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Economics (PhD)

Offered by the Department of Economics, College of Arts and Sciences.

Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, applicants must earn a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general tests (verbal, math, analytical). Admission is based on academic record, test scores, and at least two letters of recommendation. Applicants who are not native speakers of English must submit the results of TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). In general, a B+ average for previous undergraduate work or a B+/A- average for previous graduate work, whichever is more recent, is the minimum required. (Most students admitted have higher grade averages.) As a rule, students are admitted for the fall semester only; application must be made by the previous February 1 in order to be considered for financial support.

Degree Requirements

  • 45 credit hours of approved graduate coursework, exclusive of ECON-898/ECON-899
    • Students are required to take 18 credit hours of core courses, normally during the first year of study
    • With the permission of the program director and in accordance with university academic regulations, transfer credits may be applied to the PhD program. Customarily the number of total credits transferred to the program would be no greater than 6 credit hours
  • Preliminary theory comprehensive examination based on ECON-802 and ECON-803 must be completed after taking those courses, normally at the end of the first year. A student who fails the comprehensive examination may apply to the program director for one additional attempt
  • Program of study must be approved prior to registration for courses beyond the core courses, normally in the second semester of the first year. The program of study must identify the courses to be taken in the tracks, rotations, and research seminars. The selection of courses must be justified as helping prepare for a dissertation
    • Advanced theory track: Students must complete one of the following two-course sequences, normally in the second year: microeconomics, macroeconomics, or heterodox economics
    • Rotations: Students must take one economics history course and four additional applied courses in preparation for their dissertation. The selection of courses in the rotation must be justified in the program of study and should reflect a student's interest in a particular field of study
    • Research seminars: Students must complete one empirical research seminar (ECON-882 or ECON-883), normally in the fall semester of the third year. Students must complete at least three credit hours of ECON-897, normally in the fall and spring of the third year. If approved by the program director, a field research seminar can be used as a substitute for ECON-897 
  • Research paper: Students must complete a research paper during the academic year in which they complete their course requirements and prior to defending their proposal. The research paper is considered equivalent to a comprehensive examination and must be linked to the approved program of study. The paper will normally be related to the empirical paper completed in the empirical seminar and should be linked to the intended dissertation. Completing the paper will be the focus of ECON-897 or a substitute field research seminar. A student who fails to provide an adequate research paper may apply to the program director to resubmit a revised paper one additional time
  • Dissertation
    • Committee approval: Subject to applicable university academic regulations, students must identify an eligible faculty member working in their area of interest who is willing to become chair of their dissertation committee as well as at least two additional dissertation committee members. Students must obtain approval for the composition of the committee, normally in the third year
    • Proposal defense: Subject to applicable university academic regulations and departmental requirements, students must submit a written proposal to the dissertation committee prior to the dissertation proposal defense. Students must successfully present and defend a dissertation proposal to an approved dissertation committee, normally at the end of the third year but no later than the end of the fourth year
    • Oral dissertation defense: When the actual dissertation is nearly finished, an oral defense of the complete draft dissertation is held. The oral defense includes the dissertation committee as well as an outside member that meets the qualifications as stipulated in the applicable university academic regulations. Final approval of the dissertation depends on satisfactory completion of any changes required by the committee members following the oral defense. Dissertations are subject to all applicable university regulations

Course Requirements

Core (18 credit hours)

Advanced Theory (6 credit hours)

Complete one of the following two-course theory sequences:

Rotations (15 credit hours)

Economic History

Complete one of the following:

Additional Courses

Complete four additional courses from the following, although alternative courses may be taken if approved in the program of study, including theory courses, economic history, and empirical seminars not taken to meet other requirements:

Research Seminars (6 credit hours)


Complete one of the following:


Complete one of the following:

Frequently Asked Questions

 Yes! Prior to enrolling in any MA courses, however, students must show that they have met the prerequisites for the program including: Intermediate Microeconomics (ECON-300) and Intermediate Macroeconomics (ECON-301) (or Introduction to Economic Theory (ECON-603); Basic Statistics (ECON-202); and Applied Calculus (ECON-211). We are happy to waive these prerequisites for students who have completed comparable courses from another institution. Prerequisite credits are not counted toward your degree.

All MA students must complete 15 credit hours of core courses, including Introduction to Mathematical Economics, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, and Econometrics I and II. Students choose from one of five tracks: General, Development Economics, Gender Analysis in Economics, Financial Economic Policy, and Business Economics. Depending on the track chosen, students complete their degree by taking an additional 15 to 21 credits of electives or required courses.

Students must complete 30 to 36 hours of approved graduate work, depending on the specific track chosen by the student. Full-time students typically enroll in 9 credit hours per semester, which allows students to complete the program in as little as 1.5 to 2 years. Part-time students choose to take fewer than 9 credit hours per semester. All of our MA courses are offered in the evening.

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