Learning Goals and Assessment for Doctoral Program

Doctoral Program in Economics

Adopted February 2008

(revised November 2011)

Economics is recognized as a core discipline at every major research university with strong intellectual connections to all other social sciences, as well as management, business, finance, mathematics, and operations research. Students receiving the doctorate in Economics are highly skilled individuals who assume positions in a variety of academic, governmental, financial and policy related occupations. Consequently, it is the role of the doctoral program in Economics to train students at the highest level of intellectual rigor in the major sub-disciplines within our profession:  macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics. The learning goals of the department, assessment of each goal, and role of the program in helping students achieve the goals are described below.

1.  Attain marked ability, scholarship, research and leadership skills in economics, with specialization in selected sub-disciplines.

This is the first phase of a process in which we seek to inculcate in our students a broad familiarity with the models and techniques of modern economic theory and its applications. In this phase, usually three to four semesters in duration, we emphasize quality instruction in core and field courses.

Assessment of student achievement of goal:     

  • Grades in core macroeconomic, microeconomic and econometric graduate courses
  • Qualifying examinations assessing depth and breadth of knowledge in core graduate courses
  • Grades in courses selected from at least two chosen sub-disciplines (fields) of specialization
  • Review by faculty of student progress with close advising and mentoring
  • Knowledge of suitability and attainability of different careers upon completion of the Ph.D. program in economics

Role of the program in helping students to achieve goal:

  • The department is actively engaged in maintaining and updating regularly a comprehensive graduate student on-line reference source.
  • Providing a direct link to graduate program information on our department website. Links from the graduate program page include Prospective Students, Programs of Study, Required Courses, Graduate Curriculum, Admitted Student FAQs, Grad Student Directory, Graduate Alumni A-K, Graduate Alumni L-Z, Ph.D. Job Placement, Degrees Awarded, Graduate Awards, Job Market Candidates.
  • Graduate program information on the web is assessed and updated regularly in consultation with the graduate director and the departmental “Graduate Education and Curriculum Committee” and “Graduate Admissions and Standards Committee”.
  • Close advising and lecturing assures that students are being academically prepared in a coherent and academically rigorous fashion.
  • The department provides coherent and detailed statements of all grading and course-work requirements that must be met by students in order to remain in “good standing” in the program.
  • Effective monitoring of student progress by the departmental “Graduate Examination and Dissertation Committee”
    • Includes bi-annual reports on research progress from both the student and the student’s committee chair
    • Includes annual committee based ranking of graduate students based upon performance in the program
  • Evaluations of teaching effectiveness of instructors in graduate courses
    • If student survey based teaching effectiveness is below expectations, work with instructors to improve effectiveness
    • If student comments suggest concrete ways in which instructor may improve her/his course, work with instructors to implement relevant changes
  • Periodic review of curricular offerings, degree requirements and assessment tools
    • By department at regular departmental meetings
    • By graduate program faculty
    • By departmental “Graduate Education and Curriculum Committee”
    • By departmental “Graduate Admissions and Standards Committee”
    • By periodic external review of the department
    • In consultation with the office of the dean of the graduate school and/or the unit dean

2.  Engage in and conduct original research

 In this phase of graduate training, students are immersed in the process of research. This process is initiated with a second year research paper and culminates with the completion of the doctoral dissertation.

Assessment of graduate student achievement of goal:

  • Completion of an original research paper (second year paper)
  • Preparation of and defense of Ph.D. dissertation proposal
  • Assessment of quality of Ph.D. dissertation:
    • Public defense of dissertation
    • Critical reading of dissertation by committee of graduate faculty members and a committee member from outside of the economics graduate program.
    • Submission and acceptance of peer-reviewed articles and conference papers based on the dissertation and any other research carried out by the student
  • Achievement of students as evidenced by professional placements, selection for conference presentations, and peer-reviewed publications

Role of the graduate program in helping students achieve goal:

  • Provide detailed feedback on original second year research paper
    • Paper is reviewed and referee reports are provided by at least two faculty members
  • Provide oversight through departmental “Graduate Examination/Dissertation Committee”
  • Provide early introduction to research methods and opportunities for research
  • Provide ongoing constructive criticism of research agenda, in consultation with a student’s dissertation committee
  • Provide regular meetings between student and research advisor(s) to ensure that adequate progress is being made in dissertation research
  • Provide opportunities to present research and receive feedback
  • Maintain adequate merit based funding levels through the research phase
  • Provide comprehensive advising and assist in the identification of mentors
  • Offer a variety of workshops where recent and cutting-edge research is presented
    • Workshops run by the department for the benefit of faculty and graduate students include the Econometrics Workshop, Empirical Microeconomics Workshop, Macroeconomic Theory Workshop, Microeconomic Theory Workshop and the Workshop in Money, History and Finance

3.  Prepare to be professionals in careers that require training at the highest levels in economics and selected sub-disciplines.

Upon completion of coursework and the doctoral dissertation, the department provides advice and assistance to our newly minted Ph.D.s as they enter the job market. Since economists have many more employment prospects than students in many other disciplines, it is incumbent upon the faculty to help students evaluate these different opportunities, whether in academia, government, finance or non-profit sector.

Assessment of graduate student achievement of goal:

  • Review evidence of research completed, papers presented, publications, and professional networking
  • Evaluate teaching effectiveness of graduate student instructors
  • Examine students’ placement data and job market conference information
  • Survey alumni

Role of the program in helping students achieve goal:

  • Provide job placement advice, both written and verbal in consultation with experienced faculty to all job market applicants
  • Use departmental “Graduate Placement Committee” to monitor, develop, and assessed job placement
  • Develop sub-discipline-specific programs, colloquia, and periodic group research meetings in order to critically examine research, teaching, and professional networking
  • Encourage enrollment in university-wide teaching effectiveness classes, as available
  • Encourage participation in professional development programs in such areas as human subjects research, library use, course management software, interview skills, presentation skills, development of CVs, use of research tools, databases, etc.; training in the responsible conduct of research; and proposal writing
  • Host sub-discipline-specific training when appropriate
  • Teach students how to do assessments of their future professional capacities
  • Provide flexible options for students with interdisciplinary interests and interests in programs/courses at other universities
  • Develop or enhance programs related to job and networking skills, including activity in professional societies and job market preparation
  • Acquaint students with both academic and non-academic career opportunities
  • Maintain webpage to advertise and showcase job market candidates. Information is available at  http://economics.rutgers.edu/job-market/job-market-candidates

The Department of Economics and associated committees formed from faculty members active in the graduate program regularly review the structure and content of the program and the feedback received from assessments and surveys. These reviews are used to evaluate and adjust the learning goals put forth in this document in order to best fulfill the program’s goal of providing an optimized learning experience for students, leading to optimal knowledge pass-through and optimal placement upon graduation.