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Goals for Second and Third Year Graduate Students

During your second and third years, the PhD degree requires that students complete:

  1. The Economic History Requirement
  2. Courses in Three Fields
  3. Two Papers Presented in the Economics 501 Seminar
  4. Attend other Courses that Interest you
  5. Supervised Teaching Experience
  6. Work on your Written and Verbal Presentation Skills
  7. A Dissertation Prospectus presented at an Oral Examination

Economic History Requirement

Students must take either Economics 420-1 Advanced Topics in American Economic History or 420-1 Advanced Topics in European Economic History for a letter grade. In some years, additional economic history courses may be scheduled as Economics 498 Advanced Topics in Economics. The director of Graduate Studies will announce in the Graduate Connection newsletter if these courses meet the economic history requirement.

Typically, Economic History courses are partially evaluated by the writing of a research paper. Students have one calendar year after taking the course to submit the paper.

Courses in Three Fields

Completion of a field consists of taking and passing a two-quarter sequence of courses for letter grades. You must complete three different fields.

The Economics Department offers a number of field sequences:

Note that students can only take a maximum of two of the 412, 414 and 415 sequences as fields.  (However, they are welcome to audit additional microeconomic theory classes.)

Note that with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies, it is possible to obtain two fields in econometrics, one in theoretical econometrics and one in applied econometrics.  Please discuss the individual courses that would form each of the sequences with the Director of Graduate Studies in advance.

The Director of Graduate Studies has the ability to approve additional sequences from courses offered as Economics 498 Advanced Topics in Economics or from doctoral courses offered by the Departments of Finance, Managerial Economics and Decision Sciences, and Strategy in the Kellogg School of Management. More unusually, doctoral courses offered elsewhere in the University may be counted at the discretion of the Director. In all cases, the student should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies prior to undertaking a proposed sequence.

Two Papers Presented in the Economics 501 Seminar

Each student must write and orally present two research papers in the Economics 501, Graduate Student Seminar. These works will hopefully become part of your dissertation. 

Learn about details of these papers and Economics 201. 

Other Courses

In addition to the courses taken as part of field sequences, students are encouraged to take additional courses that they find interesting. Unlike courses that count as part of their field sequences, students should generally audit these classes rather than take them for credit. However, students can take additional courses for a letter grade if they wish.

Students have to register for at least three units each quarter to be a full-time student. Students can use Economics 590 in their second year, and TGS 500 in their third year to supplement regular course registrations to obtain full-time status (multiple repeat registration is allowed). These course registrations should also be used in the Summer Quarter when regular for-credit courses are not scheduled.

Supervised Teaching Experience

All doctoral students are required to act as a teaching assistant for at least one quarter at some point in their graduate career (this need not necessarily occur in the second or third years). As part of these duties, the student must lead a weekly discussion section. Teaching experience is an essential part of graduate training. Students who are fully funded for all years of their study from non-departmental sources, should "volunteer" as an unpaid Teaching Assistant for one quarter by arranging this with the Associate Chair. Foreign students must demonstrate acceptable English proficiency as prescribed by The Graduate School. Evaluations are made and kept as part of the students' record.

Written and Verbal Presentation Skills

The effectiveness of your research depends crucially on how well you can communicate your findings in writing and verbally. The Ph.D. program, as well as Northwestern University offer a number of resources for developing writing and presentation skills. See these resources.

A Dissertation Prospectus presented at an Oral Examination

A student will defend a dissertation prospectus at the end of his or her third year. At an oral examination by your thesis advisor and a committee of examiners will determine whether the dissertation topic is feasible. 

Read more about dissertation prospectus and oral examination.

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