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Harvard. Regulations regarding graduate degrees in economics, 1951

 

 

This 1951 draft of the regulations governing the award of A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in Harvard was submitted by Arthur Smithies to his colleagues. There were few changes when compared to the 1947 regulations, the reduction of field examinations from six to five appears indeed to have been the most significant change.

With this posting Economics in the Rear-view Mirror has reached 500 transcribed artifacts!  

_____________________________

[3/5/51]

DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS
MEMORANDUM

TO:      Members of the Department
FROM: Arthur Smithies

I am distributing an edited copy of the present requirements for the Ph.D. It incorporates our decision to reduce the number of fields to five and makes what I think are editorial improvements.

I invite your attention specifically to Paragraph 4 under the Ph.D. requirements. I feel very strongly that something on these lines should be said here but feel there is a great deal of room for improvement in my own statement.

The Graduate School is anxious to get out a new printed edition of this announcement, so I hope we can dispose of it at the next Department meeting.

_____________________________

HARVARD UNIVERSITY
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
DEGREES IN ECONOMICS

MASTER OF ARTS

  1. Residence—Two full terms of advanced work with acceptable grades at Harvard.
  2. Languages—A reading knowledge of advanced economic texts in French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Scandinavian languages, or Russian, which is to be tested by a rigorous two-hour examination in which foreign language texts are to be translated into English. The examinations are given by the Department in the first week of November and March. This requirement must be met before taking the general examination.
  3. Plan of Study—Plans of Study must be approved by the Chairman of the Department at the end of the first term in residence.
  4. General Oral Examination—The candidate will be examined on four fields, as presented in the Plan of Study, selected from the groups below:
    1. Two from Group A, including Economic Theory
    2. Two from Groups A, B, and C (not more than one from Group C)

GROUP A

  1. Economic Theory and its History, with special reference to the Development of Economic Thought since 1776.
  2. Economic History since 1750, or some other approved field in Economic History
  3. Statistical Method and its Application

GROUP B

  1. Money and Banking
  2. Economic Fluctuations and Forecasting
  3. Transportation
  4. Business Organization and Control
  5. Public Finance
  6. International Trade and Tariff Policies
  7. Economics of Agriculture
  8. Labor Problems
  9. Land Economics
  10. Socialism and Social Reform
  11. Economic History before 1750
  12. Consumption Distribution and Prices
  13. Economics of Public Utilities
  14. Social Security

Group C

  1. Forestry Economics
  2. Any of the historical fields defined under the requirements for the Ph.D. in History
  3. Certain fields in Political Science listed under the requirements for the Ph.D. in Political Science.
  4. Jurisprudence (selected topics)
  5. Philosophy (selected topics)
  6. Anthropology
  7. History of Political Theory
  8. International Law
  9. Sociology. Certain fields defined under the requirements for the Ph.D. in Sociology.
  1. Preparation for General Oral Examination—(a) The fields of study are covered in part by formal course instruction, but supplementary reading must be undertaken to meet the requirements. (b) Preparation for the field Economic Theory and its History will normally require two full courses in the field at the graduate level, or equivalent private reading. (c) In Statistics, Economics 121, or its equivalent, is a prerequisite to graduate instruction. Professor Frickey should be consulted. (d) Usually four terms of graduate study at Harvard are necessary as preparation for the general examination, but a candidate who has been credited with graduate work of high order at another institution may be able to prepare himself in a shorter period.
  2. Arranging the Examination—The oral, or general, examinations are not set at any specified date. The arrangements for the examination must be made at least six weeks in advance of the date proposed by the candidate. Consult the Secretary of the Department, M-8 Littauer Center.
  3. Quality of Work—Candidates for this degree must give evidence, in their course records, of the capacity for distinguished work. Ordinarily, candidates whose records at Harvard do not average at least B will not be allowed to present themselves for the general examination.
  4. Excuses from Final Course Examinations—Candidates for the Master’s degree who are not candidates for the Ph.D. degree must take the final examinations in courses.
  5. Application for Degree—An application for the Master’s degree must be filed by December 1 for a degree at midyear and by March 1 for the degree at Commencement. Two terms in residence at the full tuition rate at Harvard University are required for each degree conferred.

SPECIAL MASTER OF ARTS FOR VETERANS

The only changes from the stated conditions given above are:

  1. On petition a candidate may present himself for an oral examination in which quantitatively the requirement in Economic Theory is one that can be met in one year of graduate study.
  2. The requirements regarding the offering of Economic History or Statistics are eliminated.
  3. General Oral Examination—The candidate will be examined on four fields as presented in the Plan of Study. (See list of fields of study above.)
    1. Economic Theory
    2. Three from Groups A, B, and C (not more than one from Group C.)

It must be understood that the oral examination for this degree will not be accepted as part of the formal requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

This special Master of Arts for veterans is open only to those veterans who entered the armed services before 1945.

 

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

The requirements for this degree are:

  1. Residence—Not less than four terms devoted to advanced studies approved as affording suitable preparation for the degree. At least three of these terms must be spent in residence at Harvard University. Graduate work completed in another institution may be offered in full or partial fulfillment of the fourth term. Consult the
  2. Languages— A reading knowledge of advanced economic texts in two foreign languages which is tested by a rigorous two-hour examination in each language in which foreign language texts are to be translated into English. One of the languages in which examination is taken is to be either French or German. The second language can be chosen from the following: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Scandinavian languages, and Russian, which is to be tested by a rigorous two-hour examination in which foreign language texts are to be translated into English.

