The goal of the doctoral program is to form scholars who will contribute to the field of economics as top-notch researchers, instructors, and mentors. The program requires at least three years of full-time study. Most students remain in the program for five or six years.

Our approach is to provide intensive training, both in coursework and in writing/presenting research papers. Our relatively small size, together with our collegial environment, is conducive to a tight-knit research community where graduate students are treated as research peers to faculty. 

The basic coursework consists of core courses in the first year, and field and distributional courses in the second year. Independent research usually begins in the third year, but often students start working on their own projects as early as the summer between years one and two. Students are required to produce a research paper by the end of the third year, a paper that is often included in their dissertation. Dissertations can take many forms, the most common being three or more related papers. The overarching objective of both coursework and dissertation work is to prepare the student for a successful academic career.

See what our recent graduates have to say about our doctoral program on the student testimonials page.


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:

  • Applied economics (labor, urban, education, and health economics)
  • Econometrics
  • Economic theory (game theory, decision theory, axiomatic resource allocation)
  • International economics
  • Macroeconomics, macro labor, and monetary theory
  • Political economy

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 seminars give students opportunities to see the very latest work in economics and often provide inspiration for dissertations. In addition, students often meet with the outside speakers individually or in group, further providing opportunities to discuss research ideas.


We encourage students to begin research as soon as possible. An early start to research is a key to success. Students who manage to complete substantial research projects usually present their papers in conferences (the department helps out with travel and lodging costs). We encourage and help students to have one or more papers published or in press by the time they complete our program. The exposure our students receive through publications and conference presentations confer 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.


Another part of the transition from student to economist involves learning to communicate. 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 ranges from grading and running recitation sessions, and for some students teaching their own undergraduate course in the summer.


All inquiries about the graduate program should be directed to the director of graduate studies, John Singleton, at john.singleton@rochester.edu, or the graduate coordinator, Elizabeth Proctor, at (585) 275-8625 or ealouisa@ur.rochester.edu.