Graduate Student Handbook

Courses - 10 Full-Credit Courses are Required (PIPS, PIPS/JDP)

Required courses are taken primarily during the first two years of study.

  1. Core Courses –POP 501 Survey of Population Problems (year one), POP 502 Research Methods inDemography (year one), and POP 503 Evaluation of Demographic Research (year three). POP 501 and POP 502 must be passed with a grade is B or better and POP 503 is a pass/fail course.
  2. Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Course (years one, two, or three) Options for fulfilling this requirement: examples include POL 599 workshop, SOC 503; must be approved by the DGS;
  3. Statistics Courses - Two full courses are required (year one) i.e., POL 571 & POL 572, SOC 500 & SOC 504;WWS 507C & WWS 508C. Students should discuss with the DGS these options to find their most appropriate sequence. Additional statistics courses do not count towards population elective courses;
  4. Population Elective Courses/Courses of Interest - Four approved population course credits; population elective courses are offered in various departments on campus; the majority of the approved courses are WWS or SOC courses and may include both half- term and full-term courses as long as the aggregate is equal to four full courses. No reading courses or research papers may be substituted for an elective course. Approved courses are on OPR’s website under the “Training” tab, listed by semester offered. Elective courses with demographic content are generally characterized by six broad research themes: biosocial interactions, children, youth and families, data and methods, education and stratification, health and wellbeing, and migration and development; for courses not previously approved, Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) approval should be sought;
  5. PIPS/JDP Sequence – Four half-term courses in year two; these may count as two of the four required POP elective courses;
  6. PIPS/JDP Empirical Seminar – One course in fall term of year three;
  7. Grading Basis: Core courses must be taken for grade (A-F,); only two of the four population elective courses may be taken P/D/F; SOC primary course offerings are usually offered on a P/D/F grading basis but may be taken for a grade. Please be sure to check with the instructor in advance about the possibility of taking theclass for a grade.
  8. SOC students with specialization in Demography need to complete the three core POP courses (POP 501,POP 502, POP 503), an RCR course as well as the required courses in the Sociology program.

Precepting - Six Assistant Instructor (AI) Hours are Required

This requirement is generally fulfilled in years two and three of study.

Students are expected to be proactive in searching for AI opportunities by reaching out to faculty instructors directly to express interest closely after the following semester’s course offerings are published on the Registrar’s page; in general one precept counts as one AI hour; PIPS and PIPS/JDP students should prioritize WWS courses (which in the past have included undergraduate and graduate-level policy and statistics courses) over other departments. First- time AI training is required in the beginning of the semester when a student teaches for the first time. Students will receive information regarding the training from the graduate school and the graduate administrator.

General/Field Examinations - Three general examinations are required

This requirement is expected to be completed by October of year three at the latest and with DGS approval.

General Examination #1 - Demography General Examination will be taken in May of year one post completion of POP 502; examiners will typically be the faculty instructors for POP 501 & POP 502 (even though on occasion there has been a third examiner); students receive separate grades on the substantive and methodological parts of the demographygeneral exam. A passing grade for each component is B. Any student who is in good academic standing and who failsall or part of the examination may retake once the part(s) that they failed;

General/Field Examinations #2 and #3 may be taken in year two or at the latest by October of year three with DGS approval.

  • Examinations should be in two significantly different topics of the students’ choice. One general examination forPIPS/JDP students should will be on a topic related to Inequality;
  • Examinations are held during a stated twenty-one-day period in October or January, or during a five-week period in April and May; only in exceptional circumstances, as approved by the Graduate School, may ageneral examination be administered outside of the stated examination periods;
  • Faculty examiners need to be OPR affiliates; exceptions require the written consent of the DGS.
  • Two faculty examiners need to be approached at least three months in advance of the expected exam date. In consultation with the examiners, the student will choose a topic and develop a reading list for the exam.Students and examiners discuss and agree on the content the material that the student is expected to master.;
  • As soon as an exam topic has been selected and faculty members have agreed to serve as examiners, students are expected to inform both the DGS and Graduate Program Administrator of the general exam title, expected examdate, final approved list and exam format (either regular or syllabus);
  • Both regular and syllabus general examination formats are allowable; Only one examination can be of the “syllabus format”;

The regular general exam format requires a reading list and both a written and oral exam with two faculty examinersonce the reading list has been approved by examiners; written portion of general examinations may vary in time from 3 to 48 hours and in format from open to closed book;

The syllabus field exam format requires students to prepare a syllabus out of material from an original reading list they have prepared in discussion with examiners; the syllabus is supplemented by a course guide that contains detailed goals for each class, the reason why each of the readings was chosen, and basic points and questions of discussion; students need to be in continuous exchange with examiners during the process of producing the syllabus; students must pass only an oral exam on the content of the syllabus and guide; this format does not require a written exam; in the oral exam students are, however, responsible for the entire original reading list, not just the papers that appear on the final syllabus.

  • Students are expected to submit a copy of approved general examination reading lists to the Graduate ProgramAdministrator as soon as the exam is passed so that other students may consult it;
  • Students who fail any of the general examinations a first time may on the recommendation of the department stand only once for reexamination within a year. Students who fail any general examinations a second and final time have their Ph.D. candidacy and enrollment terminated at the first of the month following that in which the examination was retaken;

Empirical Paper

This requirement is expected to be completed by the end of year two.

