Doctoral Program

The Ph.D. program is a full time program leading to a Doctoral Degree in Economics.  Students specialize in various fields within Economics by enrolling in field courses and attending field specific lunches and seminars.  Students gain economic breadth by taking additional distribution courses outside of their selected fields of interest.

General requirements

Students  are required to complete 1 quarter of teaching experience. Teaching experience includes teaching assistantships within the Economics department or another department .

University's residency requirement

135 units of full-tuition residency are required for PhD students. After that, a student should have completed all course work and must request Terminal Graduate Registration (TGR) status.

Department degree requirements and student checklist

1. core course requirement.

Required: Core Microeconomics (202-203-204) Core Macroeconomics (210-211-212) Econometrics (270-271-272).  The Business School graduate microeconomics class series may be substituted for the Econ Micro Core.  Students wishing to waive out of any of the first year core, based on previous coverage of at least 90% of the material,  must submit a waiver request to the DGS at least two weeks prior to the start of the quarter.  A separate waiver request must be submitted for each course you are requesting to waive.  The waiver request must include a transcript and a syllabus from the prior course(s) taken.  

2.  Field Requirements

Required:  Two of the Following Fields Chosen as Major Fields (click on link for specific field requirements).  Field sequences must be passed with an overall grade average of B or better.  Individual courses require a letter grade of B- or better to pass unless otherwise noted.

Research fields and field requirements :

  • Behavioral & Experimental
  • Development Economics
  • Econometric Methods with Causal Inference
  • Econometrics
  • Economic History
  • Environmental, Resource and Energy Economics
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Trade & Finance
  • Labor Economics
  • Market Design
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Macroeconomics
  • Political Economy
  • Public Economics

3.  Distribution

Required:  Four other graduate-level courses must be completed. One of these must be from the area of economic history (unless that field has already been selected above). These courses must be distributed in such a way that at least two fields not selected above are represented.  Distribution courses must be passed with a grade of B or better.

4.  Field Seminars/Workshops

Required:  Three quarters of two different field seminars or six quarters of the same field seminar from the list below.   

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The Ph.D. Program in the Department of Economics at Harvard is addressed to students of high promise who wish to prepare themselves in teaching and research in academia or for responsible positions in government, research organizations, or business enterprises. Students are expected to devote themselves full-time to their programs of study.

The program prepares students for productive and stimulating careers as economists. Courses and seminars offered by the department foster an intellectually active and stimulating environment. Each week, the department sponsors more than 15 different seminars on such topics as environmental economics, economic growth and development, monetary and fiscal policy, international economics, industrial organization, law and economics, behavioral economics, labor economics, and economic history. Top scholars from both domestic and international communities are often invited speakers at the seminars.  The Harvard community outside of the department functions as a strong and diverse resource. Students in the department are free to pursue research interests with scholars throughout the University. Faculty of the Harvard Law School, Kennedy School of Government, and Harvard Business School, for example, are available to students for consultation, instruction, and research guidance. As a member of the Harvard community, students in the department can register for courses in the various schools and have access to the enormous library resources available through the University. There are over 90 separate library units at Harvard, with the total collections of books and pamphlets numbering over 13 million.  Both the department and the wider University draw some of the brightest students from around the world, which makes for a student body that is culturally diverse and likely unequaled in the range of intellectual interests of its members. These factors combine to add an important dimension to the educational process. Students are able to learn from one another, collaborate on research projects and publications, and form bonds that are not broken by distance once the degree is completed and professional responsibilities lead them in different directions.

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PhD Program

Year after year, our top-ranked PhD program sets the standard for graduate economics training across the country. Graduate students work closely with our world-class faculty to develop their own research and prepare to make impactful contributions to the field.

Our doctoral program enrolls 20-24 full-time students each year and students complete their degree in five to six years. Students undertake core coursework in microeconomic theory, macroeconomics, and econometrics, and are expected to complete two major and two minor fields in economics. Beyond the classroom, doctoral students work in close collaboration with faculty to develop their research capabilities, gaining hands-on experience in both theoretical and empirical projects.

How to apply

Students are admitted to the program once per year for entry in the fall. The online application opens on September 15 and closes on December 15.

Meet our students

Our PhD graduates go on to teach in leading economics departments, business schools, and schools of public policy, or pursue influential careers with organizations and businesses around the world. 

Requirements for the PhD. in Economics

The Requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, effective for the entering class of 2020, consist of successfully completing:

  • Course Requirements
  • Doctoral Written Examination
  • Doctoral Dissertation

This document describes each of these requirements in detail.

