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 be the PhD Graduate Program Director. In the second and third year, it will normally be a faculty member in the student’s chosen research field. At the appropriate point, typically in the student’s third year, the advisor will be the student’s dissertation chair.
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, attend department seminars and workshops in their field, take required coursework, maintain a 3.5 grade point average, pass required exams, and meet deadlines for proposing and defending their dissertation. Failure to achieve satisfactory progress will result, after consultation with the PhD Graduate Program Director, in a written recommendation for corrective action or even termination from the program.
The PhD program for each student has two phases: The Coursework/Exam phase followed by the Dissertation phase. The Coursework/Exam phase consists of taking required and elective courses (described separately), and passing the qualifying exams and comprehensive or field exam. This phase should be completed within two and one half years of entry into the program (one and one half years for students entering with a masters degree in economics).
The student moves into the Dissertation phase upon successful completion of required course work, the comprehensive examinations, and the field exam. The comprehensive exams are normally taken at the end of the second year (at the end of the first year for students entering with a masters degree in economics). The field exam is normally taken after the student has completed all of his or her required coursework. The field exam is not required of students entering in 2020 or beyond. Instead, those students must earn a grade of B or above in each of their four field courses.
In the Dissertation Phase, the student must:
- Prepare a
- 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.
Each student should also regularly attend the department’s PhD workshops and plan to informally present his or her research in one of the workshops.
The PhD program emphasizes a foundation in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics followed by field coursework. Students must take PhD coursework in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics followed by qualifying exams in microeconomics and macroeconomics. Students will be given two attempts to pass these exams, and may appeal for a third attempt. Students who enter the program in 2020 and beyond will also be required to take and pass a qualifying exam in econometrics.
The department currently offers two two-course field sequences every academic year – one in labor and one in industrial organization. Students are required to take four field courses, which would normally consist of these two two-course field sequences. In the future, the field sequences may be extended beyond labor or industrial organization. Students, with the permission of the PhD program director and the professors teaching the relevant courses, may substitute one health or development course for one of the labor and IO field courses. This substitution will only be permitted when it improves the student’s training, not just to relax the requirements of the program.
Students must also take one field exam which would normally be based on a two-course sequence offered by the department. Students must pass a field exam in their chosen field. Students may retake the exam if they don’t pass the first time. Students may appeal to the department to take the field exam a third time. In no case will students be allowed to take the field exam more than three times. Students are not allowed to switch fields after they take the exam. The field exam is not required of students entering in 2020 or beyond. Instead, those students must earn a grade of B or above in each of their four field courses.
When the department offers only one PhD course in a field (as is currently the case with health economics and development economics) students may request permission from the PhD program director and the relevant instructors to satisfy one of their two two-course field sequences with a customized sequence. Students may also request permission to take a customized field exam. For example, a student may request to have a field exam based on one course in labor and one in development. In no case will PhD students be allowed to take less than four PhD level field courses and take fewer than one of the program’s standard two-course field sequence.
Customized field exams are offered so that students can focus their dissertation research in additional fields. They are not offered in order to in any way reduce the PhD program’s standards or requirements, or to reduce the number of field courses students take. Students always benefit from being exposed to as many field courses as possible. Students who plan to focus their research in a field for which a standard two-course sequence is available are always best served by taking the field exam in that field.
PhD dissertations in economics typically consist of three essays or chapters on related research topics. Each essay or chapter is written to conform to the norms for publication in research journals in economics or related social sciences.
PhD proposals must be held, reviewed and approved within one year of entry into the Dissertation Phase, which is normally by the end of the third year. Students must also 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.
Students must complete their dissertation defense within five years of finishing their coursework. Postponing the proposal review does not alter this requirement.
Each student will have a dissertation committee chaired by a faculty member affiliated with the economics department, and at least two other faculty members (at most one from outside of the department). The dissertation committee 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 Graduate Program Director that the proposal is ready for a review and defense. Announcement of the Proposal Review must be made at least one/two weeks in advance of the proposal. 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 (in person or remotely) by all of the members of the student’s dissertation committee as well as any other interested faculty and students. 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 members of the student’s dissertation committee. If the proposal is accepted, all members of the student’s dissertation committee will sign a Proposal Approval Form. If it is accepted with revisions, those revisions should be noted on the form. 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 in the PhD program.
The student is expected to follow the agreed-upon proposal in writing the PhD dissertation. Where unforeseen circumstances require substantial modifications, the student should get the approval of all of the dissertation committee members. The student is normally expected to present the proposal in its various stages at least once per year in either one of the department’s field workshops, as a department seminar, or at a research conference. The PhD dissertation may include essays (or chapter) co-authored with other students or faculty, but at least one essay (or chapter) must be authored solely by the student. Ideally, the lead essay (the “job market paper”) should be sole authored.
The dissertation defense is held before the student’s dissertation committee and any other faculty members or students who choose to attend. One month in advance of the prospective date of the defense, the completed dissertation that is to be defended must be circulated to the committee members. At that time, all members of the committee must sign off on their agreement that the dissertation is ready for defense. The date, time, and other pertinent information about the defense are to be posted by the department and an announcement of the Defense must be made at least two weeks in advance.
For a PhD defense, students must follow the CSSH guidelines for the CSSH announcement and provide a copy of the dissertation abstract for the department to circulate with the department announcement. The dissertation abstract is the abstract (or a draft) that will be included in the final dissertation. Announcements need to be submitted 14 days in advance. The dissertation committee chair also chairs the defense. The defense consists of a brief overview of the entire dissertation by the student followed by the posing of questions first by the committee and then by any other faculty members.
On completion of the questioning, the dissertation committee by itself, without attendance by others, makes its determination about the acceptability of the dissertation. If revisions are required, ordinarily only the committee chair reviews those revisions, although any member may ask to participate in that review. Any requirements for revisions are to be accompanied by a timetable for their completion. Once revisions are submitted and approved, all of the dissertation committee members sign a form indicating their agreement that the dissertation is accepted.
The dissertation defense normally takes place during the student’s 5th year. Those who have not defended by the end of their 5th year must submit a status report and timetable for approval by their dissertation advisor and the Director of the PhD Program.
Students who have not completed the defense within five 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.
Type of Program