There are over 25 permanent faculty members and over 75 graduate students in the Department of Economics. The department’s objective is to balance the size of the program to permit the offering of a full complement of courses while retaining the informal, personal guidance of graduate students that has been a hallmark of the program since its establishment in 1964.
The department offers both MA and PhD degrees; this Handbook contains descriptions of the structure and requirements of both programs. Information of particular interest to prospective applicants is contained in a separate publication describing the Graduate Program in Economics.
Each graduate student is assigned a graduate adviser who provides assistance in planning a program of study and in other matters. In addition, each PhD student selects an Interim Adviser after completion of the preliminary examinations, and a thesis committee upon advancement to candidacy. Similarly, each MA student who chooses the thesis option selects an MA thesis committee.
The Graduate Studies Committee is composed of the graduate program chair (Giacomo Bonanno), two other faculty members (Colin Cameron and Louis Makowski), and three graduate students (Jeremiah Bryant, Sharmila King and Steve Shelby). While the faculty members administer the program, the entire committee is responsible for the consideration of policy. A student who wishes to fulfill degree requirements in a manner other than described in this Handbook must submit a request in writing to the graduate program chair. Inquiries may be addressed to the graduate secretary, Marilyn Dexter.
Pre-admission requirements: Students admitted to the graduate program in economics are normally expected to have completed an undergraduate degree in economics. (The minimum requirement is intermediate microeconomics and macroeconomics plus two upper division courses in economics.) Entering students are also expected to have completed one course in college statistics (two, including an upper division course, for PhD students) and one year of calculus prior to admission. They are also strongly encouraged to have completed a course in linear algebra. This basic mathematical preparation is critical to a successful first year.
GRE Scores for Admission Applicants:
Additional requirement for international students:
4. The TOEFL score is less than 600 points.
The MA degree requirements are (a) course work in economic theory and econometrics, (b) either 30 units and a Master’s thesis (Plan 1) or 36 units and two comprehensive exams (Plan 2), and (c) a minimum residency of three quarters. A student without deficiencies in undergraduate training will require a minimum of one year to complete the program; however, for many fields of emphasis up to three additional quarters may be required for graduate course prerequisites.
A student may elect to take at most one course per quarter on an S/U basis (in addition to any courses normally graded on an S/U basis)provided that it does not fulfill any of the degree requirements.
A student may satisfy the requirements as listed in any single Graduate Handbook in effect while registered in the graduate program, as long as registration is continuous.
A. Course Requirements in Economic Theory and Econometrics
2. Macroeconomic Theory: Economics 200D (passed with a letter grade of B or better), or successful completion of the PhD Macroeconomic Theory preliminary exam.
3. Econometrics: Economics 256 (Economics 140 or Agricultural and Resource Economics 106 is the prerequisite) or Economics 240A (Statistics 133 is the prerequisite), passed with a letter grade of B or better.
B. Unit, Examination, and Thesis Requirements
Master’s degrees are awarded under one of two alternative plans:
Plan 1: Students choosing this option are required to complete a minimum of 30 units of advanced course work taken for a letter grade. At least 15 of these units must be in economics graduate courses. The remainder of the required units may be electives in upper-division (100-level) courses in the department (excluding the pre-admission requirements listed above). Courses in other departments may be substituted with the prior approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.
In addition to the unit requirement, students choosing Plan 1 must present a Master’s thesis which must be approved by a committee of three members.
Plan 2: Students choosing this option are required to complete a minimum of 36 units of advanced course work taken for a letter grade. At least 20 of these units must be in economics graduate courses. The remainder of the required units may be electives in upper-division (100-level) courses in the department (excluding the pre-admission requirements listed above). Courses in other departments may be substituted with the prior approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.
In addition to the unit requirement, students choosing Plan 2 must take written comprehensive examinations ("comps") in two of the following fields of specialization:
Advanced Economic Theory (any two of 203A,B,C)
Econometrics (any two of 240C,D,E)
Economic Development (any two of 214, 215A,B,C)
Economic History (any two of 210A,B,C)
Economy, Justice & Society (any two of 209A,B,C)
Industrial Organization (any two of 221A,B,C)
International Trade (any two of 260A,C,E)
International Macroeconomics (260B,D)
International Economics (any two of 260A,B,C)
Labor Economics (250A,B)
Monetary Economics (any two of 235A,B,C)
Public Economics (any two of 230A,B,C)
Quantitative Methods (Statistics 133 and Economics 240A,B)
Comprehensive examinations are based on the material covered in the courses listed in parentheses above. Comps are taken in late June/early July immediately following the completion of the associated courses.
