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PhD Program

The First Year

In the first year of graduate school, students acquire the foundation for further study of economic theory and quantitative methods. This foundation is provided by what are termed "core" courses. Students take a review course in mathematics, two core courses in microeconomic theory, two in macroeconomic theory, and two in mathematical statistics and econometrics. They also take a course in teaching economics. The econometrics sequence includes an applied econometrics course in the second year. Students with exceptionally strong backgrounds equivalent to Ph.D. core courses may progress more rapidly through the core sequences by omitting courses, as appropriate, with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies.

There are comprehensive examinations in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics (including probability and statistics). The comprehensive exams are written but may be supplemented by oral examinations at the discretion of the examining committee.

All students whose GPA is 3.0 or above must take and pass the comprehensive exams in order to stay and be funded in the program. Students whose GPA is less than 3.0 will not be funded in the next academic year. They will be automatically accepted into the M.A. program and not allowed to continue into the PhD program.

All students who take the comprehensive exams must do so in late May/early June. If they fail, they can take the comps again in August but support for the Fall semester is not guaranteed even if they pass.

In each of the first three years of the Ph.D. program, students are required to attend at least 10 seminars during the academic year.

A Typical First Year Program

I. Fall Semester
  • 590 Mathematical Foundations of Economics
  • 500 Microeconomics I
  • 5l0 Macroeconomics I
  • 520 Probability and Mathematical Statistics
II. Spring Semester
  • 50l Microeconomics II 
  • 5ll Macroeconomics II
  • 521 Econometrics
  • 698 Teacher Training
  • Take comprehensive examinations in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Probability and Statistics/Econometrics in the week after classes finish in the Spring semester of the first year (late May/early June).

 

 

COMPREHENSIVE EXAMS POLICY FOR PHD STUDENTS

  1. All eligible (see below) PhD students are required to take the comprehensive exams offered at the end of the Spring semester of the first year of study, and if necessary then retake before the beginning of the Fall semester of the second year of study. If a PhD student does not take one or more of the comps in the Spring it will count as a failed exam.

  2. Only students who have a cumulative GPA (only counting the classes taken in the department of economics) of 3.0 or better by the end of the Spring semester, will be eligible and allowed to take the comprehensive exams. PhD students who do not fulfill this requirement will be dropped from the program, but can still choose to enroll in the MA program in the Fall and Spring of the following year in order to obtain their MA degree, assuming they maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better.
     
  3. Students who do not pass one or more of the comps in their first try (right after the Spring of the first year) will be allowed to retake those exams in early August, being this the last opportunity to prove proficiency in this requirement. PhD students who do not pass one or more of the comps in the first try might lose their funding for the second year in the program, regardless of their outcome in the retake (In the past, most students who have failed one or more of the comps in the first try did not get funded in the second year.) Additionally, PhD students who do not pass one or more of the comps in their second (and last) try will not be allowed to register as PhD students in the Fall of their second year on campus, and therefore will be dismissed from the PhD program, and will only be allowed to register as MA students, which requires paying tuition.

  4. The Comprehensive Exams are regularly scheduled during the month of June. The exact schedule of subjects will be provided to you well in advance. The retakes, when necessary, will take place on August. Again, the exact schedule of the subjects will be provided well in advance.

  5. Students will be informed of the results of their comps by e-mail from the Graduate Program Director or the Graduate Program Coordinator. 

  6. Students will have the right to review their marked exams, and discuss them with the professors who graded them, in person or by other means of communication.

 

The Second Year

In their second year of the Ph.D. program, students finish their core coursework with an applied econometrics course which must be completed with a B or better. In addition, they choose field courses from the variety of fields offered in theoretical and applied economics. A field consists of two related courses designated by the department. It is through these courses that a breadth and depth of economic knowledge is acquired. The fields currently offered by the department are: macroeconomics, industrial organization, game theory, labor economics, and health economics. At the discretion of the Director of Graduate Studies and the relevant professors in the fields some combinations of two advanced courses not offered as a sequence could be considered a field.

