Apply to the Pardee RAND Graduate School

Thank you for your interest in applying to the Ph.D. program at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. At Pardee RAND Graduate School our mission is to provide the next generation of policy leaders an unsurpassed education in policy analysis. We seek to enroll a diverse, talented, and engaged entering cohort each fall. Pardee RAND values the uniqueness of every applicant and seeks individuals who are driven to help solve the world’s most pressing policy challenges and are inspired by being at a preeminent research institute to pursue their doctoral degree. We encourage a diverse, 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. We consider the combination of personal accomplishments, academic background, work experience, essays, test scores, letters of recommendation, and other materials in a thoughtful review of each application file. We do not weigh any one section of the application over another, and we do not have a minimum test score or GPA cutoff in our review process.

Pardee RAND will consider disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak when reviewing transcripts and other admissions materials as part of our usual holistic review of each application.

The application season for fall 2022 will begin in early September 2021. The deadline for completed applications is January 6, 2022. If you are interested in applying, this page will help prepare you for the process.

If you are interested in receiving preliminary feedback on your candidacy, prior to investing your time into the 2022 admissions process, please consider submitting a pre-application.

The Application Process

The Pardee RAND application consists of seven parts:

  1. Online application form
  2. Resume or curriculum vitae (CV)
  3. Essays
  4. Test scores
  5. Letters of recommendation
  6. School transcripts
  7. Application fee of $50

Other than the application fee waiver request, all components of the application are submitted via our online application system.

All application components must be submitted by the deadline to be reviewed. All applications are carefully read by the Admissions Committee. Admission decisions are sent to applicants by email no later than the end of February.

If you are interested in reapplying for Fall 2022, please review the additional requirements for reapplicants.

For more information or questions, please email


You will submit your application via our online application system.

On the application, you will be asked to select which policy engagement stream you are interested in pursuing:

All admitted students will receive a combination of a scholarship and a research fellowship; a separate application is not required.


The application will ask you to upload a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) highlighting your

  • Academic background
  • Work experience, including dates of employment and principal responsibilities
  • Research, technical, and other skillsets
  • Honors and awards, publications, languages, and professional affiliations


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 three essay prompts (maximum 750 words each).

  1. Personal Statement: Tell us about yourself. What has motivated your interest in pursuing a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis and to apply to the Pardee RAND Graduate School? What are your long-term personal and professional goals and how do you see this program helping you to achieve that? As you write your statement, tell us how your unique background, experiences, and/or perspective contribute to the diversity of Pardee RAND Graduate School and to the diversity of the public policy field?
  2. Policy and Stream Interests: Please indicate the policy engagement stream to which you are applying and why. What makes you a good fit for this stream (both past experience and future intentions)? Please include the types of policy problems that interest you and how your current skills and the skillsets you hope to gain fit into those policy and stream areas. You may want to review the RAND website to see examples of the kinds of projects RAND researchers currently work. Explain which RAND policy areas are most interesting to you and how you will utilize your skills and experience to benefit the research teams and your on-the-job training.
  3. 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.

Include your full name, question number, and question text with each essay.

Additional Information Statement (Optional): 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. Please 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.

Test Scores

You will need to submit either the GRE or GMAT and for some international students, the TOEFL will also be required. Please sign up to take your exam well in advance of your test date and the application deadline.

As noted above, we read each application comprehensively and holistically, and we consider the combination of personal accomplishments, academic background, work experience, essays, test scores, letters of recommendation, and other materials in a thoughtful review of each application file.

Standardized Test Scores (GRE or GMAT)

Please provide your score from either the GRE or GMAT. To be valid for the 2022 application, you must have taken the test after July 1, 2016 (GRE) or September 1, 2016 (GMAT). If you took the test more than once, include the highest score you received for each section, even if from different test dates.

We also ask that you upload your unofficial score report, which can be a downloaded PDF of your test taker score report or a scanned personal copy of the official score report. If you are admitted and accept our offer, you will be required to submit your official score report if you had not done so already.

We do not weigh one section of the application over another and we do not have a minimum test score or GPA cutoff in our review process.

We recognize that specific, individual circumstances might make it difficult to take the GRE/GMAT, especially in light of present conditions. These difficulties notwithstanding, standardized tests are important tools that the Admissions Committee uses to help assess applicants’ quantitative and verbal reasoning skills. If you are considering requesting a standardized test waiver, please be aware of the following:

  • You will need to show sufficient preparation for the program in other parts of your application, especially in the areas of quantitative and verbal reasoning.
  • If test centers in your vicinity are either unavailable or potentially unsafe due to public health concerns, we expect that most candidates will submit the GRE General Test at Home or GMAT Online Exam as a substitute. You can check your eligibility for the GRE General Test at Home at The GMAT online examination information can be found at
  • The GRE waiver request form will be available starting September 1, when the application opens. You will need to submit a pre-application before we consider your waiver request.

