Apply for the M.Phil. in Policy Analysis

Applications for fall 2024 are now being accepted on a rolling basis.

To receive preliminary feedback on your candidacy prior to investing your time into the admissions process, please consider submitting a pre-application.


We enroll a diverse, talented, and engaged entering cohort each fall. We encourage an equitable and inclusive environment—one that is rich in different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives—in our graduate program and in the public policy field. Each application is comprehensively and holistically reviewed. All majors and disciplines are welcome.

All admitted M.Phil. students will receive a research fellowship; merit scholarships will be awarded at time of acceptance.

Visit our Admissions FAQs page for more information.

Start Your Application

M.Phil. Application Components

After you submit your initial application form, within one business day you will receive an email notification that your Admissions Checklist is ready and you may proceed with the rest of the application.

Note: you can save your work and return to the application later; you do not have to complete it in one sitting.

We require three letters of recommendation, which can come from academic or professional sources.

  • Confidentiality Waiver: On the initial application form, you will be prompted to complete the Recommender Confidentiality Waiver. This determines whether you waive your right to view your recommendation letters under the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), should you be admitted to Pardee RAND.
  • Recommender Process: After you submit the recommendation request form, your recommenders will receive an email detailing how to submit their letters. It is advisable to contact your recommenders in advance to ensure their willingness to provide a letter and to follow up to confirm they have received our email and understand the submission deadline.
  • Content of Recommendations: Each letter should address the following:
    • The applicant's interest in policy analysis as a career or field of study
    • Prospects for success as a policy analyst
    • Intellectual ability and potential for future growth
    • Quantitative preparation and aptitude
    • Ability to handle the demands of a rigorous doctoral program

You can monitor the status of your recommendation letters through the Admissions Portal.

You are required to provide information and upload unofficial transcripts for all academic institutions you have attended since high school.

  • Transcript Requirements: Transcripts must include a record of all courses taken, grades received, and degrees conferred. If you are currently enrolled in a fall term course, please submit your transcript only after receiving your final grade(s).
  • Degree Conferral Documentation: If a transcript does not show degree conferral information, you must provide additional official documentation or a photograph/photocopy of your diploma. Please upload each school's transcripts as separate files.
  • Non-English Transcripts: For transcripts in languages other than English, provide an exact translation into English, covering all courses, grades, and degree conferral details. Combine the original transcript and its translation into a single document for upload as indicated in the online application. Certified translations are not required at the application stage.
  • Post-Admission Requirement: If admitted and you accept the offer, you will need to send final, official transcripts for all institutions from which you earned a degree. For non-English documents, certified translations will be required.

Please upload a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) that outlines your:

  • Academic Background: Detail your educational history and any relevant academic achievements.
  • Work Experience: Include dates of employment, principal responsibilities, and significant projects or roles.
  • Skills: List research, technical, computer, and other relevant skills.
  • Additional Qualifications: Mention honors, awards, publications, languages spoken, and professional affiliations.

We adopt a comprehensive and holistic approach to application review, considering a combination of personal accomplishments, academic background, work experience, essays, test scores, letters of recommendation, and other submitted materials.

Standardized Test Scores (GRE or GMAT)

  • Submission Optional: Submission of GRE or GMAT scores is optional. Applicants may choose to submit these scores as part of their application, but it is not a requirement. Whether or not you submit these scores, the admissions committee will conduct a thorough evaluation of your application, assessing quantitative and writing skills based on the entirety of the materials provided.
  • Validity of Scores: For the 2025 application cycle, GRE scores must be from tests taken after July 1, 2019, and GMAT scores from tests taken after September 1, 2019. Home editions of these tests are acceptable. If you have taken the test multiple times, report the highest score received for each section, regardless of the test date.
  • Submission of Scores: Please upload your unofficial score report, which can be a downloaded PDF of your test taker score report or a scanned copy of the official score report. If admitted and you accept our offer, submission of the official score report will be required.

English Language Proficiency Exam Results

For international students whose first language is not English and who have not spent at least two years at an institution where English is the language of instruction, an English language proficiency exam is required.

  • Accepted Tests: Scores must be submitted from one of the following:
    • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
    • IELTS (International English Language Test System)
    • PTE Academic (Pearson English Language Test)
    • Acceptable alternatives include the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, TOEFL ITP for China, or IELTS Indicator.
  • Score Requirements: Pardee RAND requires a minimum score of 100 on the TOEFL, 7.0 on the IELTS, or 68 on the PTE Academic. Scores must be from the same test administration.
  • Test Validity: The test must have been taken after September 1, 2022, for the 2025 application cycle.
  • Unofficial Score Report: Upload an unofficial score report, either as a downloaded PDF of your test taker score report or a scanned copy of the official score report. If admitted and you accept our offer, you will be required to submit the official score report.

English Language Exemption

International applicants are exempt from the English proficiency requirement if they meet one of the following conditions:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher from an institution in the United States or another English-speaking country where English is the language of instruction.
  • Have completed at least two years of full-time study at an institution where English is the language of instruction.

