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Rules and Regulations

Please read thoroughly the WVU Graduate Catalog before reading the details below.

Master of Arts Program

See the WVU Graduate Catalog for a detailed description of the Masters of Arts in Economics Program. To qualify for the M.A. degree, graduate students in economics must earn a cumulative minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all courses completed as a graduate student at WVU. Also, sections VII and VIII below apply to graduate studies in the Masters programs as well as the Ph.D. program.

Ph.D. Program

I. Core Courses

There are nine core courses in the Ph.D. program. Econ 701, 702, 721, and 726 are typically offered in the Fall Semester and Econ 711, 712, 725, 727, and 723 (1 credit) are typically offered during the Spring Semester. See catalog for course descriptions, and Section VI below for more details.

II. Fields of Concentration

Each student specializes in two fields. Typical course work is six hours in a field. See catalog for listing of fields of specialization.

III. Comprehensive Examinations

The Ph.D. degree is a competency based degree and is not earned for mere accumulation of credit hours. The student is required to show competence in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory and two fields of specialization. Competency in Microeconomic and Macroeconomic theory is demonstrated by passing both Economic Theory comprehensive examinations, and competency in fields is demonstrated by earning a grade of B- or better in the student’s four field courses.

Comprehensive examinations are normally given once each year, in June. These examinations are written examinations which are subject to a four hour time limitation. The microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory examinations are separated by at least one day. Examinations typically occur in the first week of June. Committees composed of members of the Graduate Faculty selected by the Graduate Coordinator prepare and evaluate the examinations. Each committee is composed of three faculty members chosen for their knowledge of the specific subject matter to be covered by the examination. One member of the three-member group chairs the committee and is charged with the responsibility of preparing the examination agreed upon by the members. Grading is on a pass-fail basis. The student's grade on each examination is determined by a simple majority vote of the three-member committee. Students who fail the exam have a right to discuss the reasons for failure with the Chair of the relevant committee, but exams remain in the possession of the committee Chair and will not be returned to students. Each graduate student in the Ph.D. program must take the comprehensive examination in microeconomics in June following the semester in which the student initially enrolled in Econ 711, and must take the macroeconomics comprehensive examination in June following the semester in which the student initially enrolled in Econ 712. Students who do not pass a comprehensive Economic Theory examination on the first try will have a second opportunity in August immediately following the first attempt. A failure to sit for the relevant comprehensive theory examination any time it is offered after the student completes Economics 711 or 712 is considered to be a failure of that examination.

A student who fails either of the comprehensive Economic Theory examinations twice and wishes to try a third time may petition an ad hoc Appeal Committee, consisting of the Graduate Coordinator and two other Economics faculty members appointed by the Coordinator. The student must present the Appeal Committee with a compelling explanation as to why a different result should be expected on the third attempt. If the Appeal Committee agrees by majority vote, the student may take the exam for the third time. This third and final try may occur no later than January following the first attempt at that exam.

A student who fails a particular Theory Comprehensive Exam and is determined ineligible under these Rules and Regulations for an additional attempt is terminated from the Ph.D. Program subject to the process required in the West Virginia University Graduate Catalog. Before such termination may occur a Review Committee shall be formed to review the status of the student and decide if the student should be terminated from the program or, if not, to set conditions under which the student may be permitted to continue in the Ph.D. program in economics. The Review Committee may not simply determine that the student will be allowed another attempt at a failed comprehensive exam unless it finds that the ad-hoc Appeal Committee erred in denying an additional attempt.The Review Committee shall be appointed by the Department Chairperson,and the student will be permitted to address the Review Committee. The Review Committee shall report its determination to the Department Chairperson.

In their second year of study, students normally complete their field courses and two econometrics courses, and by the beginning of their third year each student chooses an advisor and begins work on their dissertation. By the end of the first semester of their third year in the Program each student must file a completed Dissertation Initial Progress Report, signed by the student’s faculty dissertation advisor and the Economics Graduate Coordinator. The Dissertation Initial Progress Report must contain evidence that the student has performed substantial initial work on his or her dissertation research. Such evidence should include a title, an outline of the proposed dissertation, a review of relevant literature, a description of the sources, availability, and characteristics of any data the student plans to analyze in the dissertation, and a discussion of empirical and analytical methods the student plans to employ. It should also include drafts of completed chapters, if any, and any other materials deemed relevant by the student’s faculty advisor. The faculty advisor’s signature will signifiy that the advisor has reviewed the material and consulted with the student, and believes the student’s dissertation research project is sufficiently detailed, concrete, and significant as to show promise of ultimate success. The Graduate Coordinator’s signature will attest that the Dissertation Initial Progress Report is complete and satisfactory.

