Unit: Economics
Program: Economics (PhD)
Degree: Doctorate
Date: Tue Oct 05, 2010 - 2:16:41 pm

1) Below are the program student learning outcomes submitted last year. Please add/delete/modify as needed.

The goal of the Ph.D. program is to train professional economists for careers in teaching, research and policy analysis. 

1. Students will demonstrate an understanding of economic theory and analytical and quantitative tools.

2. Students will demonstrate an ability to understand, integrate, and apply the various tools, concepts, and principles of economics and quantitative methods to analyze and to develop solutions to economic problems in a clear and concise written form.

3. Students will demonstrate a "frontier" level competency and familiarity with the literature in the student's perceived specialty area.

4. Students will demonstrate the ability to conduct independent and original research in economics.

5. Students will have the skills necessary to qualify for teaching positions at the university and college levels, and for research positions in the public or private sector.

6. Program graduates will be able to obtain employment that uses the level of expertise obtained in the Ph.D. program.

7.  Students will complete these goals according to the timeline described in the graduate program guidelines.

2) As of last year, your program's SLOs were published as follows. Please update as needed.

Department Website URL: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/graduate/graduate.html
Student Handbook. URL, if available online:
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online:
Other: In the Department's intranet website accessible to faculty only.

3) Below is the link to your program's curriculum map (if submitted in 2009). If it has changed or if we do not have your program's curriculum map, please upload it as a PDF.

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2009:

4) The percentage of courses in 2009 that had course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is indicated below. Please update as needed.


5) State the assessment question(s) and/or goals of the assessment activity. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

Since Summer 2009, the graduate committee and the entire faculty has continued to discuss the issues regarding assessment of SLO's listed in question 1 above, with a particular focus on SLO #7:


A1. Is the program effective in attracting perspective  PhD students of high quality?

A2. Adequacy  of program offerings in view of the changes in the discipline of Economics, to meet SLO's 1-7 more effectively. Do courses and program offerings adjust to reflect new knowledge and/or changes in the needs of society?  


B1. What is the size of the PhD program? How many students graduate per year? Is the program growing, and why or why not? 

B2. Are students successfully performing in course-work component of the PhD and in passing the qualifying exams?

B3. Do the students make smooth transition from coursework to research activities? Are students successful in following the progress timeline of the PhD program? If not, what are the major difficulties?

B4. Is the program successful in training high-quality researchers, based on PhD students and graduates' involvement in research projects, conference participation and publications in scholarly outlets?  

B5. Is the program successful in placing its graduates? 

6) State the type(s) of evidence gathered.

The graduate comittee and the entire faculty regularly consider the following statistics (using Data from the STAR system, and internal department data collection):

The graduate committee and the entire faculty regularly consider the following statistics (using Data from the STAR system, and internal department data collection): 

1. Application and acceptance rates to PhD program in Economics (to assess SLO's 1-7). 

2. The size of the PhD program and the number of graduates per year (to assess SLO's 1-7).

3. Evidence on how the program offerings and course contents reflect the changes in the field of economics, through consideration of courses offered and course syllabi (to assess SLOs 1-5).

4. Progress reports for each graduate student, including following the PhD progress timeline (to assess SLO's 1-7).

5. The number of students who attempted and passed qualifying exams (to assess SLO's 1 and 2).

6. The number of students who completed the 3rd year paper requirement on time (to assess SLO's 3 and 4). 

7. PhD student involvement in research activities: working papers and publications, conference participation, involvement in research projects with faculty (to assess SLOs 3-5).

8. Placement of the the PhD graduates (to assess SLOs 5 and 6)

9. Time to graduation (to assess SLO 7). 

7) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected?

Course instructor(s)
Faculty committee
Ad hoc faculty group
Department chairperson
Persons or organization outside the university
Faculty advisor
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)

8) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence?

Used a rubric or scoring guide
Scored exams/tests/quizzes
Used professional judgment (no rubric or scoring guide used)
Compiled survey results
Used qualitative methods on interview, focus group, open-ended response data
External organization/person analyzed data (e.g., external organization administered and scored the nursing licensing exam)

9) State how many persons submitted evidence that was evaluated.
If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.