1. Course Requirements

A doctoral candidate must complete 16 Ph.D.-level courses, at least two (2) semesters of the “Dissertation Workshop” related to their Field, at least one (1) semester of the “Dissertation Completion Seminar”. The two (2) semesters of the “Dissertation Workshop” count as one of the 16 Ph.D.-level courses to be completed. [1] At least 13 of the 16 courses must be from the Economics Department unless the student’s field of specialization specifically requires additional courses from other units or the student has permission from the faculty in the field. [2] All field courses must be approved both by faculty of the relevant field and the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS). By graduate school rules, a student becomes academically ineligible to continue in the program if a student receives a grade of F, F*, XF, or nine or more hours of L in the above-mentioned courses. Academically ineligible means that the student is out of the Ph.D. program. “Out of the Ph.D. program” is the wording we will use to denote this state in the rest of the document. [3]

1.1 Courses in the Fundamentals of Economics

The courses that provide the fundamentals of economics are:

  • ECON 700 and 701: Quantitative Methods
  • ECON 710 and 711: Graduate Microeconomics
  • ECON 720 and 721: Graduate Macroeconomics
  • ECON 770 and 771: Graduate Econometrics

ECON 700 is a daily math camp offered in the first three weeks of August, and counts as a standard core course (3 credit hours).

1.2 Courses in the Fields of Specialization

Each student selects a field of specialization.

At least three (3) courses in the field of specialization are required. Current examples of field of specialization courses are available on the webpage  Field Specialization Requirements. Notice that these are only examples and new fields of specialization can be created by students under the supervision of a faculty member. The new field of specialization and the related three courses should be approved by the DGS. Examples of fields of specialization are:

  • Econometrics
  • Financial Econometrics
  • Health Economics
  • Industrial Organization
  • International/Macroeconomics
  • Labor Economics
  • Microeconomic Theory

1.3 Courses in Supporting Fields

Supporting courses are chosen by the student in consultation with the DGS and other faculty. The supporting courses may be within the specialized field or in other areas.

1.4 Additional Course Requirements

Students are required to take at least two (2) semesters of the “Dissertation Workshop” related to their Field. Dissertation Workshops are typically taken starting in the third year of the Ph.D. program. In addition, students on the job market are required to take at least one (1) semester of the “Dissertation Completion Seminar”. The Seminar is taken in fall of the final graduation year, typically the fifth or sixth year of the Ph.D. program.

1.5 How to satisfy the 16-course requirement

In general, courses offered in the Ph.D. program in the department or approved by the DGS and taken in other departments or schools count toward satisfying the 16-course requirement. But there are the following exceptions:

  • The “Dissertation Workshop” (ECON 920, 970, 985, 990) counts only ONCE even if you enroll for multiple semesters. Specifically, two (2) semesters of the “Dissertation Workshop” count as one of the 16 Ph.D.-level courses to be completed;
  • The “Seminar in Teaching Methods” (ECON 805 and 806) does NOT count;
  • The newly introduced workshop “Dissertation Completion Seminar” does NOT count.

2. Doctoral Written Examination

  Students must pass written qualifying examinations in econometrics, macroeconomics, and microeconomics. Students must also pass the field paper requirement. Passing the qualifying examinations and the field paper satisfies the Graduate School requirement for the doctoral written examination.

2.1 Qualifying Examination requirement

All students who have successfully completed the eight (8) courses in the Fundamentals of Economics described in Section 1.1 are required to take qualifying examinations in econometrics, macroeconomics, and microeconomics. These examinations are administered around the first week of June, are three hours each and are meant to test if the core knowledge necessary to successfully proceed in the program has been acquired by the student. Exact dates will be communicated in advance by the DGS. The qualifying examinations requirement is satisfied by accomplishing the following:

  • Out of the three (3) possible grades {P, L, F} (where P>L>F), obtain at least two (2) P and one (1) L over the three exams.

