Doctoral Program Guidelines

1. Introduction

The goal of the Economics Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is to train economists: graduates of the program are prepared to undertake advanced research in economic theory, econometrics, and applied branches of economics, and to apply their knowledge and skills to a wide range of problems in a broad array of institutional settings. These aims are achieved through a program that combines coursework, examinations, seminars, and independent research, culminating in the completion and defense of a doctoral dissertation. The program has been very successful at achieving these aims, as evidenced by its strong national reputation and placement record.

The purpose of this guide is to provide a concise description of the program’s requirements and procedures. Additional details about various aspects of the program can be found on the websites linked to this guide.

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2. Program Administration

The policies and procedures of the graduate program are overseen by the Graduate Committee, which consists of the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and two or more additional faculty members. Major changes in policy are made at the discretion of department faculty. The interpretation and implementation of most program policies, including the assignment of teaching assistantships, are the responsibility of the DGS.

The Graduate Admissions and Aid Committee, which consists of six or more faculty members, is responsible for admitting new doctoral students, and for allocating departmentally administered financial aid among both incoming and continuing students.

The Graduate Advisor plays a vital role in the program, serving as a key link between graduate students and faculty. The Graduate Advisor is students’ primary source of information about program policies and procedures and is also the central administrator of program procedures. The Graduate Advisor performs these roles in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies, the Graduate Committee, and the Admissions and Aid Committee.

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3. Program Requirements

3.1. Preparation for Doctoral Study

Graduate work in economics demands mathematical sophistication of a higher order than the requirements of most U.S. undergraduate economics programs would suggest. Students entering the doctoral program are required to have taken a three-course sequence in calculus, a course in linear algebra, and a course in mathematical statistics. These prerequisites are a bare minimum, and additional background in mathematics and in graduate-level economics courses can ease the transition into the program.

A detailed description of the department’s expectations about students’ mathematics preparation, both upon entry to the program and upon completion of first-year coursework, can be found on the mathematics preparation website.

3.2. A Typical Sequence of Study

The economics doctoral program is designed so that most students should be able to complete the requirements for the Ph.D. within five years. Below is a typical sequence of study.

1st year Fall and Spring Take required first year courses.
Summer between 1st and 2nd year Take the two Preliminary Examinations
2nd year Fall and Spring Take courses in major and minor fields, Mathematics, and Statistics. Attend workshops in major field and possibly other fields
Summer between 2nd and 3rd year Work on Field Paper.
3rd year Fall and Spring Complete Field Paper (Fall). Begin working toward Three-Signature Proposal (Spring). Attend Workshops. Take additional courses.
Summer between 3rd and 4th year  Continue work toward Three-Signature Proposal
4th year Fall and Spring  Complete Three-Signature Proposal (Fall). Work on dissertation. Attend workshops.
Summer between 4th and 5th year  Continue work on dissertation.
5th year Fall and Spring  Continue work on dissertation (Fall). Attend workshops. Complete dissertation (Spring). Sit for final Oral Examination and receive Ph.D. (Spring).

3.3. Coursework
3.3.1 First year

During the first year of study students are required to take the following seven courses:

Fall Semester:
703 Mathematical Economics I
709 Economic Statistics and Econometrics I
711 Microeconomic Theory I
712 Macroeconomic Theory I

Spring Semester:
710 Economic Statistics and Econometrics II
713 Microeconomic Theory II
714 Macroeconomic Theory II

703 reviews the mathematical techniques that are the basis for doctoral work in economics, while 709 provides basic training in mathematical statistics. Students with exceptional mathematics and statistics backgrounds may request exemptions from one or both of these courses. Such requests should be sent to the Graduate Advisor for consideration by the course instructors and the DGS.

711-714 are the core courses in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory. The material in these courses forms the basis for the Preliminary Examinations. 710 is an introduction to econometric methods. Exemptions from these courses are rarely granted.

PhD students are expected to achieve an average B grade in the first-year econometrics sequence 709-710. Students failing to average a B grade need to retake the course(s) in which their grade fell below a B. Students need to satisfy the B average requirement for 709 and 710 before the end of their second year for satisfactory progress.

Since there are only three required courses in the Spring, many students opt to take a fourth course in Economics, Mathematics, Statistics, or another field during this time.

