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Student Life at Pardee RAND

Pardee RAND is in an amazing geographic location, and because we are part of the RAND Corporation—rather than a university—applicants often ask what student life is like. We welcome you to ask us questions as you consider, apply, and matriculate to Pardee RAND.

Living in Los Angeles

Santa Monica beach

Santa Monica beach

Southern California is an exciting, challenging, cutting edge, cosmopolitan region that is highly sought after as a place to live. The city of Los Angeles is truly a global city offering much in the way of city life, restaurants, museums, mountains, beaches, and more. When you are not doing your studies, there is much to see and explore in this diverse area. Pardee RAND is located just west of the city of LA, in the smaller city of Santa Monica, on the coast and is a beautiful place to be.

The Pardee RAND campus, part of the RAND Corporation, prides itself on its safety. Our latest Campus Safety Report, which we are pleased to make available as part of the Student Right-to-Know and Campus Security Act, lists incident statistics as required for compliance with all sections of the law.

Health Insurance

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

Employment at RAND

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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. Any project at RAND is a candidate for your Project-Based Research requirement.

Pardee RAND Graduate School is committed to ensuring an equal opportunity workplace for all, including those with disabilities.

Pardee RAND will provide reasonable accommodation to the known physical or mental disabilities of an otherwise qualified individual with a disability or disabled veteran employee or applicant for employment. If you need such an accommodation, you may request it at any time from RAND Human Resources, your supervisor, or the person with whom you are applying for employment. Reasonable accommodations may include assisting in the completion of the application, making appropriate changes to the workplace, job content, work schedules, company practices or procedures necessary to provide an otherwise qualified person the opportunity to perform the essential functions of a particular job without causing RAND undue hardship.

For more information, please refer to RAND Corporation's Equal Employment Opportunity Policy.

Housing and Transportation

Santa Monica Big Blue Bus RapidBlue

Santa Monica's Big Blue Bus

Students are responsible for finding their own place to live; we do not have dormitories. The most common areas in which students reside are Santa Monica, Venice, Palms, Mar Vista, Brentwood, West Los Angeles and Culver City. There are many different types of housing in these areas (e.g., studio apartments, apartments to share or live on your own, and rooms to rent in a house) and are accessible to bike routes and bus lines.

It is very common not to have a car while a student (or not until you are farther along in the program). RAND subsidizes public transportation (bicycling, walking, or taking public transit) for those who use it as their primary method of transportation. The commuter assistance program provides students up to $100 per month when using mass transit (i.e., bus, metro rail); for those who walk, carpool, and bicycle, the reimbursement is $50 per quarter. If you drive a car, RAND does provide free underground parking to students and employees. Additionally, the terminus of the Los Angeles Metro Expo line is in downtown Santa Monica, a few blocks from RAND. This connects Santa Monica by rail to Downtown LA, Pasadena, Long Beach, Culver City, and dozens of other locations across LA County.

Social Life

Students at the annual Welcome BBQ

The RAND campus and surrounding location offer a variety of social outlets when a break from studying and working is needed. RAND’s wine club, music club, and bowling club are quite popular. Students also enjoy Zócalo talks and other social/intellectual events on campus, playing beach soccer or volleyball, surfing, running, bike rides, skating at the beach, ping pong, yoga, outdoor chess, lots of local coffee shops, happy hours (student sponsored or in nearby restaurants), a huge variety of nearby ethnic foods, summer beach concerts, hiking, and more. Student leadership opportunities also exist via volunteering on campus or off, and many opportunities to help support and improve student life await.

Cost of Living

As wonderful as Los Angeles is as a place to live, it can also be expensive. 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.

The International Student Experience

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Students coming back from a lunchtime game of beach volleyball

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 23 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.

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 project-based research 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.

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. Pardee RAND is not a program sponsor of the J-1 visa.

To help international students acclimate, 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.

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

Questions? Contact Us

If you have any general questions or questions about applying, please email prgs@prgs.edu.