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Advancing to Candidacy

Advancing to candidacy is a very deliberate process that should be guided, largely, by your faculty advisor. Ideally, the advisor(s) with whom you have developed a working relationship with will become your chair(s). It is your faculty chair who may help you in deciding other faculty to support your work on your committee and in determining when you are ready to set a date to advance. It is important to discuss your timeline for advancement with your faculty keeping in mind your administrative requirements, deadlines and procedures. When a student is ready to CPHIL, it is expected that they have completed all of the following requirements: 

  • Pass (3) Qualifying Examinations either by testing or grade-out 
    • Microeconomics _______ Pass via Test _______ Pass via Grade Out 
    • Macroeconomics_______ Pass via Test _______ Pass via Grade Out 
    • Econometrics _______ Pass via Test _______ Pass via Grade Out 
  • ECON 220 Sequence
    • ECON 220F Empirical Paper
  • ECON 285: Pre-Candidacy Paper 
  • ECON 296: Original Research Paper

Timeline to CPHIL: 

Year 1→ 1st year sequence coursework, Summer research fellowship to begin relationships with faculty 

Year 2→ Field elective requirements, 291/297 (if needed), Summer research fellowship to further strengthen research relationships with faculty

Year 3→ Field electives, 3rd year paper, 291/297 (if needed)

*As the university grants non-resident students 9 quarters (3 academic years) of pre-candidacy nonresident tuition, we encourage all students to advance to candidacy prior to the beginning of their 4th year. If you anticipate your advancement will take place anytime after the summer of your 3rd year, please notify your faculty advisor as well as the graduate advisor. 

The steps to CPHIL are as follows: 

  1. Complete all course requirements listed above 
  2. Constitute your CPHIL/dissertation committee, please review the Graduate Divisions regulations on committee formation as an incorrect committee will be rejected and will delay your advancement. Students are copied on the emails from the Graduate Division once their committees are successfully approved. 
  3. Notify the Graduate Advisor of your committee and CPHIL examination date. Email must include the following: 
    • Student Full Name, Email and Economic Specialization 
    • Dates for the successful completion of required coursework 
    • CPHIL Committee with email (if non-UCSD)
      1. Please make sure to designate Member/Chair/Co-Chair  
      2. Research specialization of each faculty member 
    • Intended date and time of CPHIL 
  4. On the day of your examination, the Graduate Advisor will prompt all paperwork to your established committee, students are copied on the form once all signatures have been collected and sent to the Graduate Division.

An example CPHIL email would read as follows: 


SUBJ: CPHIL Application 


Dear Graduate Advisor, 


I am ready to CPHIL and have solidified a time with my committee, details are below:


Jessica Williams,, Econometrics

Graham Elliott, Chair, Econometrics 

Prashant Bharadwaj, Member, Health Economics 

Tom Vogl, Member, Development and Political Economy 

Simone Galperti, Member, Microeconomic Theory 

Kaspar Wuthrich, Member, Econometrics 

Renee Bowen, Member, Political Economy 


CPHIL Date: February 11, 2021 11am Zoom ID: 123 456 789

  • Microeconomics ___SU18____ Pass via Test
  • Macroeconomics___SU18____ Pass via Test
  • Econometrics __SP18_____ Pass via Grade Out 
  • ECON 220 Sequence
    • ECON 220F Empirical Paper: FA18
  • ECON 285: Pre-Candidacy Paper: WI19
  • ECON 296: Original Research Paper: SP19

Prior to advancing to candidacy, students are registered for various Economics courses including the 1st year sequences and field electives. While you must declare an economic specialization when you submit your application to advance, elective courses may be taken at any time during the program, including 4th, 5th and 6th years. After successfully advancing, most students will register for ECON 299 with their chair to complete their dissertation research requirements. Students must always be registered for (12) units of coursework in order to maintain full-time student status.  If there is a question of whether a course will count for your field’s elective requirement, please reach out to your Graduate Advisor. 

Frequently Asked Questions about Advancing to Candidacy (CPHIL)

1. When am I ready to CPHIL?

This is a discussion best had with your faculty advisor. Assuming that you have the course requirements to be eligible for advancement, students should begin asking their advisor if they are ready for advancement and the expectations of the CPHIL exam. 

2. How long is the CPHIL examination?

Typically the exam is between 60-90 minutes in time. Each exam is different and is highly dependent on the committee and expectations determined by the faculty chair(s). It is encouraged that students talk to peers who have advanced, particularly in their sub-fields of interest, about the CPHIL process.

3. How many papers do I need completed before advancing to candidacy?  

Each faculty chair or co-chairs may require something slightly different from their students depending on their research and sub-field. It is up to the student to review the expectations of the CPHIL examination with their faculty chair(s) and committee. 

4. How do I know if my committee is correct and will be accepted? 

Before you email the graduate advisor to constitute your committee, review the table of eligibility to ensure that your committee members are eligible to serve in the capacity you propose, e.g. at least one chair must be from the Department of Economics, and your outside committee member must be tenured. 

5. What if I need to change/re-constitute my committee? 

Contact your Graduate Advisor copying your chair(s) and provide rationale for your change. Both your chair(s) and the department chair will need to sign off on the amendment. Students are copied on graduate division final approvals. 

6. What happens if I do not CPHIL before my 4th year? 

If you are a non-resident student, you may become liable for the non-resident supplemental tuition, (currently estimated to be $15,102 annually). The university also imposes a pre-candidacy timeline typically of 5 full academic years; after which a student may not register without advancing or exception. Please keep your faculty advisor and graduate advisor aware of any delays you may anticipate as it relates to advancement to candidacy.