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Throughout their program, each student will have a faculty advisor who will be the student’s point of contact and who also will be responsible for an annual assessment of whether the student is making satisfactory progress in the program.

In their first year, this advisor will normally be the Chair of the Graduate Program.  In the second and perhaps into the third year, it will normally be any faculty member in the student’s likely field.  At the appropriate point, typically in the third year, it will be the student’s dissertation advisor.

At all points in the program the student must be making satisfactory progress.  Satisfactory progress will depend in part on the precise point at which the student is working, but minimum requirements are that the student be in regular communication with their faculty advisor, regularly attend department seminars and workshops in their field, and meet deadlines for proposing and defending their dissertation.  Failure to achieve satisfactory progress will result, after consultation with the Graduate Chair, in a written recommendation for corrective action or even termination from the program.

PhD Program Guidelines

The PhD program for each student has two phases: The Course/Exam phase followed by the Dissertation phase.  The Course/Exam phase consists of course work (described separately), leading up to the taking of the comprehensive and field examinations.  This phase should be completed within two years of entry into the program.

A student moves into the Dissertation phase upon successful completion of required course work, the comprehensive examinations, and the field exam.  The comprehensive exam is normally taken at the end of the first year.  The field exam is normally taken at the end of the second year.

In the Dissertation Phase, the student must:

  • Prepare a dissertation proposal
  • Present and defend the proposal before a Proposal Review Committee
  • Write a dissertation based on that proposal demonstrating the ability to do original research
  • Successfully defend the dissertation.

PhD proposals are to be reviewed and approved within one year of entry into the Dissertation Phase, which is normally by the end of the third year. Students must complete the proposal review within two years of finishing their coursework. Students who have not completed the proposal review within one year of passing their field exam must submit a status report and timetable for their proposal for approval by their dissertation advisor and the Graduate Chair. Students who have not completed the proposal review within two years of finishing their coursework, and who do not have an extension granted by the university, will not be eligible to continue in the program.

As described below, students must also complete their dissertation defense within five years of finishing their coursework, and postponing the proposal review does not alter the total time that students may use to compete their PhD.

Each student will have a dissertation committee chaired by a faculty member chosen by the student, and at least two other members (at most one from outside the department) agreed to by the chair and the student. At least the chairperson should be identified within the first year of the Dissertation phase, and the entire committee determined before the proposal review and defense.

A PhD dissertation proposal is a written document no more than 30 pages, inclusive of everything, in 11-point font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins. It should describe and motivate the research questions, explain their relationship and importance to the literature, outline the content of the dissertation (model, data sources, specific hypotheses, econometric issues, etc.), and indicate the contributions the research is expected to provide.

The student’s primary advisor must confirm to the PhD Program Director that the proposal is ready for a review and defense. Announcement of the Proposal Review must be made at least one weeks in advance. The announcement must be accompanied by an abstract of the dissertation proposal and the names of the dissertation committee members.

The Proposal Review is attended by the three members of the student’s dissertation committee as well as any other interested faculty and students (students may be present via audio or video). The event is a presentation and evaluation of the student’s proposal, not a seminar. It is intended to elicit comments and suggestions, provide an agenda for the student, and ultimately to decide on its acceptability. The decision on acceptability is made jointly by the three members of the student’s dissertation committee. If acceptable, all members of the dissertation committee sign a Proposal Approval Form. If it is accepted with revisions, those revisions should be noted.

Upon successful completion of the Proposal Review, students will become dissertation candidates. Candidacy makes students eligible for higher stipends and is an essential step in making satisfactory progress.

The student is expected to follow the agreed-upon proposal in writing the PhD dissertation.  Where unforeseen circumstances require substantial modifications, this requires agreement by all three committee members.  The student is normally expected to present the proposal in its various stages at least once per year in either the field workshop, as a department seminar, or at a research conference.

The PhD dissertation may include co-authored essays, but at least one essay must be sole authored.  Ideally, the lead essay (“job market paper”) should not be co-authored.