Progress to Degree

Written Comprehensive Exams 

All doctoral students are required to take written comprehensive examinations at the first opportunity after completion of ECG 701, 702, 704, and 705.  The exams focus on microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory and are administered in late May or early June.  Students must pass both exams.  A student not passing one or both exams must retake the failed portion(s) in mid August.  Exceptions to the normal schedule for taking written preliminary exams will be allowed only for unusual circumstances (e.g. illness, military service), and must be requested in writing in advance of the exams.  A committee of graduate faculty (including the Graduate Director) will decide requests for deferrals.  A student who does not pass the exam on the second attempt may not continue in the program.

Advisory Committee

As students progress through the field courses and attend workshops and seminars, they should begin to identify faculty members whose research interests are similar to their own and who could potentially serve as mentors to their dissertation research. 

Doctoral student should select four or more members of the University’s graduate faculty  to serve as the advisory committee, according to the specifications given below.  The advisory committee should be organized when planning the dissertation research.  Students are encouraged to select the chair and then discuss the composition of the remainder of the committee. 

The doctoral advisory committee must meet the following specifications: 

  • The committee must have one of the following three structures:  a chair or two co-chairs who equally share responsibilities. 
  • All individuals serving on graduate committees must be members of the graduate faculty.  
  • The committee must comprise at least four graduate faculty members, including the graduate advisor who serves as chair or co-chair of the committee. 
  • The committee must be indicated on the Graduate Plan of Work (POW).  In this way, the committee is officially recommended by the DGP and must be approved by the Graduate School at the time of the approval of the POW. 

Students pursuing a minor are required to appoint a faculty member from the minor department.  In cases where a doctoral committee has no representation outside the student’s graduate program, a Graduate School Representative (GSR) is required to sit on the committee.  This representative will be appointed by the Graduate School when the Plan of Work is approved.  Thus the student’s final committee comprises the four members chosen by the student and the GSR chosen by the Graduate School.  (Note that students with an officially designated minor are exempt from this requirement.)  When the student schedules the preliminary oral examination and the final oral examination, he or she must also contact the GSR who was appointed to his committee and include the GSR in scheduling.  If the GSR cannot attend the final oral, the exam must be rescheduled or a replacement must be identified. 

In the event that a change in the composition of the advisory committee is necessary, a request for such a change must be submitted by the committee chairman.  This proposal should be submitted through the Economics Graduate Program Office to the Dean of the Graduate School.  Copies of the request should be forwarded to all new and old committee members.

Plan of Work

The Gradaute Plan of Work (POW) lists all the courses that have been taken or will be taken to complete the requirements for the doctoral degree.  The Plan of Work is completed online through the MyPack Portal.  The student’s committee is also designated in MyPack using a tab on the POW screen. 

Note that the POW, including the advisory committee composition, must be completed and approved by the Graduate School before the preliminary oral examination can be scheduled. 

Developing a Dissertation Proposal

Once a dissertation topic has been selected, an outline of the proposed research should be submitted to the student’s advisory committee for review and approval.  When a preliminary draft of the dissertation proposal is completed, this should also be submitted to the committee chair.  Once the outlines of the dissertation are clear and the research proposal is deemed to be both tractable and agreeable to the student and to the advisory committee, a preliminary oral examination may be scheduled. 

Preliminary Oral Examination and Oral Presentation of the Dissertation Proposal

The preliminary oral examination for the economics PhD addresses the student's ability to define a specific, realistic, and feasible research question.  A student may, in consultation with his or her advisor, choose to base the preliminary oral exam on a piece of his or her own writing that represents something less developed than a dissertation proposal.  If the student elects to do this, then an oral presentation of the dissertation proposal will be required at a later date.  Alternatively, a student may present a fully developed dissertation proposal at the preliminary oral exam, obviating the need to do so later.  In either case, this presentation to the student’s dissertation committee must be a well developed proposal.  The acceptance of the preliminary oral exam as satisfying the requirement for the dissertation proposal presentation lies at the discretion of the advisory committee.  Requirements for the preliminary oral examination and the dissertation proposal presentation should be discussed with the student’s advisory committee chairperson.

Note that students must pass both written comprehensive exams and have a completed and approved POW in place before the preliminary oral exam may be scheduled.  To schedule the exam, the student must submit to the Graduate School a request to Schedule the Doctoral Examination, indicating that the student will take the preliminary exam.  This request should be submitted at least 2 weeks prior to the anticipated date of the exam.  Students must be sure to consult the members of the advisory committee as well as the Graduate School Representative when scheduling the exam.  The oral exam is conducted by the student's advisory committee and the GSR.  A PhD student is admitted to candidacy upon passing the preliminary examination.  Students receiving departmental funding should be aware that financial assistance may be discontinued if the examination is delayed. 

