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A Curriculum Focused on Public Policy Analysis

Pardee RAND Degree Requirements

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

Pardee RAND Graduate School offers only one degree: The Doctor of Philosophy in Policy Analysis.

The Ph.D. program consists of four elements:

1. An Interdisciplinary Curriculum

In the first year, students complete a rigorous core curriculum, covering mathematics, statistics, economics, operations research, ethics, and social and behavioral sciences. They are tested on their mastery of this material during qualifying exams in the summer. The First Year Review Committee then meets to determine whether students should continue in the program.

In the second year, students complete the remaining core courses and begin their elective coursework. Elective courses and tutorials cover a wide range of substantive and methodological topics and allow students to tailor their course load to their own needs. In addition, students may elect to focus their studies in one of three analytic concentrations: economics, quantitative methods, or social and behavioral sciences.

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2. Project-Based Research (or "On-the-Job Training")

At Pardee RAND, we strongly believe that students should be exposed to the professional aspects of policy analysis. As such, experiential learning has been a graduation requirement since the School’s inception.

Starting in their first year, students begin acquiring practical experience by working as paid members of RAND research teams. In later years, students often pursue additional experiential learning opportunities outside of the RAND environment.

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3. Specialization in a Substantive Area

We strongly believe that students should leave the program having a deep substantive understanding of at least one policy area. Examples include as national security, health, education, energy and environment, labor and population, economic development, or civil justice and regulation.

Students define their own area of specialization and demonstrate that they have acquired a thorough understanding of the topic through course work, on-the-job-training experiences and work related to their dissertations.

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4. A Policy-Relevant Dissertation

Finally, students write and defend a doctoral dissertation. They are guided though the dissertation process by a committee of both RAND researchers as well as outside experts. The committee begins by helping students identify relevant policy problems and appropriate research questions.

Students are expected to complete and orally defend a written dissertation proposal before engaging fully in a rigorous data collection and analysis process. As part of the dissertation, students are also expected to address the policy implications of their work.

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The Pardee RAND Curriculum is under continuous review. Course offerings and requirements are therefore subject to change.