First Year

Math Camp

Economics is a quantitative social science that leans heavily on certain branches of mathematics. Since it may have been some time since entering students have had their college math courses, in the week prior to the beginning of classes we run a very brief intensive "math camp" to review the college-level math relevant to economics. Attendance is optional, but strongly recommended.

The Core Courses

During your first year of study, students will acquire a thorough knowledge of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and econometrics in a set of required courses referred to as the “core.” Both semesters of the first year have classes in each of the three core areas.

After the spring semester, students take the comprehensive written exams in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory. These are competency evaluations that assess your command of the essential concepts and methods that are necessary to read the literature and to perform research at the disciplinary frontier. Possible outcomes of the comprehensive exams are (a) Ph.D. pass, (b) M.A. pass, and (c) fail. Students who do not attain a Ph.D. pass in either examination have one opportunity for a re-take later in the summer following the first year, typically about a month after the first attempt. Failure to pass both exams at the Ph.D. level results in dismissal from the program.

The first year of studies looks like this:

Fall Semester

  • ECOE 60-101: Microeconomic Theory I
  • ECOE 60-201: Macroeconomic Theory I
  • ECOE 60-302: Econometrics I

Spring Semester

  • ECOE 60-102: Microeconomic Theory II
  • ECOE 60-202: Macroeconomic Theory II
  • ECOE 60-303: Econometrics II


  • Prepare for, and take, comprehensive exams

Second Year

The second year is a transition year, in that students continue to satisfy course requirements, while at the same time beginning to undertake research, which culminates in the "Second-year research paper".

Field Requirements

A field is a two-semester sequence in an advanced area of study. Students must take courses in two such fields.

Second-Year Research Paper

Under the direction of a faculty advisor, students write an independent and original research paper in the second year and present your findings to the faculty early in the third year.

Third Year

In addition to the Second-year research presentation early in the third year, students in the third finish their course work by finishing any needed field courses and completing the University minimum of 45 credit hours of approved graduate-level course work. Time and energy are increasingly directed towards dissertation research.

Graduate Student Research Seminars

Graduate student research seminars are an extremely important aspect of the Ph.D. program. The department currently offers three such seminars: microeconomics, macroeconomics, and theory. Participation in these seminars provide students with insights into current research topics and offer a forum for students and faculty to present and discuss their recent research. Attendance and active participation in the research seminars helps students to formulate and develop their own independent research. In the first and second years, seminar attendance is optional, but strongly encouraged. Beginning in the third year, students are required to register for a research seminar, and to present at least one research paper in a workshop by the end of the fourth year.

Faculty Advisor

All students are required to have a faculty advisor in their major field of study by the end of their third year. The role of the faculty advisor is to help the student make the transition from coursework to research and to help identify suitable dissertation topics. Often the faculty advisor also serves as the major advisor for the dissertation.

Fourth Year

Dissertation Proposal and Candidacy Exam

You must be admitted to candidacy by the end of your fourth year by passing your candidacy exam. The candidacy examination consists of a written component and an oral component. The written part normally precedes the oral part and is satisfied by either a written dissertation proposal or a paper that will become a chapter of the dissertation. The oral part of the examination is conducted as soon as feasible after passage of the written part according to the rules of the Graduate School. It can be taken no later than one calendar year prior to defense of the dissertation. The oral part is comprehensive and is intended to test your readiness for advanced research in the more specialized area(s) of your field as well as the feasibility of the specific research proposed for the dissertation. Successful passage indicates that, in the judgment of the faculty, you have an adequate knowledge of the basic literature, problems, and research methods in your field.

Fifth Year

During the fifth year, students complete their dissertation research, defend their dissertation, and initiate post-dissertation research. The dissertation must contain original research of sufficient quality to be published in well-respected peer-reviewed general interest or field journals. It is typically supervised by one major advisor, and it must be orally defended before a committee of the advisor and three reading committee members of the faculty. Usually, students consult with several members of the department during the dissertation stage and are required to present one research paper from their dissertation in a workshop.

Additional Notes and Requirements

The Director of Graduate Studies serves as faculty adviser for all students until they have chosen an adviser in their major field of study. The matching of student to advisor should be undertaken during the second year.

There is no general foreign language requirement for graduate students in economics. 

In addition to the general requirements of the Graduate School, students must meet various departmental requirements.   These requirements are continually under review and are subject to revision.

Satisfactory Course Performance

Satisfactory performance requires a grade of B- or better in each and every graduate course and a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 (corresponding to the grade B). Less than satisfactory course performance may result in dismissal from the program at the discretion of the Graduate Studies Committee.

The Masters of Arts Degree

The Department of Economics does not administer a stand-alone M.A. program but allows students to apply for an M.A. should they choose to terminate their study in the Ph.D. program. This degree is typically awarded to those who successfully complete the required course work in the first-year core, who pass the comprehensive exams at the "M.A. pass" level, and who meet the University requirements for the M.A. Specifically, a student must have a total of 30 credit hours of course work and maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0.

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