Training Program Requirements

To specialize in demography, trainees must complete three sets of requirements as stipulated by the Brown University Graduate School, the PSTC, and their home department.  See below for more detailed information on each set of requirements:

PSTC Requirements

On top of the requirements that are specificied by the Graduate School and by department of Ph.D. study, the PSTC has a core set of requirements for all trainees that form a coherent and integrated training program that socializes and prepares trainees to be professional population scientists. This socialization and training takes place in semester-long courses, one- or two-week training modules, workshops, and activities.

  1. Semester-long population-related elective outside of their department.
    These are drawn from the lists of required and elective courses in each department (below) as well as extensive courses in spatial analysis offered through the S4 or our core departments. They include:
  2. Three professionalization workshops each year.
    Trainees will be required to attend all workshops while in residence at Brown (not conducting fieldwork). These workshops focus on: 1) grant writing, 2) research practice, and 3) responsible conduct of research.
  3. Attendance at the colloquia series and other related events at the PSTC and respective departments.
  4. One semester of a work-in-progress brown bag series (in final two years).
    This weekly seminar series is for advanced predoc (and postdoc) trainees and focuses on trainees presenting their dissertation work to each other.
  5. Complete Collaborative IRB Training Initiative (CITI) certification program.
    All trainees are required to complete this certification upon being accepted as trainees and to renew every three years. Broad information about this program is available on Brown’s Office of Sponsored Projects website. Visit the online training program website.
  6. Attend the annual meeting of the Population Association of America (at least once).
  7. Work on a population-related topic for dissertation research and have a mentor who is a PSTC-affiliated faculty member (usually primary advisor, but not necessarily so).

Graduate School Requirements

The Graduate School of Brown University handles all student applications, admissions, and aid on the basis of recommendations by each academic department. It has certain requirements that all students, including those in demography, must fulfill to earn the PhD:

  • three years (24 tuition units; four courses or research credits each semester) of full-time graduate study beyond the bachelor’s degree (reduced to two years for students who enter with a master’s degree that the department judges to be of satisfactory quality);
  • advancement to candidacy through satisfactory completion of qualifying examinations;
  • completion, public presentation, and defense of a dissertation on a topic related to the student’s area of specialization that embodies the results of original research and gives evidence of high quality.

Students in Sociology and Economics typically take five years to complete this program of study: three years of coursework and research apprenticeship, one year for examinations and preparation of the dissertation proposal, and one year for researching and writing the dissertation. Anthropology students often take six years because of additional program requirements for language training and especially fieldwork, although every effort is made to allow students to complete the program in five years.

Department-Specific Requirements


PSTC trainees in Anthropology take four courses in the department and one population-related elective in another relevant department.

Population Track Courses
Anthropology courses are directly geared to preparation for research in anthropological demography, namely: one broad methodological course, geared to prepare students for master’s and dissertation research, two specialized courses, and one elective, in anthropological demography.

  1. Methods of Anthropological Research (ANTH 2020)
  2. Anthropological Demography (ANTH 2300)
  3. Issues in Anthropology and Population (ANTH 2304)
  4. Elective course in population track

Exams and Committee Requirements
All students in Anthropology are required to prepare for and take examinations in three fields in their third year, and PSTC trainees must include anthropological demography as one of those three.


Economics doctoral students take eight courses in the department and then must pass core exams at the end of the first year.

Population Track Courses
Training program requirements for Economics trainees consist of one foundational course and at least two population-related electives in the Economics department.

  1. Economics of Labor and Population
  2. Elective course in population track
  3. Elective course in population track

Elective courses include:

  • Topics in Labor Economics (ECON 2330)
  • Economics of Health and Population (ECON 2360)
  • Inequality: Theory and Evidence (ECON 2370)
  • Economic Development I (ECON 2510)
  • Economic Development II (ECON 2520)
  • Dynamic Optimization and Economic Growth (ECON 2830)
  • Economic Growth II (ECON 2520)
  • Economics of Labor and Population (ECON 2320)
  • Urbanization (ECON 2410)
  • The Structure of Cities (ECON 2420)
  • Topics in Economics: Economics and Psychology (ECON 2190E)
  • Topics in Experimental and Behavioral Economics (ECON 2535)

Exams and Committee Requirements
At the end of the second year, population track students must pass an oral exam in which at least one of the PSTC faculty serves on the examination committee.


Sociology doctoral students take five core courses in the discipline in their first year.

Population Track Courses
PSTC trainees take a sequence of two foundational courses as well as an additional population-related elective:

  1. Principles of Population (SOC 2080)
  2. Techniques of Demographic Analysis (SOC 2230)
  3. Elective course in population track

Elective courses include:

  • Principles and Methods of GIS (SOC1871F)
  • Event History Analysis (SOC 2240)
  • Advanced Demographic Techniques (SOC 2260F)
  • Migration (SOC 2320)
  • Fertility (SOC 2360)
  • Mortality (SOC 2380)
  • Spatial Thinking in Social Science (SOC2610)
  • Urban Sociology (SOC 2960C)
  • Spatial Data Analysis Techniques in the Social Sciences (SOC 2960G)
  • Demography of the Life Course (SOC 2960H)
  • Special Topics in Population (SOC 2960L)
  • Social Network Analysis (SOC 2960P)

Exams and Committee Requirements
All Sociology trainees must take two prelim exams and include at least one PSTC faculty affiliate on their master’s and dissertation committees.

Political Science

Political Science trainees currently follow the Sociology population track. See above for requirements.