Guidelines for Ph.D. in Business and Economics Study

The Ph.D. in Business and Economics Program relies on a balanced approach to both research and teaching

Successful completion of the Ph.D. program requires the mastery of concepts taught in core courses and field sequences as well as independent research in at least one area of specialization. To gauge progress in the program and ensure that the student's educational experience and contributions to the discipline are consistent with the confirmation of the doctoral degree, the program contains several requirements described herein.

Comprehensive and Field Examinations

The Ph.D. student must pass written comprehensive examinations on core material in economic theory and econometrics as well as an examination in their chosen field of specialization. In the event of failure, a single reexamination privilege will be permitted per exam. The objective of the comprehensive and field examinations is to ascertain the student’s readiness to independently pursue professional development and research in the areas of specialization. Comprehensive exams in economic theory and econometrics must be taken first, and are based on material taught in selected core courses. Both comprehensive exams are normally taken at the end of the first year of study, while the field examination is taken after the second year of study.

Third Year Paper Requirement

The Ph.D. student must submit a paper, written during the third year, which is suitable for publication in a scholarly journal. The paper will consist of original research on a topic discussed with and approved by an interim advisor. Previously written original papers may be used as the basis for this paper if approved. However, since the standard will be higher than, for example, second year empirical papers, substantial improvement will be expected in such cases. The paper may be on any topic within the student's primary field, and the ideas explored in it will often be the genesis of at least one chapter in the Ph.D. dissertation, but may also be self-contained and unrelated to the dissertation.

The paper should be written in a professional style and format. Students are advised to read published articles on empirical topics, paying close attention to how articles are organized, how data are described, and how results are presented. The format of the paper should be consistent with standards commonly used in economics. Students will submit one copy to their advisor and one copy to the Ph.D. Director, who will assign another faculty member to be the second reader of the paper.

Oral Defense of the Thesis Proposal

After successfully completing the course requirements and the written (comprehensive and field) examinations, the student then selects a chairperson to guide him or her to successful completion of the dissertation. The student and chairperson (in consultation with the dissertation advisor) will help to select other suitable members for the dissertation committee. At least one committee member must be chosen outside of the Department of Economics. Under the direction of the chair, the student will prepare a dissertation proposal describing in detail the intended project for his or her dissertation. This proposal will be presented in a workshop attended by the committee and other interested faculty members and graduate students. The purpose of the proposal defense is to ensure that the student: 1) Has the preparation and resources necessary to complete the proposed dissertation in a timely manner; 2) Is encouraged to think through the proposed research project at an early stage in the process, and; 3) Can elicit helpful comments from others.

Upon completion of the proposal workshop, the committee will determine whether the student has passed the proposal defense. One reexamination will be permitted if the student fails to adequately defend the dissertation proposal.

Post-Examination Requirement

The approved dissertation proposal must be submitted to the Dean’s Office in the College of Business & Economics as part of a formal “Application for Admission to Candidacy for the Ph.D.”. Filling out the formal application for admission to candidacy requires a numbers of other forms and documents. Information regarding these forms may be obtained from the Graduate Programs Office in the College of Business & Economics.


The dissertation should treat a topic related to the candidate’s principal field of specialization, embody the results of original research, give evidence of high scholarship, and constitute a contribution to knowledge. Furthermore, part (or all) of the dissertation is decided by vote of the dissertation committee, following a formal defense of the dissertation by the candidate. The defense is open to all members of the University Community. Final approval of the dissertation must be conferred by the Dean’s Office in the College of Business & Economics.

The College of Business & Economics requires that the dissertation be completed within five years after the passing of the comprehensive examinations. For further information on dissertation requirements, all candidates should obtain a copy of the booklet, “Instructions for the Preparation of Master’s Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.” This information is available from the Graduate Programs Office in the College of Business & Economics.

Additional Requirements

In addition to the guidelines for doctoral study established by the College of Business & Economics, the Lehigh University faculty has legislated a number of other regulations regarding such matters as residence requirements (usually one full year), time limitations for graduate study, and continuance of registration. All Ph.D. candidates are urged to consult the University Catalog and Graduate Student Handbook for further information regarding these matters. Both references may be obtained from the Graduate Programs Office in the College of Business.

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