Getting a Ph.D. in Economics

Getting a Ph.D. in Economics

Getting a Ph.D. in Economics

Getting a Ph.D. in Economics


Considering a graduate degree in economics? Good choice: the twenty-first-century financial crisis and recession have underscored the relevance of experts who know how the economy works, should work, and could work. However, Ph.D. programs in economics are extremely competitive, with a high rate of attrition and a median time of seven years to completion. Also, economic professions come in many shapes and sizes, and while a doctoral degree is crucial training for some, it is less beneficial for others. How do you know whether a Ph.D. in economics is for you? How do you choose the right program--and how do you get the right program to choose you? And once you've survived years of rigorous and specialized training, how do you turn your degree into a lifelong career and meaningful vocation?

Getting a Ph.D. in Economics is the first manual designed to meet the specific needs of aspiring and matriculating graduate students of economics. With the perspective of a veteran, Stuart J. Hillmon walks the reader though the entire experience--from the Ph.D. admissions process to arduous first-year coursework and qualifying exams to armoring up for the volatile job market. Hillmon identifies the pitfalls at each stage and offers no-holds-barred advice on how to navigate them. Honest, hard-hitting, and at times hilarious, this insider insight will equip students and prospective students with the tools to make the most of their graduate experience and to give them an edge in an increasingly competitive field.


So you’re thinking of going to graduate school in economics. I applaud your good taste and discernment. Now is the right time to study economics. Thanks to Freakonomics and blog- and op- edwielding economists, we Ph.D. economists seem almost cool; not only can we analyze the stock market, we know something about sumo wrestling. And more of us economists are wanted and needed. The financial crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession have made it abundantly clear how important it is to have people around who know and understand what’s going on in the economy.

But there are many misconceptions about economics and about graduate economics training. The purpose of this book is to introduce you to the world of academic economics by way of a guide through a Ph.D. program in economics. My goal is to have you come out with a clear- eyed view of what is required to become an academic (research) economist, and to equip you with the required tools.

But before we get started on your graduate school adventure, we need to take a step back: we need to double- check your sanity. By this I mean we need to make sure you are clear on the (real) purpose of a Ph.D. program in economics and on what exactly it is that this program is meant to do. Graduate school is not all rainbows and . . .

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