PhD in Economics

The doctoral program in the Department of Economics is designed to prepare students for careers in academics, government at all levels, and in international organizations. Through rigorous coursework, seminars, independent research, workshops, and one-on-one consultation with faculty, students learn to master basic tools of economic theory and quantitative analysis and, further, demonstrate the means by which theoretical tools may be applied to practical problems. Faculty in the department maintain close contact with graduate students, guiding them through all aspects of research and, ultimately, the dissertation. Applicants with degrees in economics or related disciplines, such as mathematics and business, are eligible to apply.

Course Requirements

Students must complete 16 semester courses (64 credits), and have the option of obtaining an MA in Political Economy (MAPE) while completing the requirements for the PhD. Course requirements are as follows:

  • Core Courses (all doctoral students are required to successfully complete the core courses by the end of the second semester):
    • GRS EC 701 Microeconomic Theory
    • GRS EC 702 Macroeconomic Theory
    • GRS EC 703 Advanced Microeconomic Theory I
    • GRS EC 704 Advanced Macroeconomic Theory I
    • GRS EC 707 Advanced Statistics for Economists
    • GRS EC 708 Advanced Econometrics I
    • GRS EC 705 Introduction to Mathematical Economics (required unless a waiver is obtained)
  • Students in the second year in the program must complete two 2-course field sequences

An overall GPA of 3.14 (pi) is expected in the first-year core courses. A “B” average (3.0) is required in each of the field course sequences. Students must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 by the end of the second year. For the exact grade requirements and other program rules, see the department rules and regulations, available from the department on request.

Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement for this degree.

Qualifying Examination

All students must pass qualifying examinations in microeconomics and macroeconomics by the end of their fourth semester. These are comprehensive, written exams that draw from the microeconomic and macroeconomic first-year core courses. The exam’s purpose is to ensure students are prepared to move forward in the program. The first round of qualifiers is held in June after the first year. A second attempt, if necessary, is offered in August. In some circumstances, a third attempt is possible the following June.

Each student must prepare a research paper toward the end of the second year and the following summer. By April 1 of the second year, the student must ask a faculty member to serve as an advisor on this paper, have this faculty member agree to serve in this manner, and inform the Director of Graduate Studies of the topic of the paper and the advisor’s name. The second-year paper should be submitted by October 1 of the third year. By October 15, the faculty advisor must provide (i) a grade for the paper and (ii) a brief written evaluation of the paper. A student must receive a passing grade on the research paper.

Dissertation and Final Oral Examination

Candidates shall demonstrate their abilities for independent study in a dissertation representing original research or creative scholarship. A prospectus for the dissertation must be completed and approved by the readers, the director of graduate studies, and the department chair/program director. Candidates must undergo a final oral examination in which they defend their dissertation as a valuable contribution to knowledge in their field and demonstrate a mastery of their field of specialization in relation to their dissertation. All portions of the dissertation and final oral examination must be completed as outlined in the GRS General Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree.

For more detailed information about the MA in Political Economy and PhD requirements, please visit the department’s website.

A student who exits the PhD program in Economics and wishes to earn an MA must fulfill all the requirements of the MA degree. Passed PhD courses can be counted as equivalent to appropriate MA core and elective courses, and performance in the PhD qualifying exams, meeting a prescribed standard, will count for the MA comprehensive exam. Details are available here.