Organizational Behavior Requirements: Macro 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.

Topics Courses
Methods Courses
(1 sequence, 2-3 Courses)

GSB sequence: 

  • MGTECON 603 Econometric Methods I
  • MGTECON 604 Econometric Methods II
  • MGTECON 605 Econometric Methods III

Political Science Dept. sequence:

  • POLISCI 450 A Political Methodology I: Regressions
  • POLISCI 450 B Political Methodology II: Causal Inference

With faculty liaison approval:

Sociology Dept. sequence:

  • SOC 382 Sociological Methodology II: Principles of Regression Analysis
  • SOC 383 Sociological Methodology III: Models for Discrete Outcomes
Organizational Behavior Courses
(10 courses)

Core Theory:

  • OB 672 Organization and Environment (year 1 or 2)
  • OB 626 Strategy and Organization (year 1 or 2)
  • OB 636 Economic Sociology of Markets and Organizations (year 1 or 2)

Core Tools:

  • OB 670 Designing Social Research (usually year 1)
    PhD Liaison may approve the equivalent Sociology course, if this course is not offered when needed.
  • OB 654 Organizational Behavior Pro-seminar (years 1, 2, and 3)
    One-unit course that can be taken repeatedly; students must take this course at least three times during years one through three. Students will be exempt from taking the course in a given year, if the course is not offered in that year.


Three electives during years one through three. Electives typically cover substantive areas. Examples include:

  • OB 671 Social Psychology of Organizations
  • OB 637 Modeling Culture  
  • OB 6xx Social Movements
  • OB 6xx Work and Employment in Organizations
  • OB 6xx Social Networks

II. 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 OB-macro students.

Year 1: In each quarter of the first year, students will endeavor to attend all of the talks presented in the OB seminar. Students are also expected to attend the weekly professionalization seminar, “Macro Lunch.” It is expected that students will work with at least one faculty member on at least one research project. Most of this training will consist of readings and discussions of relevant papers and issues in the field, as well as assisting faculty members with their research projects. By the summer quarter, students will be expected to work with one faculty member on their own research project.

Year 2: In each quarter of the second year, in addition to attending all of the talks presented in the OB seminar and Macro Lunch, students will work with a faculty member of their choice on a research project or projects. Projects may be contained in one or two quarters or can span the entire academic year and summer. Students will also assist faculty members with their research projects. We estimate students will spend at least 10 hours per week per quarter on these research projects. Students will present their second-year papers in the OB seminar during the Spring Quarter.

Years 3 - 5: In each quarter of the third, fourth, and fifth years, in addition to attending all of the talks presented in the OB seminar and Macro Lunch, students will work with at least one faculty member of their choice on a research project or projects. Projects may be contained in one or two quarters or can span the entire academic year and summer. We estimate students will spend at least 10 hours per week per quarter on these research projects. Students will also assist faculty members with their research projects. At least once in years three through five, students will complete a practicum in teaching. Students may also elect to engage in optional RA or CA work for not more than six hours per week during the academic year and 10 hours per week in the summer quarter. During year four or year five, students are expected to present their dissertation paper in the OB seminar.

IV. Field Examination

Students take the field exam during the summer quarter following the first year.

The field exam will be designed to achieve two main functions: (1) Ensure broad exposure to scholarship in the student’s sub-area (micro or macro OB); and (2) serve as an effective diagnostic tool with respect to the students’ ability to succeed in the program. 

The exam will be based on a curated reading list that the students receive during the second week of June and are expected to read by the last week of August. There will be two separate reading lists (one for Micro and one for Macro) that span the important domains in each concentration (Micro/Macro). These reading lists shall be designed in such a way as to allow the student to have a broad understanding of the structure of the field in terms of different lines of research and theoretical perspectives. 

Over the course of the summer following the first year, students will be encouraged to work with an advisor to make a limited set of additions to the reading list that either a) reflect the specific interests of the students, or b) add more recent work (or both).  Students should sign up for a directed reading with the faculty liaison to formalize this process.

The exam will be taken during the last week of Summer quarter and will span a week. 

The structure of the field exam will include questions that assess the students’ abilities to: 

  • Think critically about research
  • Identify gaps in the literature
  • Integrate theories from different domains
  • Articulate and justify a research question and a hypothesis

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 macro-OB talks.

V. Second-Year Research Paper

By the end of the winter quarter in year 2, each student will submit a research paper prepared with the collaboration of a faculty advisor and input from a second faculty reader. Students will present this research paper in the OB seminar in the spring quarter. While research is done in collaboration with their faculty advisor, this paper should be the student’s own written work. This paper is a key way that the OB faculty track the progress of students in their second year and plays a major role in the student’s second-year evaluation.

VI. Teaching Requirement

One quarter of course assistantship or teaching practicum. To be completed prior to graduation.

VII. 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. Students are required to advance to candidacy by September 1 before the start of their fourth year in the program

VIII. 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.

IX. 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. OB-macro does not have any general guidelines beyond the University requirements, and instead defer to the student’s committee (with most guidance directly provided by the major advisor).

X. Supplementary Requirements

Students are urged to attend other workshops and colloquia on campus that cover research, such as that offered by the Stanford Center for Work, Technology and Organization; the SCANCOR seminar series; and occasional colloquia sponsored by the Department of Sociology and the Graduate School of Education

Typical Timeline

Year Three

Year Four