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Arnold, Glen Wayne
Administrative Coordinator

Kreeger, Room 104

Economics 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016-8029 United States

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Resources and References

Students must successfully complete an examination in Preliminary Theory based on ECON 802 Macroeconomic Analysis I and ECON 803 Microeconomic Analysis I at the end of their first full year of classes (or whenever they have completed both courses).

The Exam is typically administered during the first full week of June. Students must register to take the exam in mid-March in order to be guaranteed a seat.

Students are permitted two attempts to pass the exam.

Doctoral students are required to pass one written comprehensive examination on preliminary theory and one oral comprehensive exam which is the defense of the student's dissertation proposal. The members of the student's prospective dissertation committee serve as the student's examiners for the proposal defense.

Comprehensive examinations for doctoral students are given once each year in June. In order to sit for a comprehensive, students must have taken and successfully passed all courses required for the exam. The courses required for each theory track and applied field exam are listed on the Ph.D. Requirements Page.

Students are advised to apply for comprehensive examinations when they register for classes or maintain matriculation each semester. It is the students' responsibility to consult their advisers, papers published on campus, and/or notices posted in the department for application deadlines each semester. E-mails will be sent to students who provide their e-mail addresses with announcements of registration deadlines. Responsibilty for registering by the deadlines lies strictly with the students. Approximate dates (e.g., weeks) for comprehensive examinations will be announced in advance. Students are required to be present on those dates.

Time Limits and Permitted Attempts

Students have only two attempts to pass the Preliminary Theory comprehensive exam.

Full-time PhD students are required to take their Preliminary Theory comprehensive in June following their first year. If a student fails to pass, a second attempt must be made in a preliminary-theory retake session offered in August of that year. Failure to pass the Preliminary Theory comprehensive in the August session will result in dismissal from the program.

Administration of PhD Comprehensive Examinations

Complete anonymity is to be maintained for students in the grading of comprehensive examinations. A special identification number (not the regular AU identification number) will be issued to each student for each session of comprehensives; neither the system for assigning these numbers nor the names of the students taking the comprehensives are available to the faculty reading the comprehensives. Each comprehensive is graded by at least two professors. Should they disagree about whether a student passes, the examination is read by one additional reader. Students are allowed to know the names of the readers for each exam. Additional rules and regulations will be sent to all students who register for comprehensive examinations.

The Economics Graduate Student Union is a forum for the discussion of economics, economic policy, and graduate student interests and concerns within the Department of Economics. Please contact Stephan Lefebvre for more information.

  • Check out this article for helpful information about how to participate in the academic job market.
  • Job Openings for Economists is a good resource for academic as well as government and/or research institute openings.
  • Inomics runs a site for those considering applying for positions in Europe.
  • For policy, government, and consulting positions, try
  • Don't forget to follow the Department on Twitter and Facebook!

The Math Review Course for PhD students is offered at the end of August. (MA students may attend if they wish, although the level of the course is appropriate to PhD studies.) The course is free of charge for all PhD and MA students in the Department of Economics. All new PhD students are strongly urged to attend. This is an essential review of mathematical concepts needed for you fall courses, including calculus, linear algebra, differential equations, and basic statistics. Please plan to be here for the last week of August in order to attend this special course, and meet your fellow new students while covering this important material. Contact the Department for details. Recommended summer reading (prior to arrival): chapters 1-10 of Mathematical Methods for Economics (2nd edition) by Michael Klein (Addison-Wesley 2002).

Please consult the thesis style guide provided by the Provost's office.