I’ve been told your supervisor does the asking, though you have input. But that might just be my department. However, for my MA my supervisor did the asking but asked who I wanted. So I dunno??
Sorry – to clarify, when I said “committee” I was including supervisor. Because I don’t yet have anyone formally signed on. Three years into the PhD. Despite semi-frequent discussions of research and stuff with three or four faculty members. And it’s really hard to track anyone down unless there’s a talk or something where I can chase them afterwards and beg for a meeting time.
Forgive my ignorance of econ programs, but how did you get through your comps without a formal supervisor? Unless, this means you didn’t do comps? Do you do quals instead? How is your program structured?
I was told that I’m supposed to formally ask who I want to be my supervisor, and should really be thinking about it soon (September at the latest) according to the grad advisor. In my program you don’t ask formally until you do candidacy* (after you finish your coursework), but since I’m not able to take the remaining classes I need over the summer I’ll be doing candidacy work sort of unofficially.
*In my program (and I think most programs in my institution) we take more classes than most (eight, rather than four or six), and skip the comps/quals process and do candidacy instead. Candidacy is the first three chapters of your dis, so intro, lit review and methodology (~ 80-100 pages) which you defend in an oral exam.
Okay so hopefully this isn’t overshare but here’s how my program (and, I think, most econ programs) works:
- Eight months of general coursework (three per term for two terms). Everyone takes this together.
- Two comp exams. Everyone takes these together. They cover all of macro and micro theory. One or two people get kicked out.
- Another eight months of coursework, this time with four per term for two terms. This is where specialization happens.
- Four months of writing a paper. This is supposed to get you familiar with the process but is almost always a failure.
- Twelve months of preparing for prospectus defence. This is where I am now. Typically a big chunk of your thesis gets written here.
- Prospectus defence and assembling a committee. Including the prof who’s formally your supervisor.
- Twelve months of preparing for the job market. Your best paper gets super polished as your Job Market Paper around this point.
- Four months of job market. In here, you’re also finishing your thesis. But really it’s your Job Market Paper that matters more than the actual thesis.
- Four months of finishing up the thesis, getting a job, and defending the thesis.
- Graduating and very very hopefully progressing to gainful employment.
So the big paper I’m currently working on right now will very hopefully be my Job Market Paper. Other projects I’m working on might end up in my thesis. At least one is getting published and isn’t going to be part of my job application at all because it’s not economics.
And yeah accordingly I really really need to put together a committee to formally supervise my actual thesis. And I don’t know how much coldness is par for the course or at what point it actually becomes a strong negative signal.
That’s….a different structure from any other I’ve seen. I’ve the good fortune of entering the program with a supervisor (you can switch later, if you want). He’s helped pay a bunch of my bills + general guidance.
He’s also taken most of the work out of finding people for the committee: we had a meeting and went back and forth on names, and then he rounded folks up. It’d have been super awkward to do this myself, given that I tend not to know people in the program terribly well (and they tend to look at me funny, not quite knowing what it is that I actually do as an academic).