The paper needs to be approved by two readers who are OPR faculty except with written permission of DGS.

Grading Guidelines: The empirical paper should be address population related questions. The paper should include atleast some quantitative analysis. The paper should have a clearly stated research question, provide a background of the relevant literature, use appropriate methods to answer that question, and present conclusions that follow from the results; and it should be a paper that, with some polishing, could be submitted to a reputable peer-reviewed journal.


Students should be proactive in seeking out research opportunities with OPR or Princeton faculty members.

Dissertation Prospectus with and Oral Defense

This requirement is expected to be completed by the end of year three.

Students are required to develop and defend a dissertation proposal by spring of their third year; however, a one-semester extension (fall of year four) can be granted by the DGS on a case-by- case basis. Students need at least three faculty members on their prospectus defense committee with one serving as the Chair, who must be an OPR faculty member. Students are expected to forward to the committee a document detailing the dissertation plans weeks in advance of the prospectus defense. The prospectus typically should include an introduction stating the key question, preliminary literature review/background section, state study aims and/orhypotheses, describe the data and methods to be used for the project, and include preliminary analysis, as appropriate/directed by the chair.

During the oral defense, students will make a short presentation of the prospectus (generally using a short PowerPoint presentation), which is then followed by an open discussion with examiners.

Dissertation Defense/Final Public Oral (FPO)

More than two months before:

  • Review the Mudd Library Dissertation Format Requirements (link is external);
  • Submit final chapters to your adviser(s) for review;
  • Confirm your principal readers and examiners and that your committee meets Graduate School and departmental requirements;
  • Confirm FPO date and location. Note: If you are serving as an AI in the semester that you are defending the dissertation, consult with your department about the FPO date to ensure that you may remain enrolled andeligible to serve as an AI through the end of the term. Enrollment continues only through the end of the month in which a student’s FPO is held. Any exceptions must be discussed with Academic Affairs in the Graduate School.

At least six weeks before:

  • Distribute a final draft of your dissertation to your principal readers
  • Incorporate suggested edits into dissertation.

More than two weeks before:

  • Submit a final copy of thesis to the department; at this juncture bound dissertations may be ordered, one of which will remain in the Notestein Collection in Stokes Library— OPR will pay for this copy
  • Submit the final copy to your external examiners.
  • Complete the advanced degree application through TigerHub
  • For an application to be considered complete, the following materials (as PDFs) must be included:

Materials submitted by the student

A copy of the title page, correctly formatted ; A copy of the abstract, 350 words or less;

Materials submitted by the department

Request to hold final public oral;

Prior Presentation and Publication form reviewed and approved by adviser(s); Reader reports completed by principal readers of the dissertation;

CV of any external examiner or reader. Committee membership from someone outside the University must be approvedby the Graduate School prior to completion of the advanced degree application.

Day of FPO:

Confirm that the FPO examination report has been completed and has the signature of the FPO Chair or DGS.

The following items are due in Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library normally immediately after the successfulcompletion of the FPO examination, but in no case later than two weeks after the defense:

Final Public Oral Exam Report signed by the chair of the FPO Committee or DGS (1 original plus 2 copies—1 should be given to the PIPS GPA);

One bound copy of the dissertation;

Print-out of confirmation e-mail from submission of the dissertation to ProQuest/UMD ETD;

A $15.00 dissertation maintenance fee. (MasterCard, Visa are preferred, but checks made out to Princeton University Library will also be accepted);

Payment of publishing and copyright fees, if applicable (the Graduate School requires traditional or open access publication and does not allow publication restrictions);

The four documents below must be submitted in hard copy to the Graduate School, Academic Affairs, 111 Clio Hall, normally immediately after the successful completion of final public oral exam, but in no case later than two weeksafter the successful defense: All documents must be received by the degree deadline

Final Public Oral Exam Report in hard copy, signed by Chair of FPO Committee or DGS and Mudd librarian;

Survey of Earned Doctorates (hard copy of the “Certificate of Completion” page of the SED);

Exit Survey (hard copy of “Confirmation of Completion” page must be submitted);

Checklist for Students Departing the University (must be completed by all currently enrolled students and ET/DCC students who still have library privileges).

Notestein Seminar attendance and presentation, PAA

Students are expected to attend all Notestein Seminar Series on Tuesday afternoons during both the fall and spring terms for all years of study.

Students need to present their research in the Notestein Seminar Series before being awarded their Ph.D.; students areexpected to provide the seminar coordinator with several date choices that have been approved by their advisor at the time that the seminar organizers have finished assembling the line-up of external speakers for next year’s seminar series.

Students are encouraged to attend and present their research at PAA (and other field conferences) at some point during their graduate study. OPR offers financial support to attend PAA. Please refer to the guidelines provided by graduate program administrator.

Residence & Full-Time Study Requirement

Students are expected to be present on campus a majority of days per week for each academic term in order to use University resources to fulfill degree requirements and objectives, including attendance at OPR Tuesday NotesteinSeminars. All students must spend at least one year in residence in Princeton or the vicinity; PhD candidates must be in residence for at least one academic year before standing for the general examination, and are expected to be in residence through the duration of their enrollment except when approved to be enrolled in absentia.

Students doing fieldwork outside of the university need to notify the DGS.