The exams are prepared and graded by a qualifying examinations committee nominated by the Chair and chaired by the DGS. The grades for all three exams are communicated jointly at the end of the grading process. If a student does not satisfy the criteria on the first attempt, another attempt is offered around the end of August. Exact dates will be communicated in advance by the DGS. On the second attempt, the student is required to retake the exams graded with an F and may decide to retake the exams graded with an L. For example, if a student accomplishes {P, L, F} on the first attempt, he has to retake the F and may decide to retake the L or not. As another example, if a student accomplishes {P, L, L} on the first attempt, she has to retake at least one of the two L’s but she is free to decide which one. She may also decide to retake both to diversify risk. Notice that only the most recent grade counts toward satisfying the requirement. For example, if a student receives an L in the macroeconomics qualifying exam in the first attempt and then receives an F in the retake, the current valid grade in the macroeconomics qualifying exam is an F.

If a student does not satisfy the criteria on the second attempt, a third attempt is offered the following year at the same time and with the same exams administered to the new first-year Ph.D. students. The same criteria described for the second attempt apply to the third attempt. If a student does not satisfy the criteria by the third attempt, no additional chance to pass the requirement is offered and the student is out of the Ph.D. program. [4]

2.2. Field Paper requirement

The field paper requirement is satisfied by accomplishing the following steps:

  • Identify a possible advisor for the field paper. The deadline to identify a possible advisor is June 1 of the summer between the second and third year of the Ph.D. program.
  • Complete a first draft of the paper. The first draft of the paper is not a complete paper but a draft that states clearly motivation, objective and methodology. It also needs to demonstrate the student’s understanding of the relevant tools and literature in the field. The deadline to complete the first draft is the first week of classes of the third year Fall semester. During preparation of the draft, the student is expected to be in regular contact with the advisor and the advisor is expected to be responsive to the student.
  • Complete the final draft of the paper. The final draft of the paper is a self-contained draft that accomplishes a specific objective and implements a specific methodology. It does not need to be polished at the level of a paper ready for publication but it should constitute a substantial building block for a research paper and/or a dissertation chapter. The deadline to complete the final draft is the last day of examination week of the third year Fall semester. During preparation of the draft, the student is expected to be in regular contact with the advisor and the advisor is expected to be responsive to the student.

The Field Paper committee is composed of the advisor chosen in step 1 plus two (2) additional faculty members. The advisor will also be the faculty of reference to enroll in ECON 994 ‘Doctoral Research and Dissertation’, which is required for all Ph.D. students after two years in the program. The field paper committee decides if the field paper requirements are satisfied. If the field paper committee decides that the final draft of the paper is not satisfactory, the student fails the requirement and has the possibility to resubmit a final draft. The deadline for resubmission is the last day of examination week of the third year Spring semester. If the resubmission is not approved by the committee, the student is officially out of the Ph.D. program. The Field Paper committee decisions are shared with the DGS and the student in a timely manner.

3. Doctoral Dissertation

The Doctoral Dissertation requirement is satisfied by accomplishing the following steps:

  • The  doctoral oral examination , or preliminary oral examination, consists of an evaluation of the thesis prospectus. The thesis prospectus (i.e. dissertation proposal) is discussed in front of the Dissertation committee. The student must successfully complete their prospectus by the end of the fourth year in the PhD program. If the student does not meet this deadline, to remain in good standing in the program they must submit a letter to the DGS that describes the current state of their research and a plan for timely completion of their prospectus. In this case, one faculty advisor must sign-off on the student’s research plan. If the student does not complete the prospectus by the end of the fifth year, they must exit the PhD program. If the student was unable to complete the prospectus by the end of the fifth year due to extraordinary personal or academic circumstances, they may petition to remain in the program by submitting an updated research overview and plan, signed by a faculty advisor. Students who defend their prospectus after the end of the fourth year must allow for one calendar year between the prospectus defense and graduation dates; research plans should directly acknowledge this requirement.
  • The doctoral dissertation . Students work closely with members of the Dissertation committee in developing their dissertation. Consult the  Graduate School Guide to Theses and Dissertations for additional information and style requirements. Doctoral dissertations are usually completed at the end of the fifth or sixth year in the program. Overall, a student has eight (8) calendar years from the date of first registration in the doctoral program to complete the doctoral degree. [5]
  • The final oral examination, or final oral defense of the dissertation, consists of a discussion of the final dissertation in front of the Dissertation committee. The deadline for the defense with respect to graduation dates is provided by the graduate school here . At the same webpage, the Graduate School also provides additional instructions for filing for graduation.

The Dissertation committee is composed by five (5) faculty members. One of the five members is the advisor. Occasionally two faculty members may act as co-advisors. One of the five faculty members may be a scholar from outside the department or the university. If students do not pass step 1 or step 3, they have the possibility of one (1) retake at a time jointly agreed upon with the dissertation committee. If the retake is also not approved by the committee, the student is officially out of the Ph.D. program.

