Progress Toward Dissertation
Once students have passed the General Examination and begun work on their Third Year Paper, progress toward their dissertation begins. Students must choose an advisor, regularly attend department seminars, and work alongside faculty as Assistants in Instruction (AI).
The department requires all graduate students in the third year and above to teach four AI hours (four sections) of courses per year as part of their program. Students who have a fellowship or research assistantship covering full stipend and tuition will be released from their teaching requirement in the years they hold the fellowship.
Third Year Paper
In the summer after their second year, students will begin their third-year paper. Students are required to turn in a first draft of the paper to their advisors on the first day of classes in the fall and submit a final paper on the Monday after fall break.
Students are required to get a grade of B or better on the paper to progress to the 4th year. After completing the requirement, students are strongly encouraged to present their papers in one of the informal faculty-student research seminars.
Choosing a dissertation advisor
Students who have passed the General Examination may want to approach a faculty member to determine whether he or she would advise the student’s dissertation. The Director of Graduate Studies can make suggestions on whom to approach. Very often, the faculty member who serves as the student’s third-year paper advisor will continue to advise their dissertation. In other cases, conversations with other faculty in the student’s field may lead them to choose a different advisor, or have co-advisors.
Students are required to choose a dissertation advisor before the end of their fifth semester of study in the program. The advisor must agree to supervise the student’s research for (at least) the remainder of that year. Though this initial advisor does not necessarily become the chairman of the student’s dissertation committee, students are required to have an advisor who agrees to chair the committee by the beginning of the seventh semester of study. This latter deadline is an outer limit, not a recommendation. Ideally, students should find a dissertation committee chair during the third year.
Perhaps the most difficult part of a graduate education is the selection of a thesis topic and the writing of the thesis. Because the University can offer a student financial aid for only a limited number of years, delays in thesis writing may be extremely costly to the graduate student, who may be forced to accept employment before substantially completing the thesis. Being employed may slow thesis work even more. Moreover, the evaluation of a student by prospective employers is heavily influenced by the student’s ability to complete a good dissertation within a reasonable period.
The complete dissertation should be presented to the principal thesis advisor one month before the advisor is required to hand a readers’ report to the graduate administrator. The date and time for the final public oral examination should be chosen at least four weeks in advance, and all paperwork submitted to the graduate administrator with adequate time to prepare for the Graduate School deadline (two weeks before the defense date). Note that students can receive additional resources for dissertation completion in the Graduate School’s Dissertation Completion Enrollment handbook.
Requirements for attending department seminars
Seminars are hosted regularly throughout the department on a wide range of topics. Students can find the full list of department seminars here.
Ph.D. candidates who have completed the General Examination are expected to regularly attend at least one or more of these seminars in the subjects they wish to specialize in and register for the respective ECO 581 course associated with that seminar.
Students are also expected to present their dissertation research in seminars before completing the Ph.D. All fifth year and beyond students normally make a research presentation in the fall semester. The student and the advisor determine together what forum(s) are best-suited for the particular research. Pre-generals students are also urged to attend research seminars.
The job market
The department is committed to supporting its graduate students in preparation for and throughout the job market to ensure each student receives the best placement possible.
However, students should be aware that a student may appear on the job market placement list at most two times. A student may appear for a second time only if a) they did not accept a tenure track/permanent position after the first appearance and b) they were on the fall placement list no more than two years earlier.
The first draft of a job-market paper should be ready before the end of September. CVs should be drafted and submitted by early October and personal web pages of job market candidates—which are created by the candidates themselves—are expected to be ready by the end of October.
Every year, students on the job market attend the ASSA/AEA Annual Meetings in January, where interviews are conducted for jobs as economists. In order to determine readiness for the job market, students should meet with their advisors regarding the progress of their work. Students who are ready for the job market will meet with the Placement Director and the Graduate Administrator in early October for guidance and instruction on procedures.
For non-academic jobs, the department hosts on-campus recruiting visits including the Federal Reserve Board, the IMF, and some private sector firms. These and most job postings can be found on the AEA’s JOE website.
For more information, students should talk to their faculty advisors who will provide guidance throughout the process.
Resources for job market candidates
Graduate students can find a wealth of job market resources in the Princeton Ph.D. Placement Resources portal (netID and password required).
Here are a few other resources candidates might find useful:
- Support from Princeton’s Center for Career Development
- Writing support from the Writing Program at Princeton
- Resources from the AEA Job Openings for Economists (JOE) network
- Information about careers at the International Monetary Fund
- Information about careers at the World Bank
- Information about careers with the Federal Reserve System