About the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS)
Curriculum Plus Vitae
PRGS is unique in American higher education. It was founded in 1970 as one of the original eight graduate programs in public policy analysis. PRGS was the only program specializing in the Ph.D. It is also the only one based at a public policy research institute—the Santa Monica, California-based RAND Corporation—which invented many of the analytical tools of public policy analysis.
PRGS doctoral students take advanced courses in such fields as economics, statistics, political science, and the social sciences. They also work part-time as members of RAND's interdisciplinary research teams, which is how they earn their fellowships.
This combination of advanced course work and on-the-job training is unique. It's curriculum plus vitae. Students obtain the best research training in our classrooms, and they get to apply it to real problems with RAND mentors and real clients.
Who Joins PRGS?
Who are these students? Each year, about 25 new students enroll in PRGS. They come from around the world and from the most diverse of educational backgrounds.
Their academic credentials are very strong, but the Admissions Committee doesn't just go by the numbers. The Committee looks for creativity, the ability to think about new issues in new ways. PRGS seeks students with a combination of passion and discipline—the passion to change the world for the better, and the discipline to carry forth the new research that will be needed to do so.
PRGS graduates can be found in academia, government, business, and non-profit organizations. Many of them have careers that combine or transcend those traditional paths. For example, Kenneth Thorpe ('85) is a professor and chair of health policy and management at Emory University, after serving as a deputy assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in Washington.
Yilmaz Arguden ('85) is the founder of a leading management consulting firm and well-known NGO in Turkey. He has led his country's privatization program and served as the chief economic adviser for the prime minister, as the chairman of Rothschild investment bank, as an adjunct professor of business strategy, and as the National Representative of the UN Global Compact. He is also an author of numerous books and was selected as a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum for his commitment to improve the state of the world.
Philip Romero ('88) worked as a corporate strategist for United Technologies Corp., before serving on the staff of the governor of California. Now he is the Dean of the University of Oregon Business School. "That should tell you right there about the versatility of this degree," Romero observes.
Elizabeth McGlynn ('88) began her career in the Department of Health and Human Services but switched to policy research after completing her Ph.D. She is currently associate director of RAND Health and director of the Center for Research on Quality of Care. Beth was elected to the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine (IOM), a rare honor for a non-MD. The IOM honors extraordinary professional achievement in the health sciences and serves as a national resource for independent analysis and recommendations on issues related to medicine, biomedical sciences, and health.
Scott Pace ('89) was deputy administrator of NASA, and headed up the agency's Office of Program Analysis and Evaluation. This office independently assesses NASA's program performance, and makes recommendations for future activities.
Anne Johansen ('90) is senior health policy specialist with the World Bank currently working in Palestine.
Jack Riley ('93) joined the U.S. Department of Justice after completing his Ph.D., rising to become director of the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program. In 1999, he returned to RAND as a senior policy analyst, directing research in terrorism risk management, public safety, and justice. He is now Vice President and Director of the RAND National Security Research Division.
Allison Jacknowitz ('04) is an assistant professor in American University's School of Public Affairs, where her research focuses on issues related to poverty, income and food assistance programs, health outcomes, the elderly, children, and families.
"A Fascinating Place"
The versatility starts early. Students are encouraged to think beyond the usual stovepipes of disciplines and policy fields. "RAND is a fascinating place," says PRGS alumna Ann Stone ('01). "There's research going on in virtually every area and there's a very open culture, with a lot of seminars on work in progress and everyone is invited to participate. It's easy to be connected to various departments here. It's just a very stimulating environment."
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. With a research staff consisting of some of the world's preeminent minds, RAND has been expanding the boundaries of human knowledge for more than 60 years. For their on-the-job training, PRGS students choose among over 500 projects that are underway at any one time at RAND.
Across American higher education, there is increasing dissatisfaction with doctoral education. A recent review of U.S. doctoral programs was blunt: "Ph.D. students are being trained to do the wrong things in the wrong ways....They are not encouraged to think across disciplinary boundaries." A result: doctoral students spend lengthy periods writing dissertations that are often arcane and irrelevant.
PRGS is different. Our dissertations take on some of the world's toughest problems, with the rigor, interdisciplinary approach, and flair that are hallmarks of RAND.