4. Additional Remarks

The requirements described in this document are consistent with the Graduate School requirements for a Ph.D. that can be found in the Graduate School Handbook and the Graduate Catalog . We invite students to be familiar with these requirements. In addition, students should also be aware of the general University Campus Policies , the University Policies for Research , and the Graduate School Policies on Academic Integrity and Ethics .

The expression “out of the Ph.D.” program used in the text refers to a student who cannot continue in the Ph.D. program. However, these students can appeal to be reinstated in the graduate program in order to obtain a Master’s degree. Requirements to obtain a Master’s degree are here .

[1] Additional enrollments in the workshop are expected throughout the time that a student is writing the dissertation.

[2] Credits transfer one to one from other units from outside the department. For example, a half credits/half semester course in the Economics Department at Duke transfers as half credits/half semester course at UNC.

[3] When special circumstances warrant, a student made academically ineligible under the conditions stated above may be reinstated in The Graduate School upon petition initiated through the student’s academic program. In our program, this typically means that the student can be reinstated in order to complete a terminal Master degree.

[4] A student out of the PhD program can petition to be reinstated in order to obtain a Master’s of Science in Economics. Please see here for requirements about the Master’s program.

[5] Under extenuating circumstances, a student in good academic standing may be warranted a one-year extension of the degree time limit. Please see the specific Graduate School policy available here for additional details.

Ph.D. Program Preparation

A PhD in economics is a research degree. Students should pursue this degree if they are interested in a career answering questions on issues from health to monetary policy to development using economic models and/or data. Although the requirements of the economics degree at Yale will give you a good foundation for graduate studies, most Ph.D. programs expect students to have taken additional courses, particularly in statistics and mathematics.

Mathematics. Most graduate programs expect familiarity with multivariate calculus (for example, Math 120), linear algebra (Math 222, or even better, a proof-based course such as 225 or 226) and real analysis (Math 255 or 256). More advanced mathematics work in linear algebra, differential equations, analysis and other proof-based courses is useful preparation for graduate work.

Econometrics and Statistics.  It is strongly recommended that students take at least two semesters of econometrics. More advanced courses in econometrics (for example financial time series or applied microeconometrics) , or in probability, statistics and stochastic processes (offered in the math or statistics departments) are useful preparation for graduate work.

Economic Theory.  Although the more mathematical theory courses (Econ 125, 126, 350, and 351) are not required for admission to graduate school, taking one or more of them gives extra preparation and exposes students to the kind of course material they can expect in graduate school.

Research Assistance. Working as a research assistant to an economist on campus  or off campus , provides excellent exposure to the type of work that PhD economists do.

Senior Essay.  The independent research experience involved in writing a senior essay is extremely valuable as preparation for graduate school.

Additional Resources.  Each year the department has an information session for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a PhD. The slides from the most recent meeting are here . The American Economic Association (AEA) has an informative section on Preparing for Graduate School  to help students wade-through the process of a terminal degree in economics.   This article in the AEA annual newsletter, Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession , gives a good overview of getting into and finishing a PhD program.

AEA Summer and Scholarship Programs .  Since 1974, the AEA Summer Training Program and Scholarship Program have increased diversity in the field of economics by preparing talented undergraduates for doctoral programs in economics and related disciplines. AEASP is a prestigious program that enables students to develop and solidify technical skills in preparation for the rigors of graduate studies. As many as 20% of PhDs awarded to minorities in economics over the past 20 years are graduates of the program.

All students receive 2 months of intensive training in microeconomics, math, econometrics and research methods with leading faculty. At 3 credits per class, students have the opportunity to earn 12 college credits.

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  • How to Prepare for a Ph.D. in Economics

