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

There are five major program milestones: (1) Preliminary Examination, (2) Field Paper, (3) Choosing a Dissertation Advisor and Committee, (4) the Dissertation Proposal Defense and Admission to Candidacy, and (5) the Dissertation Defense itself.

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 their second year. 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. In their second year 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 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 submitted 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 (3) will be formally constituted by December 15 of program year III.

With the Field Paper approved, the remainder of the semester is spent coming up with a dissertation topic and choosing a Dissertation Committee. In order to aid this process, 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 of year III is spent refining the dissertation proposal under consultation with the Dissertation Committee, with the goal of a formal Dissertation Proposal Defense (4) by May 15 of year III. Successful defense and satisfactory completion of the requisite coursework advances the student to Ph.D. Candidate status.

4. Dissertation: Years IV and V are entirely devoted to writing the dissertation with the goal of having a formal Dissertation Defense (5) by May 15 of program year V.

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