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New and Current Graduate Student FAQs

Graduate Program Guides

Additional Important Information

New and Current Graduate Student FAQs

What about housing?

To apply for graduate housing on campus, visit the Residential Life website. There are many rental units available in the immediate neighborhood, and in the Boston area in general. Start your search at Northeastern’s Off-Campus Housing website. There also are private agencies which will help you with your search. If you don’t plan to bring a car (or even if you do), be sure to look for housing near MBTA subway or commuter rail stations. Be aware that rentals in Boston are anything but cheap.

How do I get a Husky Card?

More information about locations to get your Husky Card and hours are located here:

How to Apply

Please be sure to have a valid government issued photo identification with you when you apply for your card.

When do classes start?

Classes start the beginning of September, depending on the exact date of the Labor Day holiday.

When should I arrive on campus?

Master’s students should arrive at least the week before classes begin. New Ph.D. students entering doctoral-level coursework should plan to arrive two weeks before classes begin.  There are orientation events that new students are expected to attend. International students and new TA’s in particular have mandatory events; please be sure to arrive in enough time to attend them all.

How do I find out about the events and meetings that I should attend before classes begin?

Details of these events will be posted as they become known. You will also receive information from the College of Social Sciences and Humanities Graduate Office about events that are university-wide.

Who will be my advisor?


James Dana, Jr.
Professor and PhD Graduate Program Director
306 Lake Hall
Jun Ma
Associate Professor and MA Graduate Program Director
324 Lake Hall


Professor Ma remains the advisor for Master’s students throughout their program. Doctoral students should switch to their dissertation chair as their advisor when their dissertation committee is formed.

How many courses should I enroll in?

The university defines a full-time load for graduate students as eight semester hours per semester. Virtually all our courses are four credits, so taking at least two makes you full time. Most graduate students take three courses per semester. All Teaching Assistants are expected to take three courses per semester, except possibly in their last semester of coursework. Students with a CSSH Dean’s Scholarship must maintain full-time status while in the program. International students are required to maintain full-time enrollment (i.e., take at least two courses per semester) throughout the program. The more courses students take each semester, the sooner they graduate.

How do I register for courses?

All students can register online. Go to www.myneu.neu.edu to create your myNEU Account. Below the Login button, click on HOW DO I GET A myNEU USERNAME AND PASSWORD? International students will enter their international ID/PKID number found at the bottom of the admission letter, and use postal code 02115 in lieu of their overseas postal code. If you experience difficulties in creating your myNEU account, contact the Graduate School (gradcssh@neu.edu).

What transportation is available to reach Northeastern?

Northeastern is located in the heart of Boston. If you are coming from a long distance, you can travel by plane to Logan Airport. From the airport you can take a taxi to Northeastern. If you are traveling light, you can take the Blue Line subway to State Street, where you change to the Orange line and get off at Ruggles. Both the Orange (Ruggles stop) and Green lines (Northeastern stop) serve Northeastern. You can also travel to Boston by train. Amtrak’s Boston-New-York-Washington service stops at Back Bay Station. From Back Bay, you can then transfer to the Orange Line and travel two stops to Ruggles. There are also several Washington-New York-Boston bus lines, some of which are very cheap, which drop you off in various locations in Boston not far from Northeastern’s campus. There are many ways to reach Northeastern by automobile. Visit the university’s website for campus maps. If you use GPS, enter 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston as your destination.

What do I do after I arrive?

After you arrive, visit the Department of Economics, whose main office is located at 301 Lake Hall. The economics department faculty and instructor offices, seminar rooms, and other facilities are found on the third floor of Lake and Holmes Halls. These two “Halls” are simply parts of the same building, which has four different names depending on which part you are in. Also, if you are new to Boston, take some time to locate and enjoy the multitude of cultural and recreational opportunities in the area, some of which are within walking distance of Northeastern.

I'm a new teaching assistant. How do I find my assignment and how do I start?

You will be notified of your assignment and faculty supervisor about a month before the fall semester begins. The assignment typically involves working for a faculty member in the department or tutoring in our Principles of Economics Workshop. You should meet with your faculty supervisor as early as possible during the first week of classes.

Can I change my status from full-time to part-time, or vice-versa?

Mostly, yes. International students and students supported by Teaching Assistantships or Dean’s Scholarships must maintain full-time status. Let us know if you plan to change your status.

Is there a minimum grade point average required for graduation?

For both the MA and PhD programs, there is a minimum required grade point average of 3.000. In addition, MA students are permitted to earn no more than one C in the core courses. Last, PhD students must earn at least a B grade in theory and field courses in order to qualify for the qualifying and comprehensive examinations.

Can MA students transfer to the PhD program?

Current MA students are asked to apply to our PhD program if they are interested; transfer is not automatic. You need to fill out the online application, and get three letters of recommendation from our faculty. You do not need to retake the GRE exam, and we already have your college transcript(s).

How many credits do I need to complete the program?

