PhD in Economics

The doctoral program in the Department of Economics is designed to prepare students for careers in academics, government at all levels, international organizations, and the private sector. Through rigorous coursework, seminars, independent research, workshops, and one-on-one consultation with faculty, students learn both mathematical economic theory and econometric analysis and learn to apply these quantitative analytical tools to practical problems. Department faculty maintain close contact with graduate students, guiding them through all aspects of research and, ultimately, the dissertation. Students applying for entry into the PhD program are normally expected to have passed some advanced undergraduate or graduate courses or seminars in economic theory, and to have had extensive training in mathematics, statistics, and econometrics, as well as a working knowledge of computer programming.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate mastery of essential economic principles and statistical tools.
  • Demonstrate mastery of advanced subject material in at least two fields of specialization.
  • Produce and defend original and significant contributions to knowledge.
  • Be able to conduct scholarly activities and/or nonacademic work in a professional and ethical manner.
  • Be able to teach general economics courses at the undergraduate level and specialized field courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

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:

  • Required Courses: The first seven must be completed in the first year, while the 8th course is taken in the second year.
    • GRS EC 701 Microeconomic Theory 1
    • GRS EC 702 Macroeconomic Theory 1
    • GRS EC 703 Microeconomic Theory 2
    • GRS EC 704 Macroeconomic Theory 2
    • GRS EC 705 Introduction to Mathematical Economics (required unless a waiver is obtained)
    • GRS EC 707 Advanced Statistics for Economists
    • GRS EC 708 Advanced Econometrics I
    • GRS EC 709 Advanced Econometrics 2
  • Students in the second year in the program must complete two 2-course field sequences
  • Additional credit requirements should be satisfied by registration for elective courses chosen in consultation with the student’s advisor.

An overall GPA of 3.15 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 the MA in Political Economy must pass at least 15 courses and have a performance on the PhD qualifying exams meeting a prescribed standard.