In the event that the preliminary oral examination does not satisfy the requirement for an oral dissertation proposal presentation.  To schedule this presentation, the student must indicate, with committee approval, a proposal presentation date to the graduate program office.  Upon completion of the proposal presentation the committee will sign the proposal paperwork (obtained in the graduate program office) indicating that the student has successfully completed this milestone.  The requirement will be deemed to have been met upon the unanimous agreement by the student’s advisory committee that the student’s oral presentation constitutes an acceptable dissertation proposal.

Final Oral Examination

The final oral exam is a defense of the completed written dissertation.  The Graduate School requires that there be at least one semester between the admission to candidacy (described above) and the final oral examination.  The oral exam is conducted by the student's advisory committee and the Graduate School Representative.  It is the student’s responsibility to consult the GSR when scheduling the final oral exam, and to make sure that the GSR receives a copy of the dissertation at least two weeks prior to the exam date. 

Once a draft of the thesis is complete, it is submitted to the student’s advisory committee for review.  Students should discuss with their committees an appropriate time table to follow in order to provide adequate time for review prior to the exam.  Detailed information on form and organization is presented in the University’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Guide. 

To schedule the exam, the student and committee chair submit to the Program Director the Request for Approval to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Exam, designating a request for permission for the candidate to take the final oral exam.  The Program Director will submit the request to the Graduate School.  The request must be filed at least 2 weeks prior to the examination date.  At the completion of the oral examination, the chair of the student's advisory committee notifies the Economics Graduate Program Office of the outcome which is then reported to the Graduate School.  Specific deadlines for exams as required to graduate in a particular semester are recorded each semester in the University Graduate Calendar.

Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) Submission Procedures

The student must submit the draft PDF file of the dissertation to the Thesis Editor for review by the “ETD Review Deadline” for the semester in which the final oral exam occurred.  These deadlines can be found in the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation guide.  The dissertation must be submitted electronically through the ETD submission system.  The dissertation review ensures that the format of the dissertation conforms with the specifications described in the Electronic Thesis and Dissertation guide.

Once the student has incorporated edits recommended by the advisory committee and the thesis editor, the student must submit a final, error free file of the dissertation to the Graduate School.  This must also be done through the ETD submission system by the “Final Error Free ETD” deadline for the semester, as noted in the Graduate Calendar.  The student will be electronically notified when the final error free file is accepted.  Once the final error free file has been received, it will be routed back to the thesis committee members for final approval. 

Students should be aware that the rules regarding submission of the dissertation to the Graduate School are specific and deadlines are enforced.  As a result, students would be wise to acquaint themselves with the required procedures and timelines.  Workshops (both online and in person) on the ETD process are offered and students should plan to attend a workshop no later than the fall of the 3rd year.  Schedules and registration for ETD workshops can be found online at the ETD website.


Note : Students who unconditionally pass their final exam in a given semester, up to and including the « No Registration Required Thesis/Dissertation Review » deadline, will not be allowed to register for the following semester in the degree program under which they took they exam.  Students already in another program may register in that program.  International students with concerns about completing final edits and minor revisions under these circumstances should contact Office of International Services to discuss the available options. 


Preparing to Graduate

Students preparing to graduate with a PhD degree in economics must do the following BEFORE the required Graduate School deadlines (calendar):

  • Submit the Gradaute Plan of Work in MyPack Portal 
  • Submit the Request for Approval to Schedule the Doctoral Oral Examination form.  This must be submitted at least two weeks prior to the exam date, giving careful attention to the Graduate School deadlines for completing the final oral exam and submitting the thesis to the ETD editor. 
  • Complete the online Application to Graduate (in MyPack).  This should be completed at the same time that the request to schedule the final oral exam is submitted, but no later than the Apply to Graduate deadline as noted in the Graduate School calendar
  • Submit the draft thesis and signed title page to the Thesis Editor through the ETD submission system.
  • Submit the final, error-free file of the dissertation through the ETD submissions system.
  • Make sure that all outstanding fees are paid.

Earning the MR en route to the PhD

Upon completion of 30 hours of approved ECG coursework, doctoral students who wish to have the MR degree conferred en route to the PhD should complete the Change of Degree Status or Curriculum form at the beginning of the semester in which they want the MR conferred.  The form should be submitted to the DGP who will approve it and sent it on to the Graduate School.  Upon approval by the Graduate School, an MR-level Plan of Work (POW) will become available to the student.  The POW should be completed along with all other procedures for completing the ME degree