Program History

A Tradition of Excellence

The graduate program in economics was founded by Lionel McKenzie in the late 1950's. McKenzie arrived to the University of Rochester in 1957 as department chair with the mandate of developing the Department of Economics, as well as establishing the PhD program. He recruited several promising young scholars, including Stanley Engerman, Robert Fogel, and Ron Jones.

The first student arrived in 1957. The first PhD's were completed in 1962 by Akira Takayama and Emmanuel Drandakis. Since then, the department has trained numerous graduate students, awarding hundreds of PhD’s. Many of our students have become leaders in their fields.

We have continued the tradition established by McKenzie, continuing to recruit promising young faculty, and produce outstanding graduates. A 2014 study on the research productivity of new PhD’s in economics documents how our department has punched above its weight and outperformed departments at the very top of the rankings (J. Conley and A. Önder (2014), “The Research Productivity of New PhDs in Economics: The Surprising High Non-Success of the Successful,” Journal of Economic Perspectives, v. 28, number 3, pp. 205-216).

This is reflected in our rankings and placements throughout the years and the success of our faculty and graduate students, including three Nobel Prize winners, Robert Fogel, ’93, Richard Thaler, ’17 and Paul Romer, ’18, and an outstanding record of graduates.