First Steps

  • How to prepare for a PhD in Economics
  • The key thing you need to know is that PhD programs in economics are highly mathematical and the mathematics required by both our Economics and Management Science degrees is not enough to get you into a top PhD program. To be a competitive applicant, you will need to take some upper division mathematics classes such as how to write proofs (Math 109), linear algebra (Math 102), real analysis (Math 140A or 142AB), probability (Math 180A) and statistics (Math 181AB).  See more below.
  • Graduate schools care a lot about the difficulty and content of the classes you’ve taken. Getting a high GPA won’t necessarily get you into a good program unless they are the right classes.
  • If you want to get into a top PhD program, it is especially important to take real analysis (Math 142AB or Math 140ABC—likely Math 140A is enough) and do well in the class. Real analysis teaches you how to write and understand proofs.  These skills will be important to your success in first-year graduate courses as well as in your research career.  Since real analysis tends to be a difficult course everywhere, your grade in this course is often taken as a key signal of your ability to succeed in a PhD program by admissions committees. If possible, try to take this course when you don’t have a lot of other commitments so that you can devote a significant amount of time to this course, learn the material well and get a good grade.
  • Other upper division mathematics and statistics courses are also helpful. In particular, understanding linear algebra is important in graduate-level econometrics courses. Therefore, taking Math 18 and Math 102 (lower and upper division linear algebra courses) can give you a strong foundation in these topics.
  • It is also important to have a strong foundation in statistics and probability theory. You will learn a lot of this in the econometrics sequence (if you are interested in pursuing graduate school, you should consider taking the honors classes 120AH-BH-CH). Another class to add to your statistics foundation would be a course in probability (Math 180A).
  • In general, if you are interested in going to graduate school in Economics, you should seriously consider majoring in Joint Mathematics-Economics. This major will undoubtedly increase your workload, but it will both make you a more attractive applicant for graduate school and give you the mathematical foundation needed to succeed in graduate school. Students who took many math classes in while in high school should consider double majoring in math and economics.
  • If you have exhausted your undergraduate opportunities to take classes in math and economics, consider taking a graduate class. Taking graduate courses in economics or mathematics can send a strong signal to admissions committees. This can be slightly risky, however. Undergraduates may be at a disadvantage as graduate students tend to form study groups for first year courses. If you decide to take a graduate course, you should plan on devoting A LOT of time to the course.  Again, it is extremely important that you to do well in a graduate class.
  • Coding is an essential skill to have in graduate school. Therefore, taking courses with a data analysis and coding component (for example, Econ5/Poli5D: Introduction to Social Data Analytics, Econ 112: Macro Data Analysis and Econ 121: Applied Econometrics) can help develop your coding skills. The most popular statistical packages in economics are STATA, R, and MATLAB. If you have the time, it may also be a good idea to take an introduction to programming course from the computer science department.
  • Courses that have a research component (Econ 191A-B and Econ 199) will also be invaluable preparation for graduate school. By developing your own research topic, you can learn about each step of the research process: from topic selection, background research, data management all the way to analysis and writing. Selecting an empirical topic is especially encouraged as it will give you valuable experience cleaning and analyzing data and getting more comfortable with various data analysis software. This might also be a good indication of whether a career in research is a good fit for you personally. Finally, the Professor teaching Econ 191AB will get to know you and how you tackle problems very well and so be able to write the kind of informed letter of recommendation that graduate schools like to see.

To summarize, in order to prepare for graduate school, it is extremely important to take the right courses and do well in them. To be competitive, you will need to have a record of performing well in difficult mathematics and economics courses.  

  • Why earn a PhD in Economics?
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what is a phd in economics

Preparing for a PhD in Economics

The minimum requirements of the Economics undergraduate major are not designed to be training for doctoral economics programs. Students who plan to continue their education should take more quantitative courses than the minimum required for the major. Preparation should start early in your undergraduate education. In addition to the information below, we recommend visiting the Career Center and the Career Library for additional graduate school planning resources.

Students who plan on going on to graduate school should participate in research as an undergraduate, and plan on writing an honors thesis during their senior year. NOTE: For students who completed P/NP courses in 2020-2021, we recommend reviewing this statement from the Council of Deans which reaffirms UC Berkeley's Graduate Division committment to a holistic review.

Course recommendations

  • Math 53 and Math 54 (multivariable calculus and linear algebra)
  • Economics 101A-B, the quantitative theory sequence
  • Economics 141, the more quantitative econometrics course
  • Additional math and statistics courses (linear algebra, real analysis, probability, etc.)
  • Additional economics courses that emphasize theory and quantitative methods, such as Economics 103, 104, and 142.

