Graduate students in the Department of Economics form a vital intellectual community. Cooperation and camaraderie (rather than competition) are encouraged, since the Department has room in the second year and beyond for everyone who is admitted in the first year. Many students form study groups to work on problem sets and prepare for examinations. Students also tend to spend large amounts of time with each other outside of class in informal discussions of economic theories and policy issues.
The Department schedules several events each year to promote esprit de corps. Most popular is the annual skit party, which features faculty and student skits. In November, the economics departments of Stanford and UC Berkeley compete against each other in soccer and football at the Little Big Game. Numerous less formal TGIFs and gatherings take place throughout the year. In Spring, we host prospective incoming graduate students for a weekend of activities both academic and social. Second-year students traditionally host a special gathering for incoming students.
The Economics Graduate Student Association (EGSA) sponsors additional social activities, as well as informal talks. There is an active, but informal, intramural sports program. Student-faculty communication is also encouraged through TGIFs, semiannual meetings, lunches with first-year faculty advisors, and reading groups.
Professional collaboration between students and faculty is also extensive. It is quite common for advanced graduate students to coauthor research papers with faculty members. Students and faculty participate in and present research at the same weekly workshops and seminars. A number of students participate in academic conferences (e.g., Econometric Society meetings, NBER program meetings, etc.) with the support and cooperation of the faculty.
Although the academic curriculum is extremely demanding, graduate students can still find time to enjoy the many advantages of life in Northern California. Within two hours' drive in any direction from Stanford's 8,800 acres lies an area generously gifted in scenery and contrasts; from the grassy hills that surround the campus to dramatic ocean beaches to deep, green redwood forests. Jogging, swimming, camping, cycling, and hiking are possible year-round in the Bay Area's temperate climate, yet four hours from campus are some of the finest ski areas in the world. Stanford enjoys a mild climate, with temperatures averaging 60 degrees at midday in winter and 75 degrees in summer. Humidity is low, nights are cool, and rainfall is rare between the months of May and September; average precipitation annually is fifteen and one-half inches. Freezing temperatures and frosts, though not unknown, are infrequent. (The same can be said of earthquakes!)
Stanford schedules an extensive array of non-academic as well as academic events. Cultural programming includes music, dance, theater, and films. Several of Stanford's athletic teams, both men's and women's, are nationally ranked. There are active religious organizations of many denominations on campus. Stanford's Bechtel International Center maintains a very active program of services and events for foreign students and their families. In addition, the immediately adjacent city of Palo Alto has numerous movie theaters, bookstores, several small theater groups, and a variety of good, affordable restaurants, coffee houses, and delis. San Francisco, one of America's most beautiful and cosmopolitan cities, is only a forty minute drive to the North and offers even more opportunities for culture, dining, and relaxation.
Stanford makes every effort to provide housing for all first-year graduate students. Graduate students are often housed in apartments, either in Escondido Village or Rains, two large housing complexes on campus. Additional housing is found in the surrounding community.