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PhD Research Specializations

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Learn more about research specializations below. Then, rank your top two research areas of interest (1 being the most interested) in your application.

Computational Social Science

Characterized by its social science depth, state-of-the-art methods, and field-based understanding of technology firms and markets.

Focuses on:
- Analysis and design of public policy
- Crowdsourcing
- Coordination in online labor markets
- Casual inference and experimentation

Courses to Take
Statistics, computer science, optimization, economics, sociology, and possibly other social sciences

Recent Dissertations
Recent PhD dissertations include:
- Design and analysis of a peer-to-peer credit network and reputation system
- Analysis of dynamic online markets
- Design and analysis of flash teams
- Fast algorithms for large scale personalized recommendations

Program and Center Affiliations
Social Algorithms Lab (SOAL)
Center for Work, Technology & Organization (WTO)

Decision and Risk Analysis

Focuses on applying engineering systems analysis and probability to complex economic and technical design or management problems, in the private and public sectors.

The Engineering Risk Research Group (ERRG) focuses on:
- complex engineered systems (e.g., optimal architecture of satellites and deflection of asteroids’ trajectories)
- cyber security, and risks in games against adversaries (e.g., counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency, and staying ahead of narco-traffickers).

Courses to Take
Courses include the mathematical foundations of modeling dynamic environments, value and management of uncertain opportunities and risks, and public policy and strategy applications. Risk analysis requires optimization, stochastic processes, economics and game theory courses.

Recent Dissertations
Recent PhD dissertations include:
- Experiment sample sizes for influence diagrams
- Markov process regression
- Quantile function methods for decision analysis

Operations Research

Focuses on developing and applying analytical, computational, and economic tools to address a wide variety of problems in business, government, and society. The area is characterized by its mathematical depth, broad applicability, and interdisciplinary nature and has a particular emphasis in developing and applying models and algorithms to gain new insights and make better decisions across multiple domains.

Courses to Take

PhD students take core courses in optimization and stochastics as well as advanced courses in computer science, game theory, microeconomics, statistics, and other areas tailored to the interests of the student, e.g. Computational Social Science, Operations Management, Environmental Policy, Health Policy, etc.


Program and Center Affiliations
Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering (ICME)

Organization, Technology and Entrepreneurship

Characterized by the study of technical work, technology’s effects on individuals and teams, the formation and growth of entrepreneurial firms, and strategy and innovation in technology-based firms.

Courses to Take
Organization theory, organizational behavior, sociology, social psychology, economics, entrepreneurship, and strategy, as well as methods courses in statistics, experimental methods, inductive case studies, computational tools field research methods courses including ethnography, and social network analysis.

Recent Dissertations
Recent PhD dissertations include:
- Collaborations of private and public sector organizations to create breakthrough technologies
- Collective innovation
- Competitive interaction in the software industry
- Educational reforms and their implications for entrepreneurship in China
- Flash teams
- Global collaboration
- Occupational identities
- Platform competition
- Regulatory reforms and innovation in medical device industry
- Social movements

Program and Center Affiliations
Center for Work, Technology, and Organizations (WTO)
Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP)

Policy and Strategy

Focuses on the design and analysis of public policies and corporate strategies, especially those with technology-based issues.  Sub-areas include Energy and Environment, Health Systems Modeling and Policy, and National Security Policy.

Courses to Take
It features a grounding in microeconomics and modeling approaches. Students take courses with a policy focus include such topics such as national security, energy and environment, and health care, and courses with a strategy focus cover topics such as entrepreneurship, innovation, and product development.

Recent Dissertations
Recent PhD dissertations include:
-Managing uncertainty in medical decision making
-Resource allocation for infectious disease control
-Optimizing patient treatment decisions in the presence of rapid technological advances
-Economic analysis of HIV prevention and treatment portfolios.

Program and Center Affiliations
Center for Health Policy/Program on Clinical Outcomes Research (CHP/PCOR) in the Medical School
Energy Modeling Forum
Precourt Energy Efficiency Center
Systems Utilization Research for Stanford Medicine

Quantitative Finance

Focuses on the quantitative and statistical study of financial risks, institutions, markets, and technology.

Courses to Take
Students take courses in probability, statistics, optimization, finance, economics, computational mathematics, and computer science as well as a variety of other courses.

Recent Dissertations
Recent PhD dissertations include:
- Studies of machine learning methods for risk management
- Systemic financial risk
- Algorithmic trading
- Optimal order execution
- Large-scale portfolio optimization
- Mortgage markets
-Statistical testing of financial models

Program and Center Affiliations
Advanced Financial Technologies Laboratory (AFTLab)