3.3.2 Second year and beyond

A main component of the second year of graduate study is major field coursework. Typically, each major field offers one course in the fall and another in the spring, and students in the field must take both courses. In the event that a major field does not offer two courses during a certain year, faculty in the field will specify alternate means of meeting the field’s course requirements. For more information go the the major field information website.

From the second year onward, students are expected to register for the workshop in their major field. (Students need not register if doing so would lead them to be registered for more than 15 credits; however, workshop attendance is mandatory even in this case.) Workshops provide students with the opportunity to hear research presentations by both internal and external speakers and can serve to suggest topics for dissertation research. Details about schedules, coordinator and speakers can be found at the Events webpage.

Students are also required to satisfy a minor field requirement. To satisfy this requirement, students must take four courses that serve either to broaden their knowledge base or to complement study in the major field. Minor field courses can be in economics or in other fields. Details about the minor field requirement, including a list of suggested courses in the Mathematics and Statistics Departments, can be found on the minor field information website.

3.3.3 Grading

Both the Department and the Graduate School require students to maintain a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 during their course of study. In addition, the Department also requires students to maintain a GPA of 3.0 in their first year core courses, in the courses used to fulfill the major field requirement, and in the courses used to fulfill the minor field requirement.

3.3.4 Degree Requirements

Effective beginning Fall 2014 for new Graduate students.

The Department and Graduate School have established guidelines on the types of coursework and credit that can be applied towards a graduate degree. As students plan their path through the doctoral program, the following requirements should be taken into account regarding eligibility for the Ph.D. and  M.S. (no subplan) degrees:

  1. A minimum of 51 credits is required for doctoral degrees and 30 credits for master’s degrees;
  2. At least half of all degree coursework must be completed in courses numbered 700 level or higher;
  3. The residence requirement specifies that at least 32 credits for the Ph.D. and 16 credits for the M.S. must be taken while a graduate student at UW-Madison;
  4. In rare situations, with approval from the Graduate Committee in the Department of Economics, prior coursework taken from other institutions or coursework taken as a UW-Madison undergraduate or special student may be counted towards the minimum degree requirements. Please note the following:
      1. No more than 15 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions may be counted towards the Ph.D. and no more than 7 credits towards the M.S.;
      2. No more than 7 credits of coursework numbered 7xx level or above taken as a UW-Madison undergraduate may be counted towards the Ph.D. or M.S.;
      3. No more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 7xx level or above taken as a UW-Madison special student may be counted towards the Ph.D. and no more than 9 credits may be counted towards the M.S.; and
      4. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree or five years or more prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.
  1. Students must also meet the Graduate School minimum degree requirements.

3.4. Milestones

There are four main milestones on the path through the Economics doctoral program: the preliminary examinations, the field paper, the three-signature proposal, and the final oral examination. Each is explained below.

3.4.1 The preliminary examinations

The first milestones on the path the the Ph.D. are the preliminary examinations in Microeconomic Theory and Macroeconomic Theory. The prelims are based on, but not limited to, the material taught in 711-714.

There are two Preliminary Examination Committees, one for each exam. These committees typically include faculty members who most recently taught the relevant first year courses, as well as other members of the faculty. The committees are responsible both for writing the exams and for determining which students have passed the exams. The latter determination is based on the exam grade, with marginal consideration given to performances in relevant courses.

The prelims are offered twice each summer. Students are required to take both prelims in the first attempt, which occurs in early summer after their first year. Students who fail either or both exams on their first attempt retake the exam(s) they did not pass the next time the prelims are offered, which is in late summer. If after the second attempt a student has passed one exam, but not the other, they are granted an automatic third attempt (the following June).

If after the second attempt a student has not passed either exam, the student will be asked to leave the program. Petitions for a third attempt are permitted, but only for unusual circumstances. Petitions should be addressed to the Graduate Committee and be turned in to the Graduate Advisor within one week of the announcement of prelim results. Petitions are evaluated on the basis of past performance on prelims and in coursework, and on the advice of members of the faculty knowledgeable about the student in question. Note, however, that students who pass a prelim on the third attempt are not exempted from any subsequent program deadlines. For this reason, maintaining satisfactory progress in such instances is very demanding, and petitions will be evaluated with this fact in mind. Students who have not passed both exams after their attempts are exhausted are asked to leave the program.

Additional information about the exams can be found on the preliminary exam information website.

