The Pardee RAND Core Curriculum

Occupying the first year of study, the core curriculum consists of courses that provide students with a foundation in the research techniques used in policy analysis.

The courses are:

Quantitative Analysis

Empirical Analysis (3 courses):

  • Probability and Statistics - introduces the technical and practical statistical knowledge necessary for providing informed and careful policy analysis.
  • Regression Analysis - covers the uses and limitations of regression techniques in policy analysis
  • Econometrics - considers the problem of estimating causal effects of policies.

Operations Research (one course) - introduces an important set of quantitative tools used to assist decision makers with complex problems of choice in uncertain situations.

Decision Analysis and Cost-Benefit Analysis (two half-courses) - introduces some commonly used analytic tools that can be used to structure policy problems and evaluate options: difference equations, decision analysis, and cost benefit analysis.


Microeconomics I and Microeconomics II (2 courses) - The intention of many public policies is to alter the behavior of consumers and firms in order to improve human welfare or alter the distribution of resources in the economy. At its core, microeconomics is the study of how individuals, firms, and organizations make choices in a world in which resources are scarce. The two courses includes consumer theory, theory of the firm, partial equilibrium analysis, market power, principal-agent analysis, decision making over time, and mechanism design, market equilibrium and market failure

Game Theory (half-course) - Game Theory is a branch of economics that studies situations where players choose different actions in an attempt to maximize their returns.

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Political Foundations of Public Policy Making (one course) - introduces the political environment in which public policies are formed. It also explores the evolution of policy analysis as a distinct field of study and examines how it influences the policy making process.

Social Science Methods (one course) - helps students learn how to translate policy issues into research questions and to make use of social science methods that can help to answer them.

Qualitative Research Methods (half-course) - Qualitative data come in all shapes, sizes, and levels of complexity, including expert interviews, focus groups, open-ended surveys, medical charts, unobtrusive observations, and field notes (to name just a few). This course provides an overview of a wide range of techniques for collecting and analyzing such data.

Core Course Exemptions

Students may be exempted from any core course whose material they have already mastered, with permission of the professor.

Preliminary Examinations

During the summer after the first year, students take a set of preliminary examinations to test their mastery of the core analytical tools. Along with grades in the courses, the results of these exams are used to determine if a student is ready to proceed to the next phase of the program.