Q: What is the prospectus exam, when do I take it, and what is required of me in advance of the exam?
A: The prospectus exam is best viewed as an exam intended to certify that you will successfully complete your dissertation. Students typically do the exam when they have 2 papers (or two-thirds of their dissertation) complete, with the additional work under way. The exam then consists of presentation and discussion of both the completed work and the remaining work to be done.
When you are close to scheduling your prospectus exam, you should meet with the DGS, who will ensure that you have fulfilled all of the department requirements, that you have your committee in order, etc. Bring a copy of your transcript to this meeting. The exam committee consists of your dissertation committee. Once you have approval to go ahead and schedule the exam, you need to coordinate with the members of the exam committee to find a date and time (allow two hours) when everyone is available. All of your materials for the prospectus exam (the “dissertation prospectus proposal”) have to be submitted to the DGS and the exam committee members at least two weeks prior to the exam. Thus, to ensure that there is time to take care of preliminaries, and to meet the two weeks rule, you have to consult with the DGS at least three weeks before the date you would like to take the exam. Before your exam, department staff will provide your committee chair with the necessary forms to fill out after the exam.


Q: Can I have a scholar from outside UCI on my dissertation committee?
A: You can make such a request, and the DGS will decide whether to support your request. You should provide the DGS with a letter that briefly explains the intellectual content of your dissertation, why it is necessary to go outside UCI for your dissertation committee, and why the specific person you are requesting is necessary. The dissertation chair must come from within the Economics Department.


Q: Can I do a field and field paper in which the Department does not offer a sequence of courses?
A: The program rules say:
“Students must show mastery of two subfields in economics by taking a two-course sequence (possibly including independent reading courses) and writing a sole-authored research paper in each field. Each paper must be approved by a faculty supervisor chosen by the student who attests that the paper represents the student's independent ideas and research, and by a second reader assigned by the Director of Graduate Studies.”
This means that field papers and field courses have to be tied to each other, but there is some flexibility in how fields are put together. To do a field in an area in which there is not a twocourse sequence, students have to find an appropriate faculty member at UCI (which could include those with courtesy appointments in the Economics Department) to be the first reader, and the second reader has to come from within the department.
Students also have to construct a sequence of at least two courses, consisting of at least one regular course in the department. The second course (and third, if there is one) could be a course outside thedepartment, potentially a course at another UC, or a serious independent study supervised by a faculty member. Students should be cautioned that completing a field outside of a standard course sequence is an extra challenge, because they would be working outside the areas of expertise of our faculty, and a faculty member from another department may not have the same degree of interest in your work. It is also an extra challenge because, given the lack of a full sequence of courses, students will have to work extra hard to learn the material, and more of this will be done independently. Thus, this course of action is not recommended unless students have the necessary tools and skills, and can identify faculty members who are strongly committed to helping you.
On the other hand, it is important that you work in areas that are of the most interest to you, so students strongly motivated to pursue a field in which there is not a standard course sequence should by all means do so. To get approval for a non-standard field, students should send the DGS a letter that specifically outlines their plans for completing this field, including the courses to be taken, as well as documentation from the two faculty members (one of whom, presumably, will not be a regular department member) indicating that they are willing to advise your field paper and that they agree the courses would provide adequate preparation for the field. (The DGS ultimately selects the second reader, but this process ensures that such a faculty member exists.) The DGS will review those documents and possibly consult with the faculty members, and then inform you whether the proposal is approved.


Q: Do I get a Master’s degree as part of the Ph.D. program?
A: Every student who successfully completes the Ph.D. program is entitled to get a Master’s degree along the way. Students who pass the advancement to candidacy exam have qualified for a Master’s degree under the “Comprehensive Exam Option.” To file for a Master’s degree after passing this exam, fill out the first form under “Forms” on the Graduate Division website (https://grad.uci.edu/home-page/forms-and-applications/).
If a student does not successfully pass the advancement to candidacy exam, the Economics Department members of the exam committee can determine that the student’s performance was adequate to qualify for a Master’s degree. If the student is determined to have earned a “Master’s pass,” and the student is not continuing in the program, the student needs to have the department form “Certification of Passing Comprehensive Exam for Master’s Degree, for Students Not Successfully Advancing to Candidacy for the Ph.D.” filled out and signed. The student then qualifies for a Master’s degree under the same “Comprehensive Exam Option” described in the previous paragraph, and follows the same procedure.
Note: Beginning with the entering class of Fall, 2012, students will take a preliminary exam based on their core classes in macroeconomics and microeconomics at the end of their first year. All students who pass both portions and satisfy the grade requirements qualify for a Master's Degree under the "Comprehensive Exam Option." To file for a Master's degree, students should complete and submit the first form under "Forms/ Current Students" on the Graduate Division website (https://grad.uci.edu/home-page/forms-and-applications/) during the Spring quarter of their first year (before taking the preliminary exam).


Q: What happens if I am not done with my second (third) year field paper by the beginning of the first quarter of the third (fourth) year? What happens if I am late with meeting other program requirements?
A: In such cases, you would be classified as “not at satisfactory progress.” You will be notified of this, and then given one-quarter to get back on schedule. If you do not get back on schedule with this one quarter extension, then depending on your progress and performance to that point, the DGS and the faculty may recommend dismissal from the program, a decision that is ultimately made by the Graduate Division Dean. It is very important to remain at satisfactory progress. At the same time, we recognize that research is often difficult and complex, and unexpected obstacles may arise. The way to minimize problems with failure to make satisfactory progress is to continually show progress towards completing the requirements of the program, and to avoid falling more than one quarter behind.

