Students must take a core theory examination immediately after the completion of ECON 601 , ECON 602 , ECON 603 and ECON 605 in order to continue in the PhD program. There is also a breadth requirement, which may be satisfied by taking either ECON 523 Economic History and Development or ECON 527 Theory of Value: Classical Origins and Neoclassical Critique or ECON 538 Values and Social Analysis .
After passing the core theory examination, the student should consult the director of graduate studies on the appointment of a PhD qualifying exam committee. The student should complete two advanced fields of study with the approval of the qualifying exam committee and the director of graduate studies. The requirements for completing each advanced field of study consist of (1) at least two courses numbered 600 or higher in that field with a minimum grade of A- in each, (2) satisfactory completion of one of the seminars related to the field and (3) presentation of a research paper in a class or seminar. In addition, the student should complete a minor field, which consists of a course numbered 600 or higher with a minimum grade of B. The signing of the student’s Permission to Take the Qualifying Examination form will signify the satisfactory completion of the field requirements.
The remainder of the courses to total 60 units must be preapproved by the qualifying exam committee. However, not more than four units of ECON 590 and/or ECON 790 can be taken in each semester. Courses taken outside the department or USC cannot count toward the completion of a field and are not allowed before at least one advanced field is completed. Waivers to the course requirements based on equivalent work at another university may be made upon petition to the director of graduate studies up to a maximum of 12 units. Waivers for any other reason require the approval of the department graduate committee.
Grade Point Average Requirements
In addition to the Graduate School requirements, a minimum GPA of 3.0 on all course work taken toward the 60 units requirement must be achieved. ECON 615 or a higher level course in econometrics must be completed with a grade of B or better.
Students desiring the PhD must undergo a screening procedure before completing more than 24 units of graduate level courses. The process involves a review of the student’s course grades, performance on the core theory examination, and demonstrated research ability. Students who pass the screening procedure are permitted to continue studies toward the PhD degree.
Core Theory Examination
Before beginning the third semester of graduate study, the student must pass a written examination in general economic theory including applications. A maximum of two attempts is allowed. Not taking the examination at a given due time is considered as failing the examination once. The core theory examination is offered twice every year during the summer session. Any exceptions are subject to approval of the director of graduate studies.
Empirical Research Paper
During the summer after the fourth semester of study, the student must submit an empirical paper using quantitative methods to the examination committee. The paper may use field, experimental or simulated data. In this paper, the student should demonstrate competence in using a computer programming language and software.
During the summer after the sixth semester of study, the student must submit a research paper to a committee of faculty. The paper must be of publishable quality.
Every student is required to take and satisfactorily complete three, two-unit research seminars chosen from ECON 690 , ECON 691 , ECON 692 , ECON 693 and ECON 694 . The same seminar may be taken more than once. Before completing the dissertation, the student must present at least one original research paper in a seminar of the student’s choice.
Dissertation Proposal Preparation
The student is required to write a research proposal on a topic suitable for a dissertation. Normally, the chair of the student’s qualifying exam committee directs this work. The written proposal is presented and critiqued during the qualifying examination.
Upon successful completion of course and grade requirements, the paper requirement, and the core theory examination, the student takes an examination, which focuses on the presentation and defense of the written dissertation proposal. After passing this examination, the student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. This examination must be taken not later than the end of the seventh semester of study.
After admission to candidacy, the student forms a dissertation committee composed of three faculty members, one of whom must be from an outside department. The chair of this committee is the dissertation supervisor. The student must register in sequence for ECON 794a , ECON 794b , ECON 794c , ECON 794d , ECON 794z Doctoral Dissertation each semester, excluding summer sessions, until the dissertation and all other degree requirements are completed.
The dissertation is defended in an oral examination administered by the dissertation committee when the committee agrees that the student has completed the research and a satisfactory draft of the dissertation has been written. If the committee agrees to pass the student, all suggested extensions, modifications, and corrections are incorporated into a final draft, which must be approved by all members of the committee.
It is the student’s responsibility to see that the proper paperwork is submitted to the Graduate School upon completion of each requirement for the PhD degree.
PhD Students who wish to receive the MA degree
ECON 601 , ECON 602 , ECON 609 and ECON 611 can be substituted for ECON 500 , ECON 501 and ECON 513 requirements for the Master of Arts degree in Economics. The remaining elective units can be fulfilled with ECON courses at the 500 level or above.