Comps are "closed book" and are graded on a numerical scale with 2.0 being the minimum passing grade. Grades of 3.0 or above reflect unusually good performance; grades of 4.0 or above (indicating truly distinguished performance) are quite rare. All exams are graded by two (or, if necessary, three) faculty members. Students may read the examiners’ comments by contacting the graduate secretary. Students choosing the field of Economic Theory must pass both the Micro and the Macro Theory preliminary exams, which are only offered at the PhD level.
Retaking comprehensive exams and time limits: To allow for instances in which a comp is not passed at the first attempt, the exams may also be administered in September only for students needing a second chance after a spring failure. Students may sit for each comp no more than twice, and no student will be allowed to take comps in more than three elective fields. In all cases, retakes must be completed not later than the spring following the initial failure.
C. Registration and Scholarship Requirements
Students must register for a minimum of 12 units, including Individual Study (Economics 299) where appropriate. A minimum overall GPA of 3.00 is required for good standing in and for successful completion of the MA program.
If the cumulative GPA falls below 3.00 for two consecutive quarters, the student may be asked to meet with the graduate program chair. After reviewing the student’s complete record, the student will then be given a specific number of quarters to improve the GPA. If the cumulative GPA remains below 3.00 after that time, the Graduate Studies Committee may recommend that the student be dismissed from the graduate program.
D. Advancement from the MA Program to the PhD Program
An MA student may petition for advancement to the PhD program after completion of at least four graduate courses in economics (including at least two courses selected from 200A,B,C,D, or E) with a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or better.
E. Readmission After an Absence
A student wishing to re-enter the program after a break in registration or after a lapse in filing fee status must file an application for readmission for the following fall, subject to normal admissions deadlines. Readmission (if granted) may be conditional on repeating the oral and/or satisfying any new requirements then in effect.
THE PhD PROGRAM
The PhD degree requirements are (a) core course work and preliminary examinations in microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory, (b) preliminary examinations in two elective fields of specialization, plus two additional courses in a third elective field, (c) regular seminar attendance and at least one seminar or workshop presentation, (d) an oral qualifying examination, (e) the thesis, and (f) a minimum residency of two academic years.
A student may elect to take at most one course per quarter on an S/U basis (in addition to any courses normally graded on an S/U basis)provided that it does not fulfill any of the degree requirements. Many students use the S/U option when taking optional courses outside economics (such as Math 127A,B,C).
A student may satisfy the requirements as listed in any single Graduate Handbook in effect while registered in the graduate program, as long as registration is continuous.
A. The Core
The core curriculum consists of the following key courses:
2. Quantitative Methods: Statistics 133 and Economics 240A,B. All three courses must be taken for a letter grade, and Economics 240A,B must be passed with a B average or better. Experience has shown that students who receive less than the median grade in Statistics 133 have difficulty in Economics 240A,B. Such students are encouraged to consult with the econometrics faculty and to take prompt remedial action such as taking or auditing Economics 256 (Applied Econometrics).
3. Economic History/History of Economic Thought: one course selected from Economics 201A, 201B, 210A, 210B or 210C, passed with a grade of B or better, or successful completion of a comprehensive or preliminary examination in Economic History.
Core theory prelims: All Ph.D. students must pass written preliminary examinations ("prelims") in Microeconomic Theory (covering Economics 200A,B,C) and in Macroeconomic Theory (covering Economics 200D,E). The core theory prelims should normally be taken in late June/early July immediately following the first year.
Prelims are "closed book" and are graded on a numerical scale with 2.0 being the minimum passing grade. Grades of 3.0 or above reflect unusually good performance; grades of 4.0 or above (indicating truly distinguished performance) are quite rare. All exams are graded by two (or, if necessary, three) faculty members. Students may read the examiners’ comments by contacting the graduate secretary.
Retaking core theory prelims and time limits: To allow for instances in which a core theory prelim is not passed at the first attempt (or for unusual situations beyond the student’s control), the exams may also be administered in September. Students may sit for the Micro and Macro prelims no more than four times in total (i.e., at most twice for each exam, or once for one exam and three times for the other). Both prelims in Economic Theory must be passed not later than the spring administration immediately following the second academic year.
