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Doctor of Philosophy in Economics

University requirements for the Ph.D. are described in the "Graduate Degrees" section of this bulletin.

Admitted students must be adequately prepared in calculus, linear algebra, and statistics (see above). When deemed appropriate, a student may be required to complete the necessary background preparation at Stanford. All students take a common core curriculum at the outset and later branch out into the desired fields of specialization. Well-prepared students should anticipate spending, with some overlap, approximately two years in course work and another two years in seminars, independent study, and dissertation research. The goal is to complete the program in four years, although some types of research programs may require at least five years to complete. The department has a strong commitment to guiding students through the program expeditiously.

Questions and petitions concerning the program and the admissions process should be addressed to the Director of Graduate Study, who has responsibility for administering the graduate program.

Specific requirements are best discussed in two stages, the first consisting of requirements for admission to candidacy and the second involving further requirements for earning the degree.

Admission to Candidacy for Ph.D.—A student may apply for admission to candidacy when the following minimal requirements are met:

  1. Successful results on comprehensive examinations in core economics (the examinations based on material from ECON 202, 203, 204; and 210, 211, 212), and econometrics (the examination based on material from ECON 270, 271, 272).
  2. Completing the requirements in two additional fields of specialization from the list below or, if approved in advance by the Director of Graduate Study, in one such field together with a substantial amount of work toward a second field taught in a related department. Advanced fields include econometrics, economic development, economic history, industrial organization, international economics, labor economics, microeconomic theory, monetary theory and advanced macroeconomics, environmental economics and public finance.

    Each field listed above can be satisfied by completing two courses, although students in some fields may be advised to add a third course, which can then be counted toward the distribution requirement discussed later. All courses (or comprehensive exams, when offered) must be passed with a grade of 'B' or better.

  3. Completing a candidacy paper, normally written in conjunction with one of the special fields selected above. Satisfactory presentation of this paper or another research paper is required in Autumn Quarter of the third year, along with an additional presentation of an expanded research paper in Spring Quarter is also required for admission to candidacy.

It is expected that the student meet, and indeed exceed, the above standards by the end of the third year of residency. When this is not possible for any reason, the Director of Graduate Study should be consulted as early as possible during the third year. Once it is deemed that the above standards have been met, the student should complete the Application for Candidacy for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. After approval, candidacy remains valid for five years (although it can be terminated earlier by the department if progress is deficient); it can be renewed or extended beyond this period only under unusual circumstances.

Further Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree—

  1. Distribution Requirement: Students must complete four other graduate-level courses meeting the following requirements:
    1. at least one course from the area of economic history, unless history is one of the two fields of specialization.
    2. courses in at least two fields other than the two fields of specialization. Distribution courses cannot be crosslisted in those fields.
    3. with advance approval of the Director of Graduate Study, some of these distribution courses may be drawn from related fields taught in other departments. However, including courses taken to meet either the specialization or distribution requirements, no more than two courses in total may be taken outside the Economics department.
  2. Teaching Experience: Each student must serve as a teaching assistant for at least one quarter. It is strongly recommended that this requirement be satisfied before the final year of residence.
  3. Seminar Participation: Each student is expected to participate in at least two all-year research seminars by the end of the fourth year of residence. Normally, participation in a seminar requires one or more oral presentations and the submission of a research paper (which, however, need not be completely separate from dissertation research).
  4. Ph.D. Dissertation: The process involves selecting a topic, choosing an appropriate adviser, submitting a prospectus (signed by the adviser) outlining the proposed research, selecting a three-member reading committee (usually all from the Department of Economics, although exceptions can be made under certain circumstances), passing the University oral examination at which these three faculty (and two other members of the Academic Council) ask questions about the completed research, and submitting a final draft of the work signed by all members of the reading committee. The student is advised to initiate this process as early as possible.

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