3.4.2 The field paper

In addition to fulfilling the major field course requirements described above, students must also complete a piece of original research on a topic in the major field. Both the procedures for writing the field paper (submission of drafts, etc.) and the decision about whether a submitted paper is acceptable are determined by the faculty in the field in question.

To maintain satisfactory progress through the program, each student must have the field paper approved by the student’s major field by December 15th of the third year of study. Any student who has not had the field paper approved by May 15th of the third year of study must leave the program.

3.4.3 The three-signature proposal

A three-signature proposal is a plan for dissertation research. To complete the 3-sig requirement, a student must first find an Advisor on the Department’s faculty who is willing to supervise the student’s dissertation research. In consultation with this Advisor, the student selects two additional UW-Madison graduate faculty members, at least one of whom is from the Department, to evaluate the proposal. Often, the student’s proposal contains a statement of the questions to be addressed, a description of the proposed solutions, and a discussion of the relevant literature. The 3-sig requirement is complete when each of the three faculty members informs the Graduate Advisor that the proposal is acceptable.

To maintain satisfactory progress through the program, each student must complete a three-signature proposal by December 15th of the fourth year of study (i.e. at the end of the seventh semester). Any student who has not completed this requirement by August 15th (after completing eight semesters) must leave the program. Students should plan to submit their proposals to their advisors at least one month before the relevant deadlines to ensure that there is sufficient time for evaluation.

3.4.4 The dissertation and the final oral examination

The student’s progress through the program culminates in the writing of a doctoral dissertation. The dissertation is a novel contribution to economic knowledge, and a student who completes a dissertation is qualified to perform significant, independent economic research.

The specific requirements for an acceptable dissertation are determined by the student’s Oral Examination Committee. This committee contains four members and typically consists of the student’s faculty advisor, the two other faculty members who evaluated the student’s 3-sig proposal, and one additional faculty member. The committee must include at least two members of the Department faculty; at least one of the four committee members must hold an appointment outside the Department of Economics at UW-Madison; and three of the committee members must be UW–Madison graduate faculty. Three of the four committee members must be designated as readers. For information on graduate school guidelines on doctoral committees, please see this link:

When the Oral Examination Committee feels that the dissertation is close to its final form, the student presents the dissertation in a final oral examination. Students should speak to the Graduate Advisor about administrative procedures and other arrangements. Per graduate school guidelines, dissertations must acknowledge contributions received from other individuals as outlined on the graduate school policies and procedures website:

The graduate program is designed so that most students will complete their final oral examination by the end of their fifth year of study. Students who have not completed their final oral examination by May 15th of their seventh year of study must leave the program.

3.4.5 Progress reports

Students in their fifth and sixth years of study who will not be completing their degree requirements that year must write a two page progress report. The report should describe in brief the contents, current status, and expected completion date of each dissertation chapter, and must be approved by all members of the student’s reading committee. A completed progress report and approvals from all relevant faculty must be received by the Graduate Advisor by May 15th of each relevant year. Students who do not have a committee of three faculty members must form one by August 15. Students who fail to meet this requirement must leave the program.

3.4.6 Summary

The program’s due dates and terminal deadlines are summarized in the table below.

Milestone Due Date Terminal Deadline
Field paper December 15th of third year May 15th of third year
Three-signature proposal December 15th of fourth year August 15th of fourth year
Progress Report May 15th of fifth year*
May 15th of sixth year*
Final oral examination May 15th of seventh year

*Only required if the final oral examination is not completed by this date.

3.5 The Master’s Degree

Students who have passed both preliminary exams and the field paper are entitled to receive a Master of Science degree. As there are benefits to obtaining this degree (for instance, eligibility for certain fellowships, and a higher pay rate for summer Federal internships), qualified students are encouraged to do so.

Students who will not complete the Economics Ph.D. program may be eligible to receive a terminal Master’s degree. The requirements for eligibility are as follows:

(i) completion of at least 30 credits of graduate coursework in Economics or other approved courses, including the first-year courses described in section 3.3.1, with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0
(ii) a grade of B or better in at least three of the following six courses: 709, 710, 711, 712, 713, 714;
(iii) the Graduate School’s minimum degree requirements must be met.

Prior to completing these requirements, students should meet with the Graduate Advisor to complete the necessary forms.

