PhD Program

All students must fulfill a number of course, research and credit requirements in order to complete the PhD program. The specific requirements are described below in the approximate order that you encounter them during the program. More detailed information can be found in the Graduate Program Handbook

Course and Credit Requirements

Research and Teaching Requirements

Additional Requirements

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Course and Credit Requirements

Foundational Requirements for Entering Students

Students entering this program should have a minimum of one year of calculus, and one semester of both linear algebra and mathematical statistics. Any student who is missing one or more of these courses will be required to take them during their first year of graduate study.

Students must also pass an oral and written English proficiency exam by the second semester of their second year. Students from English-speaking countries may waive the exam with the permission of the graduate advisor.

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Students are required to fulfill 90 credits of study, divided into coursework and research work. Coursework is made up of eight first-year courses, six of which constitute the core courses, second-year field courses, and three distributional courses, to be completed by the end of the third year.

Core Courses

The core courses are formed by:

ECO 471-472: Modern Value Theory I & II
ECO 475-476: Macroeconomics I & II
ECO 484-485: Econometrics I & II

These courses must be completed in the first year of study. All students must maintain a B average in order to remain in good standing in the department. Students with an average lower than a B must pass a proficiency exam during the summer.

First-year students also take ECO 481-482, Mathematics I and I. ECO 482 and ECO 485 are half-semester courses. By the second half of the spring semester, students pick two out of three courses, ECO 486 (Econometrics), ECO 487 (Applied Economics), and ECO 492 (Mathematics).

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Fields of Specialization and Qualifying Examinations 

Each PhD candidate must qualify in one specialized fields. Fields available vary from year to year depending on current faculty and student interests.

Recent field courses offered have included:

  • 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

Preparation for the qualifying examination ordinarily involves taking two graduate courses in that field, and further study over the summer. If appropriate courses are not offered, it may be possible to arrange a reading course with one of the relevant faculty members.

Field areas are evaluated by either a written qualifying examination or a paper and graded by relevant faculty. Students have two attempts to pass the qualifier exam, and the exams expire after five years. Examinations are usually scheduled in June, with retakes in August.


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Distribution Requirements

Students must take at least eight credits of advanced PhD courses in at least two other fields outside their chosen specialization.

With the written permission of the director of graduate studies, you may substitute a minimum of 4 credit hours in an allied field for one of the distribution courses.

Courses in mathematics, statistics, and finance may fall under this category. These courses must be distinct from your field area, and you must make the case that they sufficiently broaden your understanding of economics.

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Research and Teaching Requirements

Third-Year Paper 

During the third year, you must prepare a paper that demonstrates your research abilities. This paper is usually a preliminary investigation of a dissertation topic, but may be a self-contained paper, unrelated to your dissertation.

The paper must be completed by the last working day in June of the third year, and presented in the relevant workshop/seminar series. A copy of the paper, approved and signed by the faculty advisor, must be turned in to the Graduate Coordinator to be placed in your file.

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Dissertation Prospectus

Upon completion of the core courses, qualifying exams, and third-year paper requirements, you become a candidate for the PhD degree.

Each candidate will select and obtain the consent of a member of the department faculty to act as principal dissertation supervisor. You are encouraged to seek advice from other faculty members as appropriate.

All students must submit a prospectus by October 15 of their fourth year. The prospectus should state the:

  • Research problem
  • Techniques to be applied
  • Sources of data to be used (if relevant)

The prospectus must be signed and approved by two faculty members. The primary purpose of the prospectus is to persuade the department that the thesis dissertation plan is appropriate and manageable.

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The Workshop Program

Workshops provide students with insights into current research topics and offer a forum for students and faculty to present and discuss their recent research. There are five regular workshops:

  • Macroeconomics
  • Applied economics
  • Economic theory
  • International economics
  • Econometrics

Students must participate in one of the department's ongoing workshops during years three and above. This starts with registering for a workshop, and includes regular attendance and active participation.

Second-year students are encouraged to attend workshops, and we strongly advise advanced students to attend other workshops besides their primary workshop.

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Teaching Requirement

The department views teaching experience as an integral part of the PhD program. The formal requirement is four semesters as a teaching assistant (TA).

Students are assigned to a variety of teaching activities based upon their individual skills and preferences, and the demand for TAs. Typically, beginning TAs will grade and or lead problem sessions. More advanced TAs may have the opportunity to teach their own course, especially in the summer.

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Final Oral Examination

After the dissertation has been completed and approved by your dissertation advisors, you must defend the dissertation in a final oral examination.

The examining committee consists of your supervisor, at least one other member of the economics faculty, an outside reader (from a department other than economics), and a committee chair. It is the responsibility of the student and the advisor(s) to select the other members of the committee.

Questions in the oral examination are generally confined to the dissertation and closely related matters, but may cover broader aspects of economics. The committee is empowered to approve or disapprove the dissertation, to approve contingent on certain changes, or to require changes followed by reexamination.

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Additional Requirements

Professional and Ethical Behavior

The department expects its graduate students to maintain high ethical and professional standards in educational and professional activities.

In particular, graduate students are expected not to collaborate during unsupervised examinations or take-home examinations. At the same time, a certain amount of interaction on homework assignments is beneficial to the educational process Students may consult with others on general points, but should prepare their own homework answers.

In general, students should be familiar with the College Board on Academic Honesty Rules and should behave in accordance with the rules.

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