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PhD Program

The Ph.D program is normally open only to holders of an M.A. in Economics. Successful completion of the McGill M.A. does not automatically qualify students for admission to the PhD. McGill M.A. students must make formal application to the Graduate Admissions Committee. New incoming Ph.D. students must take ECON 611 Microeconomic Theory 1, ECON 720 Microeconomic Theory 2, ECON 621 Macroeconomic Theory 1, ECON 721 Macroeconomic Theory 2, and ECON 662D1/D2 Econometrics. McGill M.A. students hoping to enter the McGill Ph.D program are also strongly recommended to take these courses.

Candidates admitted to the "Ph.D 2" year must satisfy four requirements: 1) coursework; 2) the Ph.D Written Comprehensive examination; 3) the "third field"; and 4) the dissertation and oral defense. Students with an outstanding academic record, but without an M.A. in Economics, may be admitted to the "Ph.D 1" year. They must complete the course work for the M.A. Non-Thesis option before proceeding to Ph.D 2.

Coursework: Students entering the Ph.D 2 year will be required to take up to 12 graduate level courses over two years of study. The immediate aims of coursework at the Ph.D level are to prepare students to be able to pass their comprehensive exams, to help them find a thesis topic and to give them the necessary skills to undertake research on their thesis.

Ph.D Comprehensive Examinations: Written examinations in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and two fields. Students must sit at least two examinations during the same examination period. All Ph.D 2 students take their Macroeconomic and Microeconomic Theory Comprehensive examinations at the end of the year in late May/early June. If they fail either of the two (or both), they would re-do them in August of the same year. In such circumstances the grade of HH (to be continued) will be used. In the event of a second failure, a grade of F will be reported to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and the student will be asked to withdraw from the University. The comprehensive exams are denoted by ECON 799D1 Ph.D.Comprehensive Examination / ECON 799D2 Ph.D.Comprehensive Examination. Students register only once for the comprehensives.

Third field: In addition to the two fields examined in the comprehensives, a third field is required. As noted above, however, it is satisfied by course requirements. Use of econometrics as the third field requires two courses at the 700 level over and above ECON 662D1 Econometrics / ECON 662D2 Econometrics.

Failure policy: A student will be required to withdraw from the University if he/she has two course failures or two comprehensive failures. A course failure is a failure to achieve the graduate passing grade of B- in (i) any course; (ii) any supplemental exam associated with a course; (iii) a re-taking of a course. Each instance is deemed to be a new failure, even if the second instance is in a supplemental associated with the same course as the initial failure. A comprehensive exam failure is a failure to achieve the passing grade in (i) the macro/micro comprehensive exam or (ii) either of the two field comprehensive exams. Each instance is deemed to be a new failure, even if a second instance is in the same exam as the initial failure. Notice that as long as the Macro/Micro comprehensive exams are taken during the same comprehensive exam period, i.e., either in May/June or August, they are considered a single exam and therefore failing one or both of them will be considered as a single failure. See this webpage for course failure and comps failure webpage

Third-year paper and oral defense: Ph.D students who have completed their comprehensive exams are required to participate in ECON 770 PhD Research Seminar 1 and ECON 771 PhD Research Seminar 2. The objective of this course is to ease the transition from consuming to producing research. The final goal is to write, submit to the department, and present a paper. Ideally, this paper should serve as a starting point for the dissertation. The dates for submission and presentation will be determined on a year-by-year basis by the faculty member in charge.

About a month before the thesis is ready for initial submission, the supervisor should consult with his/her student and identify one or more potential examiners who are qualified to examine the thesis. Initial contact can be made by phone or email, as deemed most efficient. Please consult Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS) website for details regarding thesis formatting.

Open only to PhD students PhD students who have completed their first year of studies may take select courses at other Montreal universities. More information on joint offerings is available here.


Supervision website

The Supervision: Graduate and Postdoctoral Support website offers research and evidence-based advice to graduate students and their supervisors on how to work together effectively and avoid common problems in supervision.