First Year Requirements

First Year Courses

To obtain the Ph.D. degree in Economics, a student is required to take the first year Ph.D. course sequence consisting of 9601A (Microeconomics I), 9603A (Macroeconomics I), 9605A (Econometrics I) and 9607A (Mathematical Economics I) in the first term. In the second term students are required to take 9602B (Microeconomics II), 9604B (Macroeconomics II), 9606B (Econometrics II) and Economics 9691 (Research Seminar).

Comprehensive Exams

Students must also pass the comprehensive examinations (the Core Exams) in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics. Only students who obtain an average of 85 including all first year courses are allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program and take the summer Core examinations.

The comprehensive examinations are scheduled the first three Mondays in June, approximately five weeks after the regular winter exam period.

A student who fails any of the comprehensive exams on his/her first attempt will have an opportunity to write it a second time during the same summer, in August. If any student fails more than one of the comprehensive exams at the first sitting, and thus must rewrite two exams, there will be at least a week between each component at the second sitting. A student who fails all three comprehensive exams will not be allowed to rewrite. Exceptions to this rule can be made based on non-academic grounds at the discretion of the Graduate Director in consultation with the Comprehensive Exam Committees.

A student who fails in his/her second attempt at any of the Core exams will not be permitted to continue in the program.

Second Year Requirements

Second Year Courses

Students are required to take Econ 9609A, one of the Advanced Theory courses (Econ 9611A, 9612B, 9613A, 9614B, 9615A, or 9616B) and at least six option or field courses. These courses are usually taken during the second year.

At the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies, one or more graduate courses taken at other universities may be counted toward satisfying the preceding requirements provided they have not already been counted toward satisfying the requirements for another degree. To be eligible to apply for this kind of advanced standing credit, the student must be able to demonstrate that the course for which he/she has received credit has a close analogue at the 9600-level at Western. The student must also have received a grade of at least 80 in the course. The student must provide a reading list for the course as well as all materials used to assess his or her performance (i.e., copies of test questions, problem sets, research papers or projects and the like).

Second Year Paper

During the summer term at the end of their second year in the program, students must prepare a research paper (the "Summer Paper"). A short outline of its topic and contents must be approved by a faculty member who will act as the summer paper supervisor. The deadline for approval is May 31. It is the student's responsibility to get a faculty member’s agreement to serve as a summer paper supervisor, something that should be done well before the deadline. While not required, the summer paper supervisor would normally be a faculty member who the student wants to be one of his or her thesis supervisors.

After the paper is completed, it is submitted to a committee consisting of the summer paper supervisor and at least one other faculty member selected in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies. The deadline for submission is September 30. If the committee decides that the paper is not acceptable, the student will be required to revise and resubmit the paper by December 15. Students who fail to submit an acceptable revision will be removed from the program. A "Second Year" Paper Prize will be awarded to the best "Summer Paper". The Graduate Awards Committee selects the winner based on nominations from summer paper supervisors and faculty members assigned to review the summer papers.

Third Year Requirements

Workshop Papers and Presentations

During their third year in the program, students are required to receive course credit in the Communication and Professional Development Workshop I & II (9770A & 9771B).  For further information, please see “Notes for the Guidance of Graduate Students”.

Thesis Advisory Committee

By December 30th of the third year in the program, students are required to form a Departmental Thesis Committee consisting of three faculty members, one of which is typically the second year paper advisor. This committee will help the student settle on a specific thesis topic and provide ongoing guidance as the thesis comes together.

Fourth Year Requirements

In the fourth year in the program students are again required to receive credit in the Communication and Professional Development Workshop I & II (9880A & 9881B). For further information, please see “Notes for the Guidance of Graduate Students”.

Thesis Prospectus

The student is required to prepare a prospectus of what his/her thesis will consist of, highlighting especially the planned job market paper. Students are required to defend their thesis prospectus during an oral presentation to the department, which will be scheduled during the month of September. Students who are not successful in defending their thesis prospectus in September will be allowed a second chance in December. Students who fail their thesis prospectus twice will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Thesis Requirements

The final requirement a student must satisfy is the writing of a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation represents a contribution to economic knowledge, and it shows that the student is qualified to perform significant, independent economic research.

The specific requirements for an acceptable dissertation are determined by the student's Departmental Thesis Committee. The committee and the student decide when the dissertation is near its final form so that it can be defended in front of at least five faculty members of the department of Economics (including the Director of Graduate Studies or designate and the student's committee members). Students should speak to the Graduate Coordinator about administrative procedures and other arrangements.

Once the departmental defense has been completed and all recommendations for the thesis have been fulfilled, the student is required to present the dissertation in a final oral examination at the university level to two departmental examiners, one university examiner and one external examiner. The supervisor will be present at the university thesis defense.

See the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies website.

General Progression Requirements

Admission into the Ph.D. program from the MA program, and continuation in the Ph.D. requires an average of 85 over all courses taken while enrolled in the graduate program. Decisions on continuation in the program and financial assistance are made at the end of each academic year.

In courses where the student's grade is based (in whole or in part) on a paper to be submitted by a specified deadline, failure to submit a paper by the deadline will normally result in a grade of zero on the paper. In exceptional circumstances, a grade of "Incomplete" may be awarded. A grade of "Incomplete" must be made up within 1 term beyond the initial registration in a course. If it is not, the student will automatically be assigned a "Fail" (F).

Permission to Enroll in Courses

A graduate student in the Ph.D. in Economics may take any 9600 to 9800 level half course in Economics for credit. Ph.D students may take undergraduate/graduate courses from other departments provided that both the Graduate Directors of the home department and the department offering the course approve.