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4. Financial Support

4.1. Satisfactory Progress

It is the goal of the graduate program to provide financial support to students who are maintaining satisfactory progress during the first four years and often beyond. The conditions for satisfactory progress are:

  • Maintaining a 3.0 GPA.
  • Passing both prelims by the end of summer after the first year.
  • Earning a B average in the first year econometrics courses (709-710); retaking the applicable course(s) during the second year if the two-course GPA average is less than a 3.0.
  • Completing the field paper by December 15th of the third year.
  • Completing the three-signature proposal by December 15th of the fourth year.
  • Completing annual progress reports by May 15 in any year following the fourth year.
  • Performing satisfactorily in teaching assistantships.
  • Demonstrating proficiency in English in accordance with University guidelines.
Semester Requirements (cumulative)
Summer after 1st year Both Prelims passed by end of summer
 2nd year, Spring  Meet the 709-710 B average grade requirement
3rd year, Fall Field paper passed by Dec. 15th of 3rd year.
3rd year, Spring
4th year, Fall Three signature proposal passed by December 15th of 4th year.
4th year, Spring
5th year, Spring  Progress report completed by May 15th of the 5th year.

The above requirements are cumulative. That is, for each semester the requirement listed must be met, and all previous requirements must be met in order for support to be provided.

Funding is contingent on:

  • Remaining a student in good standing in the department.
  • Performing adequately in any teaching or other assigned responsibilities.
  • Meeting departmental standards for spoken English proficiency if appointed as a teaching assistant.

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4.2 Conditions under which support will typically be withheld:

  • Required courses not completed on time.
  • Speak test score lower than 45 for teaching assistantships.
  • Poor performance in prior assigned assistantships.
  • GPA below 3.0.
  • Failing both prelims by the second attempt.
  • Failing either prelim twice.
  • Field paper not passed by Dec. 15th of third year.
  • Three signature proposal not completed by December 15th of fourth year.
  • Progress report not completed by May 15th of the fifth year or in subsequent years.

The Department offers a limited number of fellowships or scholarships to students in their third year of study and beyond as prizes for exceptional performance in the program.

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5. Leaves of Absence

While in most cases participation in the program is continuous through time, students sometimes find it necessary to take a temporary leave of absence. Written requests for a one semester or full year leave of absence should be addressed to the DGS and turned into the Graduate Advisor.

If a student is granted a one semester leave of absence, the milestone due dates and terminal deadlines are pushed back approximately one semester according to the following rules: May 15th becomes August 15th, August 15th becomes December 15th, and December 15th becomes May 15th. If a student is granted a full year leave of absence, all due dates and deadlines are pushed back one year.
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6. Conduct Expectations

All students are expected to adhere to the highest standards of professional behavior and ethics. The economics PhD program, the Graduate School, and the Division of Student Life all uphold the UW System policies and procedures for academic and non-academic misconduct. Graduate students are held to the same standards of responsible conduct of research as faculty and staff. Students are responsible for reading the information here as well as the information published on all the relevant web sites. Lack of knowledge of this information does not excuse any infraction.

Additional information regarding Academic Misconduct:

Additional information regarding Non-Academic Misconduct:

Additional information regarding Research Misconduct:

Students may be disciplined or dismissed from the graduate program for any type of misconduct (academic, non-academic, professional, or research) or failure to meet program expectations regardless of their academic standing in the program.  Separate and apart from a violation of Professional Conduct, a student may face University disciplinary action with regard to the same action.  Concerns about infractions of Professional Conduct may be effectively handled informally between the student and faculty advisor and/or Director of Graduate Studies. However, if a resolution is not achieved, the issue may be advanced for further review by the Department of Economics Faculty Graduate Committee.
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7. Grievance Procedure

7.1 Student Rights and Responsibilities

If a student feels unfairly treated or aggrieved by faculty, staff, or another student, the University offers several avenues to resolve the grievance. Students’ concerns about unfair treatment are best handled directly with the person responsible for the objectionable action. If the student is uncomfortable making direct contact with the individual(s) involved, they should contact the Graduate Advisor or someone else they feel comfortable speaking with. Many departments and schools/colleges have established specific procedures for handling such situations; check their web pages and published handbooks for information. If such procedures exist at the local level, these should be investigated first. For more information see the Graduate School Academic Policies & Procedures > Grievances & Appeals:

7.2 Grievance Procedures for the Department of Economics

7.2.1 The student is encouraged to speak first with the person toward whom the grievance is directed to see if a situation can be resolved at this level if they feel safe and comfortable doing so. Students are welcome to seek advice from the Graduate Advisor or others with whom they have a trusting relationship. 

