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Operations, Information, & Technology Requirements

I. Preparation in Quantitative Methods & Economics

Students admitted to the Operations, Information, and Technology (OIT) program typically have had substantial preparation in various aspects of mathematics. The faculty assumes that students are familiar with calculus (to the level of an undergraduate course in “advanced calculus”), linear algebra, real analysis, and probability.

Admitted students may not have encountered linear programming, constrained optimization, microeconomics, or statistics. Students without background in any of these areas will find it useful to do some reading prior to entering the program. Textbooks that are prescribed for junior/senior-level undergraduate courses in these areas are appropriate reading material.

II. General Program Requirement (GPR)

All students are encouraged to fulfill the general program requirement during their first year of study. Each course must be passed with a grade of P or B- or better. Interpretation of the LP grade will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Any changes to the GPR or Field Course Requirement (FCR) will be “grandfathered.” Students are responsible for fulfilling the requirements in place at the time they entered the program.

In rare cases, the director of the PhD Program may waive a general program requirement for a student based on similar PhD-level coursework completed elsewhere. Substitutions as shown below can be arranged through the doctoral liaison, in some cases, for students with prior background in the indicated topic.

Students must take three GPR courses, one course in each of the following three topics: microeconomic analysis, econometrics, and organizations/psychology.

Topic Courses Possible Substitutes
Economics MGTECON 600: Microeconomic Analysis I or
ECON 202N: Core Economics: Modules 1 and 2 For Non-Economics PhD Students
MGTECON 601: Microeconomic Analysis II
ECON 203N: Core Economics: Modules 5 & 6 For Non-Economics PhD Students
Econometrics MGTECON 603: Econometric Methods I or
ECON 270: Intermediate Econometrics I*
MGTECON 604: Econometric Methods II
MGTECON 605: Econometric Methods III
ECON 271: Intermediate Econometrics II
ECON 272: Intermediate Econometrics III
STATS 305: Introduction to Statistical Modeling
Organizations/ Psychology

GSBGEN 646: Behavioral Decision Making or
OB 671: Social Psychology of Organizations or
OB 672: Organizations and Environment or
OB 676: Social and Political Processes in Organizations or
OB 686: Behavioral Organization Theory or
PSYCH 212: Social Psychology or
PSYCH 256: Decisions and Judgment


*Some courses in the Statistics Department can substitute for this course.

Every student, beginning in year one, will sign up for the required GSBGEN 699: Practicum in Research course for one unit. In terms during which students are doing a teaching practicum, they would sign up for GSBGEN 698: Practicum in Teaching.

GSB 699: Practicum in Research or
GSB 698: Practicum in Teaching

III. Field Course Requirement (FCR) & Field Exams

During the pre-candidacy period, students in the Operations, Information, and Technology program complete their general program requirement, their summer research paper requirement, and a two-part field examination.

The first part of the field examination (first-year exam), administered at the end of a student’s first year, is an exam on mathematical models and methods from the five foundational areas listed below. To prepare students for this exam, the faculty each year specifies a set of six to eight courses in Stanford GSB and other Stanford departments, plus supplementary readings on some occasions. The designated courses vary according to what is offered. Each course must be passed with a grade of P or B- or better. Interpretation of the LP grade will be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Applied Probability and Stochastic Processes

Models of stochastic phenomena and their applications. Included are axiomatic probability, stochastic processes in discrete and continuous time, and specially structured models of queuing and inventory systems.

Decision Theory and Economic Analysis

The study of decision-making by individuals and groups. Included are aspects of game theory and information economics.

Mathematical Programming

Deterministic optimization models including linear programming, convex analysis, and nonlinear programming.

Sequential Decision and Control

Dynamic optimization, especially in stochastic environments. Included are dynamic programming models and adaptive stochastic control.

Game Theory

Students must take one of the following courses:

ECON 203: Core Economics: Modules 5 and 6
MGTECON 601: Microeconomic Analysis II
MS&E 336: Topics in Game Theory with Engineering Applications

The second half of the field examination (second-year exam) is administered at the end of a student’s second year, with its emphasis on the functional field of operations, information, and technology. Recognition is given to differing courses of study.

Training and research in OIT center around technological systems from operational and informational perspectives. Research topics of OIT include the design, production, and delivery of goods and services, as well as the management of computing and information resources. Examples are production scheduling and control, systems design, inventory theory, capacity planning and performance modeling, multifunctional coordination, contractual relations with vendors and customers, performance measures and incentive systems to support production of goods and services, design and performance of information and decision support systems, pricing and capacity planning, the demand and supply of information services, economics of software, and the role of information in managerial decision making in organizations and in markets.