B. Fields of Specialization
Each student must also qualify in three of the following fields of specialization:
Economic Development, available only as a write-off field
Economics of Growth (270A,B,C) [it will be available starting
Economic History (210A,B,C)
Economy, Justice & Society (209A,B,C)
Industrial Organization (221A,B,C)
International Trade (260A,C,E)
International Macroeconomics (260B,D)
International Economics (260A,B,C) [Note: a student taking a prelim in International Economics cannot also take a prelim exam in International Trade or in International Macroeconomics. On the other hand, it is possible to take a prelim in International Trade and also a prelim in International Macroeconomics]
Labor Economics (250A,B)
Monetary Economics (235A,B,C; or, for those not taking International Macroeconomics as a field, 235A,B and 260B)
Public Economics (230A,B,C)
Retaking elective prelims and time limits: To allow for instances in which a prelim is not passed at the first attempt the exams may also be administered in September only for students needing a second chance after a spring failure. Students may sit for each elective prelim no more than twice, and no student will be allowed to take field prelims in more than three elective fields. In all cases, retakes must be completed not later than the spring following the initial failure.
The failure of a prelim in a field will not prejudice the selection of that field as a write-off field. A student who fails any PhD prelim (other than the core theory prelims) may request a reevaluation to determine if the performance is sufficient to satisfy the MA comprehensive examination requirement under Plan 2.
Economics write-off fields: The third ("write-off") field may be completed by passing two graduate courses in that field with a letter grade of "B" or better in each course. These two courses must be in addition to those used to satisfy the core economic history/history of economic thought requirement and must not be a component of the subject matter for the two prelims. Subject to that constraint, History of Economic Thought (201A,B) or International Development (215B plus either 260C or 260D) satisfies the write-off requirement.
Alternative write-off fields: Students may also satisfy the write-off field requirement by choosing courses to suit a specific interest in economics or in a related discipline, subject to the written approval of the Graduate Studies Committee prior to taking the relevant coursework. In recent years course sequences in the Graduate School of Management (Management 275A,B: Capital Markets and Corporate Finance), in the Law School (Contracts; Antitrust), and in the Department of Agricultural Economics (Resource Economics) have been approved as write-off fields. (Because of registration restrictions and differences in the academic calendar, special arrangements must be made to take law courses.)
C. Initiating Thesis Research
The department takes particular interest in helping students initiate thesis research, and several programs are available to students:
Seminar and "brown-bag" attendance is critical to obtaining thesis ideas, maintaining contact with faculty members, and seeing how research presentations are made. Seminars are offered throughout the year in applied microeconomics, economic history, macro/international, and economic history, featuring presentations by faculty, students, and outside speakers. Students are expected to attend one of these seminar series regularly for at least one quarter in their second year and at least two quarters each year thereafter.
In addition, graduate students organize the Summer In Davis Economic Workshop ("SIDECOW"), providing an additional forum for discussing ongoing research.
An interim adviser will assist the student in formulating a research agenda, preparing for seminar or workshop presentations, and writing the thesis prospectus. The Interim Adviser need not necessarily serve later on the thesis committee, and a new Interim Adviser may be substituted if the direction of the student’s research changes. Each student should select an Interim Adviser no later than the January 15 following completion of the last prelim. Students finding it difficult to select an Interim Adviser should consult with the graduate program chair for assistance.
Seminar and workshop presentations are excellent ways to receive feedback and to gain experience in making presentations. As thesis research develops, the student should schedule a presentation in the appropriate seminar series. Each student is required to make at least one presentation (generally on thesis research) prior to the oral exam. Normally this presentation is made by the middle of the fourth year.
D. The Oral Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy
The thesis prospectus: The Interim Adviser helps the student prepare the thesis prospectus, which includes (1) a clear exposition of the problem, including a statement of what is new in the proposed research, (2) an indication that the student has read the literature enough to know whether the proposal is really new, and what significant problems are likely to be encountered, (3) a discussion of the relevant methodologies, and (4) a confirmation of the availability of usable data (if relevant). The prospectus is not a thesis; it should be presented early in the course of the research.