The performance of each PhD student is evaluated -- 100% of all PhD students, and of the program as a whole. Special attention is paid to the progress timeline.

10) Summarize the actual results.


A1. The graduate program continues to produce highly qualified PhD recipients, but applications and enrollments have decreased in recent years.  This is due in part to the decline in real dollar value of UHM graduate assistantships which have been frozen in nominal terms for more than five years.  During the same time period, East-West Center Awards have also decreased in value.  

Although the number of graduate majors is down slightly, total graduate course enrollments remain fairly stable.  Thus, the graduate program is executed with much efficiency.

 A2. In terms of curriculum assessment, to reflect the changes in the economics discipline in our MA curriculum, we have prompted changes in our core courses and in our field courses.  The content of the core coursework is evolving to cover the new empirical and theoretical methods. In the field courses, instructors typically add new readings every year to reflect the newest topics and methods in the field. 


B1. The graduate program continues to produce highly qualified PhD recipients. The graduation statistics are as follows:

PHD Degrees Awarded: Calendar Years 2004-2010 































Total                                                                     42

Source:  www.star.hawaii.edu

B2. Are students successfully performing in course-work component of the PhD and in passing the qualifying exams?

The statistics for students taking PhD qualifying exams during the assessment period AY 2009-2010 are as follows:

PhD students attempted Qualifying Microeconomics exams in Spring 2010:

Attempted: 8; Passed on 1st attempt (May 2010): 3; passed on 2nd attempt (August 2010): 3;

Total passed: 6/8

PhD students attempted Qualifying Macroeconomics exams in Spring 2010:

Attempted: 7; Passed on 1st attempt (May 2010): 3; passed on 2nd attempt (August 2010): 3;

Total passed: 6/7

Overall, the Qualifying exam pass rate is at least as high or higher than in comparable PhD programs at other universities. No big problems are discovered on this front. However, the first-attempt passing rates are low, indicating that students may need extra time to prepare for their qualifying exams.

B3. Do the students make smooth transition from coursework to research activities? Are students successful in following the progress timeline of the PhD program? If not, what are the major difficulties?

An identified weakness of the PhD program is a slow transition for many PhD students from coursework to conducting research.   The students on average are still taking too long to complete the doctoral program, in part because the students often struggled to decide on their research topics after completing their coursework and exams. This problem was identified several years ago. In response, the department decided to eliminate qualifying exams in our field courses and replace them with term papers in these courses to emphasize to students the importance of initiating and pursuing research early in their doctoral program.  We also added a 3rd-year research paper requirement and more hands on statistical work in the core econometrics course in an attempt to encourage our students to transition more quickly into the research stage of our doctoral program. 

However, the 2009-2010 assessment findings indicate that many PhD students still do not complete their 3rd year research paper on time. For example, among all PhD students who were in their 3rd year in AY 2008-2008, none have turned in their 3rd year paper on time, and only two out of 6 students in this year turned in their papers with a minimum delay, which is by the early Fall  2009. Among all PhD students who were in their 3rd year in AY 2009-2010, none have turned in their 3rd year paper on time, and only one out of 6 students in this year turned in their papers with a minimum delay, which is by the early Fall  2010. 

On the bright side, the average time to graduation has decreased from 8.2 years ten years ago to 7.2 years at present.

B4. Many of the our PhD students are involved in research projects with the faculty, along with their own research projects. Many students participate in regional, national and international conferences, and publish their work in scholarly outlets. Student conference presentations in the period of June 2009-September 2010 include paper presentations at The Fourth World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists in Montreal in June-July 2010, Economic Science Assciation North American Regional meetins in November 2009, Singapore Economic Review Conference (Aug. 2009), and regional conference PACON 2010. Student papers published or accepted for publication in this period publication include such pier-reviewed journals as Social Choice and Welfare, Economics Letters, and Asia Economic Update, as well as edited volumes such as  Sustainability Science for Watershed Landscapes..

