Skip to main content

Guide for Current Students

Student Milestones, Required Examinations, and Monitoring of Progress to Degree

There are six program milestones: (1) Preliminary Examination, (2) Field Paper, (3) Choosing a Dissertation Advisor and Committee, (4) the Dissertation Prospectus Defense (Admission to Candidacy), (5) the Dissertation Proposal Defense, and (6) the final Dissertation Defense itself. Satisfactory performance in the Ph.D. program is defined as maintaining at least a B average, obtaining no grade lower than a B-, and meeting these six milestones on time.

  1. The Preliminary Examination: is taken during the summer of the first program year. Failing the micro theory and/or econometrics portion(s) of the exam entitles a student to retake the failed portion in January of year II. Failing a second time is cause for dismissal. Students who fail a second time and are otherwise in good standing are typically allowed to continue in the program through the fourth semester. Satisfactory performance in 36 credit hours of approved graduate courses allows them to earn the degree of M.S. in Economics.
  2. Field Paper: In year II, students must choose a Field Paper Chair and, together with this Chair, form a Field Paper Committee composed of at least two regular members of the Department of Economics at Tulane University and at least one other faculty member (from Tulane Econ or elsewhere) who holds the highest degree in his or her field. The student is to have a Field Paper proposal approved by the Committee by May 15 of program year II. The Field Paper is then written during the second summer. A full draft of the paper is to be handed in to the Chair by August 15, and a final version of the paper is due to the full Committee for approval by September 15.
  3. Dissertation Committee: The Field Paper Chair and Committee structure often evolve naturally into Dissertation Advisor and Dissertation Committee. However, this two-step structure also provides a natural opportunity to modify or entirely change the supervision of a student. It is expected that the Dissertation Committee will be formally constituted by December 15 of program year III. While there is no formal paperwork concerning this step, it is expected that the student will notify the Director of Graduate Studies via email, with copies to his Dissertation Committee members and to the Chair of the Department of Economics.
  4. Dissertation Prospectus Defense: With the Field Paper approved, the remainder of the Fall III semester is spent coming up with dissertation topics and choosing a Dissertation Committee. In order to aid the process of research topic development, third-year students are required to take ECON-7980, “Research Methods,” a class in which ideas are developed and presented on a weekly basis. Spring III is spent refining the dissertation proposal under consultation with the Dissertation Committee, with the goal of a formal Dissertation Prospectus Defense by May 15 of year III. Successful defense and satisfactory completion of the requisite coursework advances the student to Ph.D. Candidate status. It is the student’s responsibility to (i) schedule the defense with her/his Committee, (ii) obtain signatures for and submit to the Dean the “Approval of Dissertation Prospectus” and “Admission to Candidacy” forms, and (iii) give one copy to the Director of Graduate Studies and one copy to the Office Manager. A link to the required forms appears below.
  5. Dissertation Proposal Defense: Economics dissertations typically consist of three research papers. Years IV and V are entirely devoted to writing the dissertation. Students will be going on the job market in the fall of year V and job applications typically require submitting at least one fully polished dissertation paper to prospective employers by mid-October. With this objective in mind, the Dissertation Proposal Defense should take place no later than May 15 of program year IV. The Dissertation Proposal must consist of at least one fully developed paper and well-developed drafts of the rest of the dissertation. A successful Dissertation Proposal Defense implies certification by the Dissertation Committee that (a) a fully polished paper will be ready by the October job market deadline and (b) that it is feasible to complete the entire dissertation within the remaining Program year.
  6. It is expected that the final Dissertation Defense will take place by May 15 of program year V. Once again, the student is responsible for securing required signatures, submitting forms to the SLA Dean, and copies to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Office Manager of the Economics Department. Guidelines for preparing the dissertation and all forms referred to in this document can be found on the Forms for Graduate Students page.