Main content start

PhD Area Exam

The Area Examination is a departmental requirement for students in the PhD program. The Area Examination will assess the student's breadth of knowledge in their particular area of research. It is also used as an opportunity for the student to present their committee with a summary of research conducted to date as well as a detailed plan for the remaining research.

This requirement must be completed by the end of the Winter quarter of the student’s third year in the program.


The Area Examination committee is comprised of three members: the dissertation advisor and two additional examiners. All members are normally on the Stanford Academic Council. Emeritus faculty are also eligible to serve as examiners. The appointment of an examining committee member who is not on the Academic Council may be approved by the chair of the department if that person contributes an area of expertise that is not readily available from the faculty.


Once the Area Examination date is confirmed, the student must email the Student Services Manager with the date, time, location, and names of the members of their committee. The student must reserve a room through the Room Reservation Form

Recording Completion

Once the Area Examination is successfully completed, the student’s advisor must sign the Area Exam Form which must be submitted to the Student Services Manager. The completion will be recorded in the student’s file and Axess record.