If a student has not filed a satisfactory Dissertation Initial Progress Report and obtained the required signatures before the end of the first semester of the student’s third year in the Ph.D. program, the Graduate Coordinator will presume that the student is not making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree and will recommend termination of the student’s eligibility for Fourth-Year financial support. Under extraordinary circumstances (such as a serious illness) that severely and unavoidably, but temporarily, disrupt the student’s ability to progress toward a degree, the Graduate Coordinator may grant an extension of the deadline for filing the Dissertation Initial Progress Report.

IV. Candidacy and Dissertation

Students who have passed their written comprehensive examinations, successfully completed all required courses, and filed a properly approved Dissertation Initial Progress Report, will be formally promoted to Candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. Students must be promoted to candidacy within three years of passing their written comprehensive theory examinations; failure to meet this requirement will generally result in termination from the Ph.D. program.

The candidate must submit a dissertation pursued under the supervision of a member of the Graduate Faculty in Economics. The dissertation must present the results of the candidate's individual investigation and must embody a definitive contribution to knowledge. It must be approved by a committee of the Graduate Faculty in Economics. See the Appendix for the requirements for the composition of the dissertation committee. After approval of the candidate's dissertation and satisfactory completion of other graduate requirements, a final oral examination on the dissertation is required.

V. Dissertation Proposal and Proposal Seminar

Each Ph.D. candidate is required to present a dissertation proposal to the Graduate Coordinator subsequent to approval by at least three members of his or her committee. This proposal will include a statement of the problem (topic summary), a preliminary survey of the literature, a description of the research methodology, and other pertinent material.

After the approval of the proposal, the Ph.D. candidate is required to present the proposal at an open seminar of faculty and graduate students. The dissertation chairperson chooses the appropriate time for such a seminar.

Credit for dissertation research is available under Econ 797. Normally, registration for one semester is permitted if the student has a dissertation chairperson. Registration for subsequent semesters is permitted if the student has a full dissertation committee. Students who are writing a dissertation in residence are required to enroll in Econ 709 (Workshop in Research Design and Methodology) each semester.

VI. Faculty Advising and Plan-of-Study

All students take the core curriculum and at least two courses in each of two fields of concentration, and pass at least two additional 700-level economics courses with grades of better than B-. A minimum of 45 hours of graduate work in economics at the 700 level is required (not counting credits received for Econ 709). One of the two fields of concentration may be in an area outside those normally offered; selection must be approved by the graduate economics faculty.

The following Ph.D. program course sequence has been adopted by the faculty in economics. Economics 701 and 711 carry four credit hours; Economics 709 and 723 carry one credit hour; all other listed courses carry three credit hours. Deviations from this course sequence may be approved with cause by the graduate course advisor.

Fall semester of first academic year of enrollment in the program:

  • Economics 701 - Advanced Microeconomic Theory 1
  • Economics 702 - Advanced Macroeconomic Theory 1
  • Economics 721 - Mathematical Economics

Spring semester of first academic year of enrollment in the program:

  • Economics 711 - Advanced Microeconomic Theory 2
  • Economics 712 - Advanced Macroeconomic Theory 2
  • Economics 725 - Econometrics 1
  • Economics 723 - Dynamic Methods

Fall semester of second academic year of enrollment in the program:

  • Economics 726 - Econometrics 2
  • Field I Course
  • Field II Course

Spring semester of second academic year of enrollment in the program:

  • Economics 727 - Econometrics 3
  • Field I Course
  • Field II Course

Third academic year of enrollment in the program:

  • Field and elective courses
  • Economics 709 - Workshop in Research Design & Methodology

Students receive course advising from the Economics Graduate Coordinator or another Economics faculty member appointed as Course Advisor, and advising on research from a faculty research mentor.

Any deviation from course or program requirements (e.g., approval of transfer credit, waiving a course, or substitution of a course for a required course) must be approved by the student and the Graduate Coordinator with a statement explaining the agreed-upon deviation placed in the student's file.

VII. Academic Standards for Continuation in the Graduate Programs in Economics

A graduate student in economics whose cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken as a graduate student falls below 3.0 will be placed on probation at the close of the semester in which the GPA fell below 3.0. A student on probation who fails to raise his/her cumulative GPA to 3.0 or better by the completion of the next nine semesters hours (or semester, if more than nine hours are taken in a single semester) will be suspended from the graduate program.

To qualify for the M.A. or Ph.D. degree, graduate students must possess a cumulative minimum grade-point average of at least 3.0 in all WVU courses completed as a graduate student at WVU.

A student who has not been properly admitted or who has been suspended from a program may not further enroll. If registration for course work is attempted, the University can cancel the enrollment.

