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The Office of Population Research (OPR), founded in 1936, is the demographic research and graduate training center at Princeton University. The field encompasses a wide range of specializations that span substantive and methodological subjects in the social, mathematical, and biological sciences. Building on its historical strengths in signature fields such as demographic methods, fertility, health and mortality, OPR researchers have embraced fields that are currently prominent in population studies, such as international migration and development, children, youth and families, as well as various aspects of social and economic inequality. In addition, OPR researchers are involved in new fields of inquiry such as epigenetics, biodemography, social epidemiology, and web-based experimentation.
The graduate training program in population studies offers four types of certification. First, the Program in Population Studies (PIPS) offers a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in demography that is designed for students who wish to specialize in the core substantive topics and technical methods.
Second, students may obtain a joint degree in Demography and Social Policy via a collaborative training program through the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. The Joint Degree Program (JDP) in Social Policy includes the Departments of Politics, Psychology, and Sociology in addition to PIPS. Students interested in the joint degree in Demography and Social Policy have the option of applying to the joint degree program at the time of their initial application to the Graduate School or transferring into the program after their first or second year of graduate study with the permission of the director of graduate studies for the Program in Population Studies.
Third, the program offers a general examination in demography that is accepted by the Department of Sociology as partial fulfillment of their degree requirements. Students from Sociology who elect to specialize in population write their dissertation on a demographic subject under the supervision of core faculty in population studies.
Fourth, the program offers a nondegree certificate in demography upon completion of four graduate courses and a supervised research project. This option is also currently available to visiting scholars.
Students are required to take the following courses:
In the first year, students are required to take a demography general exam that covers theory, substance and research methods. During the second year, but no later than fall of the third year, students are required to complete two additional field exams on topics approved by the director of graduate studies (DGS) in OPR. Students in the joint policy and population program take one of these exams in social inequality.
Attendance at Tuesday afternoon Notestein Seminar Series is required during all five years of study.
The general examination consists of three examinations, usually taken during the course of the first two years of study, in which the student must demonstrate proficiency in basic demographic theory and methods as well as proficiency in two additional fields of concentration which could include: economic demography, family demography, fertility/fecundity, health, social epidemiology, reproductive epidemiology, historical demography, mathematical/statistical demography, migration/immigration, mortality, population and development, population and environment, population policy, poverty/child wellbeing, and urbanization, among others.
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully passes the general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that candidacy requirements have been satisfied.
All graduate students are required to assist in teaching for a total of six hours (undergraduate- or graduate-level course). Courses must be approved by the DGS of Population Studies.
Students are required to complete two publishable empirical papers in years two and three of their training program.
Students are also required to give a Notestein Seminar presentation based on their research during their last year in the program.
A dissertation prospectus, which includes an oral hearing, must be completed by September 30 of year four. The oral hearing for the prospectus involves the three core members of the dissertation committee. Students who have successfully completed the required general exams, had a dissertation prospectus approved, and fulfilled all other department degree requirements, will submit a dissertation based on original research. This research is supervised by a committee of at least three faculty members, including at least one demography faculty who will serve as either chair or co-chair of the committee. Departmental acceptance of the dissertation qualifies the candidate for the final public oral (FPO) examination.
The FPO is a final examination in the student’s field of study as well as a defense of the dissertation and may be held after the review and acceptance of the reader reports and substantiation that all other requirements have been met. The FPO is largely based on the dissertation, but also can extend to other topics in population studies to confirm the candidate’s readiness for a career in demography.
There are at least three principal examiners at the FPO, all of them normally members of the Princeton faculty at the rank of assistant professor or higher. At least two of the examiners have not been principal readers of the dissertation, and either the chair or a co-chair must be a core demography faculty member.
The Office of Population Research offers a non-degree Graduate Certificate in Demography. Applicants are usually enrolled MPA students from the Woodrow Wilson School. The certificate program is intended primarily for training scholars from other disciplines and does not lead to an advanced degree at Princeton.
Students cannot be admitted to Princeton University through the Graduate Certificate in Demography Program since it is not a degree program.
Students must successfully complete four graduate courses in population studies: POP 501/ECO 571/SOC 531, and POP 502/ECO 572/SOC 532, and two additional elective courses pertaining to some aspect of population. The first two are the basic graduate courses in demography: POP 501 is offered in the fall semester and is a prerequisite for POP 502, which is offered in the spring semester. The two electives must be approved by the director of graduate studies.
Courses listed below are graduate-level courses that have been approved by the program’s faculty as well as the Curriculum Subcommittee of the Faculty Committee on the Graduate School as permanent course offerings. Permanent courses may be offered by the department or program on an ongoing basis, depending on curricular needs, scheduling requirements, and student interest. Not listed below are undergraduate courses and one-time-only graduate courses, which may be found for a specific term through the Registrar’s website. Also not listed are graduate-level independent reading and research courses, which may be approved by the Graduate School for individual students.