Two fields, that is, two courses in each of two fields, and an additional two elective courses (also chosen from the field courses, but not necessarily from the same field) are required for the Ph.D. All of these courses must be passed with a grade of B or higher. Typically, 5 of these 6 courses are taken in the student's second year. Each field can be completed by achieving an average grade of B+ or better in the two-course sequence for that field. 

In each of the first three years of the Ph.D. program, students are required to attend at least 10 seminars during the academic year.

 

A Typical Program of Study for the Second Year

III. Fall Semester

  • 522 Applied Econometrics
  • Field course 1
  • Field course 2
  • Retake micro/macro comprehensive exams (if necessary) during the first week of August, before the beginning of the Fall semester

IV. Spring Semester

  • Field course 3
  • Field course 4
  • Elective course 1
  • Be prepared to choose a Thesis Advisor and two Thesis Committee members by the end of October of the third year, during your fifth semester in the program. 


The Third Year

At the beginning of their third year students are typically advanced to candidacy in the Ph.D. program unless they are judged not to be making satisfactory progress. In the third year of graduate study, students choose a Thesis Advisor and two committee members, finish their elective and field courses, take the mandatory third year research workshop, and defend a Dissertation Proposal. See the Summary section below.

A student in his/her third year must make a presentation in one of the seminars by the end of the first semester of the third year. The presentation must include an oral presentation and a well-written document, discussing the proposal of the student, how it fits into existing literature and improves on it, and at least an outline of how to perform the work proposed. The document must be signed by at least one faculty member in the Economics Department, and it must be sent to the Graduate Coordinator for general distribution at least one week prior to the oral presentation. A faculty member's signature implies that the faculty member commits to working with the student at least until the Dissertation Proposal. The goal of the seminar presentation is to provide the student with feedback especially on the value and viability of the proposed work. The student may present in the seminar as many times as is feasible given seminar time constraints.

A student in his/her third year must defend a dissertation proposal by the end of the second semester of the third year. The presentation must include an oral presentation and a well-written document, discussing the proposal of the student, how it fits into existing literature and improves on it, and at least an outline of how to perform the work proposed. The oral presentation and the written document should convince the committee that the proposed work is a contribution to the field and can be accomplished by the student. The document must be signed by each faculty member on the student's committee prior to the oral presentation. The student may propose as many times as his/her committee allows prior to the end of the third year. If the student fails to propose a dissertation topic to the satisfaction of the committee, then the student must leave the program. However, the student's committee can petition the Graduate Committee to provide the student with another chance to propose. If approved, then the student has until the end of the first semester of the fourth year to present a successful proposal. No extensions are allowed if the student has not passed by then.

In each of the first three years of the Ph.D. program, students are required to attend at least 10 seminars during the academic year.

 

A Typical Program of Study for the Third Year

V. Fall Semester

  • 695 Research Workshop
  • Elective course 2
  • Thesis research

VI. Spring Semester

  • Thesis research
  • Informal area workshops
  • Pass Dissertation Proposal Defense by end of the academic year
  • Pass both fields by the end of the academic year.


Dissertation

To complete the Ph.D., a dissertation that presents the results of original and significant research must be approved. This involves two formal steps. First, a dissertation proposal must receive the approval of the thesis advisor and members of the thesis committee as a result of a public defense of the proposal in the third year. Second, final approval of the dissertation will be made by a committee including the candidate's principal advisor, two other department members, and one member from outside the department. The dissertation must be presented and defended at a public colloquium convened by the Thesis Committee for that purpose. This defense must be announced at least three weeks in advance with copies of the thesis available for faculty and graduate students at least one week before the defense.

Preliminary research to develop a dissertation topic normally begins in the second year of study and the third and fourth years are devoted to developing and refining this research. Throughout this phase students must interact closely with their faculty thesis supervisors and dissertation committees. Seminars organized by the graduate students provide an opportunity to present thesis material to other students and faculty.

Time Limit

  • The time limit for a doctoral degree is seven years for a student who has a previous graduate degree or 24 credits of graduate study in such a degree program.
  • For all other students, the time limit for a doctoral degree is seven years after completion of 24 graduate level credits at Stony Brook University.

