Skip to content Skip to navigation

Photo of GSE Doctoral students

Timetable for the Doctoral Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy degree at the GSE requires four to five years of full-time study. Possession of a relevant master’s degree may shorten this period. Per Stanford policy, students are required to enroll in each quarter of the academic year (Autumn, Winter, and Spring) from their first through final quarter in the program (i.e., until receipt of the degree). Approved leaves of absence are the only exception to this requirement. See the Registration and Student Statuses section of this Handbook and the GSE Courses section. Please note that although this timeline outlines the expected progress for doctoral students, students may always complete milestones earlier than what is outlined below.

First Year

  • Enroll in Doctoral Core: Pro Seminar EDUC 325A (autumn), EDUC 325B (winter) and EDUC 325C (spring)
  • Enroll in Methodology Core: EDUC 250A (note: EDUC 250A is not required for students entering fall 2012-13 or after; students entering fall 2012-13 or after should take another methods course of their choosing in consultation with their advisor); by the end of the second year, students should take EDUC 400B (formerly EDUC 250B) (Winter) and EDUC 450A (formerly EDUC 250C) (Spring)
    • Students who take 400B are responsible for having mastered the content of EDUC 400A. Students should consult with their advisors at the beginning of their first year about whether they need to take EDUC 400A to be adequately prepared for 400B
  • Take any required area/subplan courses
  • Take electives relevant to area and specialization
  • Enroll in 11 to 18 units in the first three quarters of attendance
  • Plan program of study in consultation with advisor(s)
  • Assist in research and/or teaching
  • First-Year Review in the spring quarter

Second Year

  • Enroll in 8 to 10 units each quarter of the regular academic year (autumn, winter, and spring)
  • Continue taking any required courses for area/subplan
  • Finish methodology core if not completed during first year
  • Take electives relevant to area and specialization
  • Assist in research and/or teaching
  • Second-Year Review in the spring quarter
  • Finalize program of study in consultation with advisor(s)
  • Transfer credit from outside institutions and/or choose a PhD Minor/Master’s Degree (recommended to be done by the end of second year, but can be completed anytime before the student goes TGR)
  • Advance to candidacy

Third Year

  • Continuing taking required coursework and electives
  • Enroll in 8 to 10 units each quarter of the regular academic year (autumn, winter, and spring quarters)

Fourth Year

  • Complete 135 units of earned residency credit (including applicable transfer credit, if any)
  • Apply for TGR status after completing all course-related degree requirements (including clearing any "incomplete" or "GNR" grades)
  • Select reading committee
  • Complete dissertation proposal hearing 
  • Note that going TGR and completing the dissertation proposal hearing are required in order to be eligible for the fifth-year funding guarantee

Fifth Year and Beyond

  • Assist in research and/or teaching
  • Complete research for and write dissertation
  • Schedule University Oral Examination (fourth or fifth year)
  • Make revisions to dissertation after the Oral Examination
  • Submit dissertation to the University (final quarter of program)
  • Graduate!

Each of these steps requires action and documentation by the student. At various times, the faculty advisor, Doctoral Programs Officer, Area Committee, or other entities participate in the completion of degree requirements. Students must ensure that each step is completed and that all appropriate parties have taken the necessary actions. See the Degree Progress Self-Tracking Checklist at the end of this Handbook.

Back to the Top