B5. The department has been successful in placement of our PhD graduates. We have placed our graduates in tenure-track positions in recent years at the following institutions:  the California State University at Bakersfield, Chulalongkorn University and Thammasat University (in Thailand), HEC Montreal (in Canada), Kobe University (in Japan), Southern Illinois University, the University of Hawaii at Hilo the University of Hawaii at Manoa, the University of Puget Sound and the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater.  We also have placed recent graduates at excellent international organizations (e.g., Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank) and in prominent government posts (e.g., the U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and South Korea’s Ministry of Strategy and Finance).  Our most recent academic placements include De La Salle University-Manila, Philippines (Associate Professor), and Nankin University, China (Assistant Professor). The job placement archive is available at the Economics web site.  

11) How did your program use the results? --or-- Explain planned use of results.
Please be specific.

1. The Economics PhD program is maintaining its high quality through continuous update of its curriculum, high research orientation and involvement of graduate students in research and outreach activities. 

2. The graduate economics programs need to improve their effort in effective recruiting of the most promising graduate students.The following steps are being undertaken and are currently continuing to meet this objective:  

  • Updating the Department’s graduate program brochure to use in our marketing efforts.  A copy is sent with a cover letter to many undergraduate economics programs around the world whose BA graduates we target to recruit. Several of our faculty who traveled to conferences last year took along multiple copies of the brochure to hand out during their trips.  In addition, the Graduate Chair annually encourages all Department faculty to join in the marketing effort by emailing colleagues at other universities to let them know of our active recruitment efforts, our program’s strengths and our funding opportunities for prospective graduate students.  This effort continues currently into AY 2010-2011.  
  • Our Department’s website is also been extensively improved and updated so that prospective students can obtain a lot of relevant information—details on our program, funding opportunities for students, life in Honolulu, research interests of our faculty and the job placements of our recent graduates.

3. The Department is taking steps to offer more competitive awards to the most qualified applicants and to increase our marketing efforts.   

4. To shorten time to graduation, our Department has developed initiatives to get our graduate students involved in conducting research at an earlier stage in the program and in completing publishable-quality research:

  • We maintain a high number of research-oriented field courses in their 2nd year) and in completing publishable-quality research. Most of these course require a research paper or a research proposal. Many research collaborations between economics faculty and graduate students are being started in these courses and are continued with a final target of publishing a research paper.
  • We maintain an active Department seminar series with weekly seminars that include many visitors and have prompted the graduate students to run their own “brown bag seminar” series to encourage more research presentations by students. 
  • University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization employs several graduate students each year for their research projects in health economics, environmental economics and Hawaii economic forecasting.
  • To shorten the time-to-degree, the Assessment Committee in cooperation with the Graduate Committee decided to increasing the penalty for falling behind the normal progress timeline. In particular, the graduate committee has considered the following change on the 3d year paper requirement. Not turning in the 3rd year paper on time is now equivalent to failing the field qualifying exam, and financial assistance is made conditional on following the normal progress timeline with the 3rd year paper. The change was approved by the entire faculty in AY 2009-2010 and becomes effective starting with the current cohort of the 3rd year students. In Fall 2010, we see an encouraging sign that this new policy may be effective: several third-year students are actively seeking advice from the faculty (not only from their third-year paper advisor but from other faculty as well) on their research.

5.  The department is engaged in ongoing evaluation and calibration of the policy changes that have been made.  We also leave the door open to further future changes in these graduate curricula and requirements if deemed necessary.   

12) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries? This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, program aspects and so on.

Our key discoveries and conclusions are the following:

1. Better funding is needed stay competitive and to attract more and higher quality students to our program.

2. Clear incentives such as specific deadline are needed to shorten time to graduation. More research is needed into what are the key obstacles in shortening time to graduation. 

The Graduate Committee are actively discussing these issues. They also use the recent NRC rankings to further identify strengths and weaknesses of the program. 

Other improvements in assessment may include increasing the feedback from the program graduates and soliciting suggestions for improvement from them.

13) Other important information:

See answers to Questions 1-12 above.