Should a satisfactory resolution not be achieved, the student should contact Graduate Advisor, Director of Graduate Studies, or another faculty or staff member that they feel comfortable with to discuss the grievance (the Graduate Advisor is named in and the Director of Graduate studies in At this point in the process, this informal discussion would be considered confidential, unless the issue involves certain conduct that university employees are required to report to University Officials (as specified in section 8). The department will facilitate problem resolution through informal channels and facilitate any complaints or issues of students. The first attempt is to help students informally address the grievance prior to any formal complaint. Students are also encouraged to talk with their faculty advisors or the department DEI committee regarding concerns or difficulties if necessary. University resources for sexual harassment, discrimination, disability accommodations, and other related concerns can be found on the UW Dean of Students Office website:

Other campus resources are listed here. A resource providing “confidential” consultation can help people who want support or information, but do not wish to report. Confidential means they will not share information that identifies the person seeking support without that person’s permission. 

7.2.2 If the issue is not resolved to the student’s satisfaction, the student can submit a formal departmental grievance to the Department Administrator in writing (the Department Administrator is named  in The formal grievance should provide as much detail as possible about the incident(s) or situation(s) of concern. 

On receipt of a written grievance complaint, the Department Chair will be informed and will convene a 3-member faculty committee r to manage the department-level grievance. The program faculty committee will preserve confidentiality if possible and desired and will obtain a written response from the person toward whom the complaint is directed. This response will be shared with the person filing the grievance. 

The faculty committee will determine a decision regarding the grievance. The Department Administrator will report on the action taken by the committee in writing to both the student and the party toward whom the complaint was directed within 15 working days from the date the complaint was received when possible. Details shared with the aggrieved student may be limited by university policies regarding personnel matters or student records. 

At this point, if either party (the student or the person toward whom the grievance is directed) is unsatisfied with the decision of the faculty committee, the party may file a written appeal. Either party has 10 working days to file a written appeal to the committee’s decision through the Department Administrator. Appeals will be reviewed by the Department Chair who will come to a decision within 10 working days from when the appeal was received, when possible. 

Documentation of the grievance will be stored for at least 7 years. Significant grievances that set a precedent will be stored indefinitely. 

7.2.3 The Graduate School has procedures for students wishing to further appeal a grievance decision made at the Department level. These policies are described in the Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures: 

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8. Misconduct and Crime

8.1 Hostile and Intimidating Behavior

Hostile and intimidating behavior, sometimes known by the shorthand term “bullying,” is defined in university policy as “unwelcome behavior pervasive or severe enough that a reasonable person would find it hostile and/or intimidating and that does not further the University’s academic or operational interests.” Hostile and intimidating behavior can occur both within and across employment sectors – faculty on faculty, faculty on student, etc. – and power differentials, and in any university setting (the office, the lab, in the halls, at meetings; it can happen in groups or one-on-one). Regardless of when and how it happens, it must be addressed and corrected. Hostile and intimidating behavior is prohibited by university policy. 

UW–Madison policy includes the following expanded definition: 

Hostile and intimidating behavior is defined as unwelcome behavior pervasive or severe to the extent that it makes the conditions for work inhospitable and impairs another person’s ability to carry out their responsibilities to the university, and that does not further the University’s academic or operational interests. A person or a group can perpetrate this behavior. The person need not be more senior than or a supervisor to the target. 

Unacceptable behavior may include, but is not limited to: 

  • Abusive expression (including spoken, written, recorded, visual, digital, or nonverbal, etc.) directed at another person in the workplace, such as derogatory remarks or epithets that are outside the range of commonly accepted expressions of disagreement, disapproval, or critique in an academic culture and professional setting that respects free expression; 
  • Unwarranted physical contact or intimidating gestures; Conspicuous exclusion or isolation having the effect of harming another person’s reputation in the workplace and hindering another person’s work; 
  • Sabotage of another person’s work or impeding another person’s capacity for academic expression, be it oral, written, or other; 
  • Abuse of authority, such as using threats or retaliation in the exercise of authority, supervision, or guidance, or impeding another person from exercising shared governance rights, etc. 

Repeated acts or a pattern of hostile and/or intimidating behaviors are of particular concern. A single act typically will not be sufficient to warrant discipline or dismissal, but an especially severe or egregious act may warrant either. 

