Earn Your Master’s in International Policy from Stanford University’s Global Leaders

Senator Elizabeth Warren talks to students from the Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy at the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Photo by Nicole Feldman/FSI.

Featuring Stanford’s Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy (MIP) at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI). Q&A with the program’s director: former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul. A version of this post originally appeared in Foreign Affairs.

In the foreign policy realm, there’s only so much you can learn in a classroom. As global threats transform constantly, experience in the field is just as important. The Ford Dorsey Master’s in International Policy (MIP) recognizes that both aspects of learning are critical for life after Stanford. In the program, students build policy and interact with professionals to develop the skills they will need as global leaders.

Students chat with former Executive Director of the World Food Programme and current Payne Distinguished Lecturer at FSI Ertharin Cousin. Photo by Rod Searcey/FSI.

How does Stanford’s Master’s in International Policy prepare tomorrow’s leaders to deal with the changing nature of conflict and peaceful resolution?

Students graduate with skills that contemporary policymakers need: decision-making, research methodology, quantitative analysis, and more. Since students can take courses in different departments and schools, many augment their policy skills with finance, computer science, management, language, etc. Collaborating across fields gives our students the ability to navigate the different areas and perspectives that they will encounter in their careers.

Students study one of our five areas of specialization, which include Energy, Natural Resources, and the Environment; Global Health; Governance and Development; International Security; and our newest specialization, Cyber Policy and Security. This new specialization is designed to address the growing importance that cyber and other factors have on international policy.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia and current FSI Director Michael McFaul (left) and former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea and current FSI fellow Kathleen Stephens (right) have both taught courses to students in the master’s degree program. Photo by Ben Zweig/FSI.

In the ever-changing geopolitical landscape, how does the master’s degree offer students networking and career opportunities?

Stanford and FSI are home to world-renowned scholars and researchers with incredible policy experience, from former ambassadors to key players in Silicon Valley. FSI sports the rare combination of leaders in academic fields who are also experienced practitioners. The institute regularly hosts policymakers from around the globe in small, intimate meetings for our students. Throughout the school year, students also visit some of Silicon Valley’s most exciting enterprises to gain insight into their policy and management.

Because MIP is a small and collaborative program, we have strong ties to alumni, who routinely participate in career panels and provide introductions, internships, and career opportunities for current students. Real-world experience, combined with networking opportunities from different sectors and industries, equip our students to become leaders in international policy.

A student presents her practicum project. Photo by Kim Renk/FSI.

What’s new in the program?

We are firm believers that the program and its curriculum should be responsive to the ever-changing global landscape. We reevaluate our curriculum every 10 years to make sure students are ready for leadership roles, engineering policy, and spurring innovation. Our new curriculum reflects technology’s growing role in all dimensions of international affairs. It also provides more original learning experiences, including lab projects, interactive case method teaching, and mentorship from Stanford’s distinguished faculty. Under the program, senior faculty teach most of the core courses as well as those required in the areas of specialization.

Professor Francis Fukuyama and students visit experts in Argentina. Photo courtesy of FSI.

What are the highlights of the redesigned curriculum?

One of the most exciting updates is our redesigned capstone practicum, Engineering Policy Change, which students take in their second year. The practicum, which is taught by Francis Fukuyama and Jeremy Weinstein, partners small student teams with real-world organizations to tackle pressing policy problems. For projects based abroad, the program supports team travel for field research. The curriculum provides flexibility — students can pursue their academic interests in a truly interdisciplinary way, including opportunities with Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, Law School, and design school.