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As a POLS student, you will join a diverse and enterprising cohort, complete 45 units within 3 consecutive quarters (Autumn-Spring) at Stanford, 27 units of which will be within the Graduate School of Education (GSE). In addition, as part of the year-long POLS seminar and workshop, students complete a field project of significant personal interest that addresses a specific educational challenge.

The Curriculum

POLS gives students a high degree of flexibility in assembling an individualized selection of courses corresponding to their interests. In addition to courses offered by the GSE, POLS students take courses in other Stanford schools and departments, including the Graduate School of Business, the Law School, Public Policy, and Engineering.

Within the 45-unit total, two requirements apply to all POLS students:

  • Two courses (at least 6 credits) designated as Methods courses. These might include courses in qualitative or quantitative research design, statistics, survey design, econometrics, research design, or data analysis. Students with prior background in research methods are strongly encouraged to take more advanced courses.
  • One quarter of POLS Seminar (3 credits), and two quarters of Field Project Labs (6 or more credits; see below).

The Field Project

The field project is a cornerstone of the POLS experience, providing each student the opportunity to gain experience in a specialized setting and apply theory and methods to real-world problems. Students spend approximately 150 hours over the course of two quarters at sites such as a school or university, an ed-tech startup, a research group, an education consultancy, a nonprofit philanthropic organization or an impact investor. Students may choose from among a group of pre-arranged sites or may negotiate their own site.

The field project is intended to lead to a defined “deliverable” by the end of the Spring quarter.  This deliverable can be a research report, a policy paper, a business plan, a curriculum, or other output that effectively demonstrates student accomplishment while also bringing tangible insight to the site. Students present summaries of their deliverables in a public conference at the end of each academic year.  

Students meet weekly in the Winter and Spring quarters in field project workshops to share progress and receive advice.  Each workshop group includes 8-10 students and is convened by GSE faculty and advanced doctoral students. Additional information may be found in About Field Projects.

View 2020 field projects

MA Education (POLS sub-plan) / MPP

The MA Education/MPP Joint Degree Program is a two year (six quarters) program that allows students to pursue an MA in Education at the Graduate School of Education and a Mater's in Public Policy degree from the Public Policy Program at the School of Humanities and Sciences simultaneously.  The MA and MPP degrees earned independently would require 3 years, but because of overlapping curricula, the joint degree requires two years to complete. 

Students attracted to this joint degree have a wide variety of interests in education, including education policy, education management, education technology, and teaching and learning. This joint degree program provides students an opportunity to further develop analytical skills and policy analysis perspectives in addition to receiving an in-depth education in economic and political science points of view on policy.

Students in this joint degree program will spend their first year taking both Public Policy core courses, Education electives, and completing a POLS Field Project. The second year is typically devoted to intensive Education study and the completion of the MPP practicum.

What you need to know

Admission requirements

To learn more about requirements for admission, please visit the Application Requirements page.

Financing your education

To learn more about the cost of the program and options for financial support, please visit Financing Your Master’s Degree on the admissions website.

Contact admissions

For admissions webinars and to connect with the admission office, see our  Connect and Visit page.

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