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Can You Earn a Ph.D. in Economics in Five Years?


  • Wendy A. Stodk

    () (Department of Agricultural Economics and Economics, Montana State University)

  • T. Alsrich Finegan

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)

  • John J. Siegfried

    () (Department of Economics, Vanderbilt University)


We investigate which of the students who entered economics Ph.D. programs in fall 2002 were more likely to earn a Ph.D. within five years, and which were more likely to have dropped out. Students enrolled in Top-15 ranked programs are less likely to have dropped out, but no more likely than others to have graduated; relatively more of them remain in the pipeline after five years of study. Students with higher verbal and quantitative GRE scores more frequently survive the first five years but are no more likely to have graduated in five years. First-year financial aid appears to reduce attrition and increase completion for U.S. citizens. Those with undergraduate degrees from Top-60 U.S. liberal arts colleges and from foreign universities have both lower attrition and higher completion probabilities. The availability of office space for Ph.D. students is related to higher retention among non-U.S. citizens, but lower completion probabilities among U.S. citizens. There are also important differences in the characteristics associated with retention and completion probabilities between men and women.

Suggested Citation

  • Wendy A. Stodk & T. Alsrich Finegan & John J. Siegfried, 2008. "Can You Earn a Ph.D. in Economics in Five Years?," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0818, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:van:wpaper:0818

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jeffrey Groen & George Jakubson & Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Scott Condie & Albert Yung-Hsu Liu, 2006. "Program Design and Student Outcomes in Graduate Education," NBER Working Papers 12064, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Wendy A. Stock & T. Aldrich Finegan & John J. Siegfried, 2006. "Attrition in Economics Ph.D. Programs," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 458-466, May.
    3. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Panagiotis G. Mavros, 1995. "Do Doctoral Students' Financial Support Patterns Affect Their Times-To-Degree and Completion Probabilities?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 30(3), pages 581-609.
    4. Susan Athey & Lawrence F. Katz & Alan B. Krueger & Steven Levitt & James Poterba, 2007. "What Does Performance in Graduate School Predict? Graduate Economics Education and Student Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 512-520, May.
    5. John J. Siegfried & Wendy A. Stock, 1999. "The Labor Market for New Ph.D. Economists," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(3), pages 115-134, Summer.
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    Cited by:

    1. Phillip Saunders, 2011. "A history of economic education," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Eric S. Lin & Shih-Yung Chiu, 2016. "Does Holding a Postdoctoral Position Bring Benefits for Advancing to Academia?," Research in Higher Education, Springer;Association for Institutional Research, vol. 57(3), pages 335-362, May.
    3. Wendy A. Stock & John J. Siegfried, 2015. "The Undergraduate Origins of PhD Economists Revisited," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(2), pages 150-165, April.
    4. Wendy A. Stock, 2011. "The Characteristics of Economics Graduate Students," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, chapter 70 Edward Elgar Publishing.

    More about this item


    Faculty size; student load;

    JEL classification:

    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate
    • A23 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Graduate
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education


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