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Graduate Program


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. Although the program has been completed in three years, most students remain in the program for five or six years.

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 ideas as early as the summer between years one and two. A third-year paper is due by the end of the third year. It is often the start of a dissertation. Dissertations can take many forms, but they commonly consist of three or more related papers. The overarching objective of both coursework and dissertation work is to prepare the student for a successful academic career. A leading indicator is the first job placement, so the program is naturally geared toward preparing students for the economics job market.

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 student with the best overall GPA by the end of the second year is awarded a prize.


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.

In addition, a number of reading groups and student seminar series run throughout the year, where students hone their presentation skills at the same time that they are exposed to additional frontier research, as presented by their peers and participating faculty.


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 of attending sufficiently prestigious conferences). Driven students usually end up having 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.

In addition to the required third-year paper, the program offers prizes to provide further incentive to academic excellence. The Conibear Prize is given for the best third-year paper, and prizes are also awarded for the best fourth/fifth year papers in both empirical and theoretical economics.


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, running recitation 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