Satisfactory Progress and Departmental Guidelines


To earn a Ph.D., a student must complete the Graduate School requirement of 54 credit hours of coursework and maintain Satisfactory Progress in all phases of the Course of Study in the Economic Program.

The Economics Department’s performance standards for Satisfactory Progress are described here. A student must also meet the general requirements of the Department, the Graduate School, and the University regarding academic integrity and student conduct. If a student is ever unsure about the standards for satisfactory progress or academic integrity, he/she should consult the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).

In addition, any student who receives financial assistance from the Department and/or the Graduate School should review the guidelines in Students with TA Stipends and/or Tuition Assistance, and the Graduate School’s rules on the subject.

The general grading standard for coursework is given here:

  A   strong
  A – good
  B + minimum acceptable performance for Ph.D. Program
  B   below standard for Ph.D. but OK for MA
  B – below standard for MA
  C   unacceptable
  F   immediate termination warranted

Following the Graduate Bulletin (PDF Version Here), every Ph.D. student is required to maintain at least a B (3.00) grade average. The nature of the coursework is outlined in Course of Study. Any student who for medical or otherwise legitimate reasons cannot complete part or all of the first-year coursework should consult the policy on Incompletes, Leaves of Absence, Termination, and Appeals.

The Comprehensive Exams are administered in June before a student’s second year. If necessary, the second exams have to be taken in August. The exam consists of three components: microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. These components are cumulative and typically cover the material in Microeconomics I and II, Macroeconomics I and II, and Econometrics I and II. Students who have maintained Satisfactory Progress in their coursework are eligible to take the exam.

Comprehensive Exams

The Comprehensive Exams in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics are set and graded by committees consisting typically of three faculty members.  The grade choices are Pass and Fail.

Students must pass all three components. A student who fails a component the first time may, at the discretion of the Comprehensive Exam Committee, be allowed to re-take the exam. A student is allowed at most two opportunities to pass each component of the exam.  Students who do not pass all three components are terminated from the Ph.D. program at the end of the Fall semester of their second year. Note that these students are eligible to receive a Master’s degree by the end of the Fall semester of their second year provided that they have completed 30 hours of graduate coursework and have achieved at least a B (3.0) grade average. These students are allowed to take one course in the second-year fall semester to reach the 30 credits requirement.

Thesis Proposal Defense

In the third year, students have to make presentations of their thesis proposal.  The details are in the link. (link to the document from last year.)

There are two presentations, the first at the end of the Fall semester and the second at the end of the Spring semester. The first proposal presentation takes place at the end of the Fall semester, and all faculty and Ph.D. students are invited to attend. The December presentation is solely for the purpose of receiving feedback and it is not graded. After the Fall presentation, the DGS forms a five-person panel.

The panel attends and evaluates the Spring presentation. If the student fails the Spring presentation, he/she has to present in front of the same panel (unless the DGS permits a change) at the end of the following Fall semester. If the student fails again, he/she has to leave the program.

Thesis Requirements

Students must demonstrate to their dissertation committees that they are working actively toward completing their dissertations within Departmental and Graduate School time limits. Requirements for the thesis vary by field. However, as a general rule, the doctoral thesis should consist minimally of two papers publishable in highly respected economics journals. It is highly recommended that one such paper should be presented in a departmental seminar before the student’s final thesis defense. The student may also be required to present his/her paper at an acceptable academic conference.

With the approval of the student’s thesis committee and that of the DGS, a student may schedule his/her final thesis defense if Satisfactory Progress is achieved in the student’s Course of Study.

All students must, in consultation and with the approval of their main advisor, have a Ph.D. Committee formed no less than three months before their defense date. Committees consist of no less than three members and may include Faculty from other Universities or experts from institutions such as the IMF and World Bank. See the graduate bulletin (pdf here) for detailed rules on the committee membership. The Director of Graduate Studies must be informed of the Committee membership.

All students must circulate a final draft of their dissertation to the members of their Committee at least one month before their defense date. The Director of Graduate Studies must be informed that such circulation has taken place.

Students with TA Stipends and/or Tuition Assistance

Graduate School rules dictate that students who receive financial stipends cannot work in this capacity more than an average of 15 hours per week. Students who receive stipends are expected to fulfill their TA obligations and responsibilities fully and professionally. Unprofessional conduct and/or shirking of one’s TA responsibilities may lead to the withdrawal of the award.

A student who receives a full stipend cannot receive outside compensation of any kind during the academic year (September through May). The compensation received in the summer months(June, July, and August) is exempt. A student who does plan to receive some sort of external, non-compensatory funding or scholarship should inform the Graduate Coordinator or DGS immediately.  Note: The department does not want to discourage applications for external scholarships, and can work with students to ensure that they are not financially penalized for doing so. However, any student with full funding who receives external funding during the academic year without notifying the department will have his/her stipend withdrawn.

Leaves of Absence, Incompletes, Termination, and Appeals

The policies on Leaves of Absence, Incompletes, Termination, and Appeals follow the Graduate Bulletin.  
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Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Any student found to be in violation of  University policies regarding plagiarism, academic integrity, or student conduct is subject to university sanctions. These may include immediate termination from the program, depending upon the offense. See Academic Integrity, Policies, and Procedures