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Getting a Ph.D. in Economics

Getting a Ph.D. in Economics

Stuart J. Hillmon
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 160
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  • Book Info
    Getting a Ph.D. in Economics
    Book Description:

    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 Economicsis 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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0913-6
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[vi])
  3. Chapter 1 Preliminaries: The Lowdown on Academic Economics and Ph.D. Programs
    (pp. 1-13)

    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 toFreakonomicsand blog- and op-ed-wielding 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...

  4. Chapter 2 Applying to Ph.D. Programs: It’s Both What You Know and Who You Know
    (pp. 14-37)

    So you’ve done the requisite amount of navel gazing and decided that you do indeed want to apply to Ph.D. programs in economics. The process seems straightforward: write a one-page statement about your favorite subject (yourself), ask a few professors for letters of reference, and glue your bottom to a chair for a couple of hours to take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). Aside from parting with your hard-earned money for the application fees, the process doesn’t seem too painful.

    And it isn’t painful. It is also not as straightforward as it seems. Sure, themechanicsof the process are...

  5. Chapter 3 Getting Through First Year: Welcome to Boot Camp
    (pp. 38-60)

    There is nothing like the first year in graduate school. And we should be very, very glad of this. The first year of a doctoral program is universally considered the worst year of a graduate student’s life. There are a couple of reasons why this is the case. First, there is absolutely no leeway in the courses that you are required to take. Despite the diversity of economics departments across the United States, virtually every economist-in-training is required to take microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics in his first year. This means that there is at least one course and possibly two...

  6. Chapter 4 Acing Second Year: Getting On with Graduate Life
    (pp. 61-67)

    Congratulations! You’ve passed the first year and made it to the second year of graduate school. It’s all downhill (in a good way) from here. During the second year, you will have the opportunity to take courses in your specialized fields of interest, attend seminars, and start your own research projects. After the stresses of the first year, many students find the second year to be more relaxed and enjoyable, and relish the benefits of a more flexible schedule.

    The greatest difficulty of the second year is that students stay too long in coursework mode and fail to make a...

  7. Chapter 5 Finding a Topic and an Advisor: Like Getting Married . . . to a Polygamist
    (pp. 68-84)

    The worst is over. You are done with all the courses that you will ever have to take in your entire life. You are a free person.

    But like most newly released prisoners, you will need to adjust to your new life and its freedoms. Some people adjust well, others badly. I’m here to orient you to this new world and to help you make the adjustment in the best way you can.

    Now that we’ve dispensed with the first two years, here is a flyover of the rest of graduate school. Unlike the first two years of your graduate...

  8. Chapter 6 Getting Distracted: TAing, RAing, and the Meaning of Life
    (pp. 85-96)

    I’ve spent the last several chapters talking about the academic part of graduate school. But there is a large part of grad school that does not relate to academia at all. In this chapter, I discuss a hodgepodge of issues that frequently arise during graduate school but are not really at the core of the academic experience. If you handle them well, they will enhance your grad school experience; if they go wrong, they will create completely unnecessary stress that can hurt your academic performance.

    A staple of the graduate school experience is being a teaching assistant (TA). As a...

  9. Chapter 7 Thrown In with the Sharks: Women and International Students
    (pp. 97-113)

    It is an empirical statement, not a political statement, to say that the majority of faculty and students in economics departments at U.S. universities are American males. This simple fact has implications for students who are not in this category. At the very least, you may feel self-conscious about the fact that you are non-male or non-American in a sea of American maleness. At worst, you may be forced to deal with repugnant behavior stemming from retrograde attitudes and beliefs or from the social clumsiness of the demographic majority. In other words, if you are female or a student from...

  10. Chapter 8 Getting a Job: Taking Your Show on the Road
    (pp. 114-136)

    While the first year may be the worst year of grad school, the last year may well be its most stressful. Now that you’ve got the hang of this grad school thing, you are now being asked, with very little guidance, to find yourself a job. After spending an inordinate amount of time working on your job market paper and submitting it to what seems like ten thousand places, you will spend an inordinate amount sitting around waiting for things to happen and people to call you. If all goes well, people will judge you and talk about you behind...

  11. Chapter 9 Conclusion: The Ph.D. Economist-at-Large
    (pp. 137-142)

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are fewer than sixteen thousand economists working in the United States.¹ It’s a small club. If someone gathered all of us in a football stadium in a medium-sized American city, we wouldn’t even fill three-fourths of the stadium.

    And yet economists wield enormous influence in American society. We are in charge of the Federal Reserve and the Treasury and, through various advisory councils, we have the ear of the President and Congress. Wall Street also pays attention to us, as do universities and think tanks. And we influence the public and the...

  12. Index
    (pp. 143-146)