Students should select a topic and a dissertation advisor as early as possible in their graduate program. Once the student and the advisor are in agreement about the topic and the proposed methodology, additional faculty members should be asked by the student to form a committee to review and evaluate the student's work. By the last day of graduate classes in the spring semester of the third year, students must present their dissertation proposal to their committee and other interested faculty. At the end of the presentation, the committee will examine the student orally on the proposal and any related material pertinent to successful completion of the project. The dissertation chairperson shall notify the director of graduate studies of approval or failure of the proposed study and make additional recommendations regarding deficiencies. Again, as with other requirements, students with deficiencies who must take remedial courses are required to meet this deadline but with a one-year lag from matriculation.

When the dissertation is completed, it must be submitted to The Graduate School for a format check a minimum of two weeks before the scheduled defense examination, and the chairman of the student's advisory committee should schedule an examination for the student based on the dissertation. This examination usually lasts two hours and is an oral examination. The entire graduate faculty of the Department of Economics is invited to attend this examination. In actual practice, this examination is usually attended only by the members of the committee.