This overview of the CERGE-EI PhD program is divided into the following sections:
- Preparatory Semester
- Core Study: First and Second Years
- Specialized Study (PhD Students Only): Dissertation Research and Preparation
- Teaching Fellowships
- Student Mobilities
Prior to the first year - Preparatory Semester
1st year - Core Study: Required courses
2nd year - Core Study: Elective courses, Seminars
3rd year - Specialized Study: Dissertation Proposal and Research
4th year and up - Specialized Study: Dissertation Research, Mobility, Teaching Fellowship, Dissertation Defense
Before the start of each academic year, some applicants must attend a summer Preparatory Semester, where they receive intensive training in intermediate Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Mathematics. Based on their performance in these three courses and on an English academic writing exam, final admissions decisions will be made. Other applicants, who have been offered direct admission may attend the Preparatory Semester at their option but their performance in these classes will not affect their eligibility for the program.
The Preparatory Semester addresses the fact that many applicants' knowledge of modern Economics and Mathematics varies. It provides potential students with a common knowledge base on which to build their graduate work, and allows them to gain a sense of how Economics is taught at CERGE-EI. Typically about 60 students attend the Preparatory Semester, of whom up to 30 are offered admission to the PhD program in the fall.
There are three semesters of study in the first year at CERGE-EI: Fall, Spring, and Summer. In this first year, students follow a common core curriculum designed to provide a strong foundation in:
- Statistics & Econometrics
- Academic Writing
The second year of study at CERGE-EI provides students with the opportunity to investigate more specific fields of interest. Several two-semester sequences of courses (Fall and Spring) are offered each year, and second-year students must enroll in at least three courses each semester. The courses offered in any given year will be chosen from among the following areas depending on student interest and faculty availability:
- Advanced Macroeconomics
- Advanced Econometrics
- Urban Economics and Public Economics
- Money and Banking
- Industrial Organization
- Labor Economics
- International Trade and International Finance
- Economic Development
- Economics of Transition
- Political Economy and Public Choice, European Integration
- Financial Markets
- Academic Writing II (Fall)
- Combined Skills I (Spring)
In addition to these courses, all second-year students must enroll in a Research Methodology Seminar during the second year. A second course in Combined Skills II course may be taken either in the Summer semester of the second year or in the Fall semester of the third year.
During the first two years of study, students must take final examinations at the end of each course. General Exams are taken at the end of the academic year (in August of the First Year and June of the Second Year). First Year General Exams cover the three core areas (Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Statistics and Econometrics). Second Year General Exams prove a student's mastery of a two specific sub-fields of economics of their choosing. Passing General Exams is required for continued study in the program (one make-up is allowed for each exam).
Students who successfully complete first- and second-year coursework and pass the General Exams with a grade of PhD Pass or a (somewhat lower grade of MA Pass) are granted a Master of Arts degree which is chartered by the New York State Board of Regents (see the listing on the New York State Board of Regents, program code 24734).
In the Fall semester of the third year, each student is required to submit and publicly present a Dissertation Proposal, which is evaluated by a faculty committee. The student should choose a tentative Dissertation Chair while preparing his or her proposal. The final selection of a student's advisor is subject to the approval of the evaluation committee.
After the successful defense of the proposal, students select at least two additional members of his or her Dissertation Committee. This committee guides and supervises the student's research work. At least one member of the Dissertation Committee must be affiliated on a long-term basis with CERGE-EI.
In the Spring of the fourth year of study students are required to submit and present a seminar on the progress of their dissertation work. This presentation is evaluated by a committee of faculty members who are not on the student's dissertation committee.
The student’s Dissertation Committee recommends when the completed dissertation is ready for defense. Two external opponents (referees) are nominated who certify that the dissertation meets the standards for doctoral work and can be defended. Based on the recommendations of the opponents the student works with his or her committee to revise the dissertation for public defense.
Defenses are open events attended by any member of the Charles University faculty or student body who desires. The formal approval of the dissertation rests with a Defense Committee composed of local and external faculty. After the student successfully passes the General Exams and defends the dissertation, the Director of CERGE-EI, with the approval of the Graduation Council, proposes to the Board of CERGE-EI (a New York State Educational Institution) as well as Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at Charles University, Prague that the student be awarded a doctoral degree.
During the dissertation stage, students work as Teaching or Research Assistants, working under close faculty supervision in order acquire practical teaching and research experience to develop their professional skills.
The CERGE-EI Teaching Fellowship program was initiated in 2007. Many advanced economics graduate students and recent graduates in Central and Eastern Europe are eager to teach undergraduate economics courses if they do not have to make the excessive financial and intellectual compromises that are common to academia in the region. The CERGE-EI Teaching Fellowships offer supplemental income, formal training in classroom teaching and extensive connections to the resources and affiliations at CERGE-EI, including personal mentoring by an experienced professor of economics. The value of these Teaching Fellows was immediately obvious, and each year an increasing number of undergraduate colleges and universities have requested to host Teaching Fellows.
The program targets three groups of potential instructors: (1) recent PhDs who are interested in long-term academic careers in the region, (2) PhDs who are employed by private industry, central banks, and government ministries who can be enticed to teach on a part-time basis, and (3) advanced current graduate students. Designed to have a maximum impact on economic literacy, the program focuses on basic undergraduate courses at universities in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Participants are drawn from CERGE-EI students and alumni as well as students and alumni from other western-oriented programs in the region including the International School of Economics at Tbilisi State University (ISET), the Kiev School of Economics (KSE), Central European University (CEU) and the New Economics School in Moscow (NES).
Students are strongly encouraged to apply for a mobility stay at a number of prestigious universities in the United States and Western Europe, and conduct part of their dissertation research there.
CERGE-EI provides partial funding of student mobilities on a competitive basis. Students may also apply for funding from other sources.
Students who go on mobility benefit not only from the advice and knowledge they receive from the faculty members of the host universities, but also from the general experience of living and studying at a different university.
A selected list of institutions where CERGE-EI students have stayed on mobility in the past few years includes:
- Boston University
- Columbia University
- Harvard University
- National Bureau of Economic Research
- New York University
- Princeton University
- Stanford University
- University of California at Berkeley
- University of Michigan
- University of Pennsylvania
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Toronto