Degree Requirements

Our PhD program curriculum is designed to prepare you to meet the highest standards of scholarship.

Whether rigorously preparing in the basic disciplines or producing papers of original research, students hit the ground running and work closely with faculty from day one. Students have clear and defined milestones that help guide them toward successful completion of their degrees. Our students complete the program in four to five years, prepared to excel in a career in research and academia at top institutions around the world.


You’ll be required to complete courses in your chosen field and in other disciplines. Depending on the field, you might take as much as 50% of your coursework outside Stanford GSB.

Field Examination

By the end of the second year, you must pass an examination measuring your depth of knowledge and comprehension of your chosen field’s methodology, theoretical construction, and empirical evidence.

Summer Research Papers

While requirements vary by field, all students are required to submit papers of their original research at the end of either the first or second summer, or both summers.


Research and teaching apprenticeships are an integral part of your doctoral education. You’ll have opportunities to work closely with faculty, and develop the skills necessary for research and teaching careers. You’ll also participate in doctoral seminars and research colloquia with your peers and faculty in your field and across the university.

Annual Evaluations

Each spring, faculty members meet to evaluate every student’s performance over the course of the previous year. This annual review ensures that you’re making strong progress toward completion of your degree. You’ll receive a written evaluation at the end of each year.

Advancement to Candidacy

Becoming a doctoral candidate signifies the faculty’s recognition that you have completed certain degree requirements and its confidence that you’re prepared to complete the dissertation.

University Oral Examination

You will orally present and defend the dissertation work in progress at a stage when it is one-half to two-thirds complete.


The dissertation is the final requirement for the PhD. It must be a significant contribution in a scholarly field and must be of publishable quality.

Typical Timeline

Year Three

Year Four