Apply to the Pardee RAND Graduate School

Thank you for your interest in applying to our program. Our mission is to provide the next generation of policy leaders an unsurpassed education in policy analysis.

Applications for fall 2023 will open in September. If you are interested in receiving preliminary feedback on your candidacy prior to investing your time into the 2023 admissions process, please consider submitting a pre-application.

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. If students choose not to submit a GRE or GMAT score, the admissions committee will review the rest of their application for quantitative and writing preparation. As part of our holistic review of each application, Pardee RAND will consider disruptions caused by COVID-19 when reviewing transcripts and other admissions materials.

The Ph.D. Application Process

The Pardee RAND Ph.D. application consists of the following parts:

All components must be submitted by January 5, 2023. The application will open in early September 2022.

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

Are you reapplying? Please review the additional requirements for reapplicants.

For more information or questions, please email


Start your Ph.D. application by submitting some basic contact and demographic information via our Admissions Portal.

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


Please submit three letters of recommendation from either academic or professional sources.

You will be asked to complete the Recommender Confidentiality Waiver which asks whether you waive your right to access your recommendation letters if you are admitted to Pardee RAND. This pertains to the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

As soon as you submit a letter of recommendation form, your recommenders will receive an email with instructions on how to submit their letter. Please contact recommenders in advance to confirm that they are willing to write a letter, and please follow up to confirm they received an email request from us and ask them to complete their letter well before the application deadline.

Each recommendation 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

You can check the status of your letters in the Admissions Portal.

Policy Engagement Stream

You will be asked to select which policy engagement stream you are interested in pursuing:


You will be asked for information about all academic institutions you attended since high school and you will need to upload unofficial transcripts from each of those institutions.

Transcripts must show a record of all courses taken, grades received, 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.

If a school’s transcript does not include degree conferral information, please provide separate official documentation or a photograph/photocopy of your diploma. Please upload transcripts for each school as separate files.

For transcripts in a language other than English, please provide an exact translation into English of each transcript (that includes courses, grades, and degree conferral). Please combine the transcript and the translation into one document and upload where indicated in the online application. You do not need to provide certified translations at the time of application.

If you are admitted and accept our offer, you will be required to send final, official transcripts for all institutions from which you earned a degree, as well as certified translations for any original documents that are not in English.

Quantitative Coursework

Please indicate which prior quantitative coursework you have taken and the grades you received. For admission into the program these skills and experiences are not all required, but they will help us evaluate your strengths as an applicant.

  • Univariable Calculus - Differential
  • Univariable Calculus - Integral
  • Multivariable Calculus
  • Linear Matrix Algebra
  • Probability
  • Statistics
  • Microeconomics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Econometrics
  • Other quantitative coursework


Please upload a resume or curriculum vitae (CV) that highlights 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

Test Scores

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)

Applicants are suggested, but not required, to submit scores from either the GRE or GMAT. If you choose not to submit a GRE or GMAT score, the admissions committee will review the rest of your application for quantitative and writing preparation.

To be valid for the 2023 application, you must have taken the test after July 1, 2017 (GRE) or September 1, 2017 (GMAT). Home editions of the tests are valid. If you took the test more than once, include the highest score you received for each section, even if from different test dates.

We 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.

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

For international students whose native language is not English and who have not studied at least two years at a higher education institution where courses are taught in English, we require an English language proficiency exam.

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 2023 application, you must have taken the test after September 1, 2020.

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 do not need to request an exemption.


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 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.

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)


A $50 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 based on participation in any of the following programs, or in a program similar to those listed below. Fee waivers may also be requested 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 (2017 or later), you are welcome to reuse some or all of the documents that you previously submitted.


  1. Once the application opens, start a 2023 application in our Admissions Portal and complete the following sections:
    • Application Form
    • Policy Engagement Stream
    • Academic Background
    • GRE/GMAT Test Scores
    • English Proficiency Exams (if required)
    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/IELTS/PTE Academic 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, please complete and submit the online application and all components.