skip navigation

PhD Program Guideline

Upon entry, students are advised by the Director of Graduate Studies. Once a field of specialization is chosen (by the end of the second year), the major supervisor of the dissertation will become the student’s advisor.

The minimum credit hour requirement for the Ph.D. program is 72 credit hours. Of these, a minimum of 36 credits must be in economics courses. The remaining 36 credit hours can be earned from graduate courses inside or outside the Department and from Independent Study, Supervised Research, or Thesis Guidance in Economics.

In selecting all outside courses, students must seek advice from their doctoral dissertation committees or from the Director of Graduate Studies if such committees are not in place. If a student is on financial aid, inappropriate outside course selection against advice may affect the financial aid decision.

All students are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) at all times.

First Year

Second Year

Third Year

Fourth Year

First Year

A first-year student must enroll in all of the following courses (except when a waiver has been obtained):

Fall Semester

  • ECO 665 Microeconomic Theory I
  • ECO 609 Macroeconomic Theory I
  • ECO 611 Math for Economists I

Spring Semester

  • ECO 666 Microeconomic Theory II
  • ECO 610 Macroeconomic Theory II
  • ECO 612 Math for Economists II

Each of these first-year courses provides 3 credits for a total of 18 credit hours and is designed to provide a good knowledge of the major introductory aspects of economics. Math for Economists I is a service course for the Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics courses. Each course is scheduled to meet for three hours per week.

To enable Ph.D. students to begin their dissertation research as early as possible, the department offers all incoming students the opportunity to take written waiver exams in any of the required first-year courses. Success in a waiver exam exempts the student from the relevant course, but does not count toward the 72 credit hours required for the Ph.D. degree.

There is no penalty for failing a waiver exam; the student simply takes the course. Should a student pass a waiver exam in one of these subjects, the student would be expected to replace that course sequence with the introductory econometrics sequence.

There is one additional course required for all first-year students. It is a one-credit course in which individual faculty present their research interests to students, both to provide some research insight to the students and to familiarize the students with each of the faculty. The course meets every other week throughout the academic year.

A student is expected to take no more than 25 credits in their first year, with language or the introductory econometrics sequence being possible additions to the basic courses at the student’s discretion.


Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Preliminary Examinations

In August at the end of the first year, students must take either or both of the Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Preliminary examinations which are prepared by two separate faculty committees. If a student chooses to take only one prelim in August, the other must be taken the following January.

The purpose of the Preliminary Examinations is to ascertain whether students have acquired a knowledge sufficient to conduct their own original research using microeconomic and macroeconomic concepts and methods of analysis. If a student fails either examination, the student must retake the examination the next time it is given. Two failures in any one examination will ordinarily result in the termination of the student’s program of study. A student may request an exception to this by submitting a written petition to the Graduate Studies Committee.

Possible grades on the preliminary examinations are “high pass,” “pass,” “marginal pass,” “masters pass,” and “fail.” A masters pass represents a fail with respect to the Ph.D. program but is deemed a pass for a Master’s Degree.


Master of Arts Degree

Completion of 30 credit hours of course work with a minimum grade point average (G.P.A.) of 3.0, as well as receipt of the masters pass or better in both Preliminary Examinations qualifies students for the M.A. degree. Students are also able to obtain an M.A. degree without taking Preliminary Examinations, by completing 30 units of credit in designated courses with a 3.0 G.P.A. and writing a Masters Project.
ECO 505 Microeconomic Theory – ECO665
ECO 507 Macroeconomic Theory – ECO609
ECO 576 Topics in Microeconomics – ECO666
ECO 580 Econometric 1 – ECO613
ECO 581 Econometrics 2- ECO614
and 5 economics electives

Second Year

In the second year of the program, students are normally expected to take the sequence in introductory econometrics (ECO 613 and ECO 614) and a sequence preparing for their field exam. Students are expected to take between 18 and 24 credits in their second year, i.e. at least 9 credits each semester.

