Graduate Program

PhD Program

All students must fulfill a number of course, research and credit requirements in order to complete the PhD program. The specific requirements are described below in the approximate order that you encounter them during the program.

Course and Credit Requirements

Research and Teaching Requirements

Additional Requirements

Student can also view the PhD program timeline to see an overview of the program.

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Course and Credit Requirements

Foundational Requirements

Students entering this program should have a minimum of one year of calculus, and one semester of both linear algebra and mathematical statistics. Any student who is missing one or more of these courses will be required to take them during their first year of graduate study.

Students must also pass an oral and written English proficiency exam by the second semester of their second year. Students from English-speaking countries may waive the exam with the permission of the graduate advisor.

The Program in English as a Second Language is a great resource for students looking to improve their English skills.

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Core Courses

The following eight courses form the core of the PhD program:

ECO 471-472: Modern Value Theory I & II
ECO 475-476: Macroeconomics I & II
ECO 481: Mathematical Economics
ECO 483: Introduction to Mathematical Statistics (2 credits)
ECO 484: Introduction to Econometrics (2 credits)
ECO 485: Elements of Econometrics

These courses must be completed in the first year of study. All students must maintain a B average in order to remain in good standing in the department.

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Fields of Specialization and Qualifying Examinations 

Each PhD candidate must qualify in two specialized fields. Fields available vary from year to year depending on current faculty and student interests.

Recent field courses offered have included:

Preparation for the qualifying examination ordinarily involves taking two graduate courses in that field, and further study over the summer. If appropriate courses are not offered, it may be possible to arrange a reading course with one of the relevant faculty members.

Field areas are evaluated by a written qualifying examination, and graded by members of the department specializing in that field. Exams in both fields must be taken before beginning the third year. Examinations are usually scheduled in July, with retakes in January. You get two attempts to pass each exam and qualifying exams expire after five years.

The department maintains a file of recent qualifying examinations to aid you in preparation.

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Distribution Requirements

Each student must take at least one course in each of two fields in addition to the qualifier fields.

With the written permission of the director of graduate studies, you may substitute a minimum of 4 credit hours in an allied field for one of the distribution courses.

Courses in mathematics, statistics, and finance may fall under this category. These courses must be distinct from your field area, and you must make the case that they sufficiently broaden your understanding of economics.

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Credit Requirement

Students entering the program with a bachelor's degree need ninety semester hours of course credit. Each student receives 4 credits for each 400-level course, and 5 credits for each 500-level course.

While writing the third-year paper, you must register for Economics 493: Master's Essay. When working on your dissertation, you may register for up to 10 hours per semester of Economics 595: PhD Research in Economics in order to complete the credit requirement.

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Research and Teaching Requirements

Third-Year Paper 

Research starts at the beginning of the third year. During this year, you must prepare a paper that demonstrates your research ability.

This paper is usually a preliminary investigation of a dissertation topic, but may be a self-contained paper that is unrelated to your dissertation.

The paper must be completed by the last working day in June of the third year, and presented in an economics workshop.

A copy of the paper, approved and signed by the faculty advisor, must be turned in to the Graduate Coordinator to be placed in your file.

The Conibear Prize is awarded annually for the best third-year paper.

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Dissertation Prospectus

Upon completion of the core courses, qualifying exams, and third-year paper requirements, you become a candidate for the PhD degree.

Each candidate will select and obtain the consent of a member of the department faculty to act as principal dissertation supervisor. You are encouraged to seek advice from other faculty members as appropriate.

All students must submit a prospectus by September 15 of their fourth year. The prospectus should state the:

The prospectus must be signed and approved by two faculty members. The primary purpose of the prospectus is to persuade the department that the thesis dissertation plan is appropriate and manageable. The prospectus should be three to ten pages.

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The Workshop Program

Workshops provide students with insights into current research topics and offer a forum for students and faculty to present and discuss their recent research. There are five regular workshops:

Students must participate in one of the department's ongoing workshops during the third and fourth years of study. This starts with registering for a workshop, and includes regular attendance and active participation.

Second-year students are encouraged to attend workshops, and we strongly advise advanced students to attend other workshops besides their primary workshop.

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Teaching Requirement

The department views teaching experience as an integral part of the PhD program. The formal requirement is two semesters as a teaching assistant (TA).

Students are assigned to a variety of teaching activities based upon their individual skills and preferences, and the demand for TAs. Typically, beginning TAs will grade and or lead problem sessions. More advanced TAs may have the opportunity to teach their own course, especially in the summer.

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Final Oral Examination

After the dissertation has been completed and approved by your dissertation advisors, you must defend the dissertation in a final oral examination.

The examining committee consists of your supervisor, at least one other member of the economics faculty, an outside reader (from a department other than economics), and a committee chairman who is appointed by the dean of graduate studies.

Questions in the oral examination are generally confined to the dissertation and closely related matters, but may cover broader aspects of economics. The committee is empowered to approve or disapprove the dissertation, to approve contingent on certain changes, or to require changes followed by reexamination.

If your qualifying exams have expired, you must re-pass them before defending your dissertation.

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Additional Requirements

Professional and Ethical Behavior

The department expects its graduate students to maintain high ethical and professional standards in educational and professional activities.

In particular, graduate students are expected not to collaborate during unsupervised examinations or take-home examinations. At the same time, a certain amount of interaction on homework assignments is beneficial to the educational process.

Students may consult with others on general points, but should prepare their own homework answers.

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The department has an active seminar series. There are five regular weekly seminar series:

Students are encouraged to begin participating in these seminars as soon as possible.

These seminars give you an opportunity to see the latest work in economics, and to present your own work before fellow students and faculty.

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