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Thread: What is a joint PhD program?

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    What is a joint PhD program?

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    Hi all, I'm wondering if a joint PhD program means 2 PhDs or just choosing 1? I'm specifically looking at Harvard's Economics & the joint PhD for that with Political Economy & Government. Does that mean you'd get both PhDs or you choose one and take classes in both? Thank you!

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    Re: What is a joint PhD program?

    Harvard's PEG program is a single PhD that combines courses and faculty from multiple departments and is designed as such. You take one set of core courses (depending on track) and one set of quals (depending on track). Most designed/official joint PhD programs are run this way.

    There some ad-hoc joint PhD programs that are essentially two PhD's. At my school, a B-school student can do a joint PhD with a relevant Arts and Sciences program (or vice versa), but they have to take the cores for both, quals for both, electives must satisfy both, and the thesis requires 5 essays as opposed to the usual 3.

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    Re: What is a joint PhD program?

    I guess that means that if I want to be a full-scope Economics professor, then I should opt for the more theoretically and mathematically rigorous Economics PhD rather than the hybrid PEG PhD... since I have interests other than political economy as an economist. Thank you for your helpful response, I'm in awe at how much the veterans of this forum really do know!

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    Re: What is a joint PhD program?

    Quote Originally Posted by dogbones View Post
    I guess that means that if I want to be a full-scope Economics professor, then I should opt for the more theoretically and mathematically rigorous Economics PhD rather than the hybrid PEG PhD
    In this case the difference isn't that PEG is less theoretically rigorous (it has the same 1st-year econ theory courses), but that it forces you to take a couple more 2nd year political science electives, which means less space for econ field courses. If your set of interests is something like "international trade + industrial organization + formal political economy" then the econ program will be more flexible. If your interest is something like "development econ + formal political economy + comparative politics" then the two programs are basically equivalent because you'd be taking the exact same courses in either program and there are no restrictions on advisor choice.

    This is not the case for a lot of other interdisciplinary programs. For example, Stanford GSB's political economy program has some independent coursework, their own faculty (i.e. advisors), and many requirements that are quite different from the econ department or the poli-sci department. Many other political-econ or applied-econ programs housed at business schools will have coursework that's slightly different from econ departments, may not offer grad macro, and may possibly require some training for future teaching at business schools. To sum up, it really differs on a case-by-case basis and there's no useful stylized fact; you'll just have to look up every program you're applying to and figure out whether it fits your profile.

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