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Organizational Behavior Requirements: Micro Track

I. Preparation

As preparation for the program course requirements, some organizational behavior (OB) students, depending on previous preparation, find it useful to complete preparatory coursework in the summer prior to the first year (or in the first year). If you think you might not be prepared for the course requirements, you should ask questions of advanced OB students or the doctoral liaison.

II. Course Requirements

All required courses must be taken for a grade (not pass/fail or credit/no credit). Exceptions are made if the required course is offered pass/fail or credit/no credit only. Each course must be passed with a grade of P or B- or better. Substitutions of required courses require approval from the faculty liaison. Waiving a course requirement based on similar doctoral level course completed elsewhere requires the approval of the course instructor, faculty liaison, and the PhD Program Office.

Students are responsible for having completed all courses in the prescribed period. Except for the breadth requirement courses, students are expected to take required graduate courses as soon as they are offered — many seminars are only offered every other year.

Topics Courses
Field Courses
(4 courses)
  • OB671 Introduction to the Social Psychology of Organizations (year 1)
  • OB660 Topics in Organizational Behavior: Individual processes (year 1 or 2)
  • OB661 Topics in Organizational Behavior: Intragroup processes (year 1 or 2)
  • OB662 Topics in Organizational Behavior: Intergroup processes (year 1 or 2)
Methods Courses
(2 courses + DPER)
  • OB652 Statistical Methods for Behavioral and Social Sciences (year 1)
  • OB675 Micro Research Methods (year 1 or 2)
  • OB678 Design and Process of Experimental Research (DPER) (every AY quarter in years 1 to 3)
Breadth Courses
(2 courses)
  • OB 672 Organization and Environment 
  • HRMGT 302 Incentives and Productivity (year 1, 2, or 3)

III. Practicum

Every quarter, students in the program receive a grade for a research or teaching practicum reflecting, at the very least, completion of the following requirements.For every quarter of enrollment in years one through five, students are expected to be conducting research under the supervision of at least one micro OB faculty member. In years one through five, students are expected to attend and participate in all micro-OB talks. Furthermore, in years one through three during the AY, students are expected to attend three non-micro-OB talks at Stanford GSB (e.g., macro-OB, Marketing, Political Economy, Economics). At least once in years three through five, students will complete a teaching practicum by assisting a faculty member with instruction (in addition to the requirements of the research practicum).

IV. Field Examination

The exam will take place in the summer of the first year, and will consist of an eight-hour, closed-book, in-class exam. Students will answer three types of exam questions.

  • Defining Concepts. Short questions that ensure that students can define common theories, hypotheses, effects, methods, etc.
  • Identifying Alternative Hypotheses. Students will read a short summary of a finding couched as supporting a prediction within a theoretical framework. Students will propose a different explanation for this effect than the one put forward by the authors, and design and propose a study that would enable the authors to rule out this alternative.
  • Review/Critique a Manuscript. Students will read a brief research report and will review it like a journal referee would.

To prepare for the exam, students should read broadly during their first year and engage in seminars to develop their critical and research design skills. While the faculty reserve the right to ask questions on any topic that they deem important, at the very minimum students should actively engage with the materials covered in their required classes and seminars, including the Wednesday micro-OB talks.

V. Second-Year Research Paper

By the end of the winter quarter in year two, each student will submit a research paper prepared under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Students will present this research paper in the OB seminar in the spring quarter of year two. While research is done in collaboration with their faculty advisor, this paper should be the student’s own written work. This paper and presentation are key ways that the OB faculty track the progress of students in their second year and play a major role in the student’s second-year evaluation.

VI. Dissertation Proposal

Students submit a proposal for a dissertation topic in the third year of the program. In this five-page (single-spaced) proposal, students are expected to concentrate on theorizing; the document should not contain references to data or plans for empirical research.

The first draft of the proposal must be submitted to a micro-OB faculty member (whom the student has identified as a potential advisor) by the last day of the fall quarter in the third year. A final draft of the proposal must be approved by that faculty member (or another) by the last day of the winter quarter. The student must then obtain support for the proposal from two additional faculty members by May 1 in the third year.

An approved dissertation proposal supported by three micro-OB faculty members is a field-specific requirement for advancement to candidacy. The designated faculty advisor and the two supporting faculty members who approve the proposal may or may not wind up being the student’s dissertation advisor or dissertation reading committee members.

VII. Teaching Requirement

The Stanford GSB PhD Program requires that students have at least one quarter of teaching experience before completing the degree. OB-micro students fulfill this requirement by completing the teaching practicum described above.

VIII. Candidacy

Admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree is a judgment by the faculty of the student’s potential to successfully complete the requirements of the degree program. To apply for candidacy, students must fulfill all course requirements, research papers, field exam(s), and designate a principal research advisor. Students are required to advance to candidacy by September 1 before the start of their fourth year in the program.

IX. University Oral Exams

The oral examination is a defense of the dissertation work in progress. The student orally presents and defends the thesis work in progress at a stage when it is one-half to two-thirds complete. The oral examination committee tests the student on the theory and methodology underlying the research, the areas of application and portions of the major field to which the research is relevant, and the significance of the dissertation research. Students are required to successfully complete the oral exams by September 1 before the start of their fifth year in the program.

X. Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is expected to be an original contribution to scholarship or scientific knowledge, to exemplify the highest standards of the discipline, and to be of lasting value to the intellectual community. The dissertation work is typically conducted under the supervision of and in collaboration with the adviser; however, the dissertation document is expected to be written primarily by the student with feedback and suggestions on drafts from the adviser and the committee.