The oral qualifying examination is scheduled after the Interim Adviser has approved the thesis prospectus and all other pre-thesis degree requirements have been satisfied. Questions will be related chiefly to the thesis, with the goal of confirming that a viable topic has been identified and that the student will be able to pursue the topic to successful completion using the proposed methodologies. The oral is a constructive exercise designed to provide guidance to the student in research, and many students choose to tape record the proceedings for later review.
The oral is taken before a five-member committee which includes one professor from a department other than economics. All members of the orals committee must hold PhD degrees and must be professors from a UC campus unless the Interim Adviser secures a waiver from the Dean of Graduate Studies. The same person may not serve as both the chair of the oral and the chair of the thesis committee. A student must be registered during the quarter in which the exam is taken (spring registration includes the following summer).
Scheduling and deadlines: Orals are scheduled only after the proposed thesis committee chair has approved a final draft of the thesis prospectus (or a penultimate draft on which the student is to make specified minor changes). The Request to Schedule Oral Examination form must then be submitted to the graduate secretary at least one month prior to the examination date. The final prospectus must be distributed to the oral examination committee not later than two weeks before the oral. Students should consult with the graduate secretary for help with scheduling the exam date.
Advancement to candidacy: The student may file for advancement to candidacy upon completion of the oral and all other degree requirements except the thesis. An Application for Advancement to Candidacy must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies and approved by that office before advancement occurs.
International students advanced to candidacy before the first day of a quarter are entitled to a 75% reduction in nonresident tuition. See below under financial aid for details.
E. The Thesis
The thesis (dissertation) is the means by which candidates demonstrate research proficiency. Upon advancement to candidacy, the student will assemble a thesis committee consisting of three faculty members, chaired by the student’s major professor, to direct the research. All three committee members must hold PhD degrees and must be professors from a UC campus unless the major professor secures a waiver from the Dean of Graduate Studies. Students should consult with the graduate secretary regarding thesis format and submission guidelines.
F. Registration and Scholarship Requirements
Students must register for a minimum of 12 units, including Individual Study (Economics 299) where appropriate. A minimum overall GPA of 3.25 is required for good standing in and for successful completion of the PhD program.
If the cumulative GPA falls below 3.25 for two consecutive quarters, the student may be asked to meet with the graduate program chair. After reviewing the student’s complete record, the student will then be given a specific number of quarters to improve the GPA. If the cumulative GPA remains below 3.25 after that time, the Graduate Studies Committee may recommend that the student be dismissed from the PhD program (or, where the GPA is between 3.0 and 3.24 and an MA degree has not yet been received, enrolled in the MA program).
G. Time Limits for Completion of Degree Requirements and Readmission
Five-Year Rule for advancement to candidacy: A student is expected to be advanced to candidacy by the end of the fifth year, after which time registration will not be allowed except for the quarter in which orals are taken.
Three-Year Rule for completion of the thesis: A student who is advanced to candidacy may go on filing fee status while completing the thesis. Filing fee status will expire three years after the end of the quarter during which the oral exam was passed (but not before the end of the seventh year). After that time, the student may apply for an extension on an annual basis if the major professor certifies that significant progress is being made. Once the time limit (with extensions) is exceeded, filing fee status will automatically lapse. Similarly, students who break registration (without going on PELP or filing fee status) lose their student status.
Readmission after an absence: A student wishing to re-enter the program after a break in registration or after a lapse in filing fee status must file an application for readmission for the following fall, subject to normal admissions deadlines. Readmission (if granted) may be conditional on retaking the oral and/or satisfying any new course or programmatic requirements then in effect.
(1) ECONOMY, JUSTICE, AND SOCIETY
The Program in Economy, Justice, and Society promotes the study of questions lying at the intersection of economics, political science, and philosophy. It sponsors lecture series, seminars, conferences, and a curriculum leading to a PhD degree in economics with a Designated Emphasis in Economy, Justice, and Society. Questions should be directed to the EJS graduate advisers (John Roemer, Joaquim Silvestre, and Klaus Nehring).
For those electing to pursue this designated emphasis the PhD degree requirements are modified as follows:
Core courses: In addition to the standard core requirements, Philosophy 118 (Political Philosophy) is recommended.
