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Program Requirements

The core areas taken in the first year are Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, Political Economy, and Econometrics. All Ph.D. students are expected to register for 12 credit hours per semester in their first year. The full set of graduate courses for the first year of the program is listed below:

Program of Study: 1st Year

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Microeconomics I (Econ 7005)
Macroeconomics I (Econ 7007)
Political Economy I (Econ 7003)
Econometrics (Econ 7590)
Microeconomics II (Econ 7006)
Macroeconomics II (Econ 7008)
Political Economy II (Econ 7004)
Econometrics I (Econ 7800)

Qualifying exams covering Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Political Economy are given at the end of the first year of study. They are scheduled during May and June following Spring semester of the first year of study. Students are allowed to retake these exams once. Samples of past qualifying exam questions

Entering students must be proficient in college algebra, introductory calculus, and statistics. Students must take the Mathematics Exam administered by the Department before beginning classes in Fall semester. Students are not required to pass the exam in order to continue with their coursework. The level of required mathematics is described in the document Mathematics Prerequisite

As an aid, the following sample examination can be used as an indicator of the examination students will be required to take prior to being enrolled in the Fall Semester classes: Sample Mathematics Exam

Students who want to refresh their mathematics knowledge or who wish to improve their performance on the exam should enroll in the Department's optional mathematics tutorial course held during the summer before entering Graduate School. The tutorial and the exam are described below: Math Tutorial Class

Each student must take a course in either Economic History (ECON 7400) or History of Economic Doctrines (ECON 7600 or 7601). This requirement is completed in the student's second or third year. ECON 7400 and ECON 7600/7601 are offered in alternative years.

After completing the core, students take elective coursework suited to their particular research interests.  The department regularly offers elective coursework in:

Development Economics
International Economics
Labor/Gender Economics
Environment & Natural Resource Economics
Economic Doctrines
Advanced Monetary Theory
Health Economics
Economic History

By arrangement with the Graduate Program Director, students may also take graduate level courses in other departments that suit their research interests.  Recent students have completed coursework in Finance, History, and Epidemiology, for example.

In total, following the completion of core courses, students are required to take 24 credit hours (equivalent to eight courses) including the elective and methodology courses.

To facilitate the transition from coursework to original research, all second- and third-year students are required to participate in the research workshops organized by the faculty.  These workshops will vary in detail but typically reflect the department’s emphases in inequality, globalization, and sustainability.  Students and faculty participating in each workshop discuss their developing research, host visiting researchers, and explore emerging topics in their fields. As part of their active participation in these workshops students are required to submit a research idea to their research workshop by the end of the Spring semester of their second year.  Students must have an extended research abstract approved through their research workshop by the end of their third year. This proposal is then refined and developed in consultation with the faculty, with the goal of producing a pulishable research product and/or a dissertation proposal.

 Dissertation research begins during the third year and ends with a final defense. Throughout the dissertation stage, student research is supervised by a committee of faculty who are expert in the student's area of study. Dissertation students enroll for Dissertation Research, ECON 7970. fourteen credit hours are required. For the Graduate School's policies and procedures for preparing a thesis or dissertation, see A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations.


The following timeline summarizes the department's description of satisfactory progress in the Ph.D. program. These guideposts are set to help students pace their work in the program (and they may be taken into account in the determination of eligibility of funding).

  1. Students are expected to pass the core qualifier exams in micro, macro, and political by the end of Spring Semester of their first year. (Students must pass core qualifier exams by the end of the Spring semester of their second year.)
  2. Students are expected to satisfy elective and methodology course requirements by the end of their third year.
  3. Students must have a research proposal approved through their research workshop by the end of their third year.
  4. Students are required to have a dissertation advisor at latest by the beginning of their fourth year.
  5. Students are expected to defend their dissertation proposal by the end of the Spring semester of their fourth year. The proposal should provide a clear articulation of the topic, expected contribution to the literature, the road map for the completion of the dissertation, and substantive work in one core chapter of the dissertation.
  6. Students are expected to have the final defense of dissertation by the end of their fifth year.
  7. See here for more detailed rules on the Ph.D. Program.
Last Updated: 11/4/16