Skip to main content

Economics 501 Seminar

Each student must write and orally present two research papers in Economics 501 Graduate Student Seminar. Two faculty member readers must approve the paper. The Economics 501 seminar should be an opportunity to present work in progress that may become part of the student's dissertation. Because the papers are evaluated by two faculty of a student’s choosing, Economics 501 is a mechanism for students to interact with faculty and interest them in becoming their thesis advisor or serve on their thesis committee.


For the purposes of Economics 501 a paper must minimally consist of a deck of presentation slides (PowerPoint or equivalent). The slides should describe the problem statement, a literature review, data sources (if appropriate), findings and results, and discussion and conclusions. A written working paper format is also permissible and encouraged. A valuable component of graduate training is communicating research results both in writing and verbally.

Each paper is verbally presented in a 50-minute seminar session. Presenters should be prepared to speak for thirty to forty minutes and expect to receive questions.

First 501 Paper

A draft of the first paper should be completed in early summer at the end of the second year in sufficient time for one faculty member must certify that it is likely to meet the requirements for a Economics 501 paper on the Certification of Good Progress at End of Year 2 form by July 31. The faculty member signing this form need not necessarily hold a tenure-line appointment in the Economics Department. This paper is then presented in the Economics 501 seminar during the Fall Quarter of the third year.

Second 501 Paper

The second paper is typically completed by the Winter Quarter of the third year and presented in the Economics 501 seminar during the Spring Quarter of the third year. The second paper may be a revised version of the first, but only if the readers feel that sufficient progress has been made.


 Students must register for a total of two quarters of Economics 501 in the Fall and Spring Quarters of the third year. The seminar normally meets twice or three times a week. The days and times are listed in the university class schedule. The seminar is organized by one or two faculty members each year, who attend each seminar.

 Economics 501 is aimed primarily at third year students. Second year students should plan to audit some seminars in the Spring Quarter to gain some idea of the level of papers and presentation. Any second-year student who has made good progress on their first paper can elect to present the paper in the spring quarter of their second year if they wish.

 Order of Presentations

 An initial order of the presentations for Fall and Spring of the following academic year are included the March edition of the Graduate Connection newsletter, based on two separate random drawings of names. Then in the September (for Fall) and March (for Spring) editions of the Graduate Connection, the actual dates for each presentation are given. Pareto-improving exchanges can then occur between students, with the consent of the organizers.


The course is graded Pass / No Pass (P/N). In each quarter, a pass grade for the quarter is awarded if:

  1. A research paper is written and orally presented in the Economics 501 seminar.
  2. Two faculty members sign the Completion of an Economics 501 Paper form signifying that the paper met the requirements for an Economics 501 research paper for the Ph.D. degree in Economics, and that they attended the presentation of the paper and affirm that it met required presentational standards. At least one of the faculty signing each form must hold a tenure-line appointment in the Economics Department (an exception to this condition is only permissible with prior written approval of the Director of Graduate Studies). The form must be received by the Graduate Program Manager within two weeks of the presentation or by the Friday of exam week of that quarter, whichever is earlier.
  3. The student had satisfactory attendance at the seminar. Economics 501 is designed to be an interaction between the presenter and peer students. It is mandatory that all third-year students attend every Economics 501 seminar. Excessive absence results in an “N” grade being assigned for the Spring Quarter registration. Excessive absence is defined as being absent from more than 10% of the combined number of sessions in the Fall and Spring Quarters. (For example, if there are 44 sessions in an academic year then absence from five or more sessions is considered excessive absence.) A student is considered absent irrespective of the reason or whether the instructor had been notified in advance. A student assigned an “N” grade for this reason can have the grade changed to a “P” by attending in the following Fall Quarter three sessions for each absence above 10%. (For example, a student missing seven sessions in a year with 44 sessions would have to make up nine sessions, calculated as 3x(7-4)=9.)

A total of two pass grades in Economics 501 is required for a student to satisfy the department’s research paper requirement.

 It is the responsibility of the student to arrange for the examination of their paper. The student should approach two appropriate faculty members to (a) evaluate the paper, and (b) attend the presentation. The student should approach faculty who taught classes which stimulated the student's interest in the topic and are also likely to serve on the student's dissertation committee. The presenter should provide both faculty members with copies of the paper at least one week in advance of the presentation.