Skip to main content

Satisfactory Academic Progress

This page summarizes important deadlines and criteria for maintaining satisfactory academic progress. Failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress can lead to probation and ultimately exclusion (dismissal) from the program and Northwestern University.

This page should be read in conjunction with the general degree requirements and the policies on Satisfactory Progress, Probation and Exclusion of The Graduate School (TGS).

Milestones are extended for students on an approved leave of absence or with approved parental accommodation.

GRADES AND CUMULATIVE GRADE POINT AVERAGE (GPA)

 Students must maintain an overall cumulative grade average of B (3.0 GPA), and not have more than three incomplete (Y or X) grades. Students not meeting this requirement are placed on probation by TGS. Students on probation have two quarters (excluding summers) to remediate their grades or else are excluded from the program and Northwestern University.

 ENROLLMENT IN FIRST YEAR CLASSES

 Students must enroll for letter grade in Economics 410-1,2,3, 411-1,2,3 and 480-1,2,3 during their first year. Failure to enroll or dropping any of these classes, except in the case of an approved leave, results in exclusion from the Ph.D. program. There is no additional remediation period associated with this requirement.

 CANDIDACY

 All qualifying examinations must be completed by the end of the Spring Quarter of the second year of study (the seventh quarter of study). A student failing to pass all three qualifying examinations by this time is excluded from the program and Northwestern University. There is no additional remediation period associated with this milestone.

 DISSERTATION PROSPECTUS

Students must complete the coursework component of the Ph.D. degree and have their prospectus (dissertation proposal) approved by their committee no later than the end of the Fall Quarter in their fourth year of study, which falls on the last date of the 13th quarter of study. Any student not meeting this milestone is placed on departmental probation. A student who fails to resume satisfactory academic standing within two quarters, which is the last date of the Spring Quarter in their fourth year of study (last date of the 15th quarter of study), is excluded from the program and Northwestern University.

 GOOD PROGRESS ON DISSERTATION

Students in their fifth year and above must be certified as making “good progress” on their dissertation by July 31 at the end of each year. A student not meeting this milestone is placed on departmental probation. Students are removed from probation if their thesis advisor writes to the Director of Graduate Studies advising that satisfactory progress has resumed. A student who fails to resume good progress within two quarters, which is the last date of the following Winter Quarter, is excluded from the program and Northwestern University.

TIME LIMIT

 Students must complete all requirements for the Ph.D. within nine years (36 quarters of study) of initial registration in TGS. After nine years, students are placed on probation by TGS. Students who have exceeded their time-to-degree deadline and cannot remediate within the two-quarter probationary period may petition for a one-time extension. Information on the conditions and requirements for an extension can be found on TGS's website.

COVID-19 EXTENSION OF DEADLINES

 This applies only to students registered on July 9, 2020 and applies to deadlines that fall on or after Match 30, 2020. Due to the global COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, TGS has automatically provided a four-quarter (one-year) extension of TGS deadlines.

Economics deadlines for candidacy and dissertation prospectus are stricter than the TGS requirements.  TGS specified that “programs that have their own internal milestone deadlines may retain those deadlines and are not expected to shift them for all students, but we encourage programs to work with individual students and make reasonable allowances for those whose circumstances may warrant additional time.”

The Economics Department Graduate Studies Committee decided on July 10, 2020 that the department will not change the deadlines uniformly. However, the Graduate Studies Committee will consider individual applications for deadline extensions. Applications should be submitted in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Economics follows the TGS nine-year (36 quarter) Ph.D. time limit.  This limit is automatically extended by one year (4 quarters) for students registered on July 9, 2020.

Back to top