Operations, Information & Technology Requirements

I. Preparation

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. Course Requirements and First Year Field Exam

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. OIT students are expected to fulfill the course requirements with a preponderance of H and A grades. 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 expected to complete required courses in years 1 and 2.

Topic Courses
First Year Field Exam (4 courses)

The first year field exam, administered in the summer of a student’s first year, covers mathematical models and methods from two foundational areas: applied probability and stochastic processes and mathematical programming.

Students are required to take four courses in the first year that will prepare him or her for the field exam. Depending on the student’s academic background, the student may need to take up to six courses to prepare for the field exam. Stanford and GSB course offerings may vary from year to year. Students should consult their faculty liaison about course selections every quarter in preparation for the field exam.

Applied Probability and Stochastic Processes

  • STATS 219 Stochastic Processes OR STATS 310A Theory of Probability I
  • MS&E 321 Stochastic Systems

Mathematical Programming

  • MS&E 310 Linear Programming
  • EE 364A Convex Optimization I OR MS&E 311 Optimization

Recommended Courses

  • STATS 217 Introduction to Stochastic Processes I
  • MATH 171 Fundamental Concepts of Analysis

MATH 171 is recommended for students with less preparation in real analysis and cannot be used as a substitute for the stochastic requirements.

Methodology Courses (2 courses)
  • MS&E 351 Dynamic Programming and Stochastic Control

One of the following courses:

  • MS&E 322 Stochastic Calculus and Control
  • OIT 664 Stochastic Networks
  • STATS 310A Theory of Probability
Game Theory and Microeconomics
(2 courses)
  • MGTECON 600 Microeconomic Analysis I*
  • ECON 203 Microeconomics II

*GSBGEN 675 Microeconomic Theory is a possible substitute for this course.

Statistics and Econometrics
(1 course)
  • MGTECON 604 Econometric Methods II
  • ECON 271 Intermediate Econometrics II
  • STAT 305A Introduction to Statistical Modeling

Possible substitutes:

  • MGTECON 605 Econometric Methods III
  • ECON 272 Intermediate Econometrics III

Students with no background in statistics are encouraged to take one of the following two courses (in addition to the requirement above):

  • MGTECON 603 Econometric Methods I
  • ECON 270 Intermediate Econometrics I
Behavioral Decision Making
(1 course)
  • ECON 278 Behavioral and Experimental Economics I
  • GSBGEN 646 Behavioral Decision Making
  • OB 671 Social Psychology of Organizations
  • OB 672 Organization and Environment
  • OB 686 Behavioral Organization Theory

Doctoral level behavioral courses in Accounting, Finance, Marketing, or Economics may also fulfill this requirement.

III. Practicum

Students are required to sign up for either research or teaching practicum each quarter of enrollment. Below is a description of the practicum requirements for OIT students.

Year 1: In each quarter of the first academic year, students are expected to attend the OIT seminar. Before summer, students are expected to begin working with one faculty member on their first research project.

Year 2: In each quarter of the second year, in addition to attending OIT seminars, students will work with a faculty member of their choice on a research project.

Years 3-5: In each quarter of the third, fourth, and fifth years, in addition to attending OIT seminars, students will work with a faculty member of their choice on a research project. In three different quarters during years 3-5, students are expected to enroll in a practicum in teaching or serve as a course assistant in an OIT course. Students should participate in the teaching of at least two different OIT courses, rather than have a 3-time-repeat-engagement in the same course.

IV. Second Year Field Exam

During the second year if not sooner, each OIT PhD student is expected to sign up with a faculty advisor that will engage with the student on a research project of interest to the OIT area. The second-year field exam is designed to evaluate a student’s progress on that research project. The second-year field exam consists of two parts – a research paper and an oral examination. In the paper and oral exam, the student should demonstrate mastery of a problem area, relevant literature and applicable methods, and should demonstrate some progress towards solving the problem.

  1. The oral exam will typically be held at the end of the summer quarter in the students’ second year, and the research paper must be submitted before the oral exam. The exact date for the oral exam will be decided by the exam committee.
  2. The paper should be succinct and clear. The target length is 15 pages with 1.5 spacing. A student that would like to submit a paper significantly shorter or longer than 15 pages should consult with the faculty member organizing the exam.
  3. The oral part of the exam will consist of two parts. The first part will be an open presentation as in the OIT seminar of about 30 minutes. The second part (about 45 minutes) will be a closed oral exam limited to the exam committee.
  4. The student will present a research problem that he or she has studied with his or her faculty advisor in an open forum. The questions from the audience will be limited to those of a clarifying nature during the open presentation.
  5. The exam committee will conduct an oral exam on the research problem covered in the presentation. The goal of the oral exam is to evaluate the student’s ability to initiate research.
  6. After the oral exam and reading the papers, each member of the exam committee will independently assign Pass (P), or Fail (F) grades to each student along with comments. Based on the combined grades, the exam committee will make a recommendation on the overall outcome for each student to the entire OIT faculty. The OIT faculty will vote to determine the overall outcome of each student as Pass or Fail.

To advance to candidacy, a student must pass both the first and second year field exams, and an appropriate set of advanced field courses. For students who have met all those requirements, the OIT faculty will vote on admission to candidacy. The outcome of the exam and the consequences will be communicated to the student by the PhD liaison.

V. Teaching Requirement

Three quarters of course assistantship or teaching practicum for OIT courses. Students should participate in the teaching of at least two different OIT courses, rather than have a three-time-repeat-engagement in the same course. Requirement must be completed prior to graduation.

VI. Candidacy

Admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree is a judgment by the OIT faculty of the student’s potential to successfully complete the requirements of the degree program. Students are required to advance to candidacy by September 1 before the start of their fourth year in the program.

VII. 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.

VIII. Doctoral 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 OIT faculty defer to the student’s Dissertation Reading Committee to provide general guidelines (e.g. number of chapters, length of dissertation) on the dissertation.