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Doctor of Philosophy in Management Science and Engineering

University requirements for the Ph.D. degree are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

The Ph.D. degree in MS&E is intended for students primarily interested in a career of research and teaching, or high-level technical work in universities, industry, or government. The program requires three years of full-time graduate study, at least two years of which must be at Stanford. Typically, however, students take about four to five years after entering the program to complete all Ph.D. requirements. The Ph.D. is generally organized around the requirement that the students acquire a breadth across some of the eight areas of the department, and depth in one of them. These fields of study are:

Each student admitted to the Ph.D. program must satisfy a breadth requirement and pass a qualification procedure. The purpose of the qualification procedure is to assess the student's command of the field and to evaluate his or her potential to complete a high-quality dissertation in a timely manner. The student must complete specified course work in one of the eight areas of the department, or the Systems Program which is a combination of several areas. The qualification decision is based on the student's grade point average (GPA), on the one or two preliminary papers prepared by the student, and on the student's performance in an area examination. Considering this evidence, the department faculty votes on advancing the student to candidacy in the department at large. The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 135 units, at least 54 of which must be in courses of 3 units or more. At least 48 course units in courses of 3 units or more must be taken for a letter grade. Finally, the student must pass a University oral examination and complete a Ph.D. dissertation. During the course of the Ph.D. program, students who do not have a master's degree are strongly encouraged to complete one, either in MS&E or in another Stanford department.

Breadth Requirement—

  1. The breadth requirement is to be satisfied by a choice of four courses spanning four out of the above mentioned eight areas of the department. The list of courses satisfying the breadth requirement is available from the MS&E student services office.
  2. The Ph.D. candidacy form must contain four courses that satisfy the breadth requirement.
  3. Courses chosen to satisfy the breadth requirement must be taken for letter grades.
  4. At least one of the four courses chosen to satisfy the breadth requirement must be at the 300 level.

Qualification Procedure Requirements—The qualification procedure is based both on breadth across the department's disciplines and depth in an area of the student's choice. The qualification process must be completed by the end of the month of May of the student's second year of graduate study in the department. The performance of all doctoral students is reviewed every year at a department faculty meeting at the end of May or beginning of June. Ph.D. qualification decisions are made at that time and individual feedback is provided.

The Ph.D. qualification requirements comprise these elements:

  1. Grade Point Average: A student must maintain a GPA of at least 3.4 in the four courses chosen to satisfy the breadth requirements, and a GPA of at least 3.4 in the set of all courses taken by the student within the department. In both cases, the GPA is computed on the basis of the nominal number of units for which each course is offered.
  2. Paper(s): A student may choose between two options, either of which is to be completed before the Spring Quarter of the student's second year. The first option involves one paper supervised by a primary faculty adviser and a faculty consultant. This paper should be written in two quarters.

    The second option involves two shorter sequential tutorials, with two different faculty advisers. Each tutorial should be completed in one quarter. In both options, the student chooses the faculty adviser(s)/consultant with the faculty members' consent.

    A student may register for up to 3 units per tutorial and up to 6 units for a paper. These paper or tutorial units do not count towards the 54 course units required for the Ph.D., and letter grades are not given.

  3. Area Qualification: In addition, during the second year, a student must pass an examination in one of the eight areas of the MS&E department or the Systems Program, a combination of several areas, which is of the student's choice. This area examination is written, oral, or both, at the discretion of the area faculty administering the exam.
  4. Area Course Requirement: Students must complete the depth requirements of one of the eight fields of study of the MS&E department or the Systems Program which is a combination of several areas. Courses used to satisfy depth requirements must be taken for a letter grade. The Ph.D. requirements for the eight areas of the MS&E department are available from the MS&E student services office.

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