The Master’s program requires completion of a minimum of eight courses, or 32 semester hours, of graduate credit. These courses must include the four MA core courses. The PhD coursework entails completion of the four MA core courses, the three PhD core courses, two field courses, and a minimum of three elective courses, for a total of twelve courses or 48 semester hours. Students entering the doctoral program with an advanced degree or graduate economics credit may require fewer courses. Doctoral students of course have other requirements besides courses — the qualifying examinations in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, the field/econometrics examination, and a dissertation.

How long does it take students to complete the degree programs?

It takes an average of 1-1/3 years (three semesters) for the Master’s if the student does not choose the co-op option, and an average of five years for the PhD (beyond the Bachelor’s level).

What about the co-op work experience?


What is a Readings in Economics course?

This course is designed for the student who wants to pursue a subject that is not currently offered in any of our listed courses. The student should choose the topic of the readings course. It is the student’s responsibility to find a faculty member who will serve as advisor for the course. The advisor, in consultation with the student, will then determine the content of the course, its requirements, the number of credits to be awarded, and how a final grade is to be determined.

Do you offer internships?

There is an internship course (ECON 8550). To qualify, a student has to locate an unpaid internship and a faculty supervisor, and arrange for the internship director to report his/her performance to the faculty member who will be responsible for giving the grade.  Students who have completed a co-op experience are not eligible for an internship.

Can I transfer course credit from other programs after I have begun my program?

Yes, you can. Students may transfer up to nine semester hours toward the degree. Courses submitted for transfer credit must be graduate-level, must not have been applied toward another degree, and must have earned a grade of at least a B. All transfer credit applications must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator and the Graduate School.

When do doctoral students take qualifying and comprehensive exams?

Doctoral students are required to take their theory qualifying exams at the next available offering after all theory courses have been completed. They are required to take their field/econometrics comprehensive exams at the next available offering after both field courses have been completed.


What does "degree candidacy" mean?

Degree candidacy is attained when a doctoral student has completed all coursework, and passed both theory qualifying examinations, and the field comprehensive examination.


What do doctoral students enroll in after completing all courses?

The university requires continuous enrollment for doctoral students until they graduate. In the fall of the second year (for those students who entered with a master’s degree) or third year (for those students who entered with a bachelor’s degree), doctoral students register for their final field class and ECON 8960, Exam Prep, while they prepare for the field comprehensive examination given in early January. In Spring of the second (or third) year, students register for ECON 9986, Research. This is the term students begin attending the doctoral field lunches and begin the process of developing dissertation topics and forming dissertation committees. Beginning in the third (or fourth) year, students register for ECON 9990, Dissertation, for two consecutive semesters. Then, for every semester thereafter until graduation, students enroll in ECON 9996, Dissertation Continuation. Throughout the dissertation-writing stage, students are expected to participate in the weekly field lunches.

What are the field lunches?

In the field lunches, students who have attained ABD status will select topics, develop their dissertation proposals, and form dissertation committees. Students will be given numerous opportunities to present their work and gain valuable feedback throughout the dissertation writing process. Despite there being no formal registration, all doctoral students who have attained ABD status are required to attend until graduation.

How do I find a dissertation topic?

Once you have selected your field of study, you should begin thinking about possible dissertation topics, and which faculty member would be best suited to serve as your principal dissertation advisor. Interactions with faculty teaching field courses should help you sharpen your thinking about topics. This process is continued in the field lunches. The main purpose of the field lunches is to support the dissertation writing process. Another important input into finding a workable topic is attendance at department seminars and workshops to learn what your peers inside and outside the department are working on.

PhD Program Guidelines

A Guide to the Preparation and Submission of Theses and Dissertations.



What does a doctoral dissertation look like?

Each doctoral student must complete a dissertation that embodies the results of extended research and makes an original contribution to the field. This work should give evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out independent investigation and interpret in a logical manner the results of the research. The dissertation must consist of original research. It consists of three separate (but usually related) essays. In a multiple-essay dissertation, no more than one of these essays may be co-authored. If an essay is co-authored, the co-authors will generally be members of the Northeastern University community. However, exceptions to both of the above restrictions will be considered by the Graduate Curriculum Committee.

A Guide to the Preparation and Submission of Theses and Dissertations.

Thesis Formatting Guide

Where can I find dissertations by Northeastern students?

Northeastern master’s theses and doctoral dissertations are searchable in Scholar OneSearch.

2008 to the present: Most Northeastern theses and dissertations can be downloaded from our Digital Repository Service (Open Access) or Dissertations and Theses @NU (Proquest). (NU login required)

Prior to 2008: Located in print in the Archives and Special Collections.

Who should I contact if I have a question about any of this?


James Dana, Jr.
Professor and PhD Graduate Program Director
306 Lake Hall
Jun Ma
Associate Professor and MA Graduate Program Director
324 Lake Hall


Jacquaetta Hester, Administrative Assistant
301 Lake Hall

Cheryl Fonville, Administrative Officer
301 Lake Hall, 617.373.2872

Please direct email inquiries to gradecon@neu.edu.