Ph.D. students must complete at least 72 semester hours of graduate course work, satisfy certain course requirements ("Core Courses"), pass examinations on the "Core" subjects, satisfy requirements in two chosen Fields of specialization, complete a dissertation proposal, and write and defend a dissertation. The Department of Economics' requirements for the Ph.D. are described in detail below. Besides the requirements described here the student must satisfy the general requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Successful completion of 72 semester hours of course work at the graduate level. At least 24 hours must be graded course work, and no more than 48 of the 72 can be comprised of Non-topical Research. Upon approval of the Department's Director of Graduate Studies (hereafter DGS), as many as six semester hours may be taken outside the Department of Economics in related fields, if they contribute appropriately to his or her program.
Core Courses — Every prospective candidate must successfully complete the following Core courses:
(Click here to see the typical, semester-by-semester Ph.D. schedule)
Mathematics — Before the second year of graduate study, competence in mathematics must be demonstrated by successfully completing Economics 5090 and 5100 or courses deemed equivalent by the Director of Graduate Studies.
Other Required Courses — The prospective candidate must successfully complete:
Workshops — Third-year students shall attend for one year a non-credit workshop or seminar course from a list compiled by the Director of Graduate Studies. Each student must register their choice with the DGS by the first day of classes of the 3rd year. Failure to do so will be considered not making satisfactory progress towards the Ph.D. degree.
Electives — Additional courses which are not needed to meet any of the requirements described above may be taken as electives to attain the required total for graduation.
Transfer of Credit — The DGS may designate any course requirement as having been met by satisfactory performance in equivalent graduate courses taken at other universities. However, this is a rare occurrence.
Unsatisfactory Progress— Students may not be allowed to continue in the program if they are not making satisfactory progress toward the degree. As defined by the Graduate School (see the Graduate Record, Grades), receipt of a grade below B-, a yearly grade average less than 3.0, or failure to pass preliminary exams on schedule will be considered unsatisfactory progress.
Maximum Period of Study — All work must be completed within seven years from the first day of study in the degree program. Exceptions can be granted only by the Graduate Committee of the Graduate School upon petition by the student. The petition should be accompanied by details of both progress to date, and a written timeline for final steps. The DGS normally will support a student's petition only if progress is being made (as judged by his or her dissertation committee) toward completion of the dissertation. If the student has been inactive or making little progress after seven years, he or she will be required to repeat the Core examinations before continuing.
Each prospective candidate must successfully complete comprehensive requirements consisting of a three-part examination on the Core and a Second Year Summer Paper.
The core exams will be graded separately.
Examinations (and each Core part) will be graded on a scale of Excellent (E), Good (G), Satisfactory (S), and Fail. A grade of Fail on the Core exam will be further judged as a Master's Pass (MP, sufficient for receiving the master's degree) grade or as Unsatisfactory (U). All comprehensive requirements must be completed before the beginning of the student's eighth semester in the graduate program. Otherwise, the student will not be permitted to advance to candidacy.
The Core examinations will be taken at the end of the first year (in June). A grade of MP or better on all three parts of the Core examinations and thirty hours of graduate course work (with no course grade below B-) will entitle the student to receive an M.A. degree.
If a Ph.D. student passes part of the three-part examination with a grade of S- or better, the passed part does not need to be re-taken. If a student fails (U or MP) any part of the three-part examination, the failed part or parts must be taken again at the next opportunity. Only one re-examination on the Core is allowed, except as related to the proposal process indicated in the Dissertation section below. Notification of intent to sit for the Core examinations must be filed with the DGS by August 1 (for the August exam) or April 1 (for the June exam). Students who do not pass all three parts of the Core exam after two attempts must leave the program.
In addition to a summer field paper, the student must earn grades of B- or better in each of two Fields of concentration. Two courses will be required for each Field, except as otherwise designated. The Fields of concentration are listed below; see Graduate Course Offerings for course descriptions. Ordinarily, the starred (*) courses are those required for a Field. Unmarked courses may be useful adjuncts to Field preparation. However, because a few of these courses are taught infrequently, the Department sometimes permits students to satisfy a Field requirement by offering reading courses. Consult the DGS for details.
Upon completing the core and field courses, the Ph.D. candidate embarks on original research in the Summer between the second and the third year, culminating in a 2nd Year Summer Paper.
The student will select two readers who consent to formally assess the summer paper on the proposed topic. If the student wants to write in the field defined by the two second year field courses, then the two readers will normally be the instructors of the two field classes.
The paper must be submitted by the first day of classes of the Fall semester of the student's third year, unless the Director of Graduate Students allows for an extension of the deadline. If the student does not submit the paper in a timely manner, then the student must leave the program.
The two readers will provide feedback along five dimensions: i) whether the topic of the paper is ambitious; ii) whether the question is clear; iii) whether the methodology to address the question is appropriate; iv) whether the quality of the analysis is high; v) whether the topic is of general interest. The overall paper is graded on a scale of Excellent (E), Good (G), Satisfactory (S), and Fail (U). If the student receives a U, then the student must leave the program. If a student receives an S- on the paper, the two readers may allow a revised version of the paper to be submitted. The student must then submit a revised paper by the first day of classes of the Spring semester of the student’s third year. If the revision does not earn a grade of S or better, the student must leave the program.
