Ph.D. in Policy Analysis

Welcome to the Doctor of Philosophy in Policy Analysis program at Pardee RAND Graduate School. Our program prepares students to tackle complex policy challenges through rigorous coursework and hands-on research experience.

Why Choose Pardee RAND?

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

In today's rapidly changing world, the ability to interpret data and analyze policies is more important than ever before. At Pardee RAND Graduate School, we recognize the need for advanced education and training in policy analysis to address complex global challenges. Students in our Ph.D. program develop a deep understanding of policy analysis and its role in shaping policy decisions. Our program is designed to challenge students to think critically and creatively about complex policy issues, while also providing them with the tools and resources needed to conduct cutting-edge research.

By pursuing the Pardee RAND Ph.D. in Policy Analysis, you will

  • Engage in a rigorous curriculum taught by RAND experts in areas ranging from economics, technology, and science policy to quantitative and qualitative methods.
  • Work alongside experienced professionals and policy experts, gaining valuable real-world experience and exposure to the latest research in the field.
  • Graduate with a valuable set of skills, connections, and experience that prepares you for a successful career in policy analysis and related fields.
  • Make a meaningful impact in the world, shaping policy decisions that affect us all.

Our Ph.D. program provides students with a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience and develop expertise in policy analysis. We invite you to explore our website to learn more about our program and the opportunities it offers.

Program Basics

Santa Monica, CA
Average time to completion: 4-5 years. Students begin the program full-time, on campus, in the fall quarter
Tuition and Fellowship
Students are paid for their on-the-job training research requirement. They also receive a combination of scholarships and tuition reduction that allows them to earn a living stipend. Learn more »

Ph.D. 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 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

*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.

Electives, Distribution Requirements, and Analytic Concentrations

Students also have two distribution requirements, which they fulfill through their ten units of elective courses.

Students develop competencies in modeling human systems by completing at least two full units in conceptual modeling electives courses that explore

  • computational modeling
  • economic modeling
  • operations research
  • qualitative modeling

Students also develop empirical analysis competencies though at least two units of data collection or analysis electives courses, such as

  • comparative historical analysis
  • econometrics
  • machine learning
  • social network analysis
  • statistics
  • survey analysis
  • text analysis

Students may also focus their remaining electives and pursue one or more analytic concentrations.

View our Course Catalog

On-the-Job Training

Pardee RAND Graduate School stands out from other programs by requiring Ph.D. students to complete 300 days of on-the-job training (OJT) as part of their doctoral degree. This experiential learning opportunity allows students to work on real-world research projects, both at RAND and with external partners.

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.

Policy-Relevant Dissertation

As part of the Ph.D. program, students are required to develop, write, and defend a policy-relevant dissertation. The process begins in the second year of the program with a year-long dissertation workshop designed to help students launch their ideas. During the workshop, students work closely with a faculty member and their cohort peers to identify pressing policy problems, develop research questions, and explore ways to address the issue. This collaborative process allows students to gain valuable feedback and support as they refine their research ideas. Given the varying requirements of each program path, the scope and parameters of the dissertation may differ.

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
Learn more

Generous Funding and Support

Pardee RAND's generously funded Ph.D. program is designed to enable students to cover their tuition while receiving a regular stipend for living expenses each year, potentially graduating debt-free.

Learn more about our generous funding package

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.

Our graduates secure competitive positions in a range of roles, including:

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

How to Apply

To learn more about our admission requirements, please visit our Ph.D. 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.

Contact us