International Students

Pardee RAND student Tobi Oluwatola talks with fellow students in the RAND courtyard

Welcome! International students help to make Pardee RAND the wonderfully diverse program it is, and we do all we can to help our students adjust to academic life in the United States. International students at Pardee RAND come from across the globe, and at present that is from 23 different countries across Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and the Caribbean! We value the international flavor, the dedication to serving their home country or other parts of the world, and the courage to seek out education abroad in a new country that international students bring to our program. International students make up approximately one-third of our student population.

We welcome you to ask us questions as you consider, apply, and matriculate to Pardee RAND. Below are some common topics we receive questions about.

Fellowships and Scholarships

All international students who are admitted to the program receive a Fellowship and are eligible for Scholarships. The Fellowship will cover tuition and a cost-of-living stipend. Scholarships cover full tuition in your first year and partial tuition in your second year. Learn more about funding your Ph.D.

Health Insurance

Pardee RAND covers the cost of health insurance (Kaiser Permanente HMO) for all enrolled students. In addition, students may purchase health insurance at a heavily subsidized rate for family members accompanying them.

Employment at RAND

Student walks by a colleague's cubicle at Pardee RAND

A typical student's desk

One of the many reasons students come to Pardee RAND is the opportunity to work on RAND’s research portfolio as part of your academic curriculum. International students are valuable members of research projects and can often bring language, cultural, or other regional knowledge to a team that otherwise may not have this kind of expertise. Any project at RAND is a candidate for your On-the-Job Training (OJT) requirement; however, projects that require a U.S. clearance will not be open to international students. This should not deter your experience too much as most projects do not require this, even in the national security area.

RAND’s research portfolio includes projects for and about international audiences. Some of our research centers include: RAND Europe, Center for Asia Pacific Policy, Center for Global Risk and Security, Center for Latin America Social Policy, Center for Middle East Public Policy, and the Center for Russia and Eurasia.

International students receive an F1 visa and are permitted to work up to 20 hours per week while school is in regular session and full-time during school breaks and during the summer period. Students are also eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT) which can increase the number of hours you are able to work.

Cost of Living

As wonderful as Los Angeles is as a place to live, it can also be expensive, especially for international students. Please make sure to have enough money with you to pay for the cost of moving to Los Angeles (including plane tickets, first and last month’s rent, and a security deposit) as well as living expenses once you arrive to support you until your first fellowship disbursement (usually delivered the middle of October). Basic expenses can be covered by your fellowship, but you should be prepared to meet any additional costs yourself. There are many ways students have found to live well off of their stipend.

Additional information on studying in the United States can be found in the 2012 U.S. News and World Report article, "Critical Graduate School Considerations for International Students".

English Language Requirement

In addition to meeting the standard admission requirements, international applicants must possess a minimum TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score of 100 on the internet-based exam. International applicants are exempted from the TOEFL requirement if they hold a bachelor’s or higher degree from a university in the United States or in another country in which English is the spoken language and the medium of instruction, or if they have completed at least two years of full-time study at an English-language instruction institution.

To be valid for the 2016 application, the TOEFL must have been taken after September 1, 2014 (within the past 2 years). Official score reports should be sent directly from the administering testing agency to the school (Pardee RAND [PRGS] institution code 4648). More information about the TOEFL may be obtained from the Educational Testing Service website.

Do realistically assess your ability to do well in a program conducted entirely in English. Graduate school, as well as working as an assistant policy analyst at RAND, will require a substantial amount of reading, writing, and speaking in the English language.

Language and Culture Workshop

We offer a week-long orientation program for all new international students called the Language and Culture Workshop (also affectionately known as “International Boot Camp”). This program is required for all incoming international students and allows for an extra week of training in language and cultural norms, communication styles, and a study of the U.S. Constitution and government which is helpful preparation for study and work in the United States. Students also find this is a wonderful time to get to know a smaller group of international students as they settle in to the U.S.

Current Students' Countries of Origin

As of October 2016

  • Azerbaijan
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Ethiopia
  • Finland
  • Guatemala
  • India
  • Iran
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Romania
  • South Korea
  • Taiwan
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Ukraine
  • United States of America
  • Uzbekistan
  • Vietnam

Questions? Contact Us

If you have any general questions or questions about applying, please email For questions about visas or other international study questions please email our international student advisor.