  Q: What are the rule for participating in the Economics Department Colloquium (Econ 200A, 200B, and 200C)?
A: You have to register and participate in the Colloquium for 4 quarters. There are currently 4 department seminars:
  • macro
  • history/theory/development
  • econometrics
  • applied micro
Especially in recent years, with budgets tight, some of these seminars do not meet every week. To fulfill the requirement for participation in the colloquium in a quarter, you have to attend a minimum of 8 presentations in these seminars.
It is strongly suggested that you focus on one seminar, and then supplement with others as needed in a complementary fashion. For example, an econometrics seminar participant should go to all the econometrics seminars, and also look for applied micro and macro seminars that are focused on econometric issues or empirical work generally. Also, subject to discretion of the faculty member running the econometrics seminar, seminars in the statistics department will count towards the requirement for participants in the econometrics seminar.
Finally, regard 8 presentations as a minimum, and also regard the requirement to complete four quarters of the colloquium as a minimum. You should attend many seminars, as they are terrific learning experiences. And you should also avail yourselves of the opportunity to meet with seminar speakers.

Q: When is the best time to take the advancement exam?
A: The exam must be taken and passed in the second year of the program in order to continue in the program. With regard to when to take the exam during the second year, clearly the most important determinant should be when you are best prepared to take and pass the exam, recognizing that the exam may be taken a second time if the student fails the first time.
Other important considerations pertain to funding. For 9 quarters after advancing (and students advance in the quarter after they pass the exam), students are eligible for the TA support they were guaranteed as part of their admission offer. After those 9 quarters are completed, TA support may be difficult to obtain; at any rate, it will not be guaranteed. Moreover, after these same 9 quarters, international students will be responsible for nonresident tuition.
What does this imply, more precisely? If you take the exam in the 1st quarter of your 2nd year, advancing in the winter quarter, then your 9 post-advancement quarters run through the winter quarter of your 5th year. You therefore may not be eligible for TA support in the spring quarter of your 5th year. However, if you are going to complete your dissertation in that spring quarter, then you can just pay a filing fee, so you will not have a tuition bill (whether you are a domestic or international student). If you advance after the winter quarter of your 2nd year, the 9 quarter rule will not be binding during 5 years of graduate study. Finally, note that regardless of when you advance there are no guarantees of support in years beyond the 5th. The bottom line, therefore, is that there is some risk and potential cost to taking the advancement exam in the 1st quarter of the 2nd year, although also some potential advantage for international students. But every student should make their first attempt no later than the 2nd quarter of the 2nd year.
Note: Beginning with the entering class of Fall, 2012, the advancement exam will be based on the student's field paper. This exam should be taken (under normal conditions) by the end of the student's second year. However, in those cases where the student's preferred field is not offered in the second year, the student may take the exam by the end of the third year, provided that he/she has completed his second-year field paper and first field requirements by the end of the second year. In exceptional cases, the student may take the exam based on a thoroughly developed research proposal. In any case, the 9-quarter rule described above applies.


Q: How do I change my doctoral (dissertation) committee?
A: To make changes to your dissertation committee, please fill out the attached form and submit the completed form to the Economics Staff. Click here for form.


Q: What forms do I need to fill out for the advancement exam, and how do I choose my doctoral committee?
A: There are two forms that will be sent to you when you sign up for the exam. Both forms require information from you. After you fill them out, forward them to the graduate administrator, Maria Hernandez, hernanm4@uci.edu, and we will fill in the information on the exam committee, and have the papers ready to sign after the exam.
To choose your doctoral committee, on the second page of “Ph.D. Form I,” there are two lines under “Add names of any new recommendations ...” This is actually where your dissertation committee goes. Since our committees are three people, you actually squeeze in a third name, and indicate which is the chair. When your paperwork is submitted, this will become your initial committee.


Q: How do I get samples of job market materials?

A: Sample materials are available. Please click below to view samples:

CV1 Sample       Cover Letter1 Sample

CV2 Sample        Cover Letter2 Sample


Q: How do I get samples of research proposals?

A: Sample materials are available. Please click below to view samples:

Proposal1 Sample

  Q: What are the requirements for the Graduate Labor Field?
A: The labor field is a regular two-course core, currently taught by David Neumark and Damon Clark (Econ 251A and 251B). We anticipate spreading this core over two years, so 2nd year students can always take one or the other. The core courses are not really sequential, so the order in which they are taken is not critical. The department offers a "menu" of other courses that have a substantial labor component. We are defining the labor field as consisting of the two core courses plus at least one of these other courses (students should of course consider taking more of these). In general, the department is going to try to spread these courses out across each two-year period, and avoid scheduling conflicts between these courses, and between them and the core labor courses. The related courses include:
  • Econ 259, Special Topics in Labor Economics (paper writing workshop) (Neumark)
  • Econ 272A, Public Economics (Freedman)
  • Econ 249, Special Topics in Microeconomics: Advanced Methods for Applied Micro (Clark). [Note: a prerequisite for this course is ECO 245: Empirical Methods for Applied Micro (Clark). At present, ECO 245 is taught each Fall.]
  • Econ 249, Special Topics in Microeconomics, Development Economics (Oliva)
  • CRM/LAW 275, Economics of Crime (Owens)
  • Econ 269, Special Topics in Macroeconomics, Labor Search Models (Rochetau)

We will approve 2nd year papers based on at least two labor courses (at least one from 251A and 251B, depending on which one is offered in that year) plus the paper, and make this conditional on completing the third course in the following year. We will approve 3rd year papers based on the two core courses plus at least one more course from this list, plus the paper.


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