The student and an advisor from the Operations, Information, and Technology faculty jointly select appropriate advanced courses to prepare the candidate to demonstrate sufficient preparation for related independent research. For students with adequate prior training, the pre-candidacy period is expected to be two years.

IV. Breadth Requirement

Each student is required to pass a course in two of the following three subject areas:

Topic Courses
Accounting ACCT 610: Seminar in Empirical Accounting Research
ACCT 611: Applications of Information Economics in Management and Accounting
ACCT 612: Financial Reporting Seminar
Finance Course numbered FINANCE 62X
Marketing Course numbered MKTG 64X

V. Summer Research Paper Requirement

Each student is expected to sign up with a faculty advisor by the end of the second year and will fulfill the summer paper requirement by completing a paper under the supervision of this faculty advisor during the summer after the second year.

The faculty advisor will provide a “Pass/Fail” grade for the paper before the student can be considered for candidacy for the doctoral degree. If the advisor grades the paper as “Fail,” the student will not be allowed to advance to candidacy until s/he has rewritten the summer paper to the satisfaction of the advisor. If the student changes faculty advisors after the summer of the second year, the current advisor will provide the grade.

VI. Admission to Candidacy

Admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree includes satisfactory completion of the general program, major field, breadth, and summer paper requirements. At this stage in the Doctoral Program, students generally are prepared to embark on research that will lay the groundwork for a dissertation.

A member of Stanford GSB faculty who agrees to act as a research advisor for the student must certify that the student is so prepared. Therefore, prior to filing for candidacy, it is important that students begin to develop “research advisory” relationships with faculty members. To conduct research on a particular subject, it will almost always be necessary to complete coursework beyond the area requirements.

VII. Dissertation

All students must pass an oral examination on their proposed thesis topic by the end of their fourth year in the program. Students complete their dissertation and all requirements of the program by the end of the fifth year in the program.

VIII. Sample Course Schedule 

The following programs are examples of possible course schedules; university scheduling of these courses may fluctuate across quarters. All students fulfill the general program and breadth requirements, as well as attending all Operations, Information, and Technology workshops. The elective courses may differ from these examples depending on the student’s background and interests, and course availability.

Scheduling of courses may vary each academic year. In some cases the courses may not be offered in the same quarter as the example listed below:

First-Year Students
Autumn Quarter
MGTECON 600: Microeconomic Analysis I / ECON 202: Core Economics: Modules 1 and 2(b)
STATS 217: Introduction to Stochastic Processes(a)
OIT 670: Applied Dynamic Optimization
MS&E 211: Linear and Nonlinear Optimization(a)
Winter Quarter
OIT 662: Workshop in Operations/Information Systems(a)
STATS 218: Introduction to Stochastic Processes(a)
MATH 171: Fundamental Concepts of Analysis
OIT 671: Information and Contracting in Supply Chains
Spring Quarter
OIT 661: Foundations of Operations/Information Systems(a)
MS&E 335: Queuing and Scheduling in Processing Networks
OIT 664: Stochastic Processing Networks
MS&E 223: Simulation
Second-Year Students
Autumn Quarter
MS&E 313: Vector Space Optimization
STATS 310A: Theory of Probability
ECON 270: Intermediate Econometrics I/MGTECON 603: Econometric Methods I(b)
MS&E 361: Supply Chain Optimization
Winter Quarter
MS&E 321: Stochastic Systems
STATS 310B: Theory of Probability
FINANCE 620: Introduction to Financial Economics(c)
MKTG 643: Marketing Seminar: Product Planning(c)
ECON 203: Price and Allocation Theory II
OIT 663: Methods of Operations/Information Systems
CS 245A: Database System Principles
Spring Quarter
STATS 310C: Theory of Probability
MKTG 644: Quantitative Research in Marketing(c)
OIT 669: Doctoral Seminar in OIT

(a)Covers topics required on first-year exam
(b)General program requirement
(c)Breadth requirement

The doctoral workshops will vary in content, but over a two-year period will cover fundamental tools and applied aspects of operations and information systems.

There are many other courses taken by PhD students that are offered in departments outside Stanford GSB, such as Computer Science, Economics, Management Science and Engineering, Mathematics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, and StatisticsFind descriptions of these course offerings at Stanford’s Explore Courses site.