Other academic reasons for suspension from the Program include:

  • A failing grade on more than 50% of the course work taken in any semester.
  • A total of four failures on the comprehensive field examinations taken in the Ph.D. curriculum.
  • A third failure on any one comprehensive economic theory examination taken in the Ph.D. curriculum.
  • Failure to complete all degree requirements within the specified time limits.

A student admitted on a provisional basis to the graduate program in economics who fails to meet the conditions for removal of the provisional status during the first semester in residence will be placed on probation for the next enrollment period. A student admitted on a provisional basis who fails to meet the conditions for removal of the provisional status by the end of his or her second semester in residence will be suspended at the end of that second semester. In order to remain in the program, such a student must have attained a cumulative grade-point average of 3.0 by the end of the probationary semester on all work completed at WVU. If a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 is not attained by the end of the probationary semester the student shall be suspended from the graduate program in economics.

A student with a deficient undergraduate GPA or deficient GRE score may be admitted on a departmentally probationary status for his or her first semester. Like all students on probation, such a student will be suspended at the end of that semester if he or she does not achieve a cumulative WVU GPA of at least 3.0 by the close of the probationary semester.

A student who is notified of termination from the graduate programs in Economics will have the opportunity to address an appeal for reconsideration to a review committee of the faculty, the committee to be appointed by the Department Chairperson. All appeal procedures shall be in accordance with the University Student Handbook.

VIII. Financial Aid

The Department of Economics has a limited number of teaching assistantships and research assistantships available. Recipients of teaching assistantships participate in instruction in the undergraduate Principles of Economics courses and other courses. Recipients of research assistantships participate in a faculty member's research activities, aiding for example in the literature search, data collection and data analysis. Recipients of each receive a tuition waiver, a waiver of most student fees, and a generous cash stipend that is competitive with graduate awards at other universities.

Initial selections for Departmental assistantships are made early in March of each year. Some awards may be made later. Applicants are required to submit general aptitude GRE scores (international students must also submit TOEFL Scores). Three letters of reference should be submitted in addition. Application forms can be obtained from the Graduate Coordinator.

Outstanding applicants are nominated for University fellowships. Applications for University fellowships must be filed with the Coordinator of Graduate Programs by February 1 of each year. The materials required for an applicant to be considered are:

  • A completed application for an assistantship
  • three letters of recommendation
  • scores on the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination.

IX. Ph.D. Program Areas of Emphasis

The Areas of Emphasis (or "fields") offered by our Ph.D. program are international economics, monetary economics, public economics, regional and urban economics, health economics, and resource economics. For further information about these Areas of Emphasis, see the WVU Graduate Catalog.

X. Admission to Candidacy and the Five Year Limit

Students who have passed their written comprehensive examinations, successfully completed all required courses, and filed a properly approved Dissertation Initial Progress Report, will be formally promoted to Candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. (See Section IV or the appendix for the time limit for achieving candidacy.)

Because comprehensive examinations attest to the academic competence of the student who is about to become an independent researcher and practitioner, the examinations should not precede the degree by too long a period of time. Consequently, doctoral candidates are allowed no more than 5 years in which to complete the remaining degree requirements after admission to Ph.D. degree candidacy.

Appendix A

The composition of doctoral dissertation committees shall meet the following requirements:

  • The committee shall consist of at least four faculty members (University rule).
  • A majority of the committee members must be regular members of the WVU Graduate Faculty (University rule).
  • The chairperson of the committee must be a regular member of the WVU Graduate Faculty (University rule)and a member of the faculty of the Department of Economics.
  • No more than one committee member may be a non-member of the WVU Graduate Faculty (University rule).
  • A majority of committee members must be faculty members in the WVU Department of Economics.
  • At least one member of the committee must be from a department other than the Economics Department at WVU (University rule).
  • Adjunct faculty of the Economics Department may count either as members of the Economics Department or as faculty from outside the department.

Exceptions to the above, subject to University regulations, may be granted with the approval of the Economics Graduate Coordinator.

The above requirements pertain to the status of a faculty member at the time when he or she joins the dissertation committee. Subsequent changes in the status of individual committee members will not necessitate a change in the committee membership. If a committee member leaves the committee, a new member must be appointed, subject to the requirements listed above.

Appendix B

Time limits:

  • Candidacy must be achieved within three years after the second theory comp is passed [department rule].
  • The dissertation must be defended within five years after candidacy is achieved [university rule].
  • Thirty hours of graduate work must be completed in the 8-year period prior to the conferring of the doctorate. Courses taken more than 8 years before the conferring of the degree and used toward degree requirements must be formally revalidated, which involves a revalidation examination and a request for approval of revalidation to the assistant vice president for curriculum and instruction. [university rule].