College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Qualifying Exams

Qualifying Exam

The Economics Department offers three different types of qualifying exams. Master’s students are required to take comprehensive exams in microeconomics and macroeconomics in order to qualify for degree conferral. Doctoral students are required to take preliminary exams in microeconomics and macroeconomics, as well as field exams in the 2 fields of their choice in order to qualify for advancement to candidacy.

Qualifying exams are generally held during the 2 weeks prior to the 1st day of classes for the fall and spring semesters. The exact dates may vary and are usually set 12 weeks before the beginning of each semester. The deadline to register for field exams is 6 weeks prior to the date of the 1st scheduled exam. Students may register for Comprehensive and Preliminary Exams up until the week before the date of the 1st scheduled exam.

Qualifying exams are only offered to current graduate students in the economics department. All students must complete the required courses prior to registering for qualifying exams. Students taking theory exams (micro and macro) must complete the micro and macro course sequences (core courses) prior to taking the exams. Students taking field exams must take at least two courses in each of their fields and must have passed both theory exams prior to taking the exams. Any exceptions must be approved by the exam committee and approved in writing by the Director of Economics Graduate Studies.

Students have two attempts at each exam. Consult the program notes for more information on the consequences of failing exams. Students in receipt of financial aid must attempt the preliminary exams before the start of their third semester in the economics program, unless notified to the contrary by the Director of Economics Graduate Studies.

The examinations are closed book, although international students may use a language dictionary if necessary. The Economics Department will provide you with an exam booklet. You must write your answers in black ink, so you must bring appropriate pens. You may use a calculator, but computing devices that store or access alphabetical text are prohibited. Strict candidate anonymity will be maintained throughout the grading process.

Exam samples from previous years (GMU Login required: contact the Wiki Administrator for user ID)

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