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Graduate Program


The doctoral program requires at least three years of full-time study. Although the program has been completed in three years, most students remain in the program for four or five years.

The basic coursework is usually completed in the first two years. Independent research begins during the third year, when students work on their "third-year paper" project. The third-year paper is often the start of a dissertation. Dissertations can take many forms, but they commonly consist of three or more related papers.


Students' coursework prepares them to begin frontier research in economic science. The first-year courses provide the necessary theoretical and quantitative base. The second-year courses build on this base in a number of specialized fields.

Fields offered recently include:

  • Capital theory
  • Economic history
  • Econometrics
  • Finance
  • Game theory
  • General equilibrium theory
  • Industrial organization
  • International economics
  • Labor economics
  • Macroeconomics and monetary theory
  • Positive political theory
  • Public finance

Most of these classes are small, facilitating interaction between students and faculty.


The department has a very active seminar series. There are five regular weekly seminar series. From Monday to Friday, we have seminars in macroeconomics, international economics, economic theory, applied economics, and econometrics.

Students are encouraged to begin participating in these seminars as soon as possible. These workshops give you an opportunity to see the very latest work in economics, and to present your own work before fellow students and faculty. Questions arising in second-year courses and seminars have provided the inspiration for many dissertations.


We encourage students to begin research as soon as possible. An early start to research early is a key to success. Driven students can even have one or more papers published or in press by the time they complete our program. These students are then able to present their paper at conferences. The exposure our students receive through publication and conference presentation confers significant advantages when they go on the job market.

Our summer research program provides support for specific research projects under the supervision of a faculty member. These awards are intended to encourage both productive working relationships with the faculty, and an early start to the dissertation.

The third year usually marks the beginning of the transition from student to PhD economist. Students start independent research projects in the third year. This culminates in a third-year paper that is completed by the beginning of the fourth year. The Conibear Prize is given for the best third-year paper.


The other part of the transition from student to economist involves learning to communicate your results. One way of doing this is via teaching. The third year is the time when students usually start to become involved in teaching. Student involvement in teaching at Rochester ranges from grading and running problem sessions to teaching your very own undergraduate course.


All inquiries about the graduate program should be directed to the graduate coordinator, Pamela Young, at (585) 275-8625 or