Documentation provided in your application should suffice to demonstrate your language proficiency; no separate exemption request is necessary.

Your writing and essays are an important piece of the application process. They should help us understand your motivations to work in the field of public policy and to learn about you as an authentic individual beyond your transcripts and resume.

Please respond to the following essay prompts (maximum 750 words each).

  1. Personal Statement: Please describe your personal, academic, and professional background, career aspirations, and how you see the M.Phil. in policy analysis program helping you to achieve your goals. As you write your statement, tell us how your unique background, experiences, and/or perspective contribute to the diversity of the public policy field. Explain which policy areas are most interesting to you and how your current skills and the skillsets you hope to gain fit into those policy areas.
  2. Situational Question: Please describe a situation in which you needed to be creative in addressing a social problem, thoughtfully took a stand on a controversial issue, or recognized and recovered from a mistake you have made.

You will need to upload each essay individually. Please include your full name and question number with each essay.

Optional Statement

If there is any information about your background that you were not able to provide elsewhere, please include it here. This might include additional comments about academic coursework, quantitative preparation, test scores, letters of recommendation, or hardships or other circumstances that impacted your work or education that would be helpful for the admissions committee to understand. These circumstances may include COVID-19, if applicable. Your response does not have to be in the form of a formal essay. Brief explanations on multiple topics are okay. (Maximum 300 words)

An $85 application fee will be due by the application deadline, payable by credit card within the Admissions Portal.

Application Fee Waiver

Applicants may request a fee waiver in the payment section of the application in the Admissions Portal. To be considered, applicants need to click on the waiver request form and upload required supporting documents. Fee waivers are offered based on:

Financial or other hardship

Fee waivers for financial hardship are open to U.S. citizens or permanent residents only. Upload one of the three below documents (with social security numbers redacted).

  1. A statement of need from a financial aid officer at the college or university that you are currently attending. This statement must include your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC), the financial aid officer’s signature, and your signature verifying that the information reported is correct. EFC cannot exceed $3,069.
  2. A copy of your 2022-2023 Student Aid Report (SAR). The SAR is generated from the information that you provide on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) (http://www.fafsa.ed.gov) form and includes your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). Do not submit a copy of your FAFSA. EFC cannot exceed $3,069.
  3. A copy of your 2021 Federal Income Tax return. Provide either your Form 1040, if listed as an independent, or a copy of your parent’s or guardian’s 2021 Federal Income Tax return, if listed as a dependent. Annual family income cannot exceed the maximum AGI. Family Income of $23,828 (family size=1), $32,227 (2), $40,626 (3), $49,025 (4), $57,424 (5); add $8,399 for each additional family member.

Participation in any of the below programs

Programs similar to those listed below will also be considered. Upload a letter or other documentation with your name and the program logo or letterhead indicating your participation.

  • American Economic Association Summer Training and Scholarship Program
  • American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES)
  • AmeriCorps
  • Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Fellows
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholars Program
  • California Pre-Doc Program (Sally Casanova Scholars)
  • Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP)
  • Congressional Black Caucus Fellows
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus Fellows
  • Coro Fellows
  • Eisenhower Fellows
  • Ford Fellows
  • Former Foster Youth
  • Fulbright/IIE Scholars
  • GEM Fellows
  • GRE Fee Reduction Program
  • Hispanic Serving Institutions
  • Hispanic Serving Institutions-Pathways Program (HSI)
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Humphrey Fellows
  • Institute for International Public Policy
  • Laureates & Leaders (MIT)
  • Leadership Alliance Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP)
  • Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP)
  • McNair Scholars Program
  • Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program
  • Meyerhoff Scholars Program – University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Muskie Fellows
  • National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP)
  • National Name Exchange
  • National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
  • National Society of Black Physicists
  • National Society of Hispanic Physicists
  • NIH Blueprint Program for Enhancing Neuroscience Diversity through Undergraduate Research Education Experiences (BP-ENDURE)
  • NIH Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) Initiative
  • NIH Postbaccalaureate Research Training Program (PREP)
  • NIH Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement Program (RISE)
  • NIH/NIGMS Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC)
  • NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF-REU)
  • NYC Urban Fellows
  • National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP)
  • QuestBridge Scholars
  • Peace Corps
  • PPIA Fellows
  • Ralph Bunche Summer Institute (RBSI)
  • Rangel Graduate Fellowship Program
  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
  • Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
  • Teach for America
  • The PhD Project
  • The Policy Academies
  • Tribal Colleges
  • Truman Scholars
  • U.S. Military
  • Upward Bound Math and Science
  • Yellow Ribbon Program

Additional Components for Accepted Candidates

Accepted international applicants will be required to submit “Proof of Funds,” or documentation that they have sufficient funds to cover the first year of their stay in the U.S. (one year of academic and living expenses), before a Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status (Form I-20) will be issued. The Form I-20 is used to apply for a U.S. student visa.

Learn more

Students who are accepted into the program will be contacted by RAND to complete a background check required of all RAND employees. A conviction is not necessarily a bar to employment and all circumstances are considered. For more information or additional questions contact RAND Human Resources at rand-hr@rand.org.