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Getting a Ph.D. in Economics

By Stuart J. Hillmon

Publication Year: 2014

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 insight 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 perspective 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.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press


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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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1: Preliminaries: The Lowdown on Academic Economics and Ph.D. Programs

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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 to Freakonomics and blog-and op-ed-wielding economists, we Ph.D. economists seem almost cool; not...

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2 :Applying to Ph.D. Programs: It's Both What You Know and Who You Know

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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...

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3 Getting Through First Year: Welcome to Boot Camp

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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...

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4: Acing Second Year: Getting On with Graduate Life

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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...

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5: Finding a Topic and an Advisor: Like Getting Married … to a Polygamist

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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...

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6: Getting Distracted: TAing, RAing, and the Meaning of Life

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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...

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7: Thrown In with the Sharks: Women and International Students

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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...

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8: Getting a Job: Taking Your Show on the Road

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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...

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9: Conclusion: The Ph.D. Economist-at-Large

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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...


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pp. 143-146

E-ISBN-13: 9780812209136
E-ISBN-10: 0812209133
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812222883

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 875447108
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Getting a Ph.D. in Economics

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Subject Headings

  • Graduate students -- Vocational guidance -- United States.
  • Economics -- Vocational guidance -- United States.
  • Economics -- Study and teaching (Graduate) -- United States.
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