For more information: 

8.2 Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a community concern. When sexual harassment occurs, it degrades the quality of work and education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It erodes the dignity and productivity of the individuals involved and diminishes the quality, effectiveness, and stature of the institution. It can occur in any university setting (an office, a classroom, a university program). Each of us has a collective responsibility not to harass others and to act responsibly when confronted by the issue of sexual harassment, thereby promoting an environment that better supports excellence in teaching, research, and service. (Taken from: 

What is Sexual Harassment? 

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature (including leering and unwanted personal discussion of sexual activities) constitute sexual harassment when submission to such conduct is a condition of employment, academic progress, or participation in a university program; or submission to or rejection of such conduct influences employment, academic or university program decisions; or the conduct interferes with an employee’s work or a student’s academic career, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work, learning, or program environment. 

Key Points About Sexual Harassment: 

  • Differences in power or status can be a significant component in sexual harassment. A person who seems to acquiesce to sexual conduct may still experience tangible action harassment or hostile environment harassment if the conduct is unwelcome. 
  • Sexual harassment can occur between any two persons, regardless of their gender identities and sexual orientation. 
  • Sexual harassment may or may not involve a tangible injury (e.g., economic loss, lowered grades). A sexually harassing environment, in and of itself, may constitute a harm. 
  • Individuals in positions of authority are responsible for ensuring that employees, students or others do not harass. In an academic or program setting, offenders can be faculty, instructors, lecturers, teaching assistants, coaches, tutors, or fellow students or program participants. 
  • The person filing a sexual harassment charge does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone significantly harmed by the harassing conduct. 
  • Some behavior that is not in violation of university policy may, nonetheless, be unprofessional under the circumstances. Consequences of such unprofessional behavior may include poor performance evaluations or possible discipline. 

What to do if you feel you’ve been sexually harassed: 

  • Seek advice. Consult the Graduate Advisor, Department Chair, or someone else you trust. It is important to note that the Department Chair and the Graduate Advisor are Title IX responsible employees who must report information they receive about sexual harassment or sexual violence to the Office of Compliance; however, this report does not trigger a formal complaint or other actions that the complainant doesn’t want, unless there is a serious risk to campus safety. Other staff and faculty may be Title IX responsible employees as well. For more information, please see section 8.3.5. 
  • You may choose to seek informal resolution through the Grievance procedures detailed in section 7.1.1 or file a sexual harassment complaint with the UW–Madison Title IX Coordinator. You may find more information on filing a complaint at Complaints filed through the UW–Madison Title IX coordinator may lead to an investigation and disciplinary action against the accused. In order to ensure due process and provide for a defense, prior to any formal disciplinary action against someone accused of sexual harassment, the University must inform that person of the details regarding the formal complaint including the identity of the person initiating the complaint. Again, as noted in the previous bullet point, several people involved in the Grievance procedures described in earlier in this section are Title IX responsible employees. For more information, please see  section 8.3.5. 
  • For additional information, please visit: 
  • As listed previously, the following additional resources offer confidential consultation and can help people who want support or information, but do not wish to report. Confidential means they will not share information that identifies the person seeking support without that person’s permission. 
  • Employee Assistance Office – [This resource provides confidential consultation] 
  • Ombuds Office – [This resource provides confidential consultation] 

For more information on discrimination against students and other resources: 

Discrimination Complaints Policies & Procedures:

We encourage early contact: consultation is not escalation. Timely discussion of people’s concerns may allow resolution before alternatives become limited. The university will protect confidentiality to the extent possible under the law. 

…if you feel you’ve been sexually harassed: 

  • Seek advice. Consult your supervisor, manager, HR representative, department chair, director, dean, or any campus resource to discuss options for resolution. 
  • You may choose to seek informal resolution or file a sexual harassment complaint. 
  • You may find it helpful to seek support from a trusted colleague. Be aware of your interest in keeping the matter as confidential as possible. 
  • Keep notes of what happened, when, where, and who was present. Retain copies of any correspondence. 
  • Consider informing the individual(s) involved that the conduct is unwelcome and that you expect it to stop. 

