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MGTSC-PHD - Management Science and Engineering (PhD)

Management Science and Engineering Mgmt Sci & Engineering PHD - Doctor of Philosophy

Program Overview

The PhD degree in MS&E is intended for students primarily interested in a career of research and teaching or high-level technical work in universities, industry, or government. The program requires three years of full-time graduate study, at least two years of which must be at Stanford. Typically, however, students take four to five years after entering the program to complete all PhD requirements. The PhD requires a minimum of 135 units, up to 45 units, which may be transferred from another graduate program. The PhD is organized around the expectation that the students acquire a certain breadth across all department areas and depth in one of them. The current areas are:

  • Computational Social Science

  • Decision and Risk Analysis

  • Operations Research

  • Organizations, Technology, and Entrepreneurship

  • Policy and Strategy

  • Quantitative Finance

Doctoral students are required to take a seminar in autumn quarter specifically designed for first-year students (breadth) and several specified courses in one of the areas of the department (depth). All courses used to satisfy depth requirements must be taken for a letter grade if the letter-graded option is available. Before candidacy, at least three units of work must be taken with each of four Stanford faculty members.

Each student admitted to the PhD program must pass an area qualification procedure. The qualification procedure aims to assess the student’s command of the field and evaluate their potential to complete a high-quality dissertation based on research that must make an original contribution to knowledge promptly.

Finally, the student must complete a PhD dissertation and pass a university oral examination, which is a defense of the dissertation. During the PhD program, students who do not have a master’s degree are strongly encouraged to complete one, either in MS&E or in another Stanford department.

Degree Progress and Student Responsibility

Each doctoral student’s progress is reviewed annually by the MS&E faculty. Typically, this occurs at a faculty meeting at the end of spring quarter, and an appropriate email notification is sent over the summer to the student and their advisor. The student is responsible for initiating each required step in completing the PhD program.

Annual Doctoral Student Degree and Career Progress Meeting (IDP)

Students are expected to meet annually with their advisors to take stock, set goals, and develop an action plan for the coming year. This worksheet, endorsed by the Committee on Graduate Studies, can help facilitate such conversations. Please complete this form to let us know when you have completed each year’s discussion.

To maintain good standing in the degree program, first-year students must:

  • Complete 30 units, including the first-year seminar and doctoral courses taught by faculty in their research area

  • Develop relationships with faculty members who can serve as dissertation advisors or reading committee members. A faculty member is more likely to accept the responsibility of supervising the research of a student they know reasonably well than a student whose abilities, initiative, and originality the faculty member knows less well. It is recommended that students participate in research rotations with MS&E and related faculty to facilitate the development of these relationships.

To maintain good standing in the degree program, second-year students must:

  • Complete at least two one-quarter research rotations or tutorials, or one two-quarter research rotation, tutorial, or research paper, continuing to develop relationships with faculty members who might serve as dissertation advisors or reading committee members

  • Pass an area-qualifying exam or defense of the written paper(s)

  • Submit a candidacy form signed by at least one MS&E faculty member with whom they have or will complete research rotations, tutorials, or papers, and listing the course requirements agreed upon by both the student and the program advisor

  • Complete 30 units, including most, if not all, of the required courses listed on the candidacy form

  • Be advanced to candidacy by the faculty

To maintain good standing in the degree program, third-year students must:

  • Submit a progress form listing the dissertation topic and signed by the dissertation advisor (if the dissertation advisor is not an MS&E faculty member, the form must also be signed by an MS&E faculty member who agrees to be on the student’s reading committee, as well as the student’s point of contact within the department)

  • Complete 30 units, including any remaining depth courses.

To maintain good standing in the degree program, fourth-year students must:

  • Select a reading committee (a dissertation advisor and two readers) with at least one member from the student’s major department, and submit the reading committee form signed by each member of the reading committee

  • Make satisfactory progress on their dissertation as determined by their dissertation advisor

  • Complete 30 dissertation units (if the student has not transferred any previous graduate units to Stanford)

To maintain good standing in the degree program beyond the fourth year, students must make satisfactory progress on their dissertation as determined by their dissertation advisor and approved by the faculty. Indeed, the dissertation advisor will have to present the case to (and seek approval for the student’s good standing from) the faculty in the annual faculty meeting for student review. It should be noted that each student inherently has to pass the oral examination (see below) and submit their dissertation before their candidacy expires.

Additionally, students must perform well in all assistantship positions to remain in good standing and eligible for funding.

Any exceptional cases for a student to remain in good standing based on extenuating circumstances must be presented to and approved by the whole faculty.