Political Economics Requirements

I. Preparation

Admitted students are assumed to have some significant background in economics and/or political science. In addition, all students are required to have, or to obtain in the first year, skill in the use of the following mathematical methods:

Topic Courses
Calculus MATH 41 & 42: Calculus (accelerated)
Linear Algebra MATH 51: Linear Algebra and Differential Calculus of Several Variables
MATH 113: Linear Algebra and Matrix Theory
Analysis MATH 115: Functions of a Real Variable
Probability ECON 270: Intermediate Econometrics I
MS&E 220: Probabilistic Analysis
STATS 116: Theory of Probability
Optimization ENGR 62/MSE 111: Introduction to Optimization
Statistics STATS 200: Introduction to Statistical Inference
ECON 180-181 covers a substantial portion of calculus, linear algebra, and optimization.

Students are expected to have adequate computer programming skills. Knowledge of a computer language such as Fortran, C, or APL is sufficient. If students do not have adequate computer programming skills, they may learn this material on their own or take Stanford Computer Science course CS 106A: Programming Methodology by the summer following the first academic year, at the latest.

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.

Sequence Courses
Political Economy Sequence
(3 courses)
  • POLECON 680 / POLISCI 351A Foundations of Political Economy
  • POLECON 681 / POLISCI 351B Economic Analysis of Political Institutions
  • POLECON 682 / POLISCI 351C Workshop on Institutional and Empirical Tests in Political Economy
Core Microeconomics
(3 courses)

Students must take three courses making up the core microeconomics sequence. This sequence can either be taken in Stanford GSB or in the economics department. Students can also “mix and match” by taking courses in different schools to complete the proper ordering of the three-course sequence.

GSB Sequence

  • *MGTECON 600 Microeconomic Analysis I
  • MGTECON 601 Microeconomic Analysis II
  • MGTECON 602 Auctions, Bargaining, and Pricing

Economics Dept Sequence

  • *ECON 202N Microeconomics I (For Non-Economics PhD Students)
  • ECON 203N Microeconomics II (For Non-Economics PhD Students)
  • ECON 204 Microeconomics III

*GSBGEN 675: Microeconomic Theory is a pre-approved substitution for this course.

Core Econometrics Sequence
(3 courses)

Students must take two courses making up the first part of the core econometrics sequence, and one elective course.  A list of approved electives is provided here. If the student wishes to take a course not on the list, he or she must petition the PhD Liaison.

  • MGTECON 603 / ECON 270 Econometric Methods I
  • MGTECON 604 / ECON 271 Econometric Methods II

Potential Electives

  • MGTECON 605 Econometric Methods II
  • MGTECON 607 / ECON 272 Intermediate Econometrics III
  • MGTECON 640 Quantitative Methods for Empirical Research
Substantive Economics Courses
(2 courses)

Students are required to take two substantive topics courses in the economic department. A list of approved courses is below. If a student wishes to take a course not on this list, he or she must petition the PhD liaison.

  • ECON 241 Public Economics I
  • ECON 214 Development Economics I
  • ECON 226 U.S Economic History
  • ECON 246 Labor Economics I
  • ECON 249 Topics in Health Economics
  • ECON 250 Environmental Economics
  • ECON 254 Economics of Digitization
  • ECON 257 Industrial Organization I
  • ECON 266 International Trade I
  • ECON 273 Advanced Econometrics I
  • ECON 278 Behavioral and Experimental Economics
  • ECON 282 Contracts, Information, and Incentives
  • ECON 285 Matching and Market Design
  • ECON 291 Social and Economics Networks
  • MGTECON 608 Multiperson Decision Theory
  • MGTECON 610 Macroeconomics
  • MGTECON 616 Topics in Game Theory
  • MGTECON 624 Dynamic Political Economy Theory
  • MGTECON 652 Personnel Economics
  • *POLECON 683 Political Development Economics

*This course cannot be used to fulfill both the substantive economics requirement and the substantive political science requirement.

Substantive Political Science Courses
(2 courses)

Students are required to take two substantive topics courses in the political science department or in Stanford GSB. A list of approved courses is below. If a student wishes to take a course not on this list, he or she must petition the PhD liaison.

  • POLISCI 420A American Political Institutions
  • POLISCI 420B Topics in American Political Behavior
  • POLISCI 410A International Relations Theory, Part I
  • POLISCI 410B International Relations Theory, Part II
  • POLISCI 440A Theories in Comparative Politics
  • POLISCI 440B Comparative Political Economy
  • *POLECON 683 Political Development Economics

*This course cannot be used to fulfill both the substantive economics requirement and the substantive political science requirement.

Organizations / Psychology Requirement
(Strong recommendation)

Students are strongly recommended, but not required, to take one course exposing them to organizational and/or psychological approaches to social sciences. A list of courses in this area is below. Students can consult with their advisors and the PhD liaison to determine which course(s) would be best to take.

  • OB 671 The Social Psychology of Organizations
  • OB 672 Organizations & Environment
  • POLECON 660 Behavioral Political Economy

III. Practicum

PE students are required to attend PE seminars, and sign up for either a research or teaching practicum every quarter of enrollment.

For the first year, the research practicum involves attending the Political Economy seminar. For years two to five, the research practicum involves a research appointment with a faculty supervisor in addition to attending the Political Economy seminar. Students will be assigned to a faculty member each quarter. The research practicum allows the students the opportunity to interact regularly with faculty and foster their professional development. A minimum of one quarter of teaching practicum (or course assistantship) is required during the student’s time in the program. The teaching practicum involves course preparation work with a faculty member in addition to attending the Political Economy seminar.

IV. Summer Research Papers

Each student is required to write a research paper each summer following the first and second year of study, and to present these papers to the faculty in an hour long seminar during the autumn quarter of the second and third years, respectively. Successfully completing both papers are required for admission to candidacy.

V. Field Exam

Students are required to pass a field exam consisting of three parts:

  1. Political economy (covering material in POLECON 680, 681, 682)
  2. Microeconomics (covering material in the core microeconomic sequence)
  3. Econometrics (covering material in the core econometrics sequence)

Students take the field exam during the summer after their first year. In rare cases students may petition the faculty to defer taking the field exam to the summer after the second year. Per Stanford GSB policy, students who fail the exam are not guaranteed an opportunity to re-take the exam. At the faculty’s discretion, a student who fails the exam may be permitted to re-take the exam.

VI. Teaching Requirement

One quarter of course assistantship or teaching practicum. Requirement must 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. The procedure for making this assessment centers on a presentation by the student to his or her primary advisor and two other faculty members who are likely to become committee members. Students are expected to convene this meeting in the Spring of the third year. Students are required to advance to candidacy by September 1 before the start of their fourth year in the program.

VIII. University Oral Exam

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 expected to complete the oral exam by the end of winter quarter of the fourth year and are required to successfully complete the oral exam by September 1 before the start of their fifth year in the program.

IX. Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is 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. This generally involves the completion of three articles, although the specific format of the dissertation should be discussed between the student and his/her advisors. A maximum of one article can be co-authored with a faculty member. A minimum of one article must be solo-authored.

Typical Timeline

Year Three

Year Four