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Economics | MA Comprehensive Exam Information

Masters students are required to pass a comprehensive examination. The General Track requires a comprehensive examination in economic theory. Students admitted to the Development Finance Track January 2005 or later also take the comprehensive examination in economic theory. Students in the Financial Economic Policy Track and students admitted to the Development Finance Track September 2004 or before take a comprehensive examination in those subjects. The content of each comprehensive examination is circumscribed by the syllabi of the required courses and recommended courses. Generally the emphasis of the comprehensive examination is on the last full sequence of the courses that are required for the comprehensive examination. A comprehensive examination requires a deeper and more synthesized understanding of the material than is expected in the courses required for that comprehensive examination.

Comprehensive examinations are given twice each year in January and June. In order to sit for a comprehensive, students must register with the department staff by the announced deadline, which is generally eight to ten weeks before the comprehensive examinations are given. The date of the registration deadline will be posted well in advance. To avoid missing the deadline, you are advised to apply for your comprehensive examination when you register for the semester before you plan to take your comp. The examination date for your comprehensive will be set after the registration deadline. It is your responsibility to learn about the administration of the comprehensive examinations, including the dates by which you must register.

Professors who read the comps are not told the name of the students sitting for the comps. To protect the students’ anonymity, a special identification number is issued to each student for each session of comprehensive examinations. Each comprehensive is graded by at least two professors. Students are allowed to know the names of the readers for each examination. Once a reader assigns a grade to a comprehensive examination, it cannot be regraded except by recommendation of the department Chair. The Chair will not recommend regrading except in truly extraordinary circumstances, such as apparent negligence or incompetence on the part of the grader.

Students in the General Track and in the Development Finance Track admitted January 2005 or later are expected to sit for their comprehensive examination as soon as they have completed ECON-500 Microeconomics, ECON-501 Macroeconomics, and ECON-505 Mathematical Economics.

Students in the Development Finance Track admitted September 2004 or before are expected to sit for their comprehensive examination as soon as they have completed ECON-634 Development Finance and Banking, ECON-662 Development Microeconomics, and ECON-663 Development Macroeconomics, and one of the following: ECON-665 Project Evaluation in Developing Countries, ECON 670 Survey of International Economics, and ECON 635 International Capital Markets.

Students in the Financial Economic Policy Track are expected to sit for their comprehensive examination as soon as they have completed ECON-633 Financial Economics, ECON-639 Policy Issues in Financial Economics, and FIN-614 Financial Management.

Students who fail the comprehensive examination have two additional attempts to pass a comprehensive examination. Switching tracks does not give the student more than three total attempts. Should a student fail the comprehensive three times, the student will receive a Graduate Certificate in Applied Microeconomics rather than a Master’s degree (providing all other requirements are met). Students who fail a comprehensive should retake the examination at the first opportunity. Students who fail to attempt their comprehensive examination promptly and/or fail to maintain a GPA above 3.0 face dismissal from the program for poor academic performance.

(Revised July 2008)

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