8.3 Reporting Misconduct and Crime

The campus has established policies governing student conduct, academic dishonesty, discrimination, and harassment/abuse as well as specific reporting requirements in certain cases. If you have a grievance regarding unfair treatment towards yourself, please reference the procedures and resources identified above. If you learn about, observe, or witness misconduct or other wrongdoing you may be required to report that misconduct or abuse. Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to consult with your academic advisor, Graduate Advisor, or other campus resources (such as the UW Office of Equity and Diversity, Graduate School, Mc Burney Disability Resource Center, Employee Assistance Office, Ombuds Office, and University Health Services). 

8.3.1 Research Misconduct. The University of Wisconsin–Madison strives to foster the highest scholarly and ethical standards among its students, faculty, and staff. Graduate students and research associates are among the most vulnerable groups when reporting misconduct because their source of financial support and the progress in their careers may be at risk by raising questions of wrongdoing. They are also often the closest witnesses to wrongdoing when it occurs and therefore must be appropriately protected from the consequences of reporting wrongdoing and be informed of their rights. Please find full details at 

8.3.2 Academic Misconduct. If you know a classmate is cheating on an exam or other academic exercise, notify your professor, teaching assistant or proctor of the exam. As a part of the university community, you are expected to uphold the standards of the university. Also, consider how your classmate’s dishonesty may affect the overall grading curve and integrity of the program.

8.3.3 Sexual Assault. All UW–Madison employees, including student employees and graduate assistants, are required by law to report first-hand knowledge of sexual assault on campus or disclosures of sexual assault of a student to university officials, specifically the Dean of Students Office. This effort is not the same as filing a criminal report. Disclosing the victim’s name is not required as part of this report. Please find full details under Sexual Assault at, or dating-and-domestic-violence/, or

8.3.4 Child Abuse. UW–Madison employees (under Wisconsin Executive Order #54), are required to immediately report child abuse or neglect to Child Protective Services (CPS) or law enforcement if, in the course of employment, the employee observes an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, or learns of an incident or threat of child abuse or neglect, and the employee has reasonable cause to believe that child abuse or neglect has occurred or will occur. 

Volunteers working for UW–Madison sponsored programs or activities are also expected to report suspected abuse or neglect. Please find full details at 

8.3.5 Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence. Certain UW–Madison employees are classified as Title IX responsible employees and therefore have a duty to report to the Title IX Coordinator any information they receive that suggests a violation of campus policy around sexual harassment and sexual violence is occurring or has occurred. They are explicitly not permitted to keep information of this nature that is reported to them confidential. These reports are primarily used to connect complainants/survivors with resources, and do not trigger investigations or other actions the complainant or survivor does not want unless there is a risk to campus safety. Title IX responsible employees include, among others, Deans, Directors, department chairs, department administrators, human resources representatives, and student services staff such as graduate and undergraduate coordinators. Please find full details at

8.3.6 Incidents of Bias/Hate. The University of Wisconsin–Madison values a diverse community where all members are able to participate fully in the Wisconsin Experience. Incidents of Bias/Hate affecting a person or group create a hostile climate and negatively impact the quality of the Wisconsin Experience for community members. UW–Madison takes such incidents seriously and will investigate and respond to reported or observed incidents of bias/hate. If you have witnessed or experienced an incident of bias or hate you may contact the Graduate Advisor, Department Chair, or the Department of Economics DEI Committee. More information about the department DEI committee can be found here: Please find full details at 

8.4 Reporting Consensual Relationships. A consensual relationship describes when people agree to a romantic, physically intimate, or sexual relationship now or in the past. This includes marriage. UW–Madison consensual relationships policy applies to employee/student relationships and employee/employee relationships. 

A consensual relationship between an instructor and a student currently under their instruction or whom the instructor reasonably believes in the future may be under their instruction is prohibited. 

If a consensual relationship develops between people who also have another type of reporting or evaluative relationship, the person who is in a position of power must immediately report their consensual relationship to a supervisory authority. 

The university presumes that the ability to make objective decisions is compromised if there is a romantic and/or sexual relationship between two individuals who have a reporting or evaluative relationship. There is almost always a power differential between such individuals that not only obscures objectivity but also influences perceptions of consent. The individual with the power or status advantage is required by university policy to report the relationship to their supervisor and will be accountable for failing to make this report. The supervisor who learns of the consensual relationship has the responsibility to make appropriate arrangements to eliminate or mitigate a conflict whose consequences might prove detrimental to the university or to either party in the relationship, particularly the person in the subordinate role. Supervisors can consult with any campus resource ( for assistance in meeting this responsibility. 

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