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About the PhD in economics

Learn more about admission, funding, and curriculum.

Getting in

We admit around 20 students each year. First, you need to meet the minimum PhD admissions criteria. Other criteria for admission include:

Academic record
Aside from the minimum requirements, an undergrad degree in economics isn't a prerequisite for admission. The recommended academic background includes:

  • Coursework in economics: intermediate micro and macro, econometrics, game theory, and mathematical economics
  • Coursework in mathematics: multivariate calculus, linear algebra, introductory probability/statistics, real analysis, and optimization

Your academic record in economics and mathematics/statistics courses (in particular those listed above) will be closely reviewed. We don't expect you to have taken all the courses listed above, but at a very minimum, a very good performance in the full calculus sequence is required. At least two more math courses and two econ courses from the above list are usually needed.

A 3.0 minimum is required. We also consider the rigor of your undergrad or master's institution(s).

GRE score
We do not accept GMAT scores in lieu of the GRE. 

Statement of purpose
Content and overall seriousness are considered.

Letters of recommendation
We're interested in their assessment of your strengths, weaknesses, motivation, and ability to succeed.

English proficiency
International students need significant proficiency in English. TOEFL iBT scores should be at least 100 and IELTS scores should be 7.0 with no sub-score below 6.0. We'll also review your GRE Verbal and accumulated years of graduate study in English.

Financial support

You'll be guaranteed financial aid for at least five years, provided you're making satisfactory academic progress. 

Our financial aid package includes:

  • All tuition payments
  • A 10-month stipend for expenses (approximately $18,000)
  • Health and dental insurance

PhDs earn the stipend by serving as research or teaching assistants. See details on the base funding package.

Other benefits

  • One to two semesters of fellowship support during the dissertation phase.

Curriculum and plan of study

The PhD in economics requires 72 semester hours of credit, in addition to a dissertation. The typical time to complete the degree is five years.

An M.A. in economics or an allied field may be earned concurrently with the doctoral degree. Students typically satisfy the requirements of the M.A. degree in economics with successful completion of the first two years of doctoral studies.

Continuing in the program requires satisfactory completion of end-of-year requirements. 


Year 1

  • Two-semester sequence in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and economic analysis.
    • Micro/macro courses: Cover the canonical models that are the basis for econ research.
    • Sequence in econometrics, training students in the theory and application of statistical tools to economics.
  • End of year: Qualifying exams in microeconomics and macroeconomics. Successful completion is a prereq for continuing the PhD.

Year 2

  • Field courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, industrial organization, and labor economics.
  • End of spring semester: Proposal for second-year paper due.
  • Complete an original research paper under guidance of one or more professors; evaluated by faculty committee (summer).

Year 3

  • Dissertation process begins; identify dissertation topic.

Year 4

  • Proposal defense

Year 5

  • Enter job market
  • Final dissertation defense

    Next Steps