Students have the option of substituting Mathematics for the second language. In this case, the student must take an examination to show his capacity to read and understand the more elementary mathematical presentations used in economics. This includes such knowledge of analytic geometry as is frequently given in the first year of college and such knowledge of differential calculus and integral calculus as is frequently given in a single-year course in college. In terms of present courses at Harvard College, this means through Mathematics 2. By exception, a pass grade in Math 2a and 2b at Harvard or Radcliffe or adequate grades in mathematics courses taken elsewhere will be accepted in place of the special mathematics examination.

Students whose native language is not English may petition the Department to be excused from examination in the second language. The student would then be examined in either French or German. In considering such petitions, account is taken of the amount of original economic literature written in the student’s native language, as well as of his general academic standing.

Language requirements should be met at least six months before the Special examination.

  1. Plan of Study—Every candidate is required to submit to the Department for its approval a plan showing his fields of study and his preparation in these fields. This plan of study must be submitted at the end of the first term of graduate work. Candidates may present for consideration of the Department reasonable substitutes for any of the fields named in the several groups.

The plan of study must include five fields, approved by the Department, selected as follows from the list of fields stated under the requirements for the Master’s degree:

  1. The three subjects in Group A are required, and
  2. Two from Groups B and  Group C (not more than one from Group C)
  1. General Oral Examination—The general oral examination for the Ph.D. is the same as the examination for the Master’s degree.

However, while preparation for the M.A. degree will normally consist of formal course work, Ph.D. candidates are encouraged to be more flexible; and to avoid the tendency of the course system to compartmentalize knowledge. In preparation for the general examination the student’s main purposes should be to provide himself with tools of analysis, to be aware of the contributions that theory, history and statistics can make to the solution of economic problems and to appreciate the relation of economics to other disciplines.

During their first year of graduate study, students will normally take formal courses in Theory, History, and Statistics; but during their second year they are encouraged to take informal reading courses as part of their programs of study.

  1. Excuses from Final Course Examinations— Ordinarily candidates are excused from the final examinations in courses included in the fields presented for the general examination provided the general examination is passed after December 1 in the fall term and April 15 in the spring term and before the course examinations are held. Students must receive at least a grade of “good” in the general examination to be excused. Students taking the general examination at the end of the second term are expected to take the course examinations.
  2. Fifth Field (write-off field)—The requirement regarding the fifth field of study in the Ph.D. program is usually fulfilled by the passing of the equivalent of a full year graduate course offered at Harvard and completed with the grade of B Plus or higher. Seminars offered by the Graduate School of Public Administration are not acceptable for “write-off” purposes. One-half course must have been completed in the write-off field with a grade of B Plus or higher before the general examination.
  3. Thesis—The thesis should be written in one of the fields taken in the general oral examination. It must show an original treatment of its subject and give evidence of independent research.

Every candidate should report to the Department, as soon as possible after his general examination, the subject of his thesis and the member of the Department under whom he intends to work. Two bound copies of the thesis (the original and first copy) must be in the hands of the Chairman of the Department by December 1 and April 1 for degrees at midyear or Commencement. The thesis must be accepted by the Department before the candidate can be admitted to the final examination. It must be accompanied by two copies of a brief summary, not exceeding 1200 words in length, which shall indicate as clearly as possible the methods, material, and results of the investigation. Wherever possible students are urged to begin work on their thesis as soon as possible after the general examination.

  1. Special Oral Examination—The special examination is intended to give the student an opportunity to defend his thesis.

At present it is expected that one year of residence will elapse between the general and the special examinations. The preparation for the doctorate is regarded by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and by the Department as a continuous process. Ordinarily, the candidate must stand for the final examination within five years after passing the general examination.

To arrange for the date of the special examination, consult the Secretary of the Department, M-8 Littauer Center, six weeks in advance of the proposed date. Application for the Ph.D. degree must be filed by December 1 for the degree at midyear, and March 1 for the degree at Commencement. The special examination must be taken within five years of the general examination. (Note: two terms of residence at full tuition rate in Harvard University are required for each degree conferred.)

 

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN BUSINESS ECONOMICS

  1. The program of study for the degree will be made up of six fields chosen from the groups given below. Four (or under certain conditions, three) of these fields, including Economic Theory, which is required, will be presented for the general examination. Only two fields, including Economic Theory, may ordinarily be chosen from Group A. Fields other than those here stated may be offered. Emphasis is placed upon an integrated program. In all cases the program of study must be approved by the Chairman of the Department of Economics. For advice, see the Chairman of the Department of Economics. For advice, see the Chairman of the Department of Economics on courses relating to economics and the Secretary of the Doctoral Board at the Graduate School of Business Administration for business subjects.

GROUP A

  1. Economic Theory and its History, with special reference to the Development of the History of Economic Thought since 1776.
  2. Economic History since 1750.
  3. Public Finance and Taxation.
  4. Economics of Agriculture.

GROUP B

  1. Accounting
  2. Marketing
  3. Foreign Trade
  4. Production
  5. Money and Banking
  6. Business Organization and Control
  7. Transportation
  8. Insurance
  9. Statistical Method and its Application
  10. Economics of Public Utilities
  11. Labor
  1. Special Examination and Thesis—The procedure in general follows that outlined for the Ph.D. in Economics. The field for the special examination should ordinarily be chosen from Group B.

Further information regarding courses and programs of study may be obtained by writing directly to the Department of Economics, Littauer M-8, Cambridge 38, Mass.

March 8, 1951

 

Source: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. Personal Papers of John Kenneth Galbraith, Series 5 Harvard University File, 1949-1990. Box 517, Folder “General Correspondence 12/7/49-12/31/53”.

 

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

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