PhD in Economics

PhD students take 16 courses, roughly half of which are spent acquiring the core analytic tools of the profession (microeconomics, macroeconomics, and quantitative methods), with the balance spent applying those tools in particular fields of specialization. All PhD students must complete a doctoral dissertation (thesis).

The PhD in Economics is a STEM designated degree program.

View the complete PhD Rules here

Program Requirements

Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 16 semester courses (64 credits). They are required to successfully complete the core courses by the end of the first year.

Theory and Quantitative Core Requirements

These core courses must be passed by the end of the first year with a grade of at least B- in each course.

  • EC 701 Advanced Microeconomics I (4 credits)
  • EC 702 Advanced Macroeconomics I (4 credits)
  • EC 703 Advanced Microeconomics II (4 credits)
  • EC 704 Advanced Macroeconomics II (4 credits)
  • EC 707 Advanced Statistics for Economists (4 credits)
  • EC 708 Advanced Econometrics I (4 credits)

Students must also take EC 705 Mathematical Economics in the first semester, unless a waiver is granted, and EC 709 Advanced Econometrics II (4 credits) in the third semester.

In addition, students must pass a qualifying examination in both microeconomics and macroeconomics. Students have at most three opportunities to take the qualifying examinations; failing may result in termination from the PhD program.

Field Requirements

All students must pass 2 2-course fields, each with a minimum grade average of B.

In addition, students must take at least 2 other courses. The following fields are generally offered each year:

  • Development
  • Econometrics
  • Economic Theory
  • Empirical Finance
  • Finance
  • Financial Econometrics
  • Health
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Economics
  • Labor Economics
  • Money/Macroeconomics
  • Public Economics

GPA Requirements

All courses must be passed with a grade of B– or higher. An overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 must be attained in all courses taken after enrollment in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Time Requirement

The PhD program is designed so that a typical student can complete all requirements within 5 to 6 years. International students may be subject to additional restrictions imposed by the terms of their visas, as governed by the International Students & Scholars Office (ISSO).

Students are expected to meet the following milestones each year:

By the end of the 1st year:

  • Finish and pass all core first-year courses, as well as EC 705 (unless exempted through placement exam).
  • Sit for the first attempt at the micro and macro qualifying exams in June. The second attempt, if necessary, is in August.

By the end of the 2nd year:

  • Pass EC 709, a required course in Advanced Econometrics.
  • Continue and, if possible, complete remaining coursework, including a two-course sequence in each of two fields. A B average (3.0) is required in each of the field course sequence.
  • Achieve an overall GPA of at least 3.0.
  • If both qualifiers are not passed, the third and final attempt is in June of the second year.
  • Each student must prepare a research paper during 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 DGS of the topic of the paper and the advisor’s name. The paper is due in the third year as described below.

By the end of the 3rd year:

  • Submit the second-year paper by October 1. By October 15, the faculty advisor must provide (i) a grade for the paper; and (ii) a brief written evaluation the paper. These documents will be sent to the DGS and the student. A student must receive a passing grade on the research paper.
  • Complete all coursework with GPA of at least 3.0.
  • Continue work on research for the dissertation.
  • Attend and present at least annually in one of the research workshops until completion of all degree requirements.

Years 4, 5, and (if necessary) 6:

  • Student carries out thesis research, defending the thesis no later than the end of the sixth year.


Under the supervision of two faculty advisers, a student prepares a dissertation proposal for presentation at a proposal seminar. If the proposal is approved, the student proceeds to research and write the dissertation. When the dissertation is completed, the student must defend it at a final oral examination. The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences requires that the dissertation be completed within seven years of initial enrollment in the program.

For more details, view the complete PhD Rules here and check out our past PhD Placements here.