Instructors of advanced economics courses file outlines and reading lists describing the contents of the courses with the graduate program secretary. These are available to help students decide which courses they would like to take. The Department does not offer all second-year field courses every year.

The list of fields offered for the Ph.D. (see below) plays a major role in shaping the offerings of advanced courses by the Department. The Department’s objective is to offer good training to students choosing one or more of these fields of study by teaching appropriate advanced courses in these fields of study so that students are prepared to take the corresponding Field Examinations.

A student should select a principal dissertation supervisor by the end of the second year in the program

Field Examination

If at all possible, each student should attempt to take and pass at least one field examination by the end of the August concluding the second year in the program. This is a written examination. The field examination is designed to test a student’s knowledge of a specialized area of economics. Typically, the area will be closely related to a topic that the student intends to make the subject of the dissertation.

One field examination must be passed. A student can elect to take a second field examination.

A major field must be a cohesive and focused subgrouping of economic studies.

Examples of fields offered by the Department are:

  • Advanced Microeconomics
  • Advanced Macroeconomics
  • Advanced Econometrics
  • Economic Growth and Development
  • Economics of Information and Uncertainty
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Economics
  • Labor Economics
  • Marxian Economics
  • Mathematical Economics
  • Urban and Regional Economics

Other fields may be possible, but the student must petition the Graduate Studies Committee for approval.

Third Year

During the third year in the Program, the student should progress substantially on the dissertation. Some students do take one or more courses in the Third Year. This is particularly appropriate when a course of particular interest was not offered during the student’s second year or when additional course work related to a dissertation topic is offered in the Economics Department or elsewhere in the University.

Satisfactory performance by the end of the 3rd year consists of:

  1. passing at least one field examination
  2. selecting a dissertation supervisor
  3. developing a dissertation proposal deemed acceptable to the supervisor
  4. orally presenting the proposal to a group of three department faculty, one of whom is the student’s dissertation supervisor


Application to Candidacy for the Ph.D. Degree

Once the student has selected a three-member committee for the dissertation, the student should file an Application to Candidacy (ATC) form with the Graduate School. This form is also needed for Certification of Full time Status if a student is registered less than full time in the program. If the student’s plans change, the ATC form may be revised by filing a Graduate Student Petition. All of the forms may be filled out online from the Graduate website under Forms and Documents. Attach your unofficial transcript and give the forms to the Ph.D. secretary for processing.


Deadlines are as follows:

Application to Candidacy Timetable
For Degree Conferral On February 1 June 1 September 1
Completed application to candidacy submitted to the divisional committee by September 1 February 1 June 1
Completed and fully signed application to candidacy must be received in the Graduate School by October 1 March 1 July 1
All required materials are received in the Graduate School by Friday before spring classes Last day of spring exams Friday before fall classes
Students must be registered as a graduate student for the immediately preceding Fall semester Spring semester Either spring or summer semester

Fourth Year

The student is expected to complete the dissertation during the fourth year of the program. Limited amounts of dissertation funding may be available through the University Graduate Student Association.

Participation in dissertation workshops is also strongly encouraged.

Students should anticipate that considerable time may be required during this fourth year to prepare themselves and their vitae for entry into the job market.

Defense of Dissertation

This is an oral examination presenting your thesis work.  It would be scheduled after completion but prior to final submission of the Ph.D. dissertation.  The defense of dissertation examination is open to all members of the Economics Department. Examiners include the three members of the student’s dissertation committee.

NOTE: Any request for deviation from the above Guidelines must be addressed in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies.