During the first semester after successfully completing the Field paper, the candidate should begin searching for a dissertation topic as well as two appropriate advisors. During this semester, the candidate may register for ECON 9998 with the Director of Graduate Studies. Not later than the beginning of the second semester after completing a Field paper, the candidate must have two members of the Department's faculty who have consented to serve as the provisional dissertation committee. From this point forward, students must register each semester for 12 credits in ECON 9998 and ECON 9999. The role of the Committee at this early stage is to assist the candidate in finding a feasible research topic and to provide initial direction of his or her efforts. The candidate may alter the Committee's make-up should changes in the student's interests or other circumstances make this desirable. During the first semester in which a candidate registers for Econ 9999, the principal advisor will require the candidate to write a paper. The paper will be a literature review, unless the advisor and candidate agree on an alternative.
Before scheduling a proposal defense a candidate must obtain the signatures of two faculty members who will serve as the candidate's provisional committee. The proposal should be presented no later than three semesters after the Field paper is successfully completed. Proposal presentations will be conducted only in spring and fall semesters during the periods in which classes are in session, excluding final examination periods. No more than two presentations will be scheduled during a single week. The candidate must present an 8-15 page statement of the proposed research to the DGS one week before the scheduled proposal for distribution to the faculty. The statement must have been approved by the candidate's provisional committee.
The dissertation proposal should set out the major questions to be explored and describe the methods and the data (if any) to be employed. The statement should be specific enough and detailed enough that the faculty can predict with reasonable assurance whether the work is a contribution to knowledge and can be successfully completed. Students should refer to the specific guidelines and instructions for the proposal available in Collab.
Following the proposal presentation, the provisional committee, interested faculty, and the DGS will weigh the comments of participants and decide whether or not to approve the proposal. When the proposal is approved, the DGS will formally appoint a supervisor and second reader. Later those two will co-opt a third reader to complete the dissertation committee. (If circumstances dictate, and with approval of the DGS, a person not a member of the Department's faculty may be selected as second or third reader.)
Any candidate who fails to present a dissertation proposal within three semesters following the successful completion of the Field paper will be required to retake the Core exams. To continue in the program, a student must retake Cores at the next opportunity and pass them at the Ph.D. level. If a student retaking the exam under these circumstances fails to obtain a Ph.D. pass on the Core exam and this is the first time the candidate has failed the Core exam, the student is permitted to retake Cores once more. Provided the candidate passes Cores, they are free to re-propose.
If a candidate proposes in the last semester of the three semester limit , and the proposal is not approved by the faculty, the candidate must re-propose the following semester. If the candidate proposes in a semester prior to the three semester limit and the proposal is not approved by the faculty, the candidate must re-propose by the semester following the end of the original three semester limit. If the candidate fails at the re-proposal, or fails to re-propose on schedule, he/she must retake the Cores at the next opportunity and pass them at the Ph.D. level. A candidate who retakes the Cores under these circumstances and fails will not be permitted to continue in the program. Provided the candidate passes Cores, he/she is free to re-propose.
No student will be permitted to continue in the program whose dissertation proposal is not approved within six semesters of the successful completion of the Field paper.
The final form of the dissertation should follow an accepted style. (See, e.g., Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, fourth ed., 1973.) Physical requirements, such as weight of paper, are specified by the Graduate School, along with such matters as the size of margins.
After the dissertation is tentatively approved by the supervisor and the second and third readers, the candidate will appear before the faculty for a final oral examination (also called "the dissertation defense"). The examining committee is normally chaired by the dissertation supervisor and consists of at least three faculty members and one non-departmental member as a representative of the Graduate School. Other faculty members in the Department are also invited to attend. This examination will be held between September 1 and June 1; exceptions to this time table are rare and only granted in a case of extreme hardship.
Two copies of the dissertation must be in final form and available for inspection by the faculty advisors. This needs to be done at least one week before the final oral examination. The candidate must also present a separate copy to the third reader if his or her approval has not yet been obtained. Upon being satisfied by the performance in the final oral examination, the supervisor and the second and third readers will certify their approval of the dissertation on its title page. Approval by the committee is not to be considered final until after the oral examination. The chairman of the examination, normally the dissertation supervisor, will prepare formal minutes of the examination in at least two copies, one for the Dean of the Graduate School (on an official form) and the other for the Chairman of the Department (in memo form) to be incorporated in the Departmental minute book. The minutes are to contain a list of the faculty present, the overall grade on the oral examination, and the grade given on the dissertation by the committee.
Degrees are awarded by the University in May, August and December. Students must be registered in the session immediately preceding the awarding of the degree (Spring semester for a May degree, Summer session for an August degree, Fall semester for a December degree). If the candidate is no longer in residence at the University, registration must be arranged through a "non-resident/continuous enrollment" status; see instructions and form here.
A degree application must be filed with the Dean of the Graduate School through the DGS early in the session in which the degree is to be awarded:
The dissertation is due in final form at the Graduate School Office by May 1 for a May degree (August 1 for an August degree, December 1 for a December degree). The Final Examination Form should also be submitted by these dates. The oral examination must be passed before the approved dissertation can be presented to the Graduate School, and the dissertation should be available to the readers at least two weeks before the oral examination. Hence, the dissertation must be submitted to the dissertation committee by April 15 for a May degree (November 15 for a December degree, and July 15 for an August degree). All dates in this paragraph may vary slightly from year to year; consult the DGS and the Graduate School calendar.