 

EVALUATION

Evaluation for First- and Second-Year Ph.D. Students
The Graduate Program Director (GPD) will collect final grades in all first- and second-year classes. He/she will identify those students who are at risk of losing funding or having to leave the program. Each semester, for such students, the GPD will write a report documenting performance in classes, meet with the student, and construct a plan for improving performance. The plan should be thought of as a guide for improving performance. Actual loss of financial aid or dismissal from the program depends on the rules discussed in a different part of this document.

Evaluation for Ph.D. Students beyond the Second Year
Each semester, the student and his/her committee should meet to measure progress and construct a "progress report." The process should consist of two steps: a) Evaluate progress on the goals specified in the previous report and b) develop goals for the upcoming semester. The progress report should be signed by the committee members and the student. Then, it should be sent to the GPD. The GPD should monitor progress through the progress reports and confer with committees where the student is consistently missing goals, where the goals are not consistent with department deadlines, or where performance evaluation is inconsistent with other measures of performance (e.g., seminar presentations). This process is meant to help students and committees measure and achieve progress; decisions concerning dismissal from the program or similar outcomes are still made by the committee. However, it is critical for students performing poorly to receive critical reviews during the evaluation process so that the student is not surprised by imposition of penalties.  

 

Dismissal Policy

A student may be dismissed from the program at the end of any semester in which he or she does not achieve a B average or fails to meet the pertinent requirements for the Ph.D. as detailed above and summarized below.

Summary

Students are considered to be making "minimum satisfactory progress" if their progress is consistent with the formal requirements listed below. These requirements are intended to ensure analytical competence, breadth of knowledge, and timely completion of the dissertation. Failure to maintain satisfactory progress results automatically in Departmental probationary status, with continuation in the program permitted only at the discretion of the Department's Ph.D. committee. A student must petition the committee for such an exception, giving detailed reasons justifying such an exemption. In no case a student will be allowed to continue in the program beyond his or her sixth year of study.

  1. Maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average, in Economics courses, equivalent to a B average.
  2. The mathematical foundations course (590), microeconomics core sequence (500,501), the macroeconomics core sequence (510,511), and the mathematical statistics and econometric core course (520, 521, 522) must be completed as scheduled above with a grade of "C" or above in each. The Applied Econometrics course (522) must be completed with a B or better.
  3. Comprehensive exams in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and probability and statistics/econometrics must be taken the week after the end of the Spring semester of the first year of study (dates to be announced before the end of the Fall semester of every year). All exams must be passed then or at the set of exams given before the beginning of the third semester of study.
  4. In each of the first three years of the Ph.D. program, students are required to attend at least 10 seminars during the academic year.
  5. Two fields must be satisfactorily completed by the end of the sixth semester.  The student must have at least a B+ average in both chosen fields.
  6. A designated 3rd year research workshop, Economics 695, must be completed in the first semester of the third year.
  7. A minimum of l5 courses in economics (including core courses and the 3rd year research workshop but not including the teacher training course) must be completed, with a grade of B or better in the applied econometrics course (see above) and in each course that is not one of the core courses designated in the second requirement above or the 3rd year research workshop in which an S is required. However, the Ph.D. committee may approve a waiver of part of the l5-course requirement in the case of students with gradvuate work elsewhere.
  8. The designation of a thesis committee of three members must be made by the end of October of the fifth semester. The student must successfully defend a Dissertation Proposal by the end of the sixth semester of study. This Dissertation Proposal defense is a public defense of a written dissertation proposal and an examination on the proposal and related material held by the student's dissertation committee. This defense must be announced at least one week in advance with copies of the thesis proposal available for faculty and graduate students at that time.
  9. A dissertation, presenting the results of original and significant research, must be approved by the Ph.D. thesis committee, composed of the thesis advisor, two committee members from the department, and a faculty member outside the department. This defense must be announced at least three weeks in advance with copies of the thesis available for faculty and graduate students at least one week before the defense.

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