Sample Dissertations in the past few years

Education and Women’s Life Outcomes: Empirical Investigation Based on Evidence from Taiwan

Decentralized provision of a local public good

The Role of Human Capital in Imperfectly Informed Asset Markets

Wage differentials based on marital status of women

Economic and Institutional Determinants of Geographical Concentration of Industries in Transition Economies: Evidence from China

Essays on strategic trade policies and the game structure of an international duopoly

Firm Size, R&D, Product and Process Innovation

Three essays on duopolistic competition under asymmetric cost conditions

The Health Care Safety Net and Health Insurance: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation

Geographical pattern of industry with product life cycle

Intermediated Matching: Two Essays

Essays on the gradualist transformation of the Chinese economy: theoretical assessment

Intergenerational Diffusion of Innovations

International factor mobility and trade in the context of social policies and institutions

The reformed public health insurance in urban China: an economic assessment

Theory and policy of trade in vertically related markets with quality-differentiated products

Homeownership in household finance [electronic resource]

Optimal allocation and taxation in a free enterprise economy with stochastic influences

Two essays on maximum likelihood estimations of Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium models

Three studies on competition and the technological structure of the U.S. telephone industry

Broad-based stock options program and firm productivity

The evolution of product markets

Entrepreneurial function and its rewards

Essays on theoretical and empirical issues on monetary policy

The country and exchange risk premium with the Euro Area and the U.S. based on price parity models

Error component models with classical and one-sided measurement errors

Urban development under uncertainty: A real options approach

International trade policy in the presence of foreign investment

Exiting the health insurance market as a rational choice: Demand for health insurance in a learning model

Essays on trade theory with vertically-related and quality-differentiated products

Essays on the minimum wage

The institutional elements of economic growth

Actual insider trading returns and determinants of short term returns

Money and inflation in China: a reassessment

Essays on international trade and economic growth

Essays on vertically related market, endogenous quality, and international trade

Essays on scientist research productivity and industry innovation

Optimal linear aggregation of markets and the construction of price and quantity indexes

Sub-center formation in a neg-model of a city system

The effects of monetary and fiscal policies on rates of return in a general equilibrium framework

Fundamental uncertainties and firm-level stock volatilities

Irreversible investment under uncertainty, contingent claims analysis, and competition

The microeconomic analysis of productivity change

Hostile tender offers and internal control mechanisms

Three essays on public finance and urban endogenous growth theory

Analysis of the U.S. married women’s labor supply with special reference to the endogeneity-exogeneity of wife’s work experience, husband’s work experience and husband’s earned income

Managed care organizations and efficiency losses from ex post moral hazard

Essays on state-owned enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa: measurement and theoretical assessment

Essays on the economics of E-commerce, integration and infrastructure

The evolution of debt and capital stock in a small open economy

Essays on strategic trade policies with cross-ownership and privatization

The concept of value in Marx: a critique

Essays on international trade in knowledge-based services

Essays on business cycle asymmetry in output

Industrial structure, growth and income disparity

Foreign investment, capital accumulation and growth in the developing economy: the case of the mining sector in the Republic of Guinea

Macroeconomics with frictions

An empirical study of learning by doing

Strategic trade and competition policies with horizontal and vertical market structures

Structuring public insurance benefits around risk and efficiency

Essays on housing markets

Mortality, morbidity, Medicare, and social security: essays in health and aging

The productivity of government output

Economic incentives in physicians’ behavior: specialty and location choice and labor supply in the short run

A spatial theory of money demand and the origins of money

Union growth and economic factors: an international comparison

Economic models of telecommuting

The theory of transition and the case of Nicaragua, 1979-1989

A search-theoretic approach to two-sided matching

Essays in the economics of industrial organization and asymmetric information

Trade and economic performance

Keynesian results in a neoclassical framework

Spatial models of economic integration with a public sector

Asymmetric information in managerial incentive contracts and in futures markets

Intergenerational transfers focusing on educational expenditures: a theoretical and empirical study

The choice of product and process innovation, and market structure

Strategic alliances involving banks

Endogenous firm growth and individual workers’ human capital accumulation

Intercity and intracity externalities in a system of cities: Equilibrium, transient dynamics and welfare analysis

Black household energy demand: a demand system approach

Female labor supply, fertility, economic growth and business cycles

Essays on the theories of trade and growth