Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Certificate Programs in Law and Public Policy

Southwestern Partners with RAND for Law and Public Policy Certificate Programs Southwestern and the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS) have established two exciting certificate programs to provide law students and public policy Ph.D. students the opportunity to complement their degree programs with a unique understanding of the interplay between the law and public policy.

Through these certificate programs, qualified Southwestern students can take courses in public policy at PRGS, leading to a Certificate in Public Policy, and qualified students at PRGS can take courses at Southwestern, leading to a Certificate in Legal Studies. These are not joint degree programs; instead, they are intended to provide participating students with a basic knowledge of law and public policy and an understanding of the tools and frameworks relevant to each field.

There are virtually no programs available to meet the needs of policy Ph.D. students who wish to gain substantial exposure to law school course work or law students seeking to gain an understanding of public policy without the requirement of an additional degree. Our new certificate programs provide a very practical solution.

Graduates who hold either the Certificate in Legal Studies or the Certificate in Public Policy will acquire skills and knowledge that should allow them to rise to leadership roles in a number of policy-making and legal organizations including government agencies, nonprofit groups, law firms and private-sector corporations.

The certificate programs will be small and highly competitive with approximately two to four students from each school each year. The schools will select candidates for the program from among their student bodies. The hosting school will make final admission decisions; however, students will generally be from the top 20% of their graduate school/law school class at the end of their first year of study. Southwestern students will have up to two years to complete the policy certificate program, and PRGS students must complete the law certificate program within three years.

"Our nation's public policies are largely contained in legislation and regulations grounded in the law and impact nearly every aspect of the public, commercial and private sectors. Both law and public policy students can therefore benefit tremendously from a more holistic understanding of the interconnectivity of law and public policy."

- Dean Susan Marquis, Pardee RAND Graduate School


Students will be selected on a case-by-case basis from the top 20% of their class or cohort. Each school will select their applicants for the appropriate certificate program and the hosting school will then evaluate those applications to determine admissions.

Southwestern students will be eligible to enter the certificate program after completion of their first year of law school. To enroll in any quantitative courses at PRGS, students will have to demonstrate competency in math through college transcripts or GRE scores at a level similar to PRGS students, or by taking Mathematics for Policy Analysis.

PRGS students may enter the certificate program after completion of their first or second year of the Ph.D. program and must successfully complete their qualifying exams prior to commencing the program.

Academic Credit

Students will need to complete 12 Southwestern units for the Legal Studies Certificate or 6 PRGS units for the Public Policy Certificate. All students participating in the certificate programs will be required to take a foundational course, History of Contemporary Law and Public Policy, included in the unit count for both certificates (1 PRGS unit, 2 SW units). This course, as well as two others, will also count toward the students' degrees at their home institutions. Southwestern students will also be required to take the introductory course, Perspectives on Public Policy Analysis (1 PRGS unit, 2 SW units).

All approved units taken at one school will transfer to the other school as credit/no credit using the equivalencies shown in the Certificate Requirements table. Students must earn a grade of C+ or better to receive course credit. Southwestern students must complete the certificate program requirements within two years. PRGS students must complete the certificate program requirements within three years. Other than Perspectives on Public Policy Analysis and Mathematics for Policy Analysis, students may take required and elective courses at their own pace and in order of preference or convenience.

Program Required Credits for Certificate Credit Counting Toward Degree
Public Policy Certificate 6 units at PRGS (generally 6-8 classes at 0.5 - 1.0 unit each)* 3 PRGS units may be counted toward the Southwestern J.D.*
Legal Studies Certificate 12 units at Southwestern
(generally 6-8 classes at 1.0 - 4.0 units each)*
6 Southwestern units may be counted toward the PRGS PhD.*

Unit Conversion (SW = PRGS)

1.0 = 0.5 2.0 = 1.0 3.0 = 1.5 4.0 = 2.0

*The units for the required foundational course are included in the counts above.


Students accepted into the certificate program may choose from a wide variety of courses eligible for credit at both schools, such as Principles in Client-Oriented Policy Analysis, Organizational Culture of Government Institutions, and Cost Benefit and Cost Effectiveness Analysis (PRGS courses), and Children and the Law, Environmental Law, and International Dispute Resolution (Southwestern courses).

Click here for a list of courses that count toward the Certificate in Legal Studies. A list of courses for the Certificate in Public Policy can be found on the PRGS website.

Application Process and Tuition

The Southwestern-PRGS Certificate Programs are only open to current Southwestern and PRGS students.

Students accepted into the certificate program will pay no additional tuition to the partner institution provided that they complete the certificate requirements concurrent with earning their J.D. or Ph.D.

Current Southwestern students can find the application and instructions on MySouthwestern (log-in required).

Contact Information

For Southwestern students:
Ayumi Nakamoto, Director of Registration and Interdisciplinary Programs

For PRGS students:
Director of Admissions
Pardee RAND Graduate School
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90407
Phone: (310) 393-0411, ext. 7690

Pardee RAND Graduate SchoolPardee RAND Graduate School

The Pardee RAND Graduate School is unique in American higher education. Founded in 1970 as one of the original eight graduate programs in public policy, PRGS was the only program specializing in the Ph.D. degree. It is also the only one based at a think tank, the RAND Corporation, and is unique in focusing its core curriculum on analytic tools and methodologies including economics, statistics, operations research, and social and behavioral science research methods. With its long history of 40+ years, PRGS has granted over 295 public policy Ph.D.s, more than any other institution. PRGS includes students from 28 different nations making up 32% of the student body, and 65% of PRGS students have advanced degrees (including J.D., M.D., M.B.A., M.A., and M.S.) prior to entering the PRGS program. The vast majority of entering students have work experience across a range of fields including government service, nonprofits, engineering and medicine, and go on to be policy developers and leaders at the local, state, national and international levels including at institutions such as the World Bank, the State Department, USAID, the FBI and the Urban Institute.

Special reception for Rebecca Ann Simon, first student to earn Certificate in Public Policy from PRGS and Southwestern

First Southwestern Student Completes Public Policy Certificate Through RAND Partnership

Rebecca Ann Simon became the first student from the law school to earn a Certificate in Public Policy through the Southwestern/Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS) partnership. A special reception to mark the occasion was held at the RAND campus in Santa Monica.

"Southwestern's partnership with PRGS provides a tremendous opportunity for our students to augment their legal studies with additional tools that will better position them for leadership roles in a variety of key policy settings," Southwestern Dean Susan Prager said. "It was wonderful to celebrate this milestone with Rebecca as our first certificate graduate." Read more.