Jun 18, 2024  
Graduate Catalog 2007-08 
Graduate Catalog 2007-08 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Economics

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Mark Wheeler,
Room 5453, Friedmann Hall

The Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Economics is designed to meet the needs of future high-level practicing economists, primarily in non-academic settings.

Recent studies have found that non-academic employers of Ph.D.-level economists are concerned about the training that existing programs give their graduates. In an early 1990’s report commissioned by the American Economic Association, Dr. Anne O. Krueger reported that the proportion of new economics doctorates taking their first job in academia has significantly declined and that universities are not adequately serving the non-academic portion of the market. She wrote that “… our major concern focuses on the extent to which graduate education in economics may have become too removed from real economic problems… and that the focus on developing skills required for applied research should be stronger… .” The Ph.D. program offered by the WMU Economics Department is designed to address this need.

The Applied Economics Ph.D. program retains a core curriculum as is required by traditional Ph.D. programs in economics, but requires that students participate in a series of applied economics workshops. Students may complete a one-year internship in a non-academic organization. Doctoral students intern with organizations such as city, county, or state government agencies; consulting or research firms and institutes; financial institutions; businesses; and hospitals. This internship is conducted under the aegis of an employee of the organization as well as a Department of Economics faculty member. The purpose of this internship is to give students the incentive and opportunity to apply their knowledge of economic theory and empirical methods to actual problems faced by organizations. The internship is also intended to provide the subject of the student’s dissertation and therefore send the Department’s graduates into the job market with a somewhat different orientation than that of graduates from traditional economics Ph.D. programs. Students not electing the internship option are required to add a field of specialization in economics or a related field by completing a two-course sequence approved by the Graduate Programs Committee.

The Applied Economics Ph.D. program is designed to be completed within four years by a student entering with good undergraduate economics and quantitative methods (mathematics and statistics) training or a Master of Arts in Economics.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the Ph.D. program in Applied Economics requires:

  1. GRE scores (verbal, quantitative, analytical).
  2. Satisfactory completion of high-level undergraduate or M.A.-level microeconomic and macroeconomic theory courses.
  3. Satisfactory completion of undergraduate calculus and statistics courses.
  4. A personal statement discussing your career plans
  5. Three letters of reference from persons in a position to assess your qualifications for doctoral-level study and likelihood of successful completion of the Ph.D. degree.

Financial Assistance

A number of doctoral assistantships are awarded each year. Recipients are selected by the Department’s Graduate Programs Committee on a competitive basis. Financial assistance is limited to four years. Graduate minority financial assistance is available to eligible students.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 75 credit hours at the 6000-level or higher is required in this program. This includes up to eighteen hours of workshops, up to twelve hours of internship, and twelve hours of doctoral dissertation.

Additional Program Information

At or near the beginning of the fall semester of the second year, students are administered a qualifying examination in economic theory. Upon passing this examination, the student is considered a candidate for the Ph.D. degree.

Each student is required to specialize in econometrics and in two of the following fields: Economic Development, Human Resource Economics, Business/Industrial Organization, Monetary Economics, and International Economics. (Not all of these five fields will be offered in any particular year.) To specialize in a field, students take a sequence of two courses. Students are also required to pass a field qualifying examination in econometrics and in the two fields they have selected.

In the third year, candidates may intern (ECON 7120) at a non-academic organization or acquire an additional field of specialization. The internship provides students who seek non-academic careers the opportunity to put what they have learned into practice and to gain practical experience. However, the internship is normally within commuting distance of the University. Interns are typically unpaid and are expected to work approximately twenty hours per week on the internship project. Advisors and students are matched on the basis of mutual interest in the internship project.

Students who intend to seek academic careers are required to acquire an additional field of specialization either in economics or a related discipline in their third year as an alternative to the internship. To specialize in this field the student must take at least two courses in the field approved by the Department’s Graduate Programs Committee. No qualifying examination is required.

Beginning in the third year, doctoral candidates are required to participate in workshops designed to deepen their understanding of theoretical and empirical economics by giving them the opportunity to discuss the research being conducted by the Department’s faculty, economists at other institutions, and fellow graduate students. An Applied Economics Workshop (ECON 699) is offered each semester and during the Summer I session.

The fourth year is devoted to the writing of the doctoral dissertation and continued participation in economics workshops. The dissertation is the culminating experience for each student. A satisfactory oral defense of the dissertation completes all the requirements of the Ph.D. degree.

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