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The Undergraduate Origins of PhD Economists

  • John J. Siegfried
  • Wendy A. Stock

The authors document the types of undergraduate colleges and universities attended by those who earned a doctorate in economics from an American university from 1966 through 2003. They examine relationships between type of undergraduate institution and attrition and time-to-degree in PhD programs. The total number of new economics PhDs awarded to U.S. citizens has declined precipitously over the past 30 years. Concurrently, the number of new economics doctorates who hold undergraduate degrees from U.S. universities has fallen by half, from a high of about 800 in 1972 to about 400 in 2003. Among those who have earned undergraduate degrees from American institutions, the mix of schools attended by the doctorates has remained relatively stable, with about 55 percent of those who earn a PhD in economics each year holding their bachelor's degree from a university that offers a PhD in economics and a bit more than 10 percent holding a bachelors degree from a selective liberal arts college. Currently, 18 of the 25 American undergraduate institutions that send the largest percentage of their graduating classes on to earn a PhD in economics are liberal arts colleges. Graduates of liberal arts colleges also have shorter time-to-degree and higher verbal Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores than other economics PhD students.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The Journal of Economic Education.

Volume (Year): 38 (2007)
Issue (Month): 4 (September)
Pages: 461-482

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Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:38:y:2007:i:4:p:461-482
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