Organizational Behavior Requirements: Micro Track

I. Preparation

As preparation for the program course requirements, some organizational behavior 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
(3 courses)
Students are required to complete three PhD-level courses taught by GSB OB-micro faculty in year 1 or year 2, to be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor.
Methods Courses
(2 courses + DPER)
  • PSYCH 252 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)
  • Students are required to complete one PhD-level course offered by a GSB OB-macro faculty member, to be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor.
  • Students are required to complete one PhD-level course offered by a GSB or university faculty member outside of OB, to be chosen in consultation with the faculty advisor.

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 1 to 5, students are expected to be conducting research under the supervision of at least one micro OB faculty member. 
  • In Years 1 to 5, students are expected to attend and participate in all micro-OB talks. 
  • In Years 1 to 3 during the AY, students are expected to attend 3 non-micro-OB talks at the GSB (e.g., macro-OB, Marketing, Political Economy, Economics). 
  • At least once in Years 3 to 5, 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

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 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 micro-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 under the supervision 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 of Year 2. While research is planned and conducted in collaboration with their faculty advisor, this paper should be a product  of the student’s independent thinking and his or her 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.

Typical Timeline

Year Three

Year Four