor
  • Civil Service Administrator
  • Foreign Affairs Officer/Diplomat

How to Apply

Applications for fall 2024 are now being accepted on a rolling basis. To learn more about our admission requirements, please visit our M.Phil. application page.


Visit our Admissions FAQs page.

Compare our M.Phil. and Ph.D. programs to see which is better for you.

Complete a pre-application for feedback before applying, and to join our email list.

Watch recorded admissions webinars to learn more about Pardee RAND, the application process, and more.

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