I am an organizational sociologist with longstanding interests in educational sequences, lifelong learning, alternative educational forms, and the formal organization of knowledge. With John Mitchell, I co-direct the Stanford Pathways Lab (

Academic Appointments

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations

  • Associate Professor, New York University (2003 - 2009)
  • Assistant to Associate Professor, Hamilton College (1995 - 2003)

Program Affiliations

  • Science, Technology and Society

Professional Education

  • PhD, Northwestern University (1996)
  • BA, Macalester College (1988)

Research Interests

  • Alternative Schooling
  • Educational Policy
  • Higher Education
  • Leadership and Organization
  • Lifelong Learning

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

My most recent book is Seeing the World: How US Universities Make Knowledge in a Global Era, coauthored with Cynthia Miller-Idriss and Seteney Shami.

With Ben Gebre-Medhin (UC Berkeley) I developed a synthetic account of change in US higher education.

With Mike Kirst I edited a volume on the organizational ecology of US colleges and universities.

With Arik Lifschitz and Michael Sauder I developed a theory of sports and status in US higher education.

Earlier work on college admissions, home education, and (with Wendy Espeland) quantification continues to inform my scholarly world view.


  • Academic Pathways in Sweden and the United States, Stanford University and Uppsala University (June 1, 2017)

    University curriculums are dynamic templates of the official knowledge of their host societies, and students' pathways through them represent a negotiation of personal, ideational, and class identities. This project compares the evolution of both curricula and pathways in Sweden and the United States in recent history. The goal is to provide a dynamic picture the culture and class structures of two of modernity's signal democratic societies. We intend it to lay the groundwork for multiple cross-national comparisons going forward.


    Uppsala University


    • Mikael Borjesson, Professor of the Sociology of Education, Uppsala University
    • Mitchell L Stevens, Associate Professor, Stanford University
    • Ylva Bergstrom, Associate Professor of the Sociology of Education, Uppsala University
    • Tum Chaturapruek, Doctoral Candidate, Stanford University
    • Tobias Dalberg, Doctoral Candidate, Uppsala University
    • Ida Lidegran, Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Education, Uppsala University
    • Andreas Melldahl, Senior Lecturer in the Sociology of Education, Uppsala University
    • Andreas Paepcke, Senior Research Scientist, Stanford University
    • Monique Harrison, Doctoral student, Stanford University
    • Marissa Thompson, Doctoral student, Stanford University

    For More Information:

  • Carta Lab at Stanford, Stanford University (8/1/2016)

    US university students make decisions that are fateful for their academic lives and personal identities as they negotiate elective curricula. Carta is a web-based course exploration and research tool at Stanford University whose purpose is to observe and understand the evolution of academic pathways at scale.


    Stanford University


    • Ramesh Johari, Associate Professor, Stanford University
    • Mitchell Stevens, Associate Professor, Stanford University
    • John Mitchell, Betty and Gordon Crary Family Professor, Stanford University
    • Tum Chaturapruek, Doctoral candidate, Stanford University
    • Rene Kizilcec, Research Scientist, Arizona State University and Stanford University
    • Arik Lifschitz, Lead Academic Advising Director, Stanford University

    For More Information:

2023-24 Courses

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • From pipelines to pathways in the study of academic progress. Science (New York, N.Y.) Kizilcec, R. F., Baker, R. B., Bruch, E., Cortes, K. E., Hamilton, L. T., Lang, D. N., Pardos, Z. A., Thompson, M. E., Stevens, M. L. 2023; 380 (6643): 344-347


    Students and administrators can benefit from new analytics.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.adg5406

    View details for PubMedID 37104602

  • Application essays and the ritual production of merit in US selective admissions POETICS Gebre-Medhin, B., Giebel, S., Alvero, A. J., Antonio, A., Domingue, B. W., Stevens, M. L. 2022; 94
  • Forecasting Undergraduate Majors: A Natural Language Approach AERA OPEN Lang, D., Wang, A., Dalal, N., Paepcke, A., Stevens, M. L. 2022; 8
  • Should I Start at MATH 101? Content Repetition as an Academic Strategy in Elective Curriculums SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION Harrison, M. H., Hernandez, P. A., Stevens, M. L. 2022
  • Essay content and style are strongly related to household income and SAT scores: Evidence from 60,000 undergraduate applications. Science advances Alvero, A. J., Giebel, S., Gebre-Medhin, B., Antonio, A. L., Stevens, M. L., Domingue, B. W. 2021; 7 (42): eabi9031


    [Figure: see text].

    View details for DOI 10.1126/sciadv.abi9031

    View details for PubMedID 34644119

  • What is educational entrepreneurship? Strategic action, temporality, and the expansion of US higher education THEORY AND SOCIETY Kindel, A. T., Stevens, M. L. 2021
  • Studying Undergraduate Course Consideration at Scale AERA OPEN Chaturapruek, S., Dalberg, T., Thompson, M. E., Giebel, S., Harrison, M. H., Johari, R., Stevens, M. L., Kizilcec, R. F. 2021; 7
  • Ambiguous Credentials: How Learners Use and Make Sense of Massively Open Online Courses JOURNAL OF HIGHER EDUCATION Laryea, K., Paepcke, A., Mirzaei, K., Stevens, M. L. 2021
  • Universities as peculiar organizations SOCIOLOGY COMPASS Eaton, C., Stevens, M. L. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1111/soc4.12768

    View details for Web of Science ID 000506374600001

  • The Paradox of the Global University World Class Universities: A Contested Concept Stevens, M. L., Giebel, S. Springer Nature. 2020; 1: 123–37
  • Via: Illuminating Academic Pathways at Scale Angus, G., Martinez, R., Stevens, M. L., Paepcke, A., Assoc Comp Machinery ASSOC COMPUTING MACHINERY. 2019
  • Research Universities and the Future of Work ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY Stevens, M. L. 2018; 35 (1): 45–52
  • How a data-driven course planning tool affects college students' GPA: Evidence from two field experiments Chaturapruek, S., Dee, T. S., Johari, R., Kizilcec, R. F., Stevens, M. L., ACM ASSOC COMPUTING MACHINERY. 2018
  • Higher Education Politics after the Cold War Change Stevens, M. L. 2018; 50: 13-17
  • The Evaluation Machine CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGY-A JOURNAL OF REVIEWS Stevens, M. L. 2017; 46 (4): 403-405
  • From soldiers to students: The Tests of General Educational Development (GED) as diplomatic measurement Social Science History Hutt, E. L., Stevens, M. L. 2017; 41 (4): 731-755
  • Association, Service, Market: Higher Education in American Political Development ANNUAL REVIEW OF SOCIOLOGY, VOL 42 Stevens, M. L., Gebre-Medhin, B. 2016; 42: 121-142
  • Remaking College: The Changing Ecology of Higher Education edited by Kirst, M. W., Stevens, M. L. Stanford University Press. 2015
  • Football as a Status System in US Higher Education SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION Lifschitz, A., Sauder, M., Stevens, M. L. 2014; 87 (3): 204-219
  • A Sociology of Quantification ARCHIVES EUROPEENNES DE SOCIOLOGIE Espeland, W. N., Stevens, M. L. 2008; 49 (3): 397-432
  • Sieve, incubator, temple, hub: Empirical and theoretical advances in the sociology of higher education Annu. Rev. Sociol Stevens, M. L., Armstrong, E. A., Arum, R. 2008; 34: 127-151
  • Creating a Class: College Admissions and the Education of Elites Stevens, M. L. Harvard University Press. 2007
  • Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement Stevens, M. L. Princeton University Press. 2001