English Language Proficiency Exam Results (TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE Academic)

For international students whose native language is not English, we require an English language proficiency exam or for you to meet the exemption conditions (see below).

Scores are required from one of the following approved English language proficiency tests*:

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
  • IELTS (International English Language Test System)
  • PTE Academic (Pearson English Language Test)

*The TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition, TOEFL ITP for China, or IELTS Indicator may be used to fulfill the English requirement.

Pardee RAND requires non-native English speaking applicants to receive an overall score of at least 100 on the TOEFL, 7.0 on the IELTS, or 68 on the PTE Academic. Sub scores indicated must be from the same test administration.

To be valid for the 2022 application, you must have taken the test after September 1, 2019.

As with the other exam results, we ask that you upload your unofficial score report. This can be a downloaded PDF of your test taker score report or a scanned personal copy of the official score report. If you are admitted and accept our offer, you will be required to submit your official score report if you had not done so already.

English language exemption

If you are an international applicant, you are exempted from the English language proficiency requirement if either of the following applies:

  • You hold a bachelor's or higher degree from a university located in the United States or other English-speaking country where courses are taught in English, or
  • You have completed at least two years of full-time study at a higher education institution where courses are taught in English.

The information you provide in the application will make it clear that you have the requisite language skills; you need not request an exemption.


Each applicant is asked to submit three letters of recommendation, which may be from either academic or professional sources, and should address the following topics:

  • Interest in policy analysis as a career/field of advanced study
  • Prospects for success as a policy analyst
  • Intellectual ability and potential for future intellectual growth
  • Quantitative preparation and aptitude
  • Ability to handle the demands of a highly rigorous doctoral program

As soon as you enter the name and contact information on the online application, your recommender will receive emailed instructions on how to submit their letter. Please contact recommenders on the day you enter their information to confirm that they received the email request from us, and ask them to complete their letter well in advance of the application deadline.

You can check the status of your letters by logging in to the online application system.


Submit unofficial undergraduate and graduate school transcripts from all institutions you have attended since completing high school. Transcripts should show a record of all courses taken, including grades and degrees conferred. If you are enrolled in a fall term course, please wait until you have received your final grade(s) before submitting your transcript. Please upload transcripts for each school as separate files.

If you are admitted and accept our offer, you will be required to mail final, official transcripts for all institutions from which you earned a degree.


A $50 application fee will be due by the application deadline, payable by credit or debit card within the Populi application.

Application Fee Waiver

Applicants may request a fee waiver based on participation in any of the following programs. Applicants may also request a fee waiver based on involvement in a similar program to those listed below, or based on financial or other hardship.

  • AEA Summer Training Program
  • AmeriCorps
  • Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Fellows
  • Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholars
  • Congressional Black Caucus Fellows
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus Fellows
  • Coro Fellows
  • Eisenhower Fellows
  • Ford Fellows
  • Fulbright Scholars
  • GEM Fellows
  • Hispanic Serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities
  • Humphrey Fellows
  • Institute for International Public Policy
  • Leadership Alliance
  • McNair Scholars
  • Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows
  • Muskie Fellows
  • NYC Urban Fellows
  • National Association of African American Honors Programs (NAAAHP)
  • QuestBridge Scholars
  • Peace Corps
  • PPIA Fellows
  • Rangel Fellows
  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS)
  • Teach for America
  • The Policy Academies
  • Tribal Colleges
  • Truman Scholars
  • U.S. Military
  • Upward Bound Math and Science
  • Yellow Ribbon Program


Background Check of Successful Applicants

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


We welcome reapplicants. If you applied to Pardee RAND in the previous five years (2016 or later), you are welcome to reuse some or all of the documents that you previously submitted.


  1. Start a 2022 application in the Populi system (the application will open in September 2021). Fill in all sections and attach any new documents, including an updated CV or resume. Where indicated in the application, please provide the year of your previous application, and upload a cover letter explaining what is different about your application since the last time you applied, and ways you are a more competitive applicant.
  2. Send an email to indicating you are reapplying. This email should identify which components you would like us to upload from your previous application:
    • Transcripts (indicate all or specify which ones)
    • GRE or GMAT score report
    • TOEFL score report (if applicable)
    • Letters of recommendation (indicate all or specify which ones)
    • Essays (indicate all or specify which ones)
  3. After you receive a confirmation email from the admissions office that we have updated your application in Populi, please complete and submit the online application and all components.