Prelims and fields of specialization: One of the two prelims must be in the field of Economy, Justice, and Society (Economics 209A,B,C). In addition, the write-off field requirement must be satisfied by taking two courses from the following three groups of courses, with at most onefrom each group:
II. Political Science: Political Science 217 (Introduction to Social Choice Theory and Spatial Modeling) or Political Science 274 (Political Economy).
III. Sociology: Sociology 215 (Economy, Polity and Society).
The thesis must be in the general area of Economy, Justice, and Society. Normally the student and graduate adviser will consult on this, subject to the approval of the EJS Graduate Committee.
All other degree requirements are as described for the PhD program in economics.
(2) SOCIAL THEORY AND COMPARATIVE HISTORY
COURSE SCHEDULING FOR PhD STUDENTS
In the FIRST YEAR the student should take the Micro and Macro Theory sequences, the Quantitative sequence, and one elective while sampling department seminars:
The elective should be at the graduate level in economics (or agricultural economics) or at the upper division or graduate level in mathematics or statistics. It is often used to fulfill the requirement in Economic History/History of Economic Thought.
In the SECOND YEAR the student completes all course requirements and prelims while attending seminars for at least one quarter:
The order in which the write-off courses and the elective\Ecn 299 are taken is immaterial (e.g. the student could take the elective in Fall and the write-off courses in Winter and Spring).
After the second year, students are primarily involved in thesis research, attending seminars regularly (at least two quarters each year) and registering for electives or Individual Study (Economics 299) as appropriate. A student pursuing thesis research full-time should aim to complete the degree by the end of the fourth year.
Students Specializing in Mathematical Economics or Econometrics
Students who plan to write a thesis in Economic Theory should take course work in real analysis (Math 127A,B,C). Real analysis is very useful in Economics 203A,B,C and is helpful, more generally, in building the mathematical sophistication necessary to do modern microeconomic theory and theoretical econometrics. Such students should take Math 127A,B,C in their first year (in addition to the core courses Economics 200A,B,C,D,E and Statistics 133) or, at a minimum, take Math 127A as the elective in the fall of their second year.
Students who plan to write a thesis in theoretical econometrics should take Statistics 131A,B,C and 230. Statistics 131A and one upper division course in statistics (such as Statistics 131B) will be accepted in lieu of Statistics 133.
In both cases, scheduling considerations will be important, and it is critical that students discuss their plans with an instructor in the field.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE for current graduate students
Information on deadlines and application requirements will be provided in January.
California residency for tuition purposes: Nonresident domestic students (including permanent residents) should take steps to be classified as California residents by the end of their first year.
Limits on appointments: Graduate students may hold academic appointments (including TA, RA, Reader, Associate-In, or Student Postgraduate Researcher) during their 13th quarter in residence (excluding summers) only if they have advanced to candidacy. Appointments for those advanced to candidacy are subject to limits of 15 quarters of service which apply separately to teaching (TA and Associate-In), research (RA and Student PGR), and reader titles. Appointment beyond the 15 quarter limit requires a letter of exception.
Continuing students (both foreign and domestic) and new domestic students may apply for fellowships, which provide a stipend and/or remission of fees.
Nonresident Tuition Fellowships and Reduced Nonresident Tuition
Continuing foreign students and entering domestic students who are not residents of California may apply for Nonresident Tuition Fellowships which provide for the remission of the nonresident tuition fee. NRTF’s are offered to continuing foreign students on the basis of scholarship and progress in the graduate program.
International students who have been formally advanced to candidacy before the first day of a quarter are entitled to a 75% reduction in nonresident tuition for a maximum of 3 calendar years (regardless of registered quarters) after first being advanced to candidacy. Because of the availability of this support, NRTF awards will not exceed 25% of full nonresident tuition after the fall quarter of the 4th year in residence.
TA’s work with faculty members in Economics 1A and 1B (Principles of Economics) and in some upper division and graduate courses. They are generally assigned responsibility for two discussion sections per quarter. TA support to continuing students is offered on the basis of progress in the graduate program, scholarship, and teaching performance.
Research Assistantships and Work-Study Funding
Research assistant positions are generally offered to more advanced students. Some work-study funding may be available for domestic students.
Each October the department assists students in finding permanent employment by compiling a list of PhD students who have passed their oral qualifying exam, and by aiding students in sending individual job applications to potential employers. Students who have not passed their orals may, of course, go on the job market, but the department does not consider a student fully ready to do so until advanced to candidacy.