Upper-division math and statistics courses for those who are adequately prepared (in order of importance)

  • Math 110, Linear Algebra
  • Math 104, Introduction to Analysis
  • Stat 134, Concepts of Probability
  • Stat 150, Stochastic Processes
  • Math 105, Second Course of Analysis
  • Math 170, Mathematical Methods of Optimization
  • Stat 102/Stat 135, Linear modeling Theory and Applications
  • Stat 151A, Statistical Inference
  • Math 185, Introduction to Complex Analysis

Graduate math and statistics courses for those who are adequately prepared (in order of importance)

  • Math 202A/202B, Introduction to Topology
  • Stat 200A/200B,Introduciton to Probability and Statistics at an Advanced Level; graduate version of 101/102 sequence, not much more difficult, but harder than 134/135
  • Stat 205A/205B,Probability Theory; graduate probability, much higher level than 200A/200B

Please note: This is just a recommendation; not all courses are required. Admissions requirements vary by university and by program. Students interested in pursuing graduate school should begin gathering information from prospective programs as early as possible.

Post-Baccalaureate Research Opportunities

Pursuing research after completing an undegraduate degree is a great option for students who would like to gain more experience prior to graduate school. Post-baccalaureate research opportunities can be found through the  National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)  and PREDOC: Pathways to Research and Doctoral Careers . For research opportunities outside of the NBER,  click here  and  follow @econ_ra  on Twitter.

Graduate School Preparation Additional Resources

http://www.aeaweb.org/resources/students/grad-prep/considerations/  (Considerations for prospective graduate students in Economics)

https://www.aeaweb.org/resources/students/schools/  (Alphabetical list of U.S Graduate Programs in Economics)

https://www.aeaweb.org/about-aea/committees/cswep/programs/resources/events2  (Conferences, events and fellowships through the American Economic Association)

https://www.aeaweb.org/about-aea/committees/aeasp (American Economic Association Summer Training Program, AEASP)

what is a phd in economics

Advice for First-Year Ph.D. Students in Economics at Cornell

First of all: welcome to Cornell and congratulations on your acceptance into the Ph.D. program in Economics! You must wonder about what the program and life at Cornell will be like, both academically and socially. The main focus of this document is to provide some information, grad student to grad student, about the academic aspects of the Ph.D. program in Economics at Cornell, though we will also get into some other aspects of life at Cornell. From your peers in the Ph.D. program, we want you to know that we are happy to talk to you and give you advice based on our own experiences. The comments and advice have been gathered from a broad spectrum of students, with varying backgrounds and experiences. We hope that this will provide you with a number of perspectives and ideas on how to handle the first year and succeed to the best of your ability.

You Are Here for a Reason

The Cornell Ph.D. program in economics admits a wide variety of students, with various backgrounds and levels of academic preparation. By some system, the faculty sifts through literally hundreds of applications, to find a broad profile of students that best fit the research interests and teaching needs of the department. It should be no surprise that many of your classmates list labor, development, theory or econometrics as primary fields of interest – these are four of the areas in which Cornell Economics is strongest. The research done in each of these areas, as well as the other economics fields, requires fairly different skill sets, and therefore the students chosen for admission will vary in their preparation for the focus of the firstyear: learning quantitative tools, basic economic modeling frameworks, and mathematical problem solving. Some of your classmates may have seen some of the material before. Don't let this discourage you – with sufficient effort and perseverance, you are all capable of succeeding in the first year. In order for you to be admitted, someone took notice of your file and saw something they liked. Remember these facts in the many challenging and difficult days you will face in the coming year. The Department does not accept students unless it believes they are capable of successfully completing the program, and differences in preparation in September will seem smaller come June.

You are also hopefully here for another reason, namely because you have decided that this is what you want to do (this being quantitatively-oriented research). For that reason, you should make the best of the opportunities here. Work as hard as you can, but enjoy the process. Yes, it is tough at times, but tough things can be made more bearable when we really enjoy the stuff and believe it is important. For this reason also, take initiative for your course of studies.

Belief is key – know that you can do this, as much as you might be tempted to doubt yourself (we all do). If you make the decision early to take the material seriously and try to master it and internalize it, and not just memorize, the dividends will be great. This takes commitment, but know that what seems confusing and abstract early on will clear up later. For example, it is quite common for students to struggle through the first semester of microeconomics, only to come out saying things like, "it was hard, but now I can see how it all fits together." The material will seem easier once you've worked at it and grasped it, and this takes time and hard work! It will be tempting to doubt yourself, as you enter a new academic setting in which nearly all of the students are accustomed to being "top of the class," so don't let early struggles get you down, and don't let yourself believe that you're not smart enough.

The Schedule

Of course, you will all get a schedule for first-year that lists your courses. However, we thought you might want a better feel for the rhythm of the first year.

Math Camp in August gives you a nice, gentle introduction to the program. For those of you who find it easy, don't get overconfident, because you will be challenged in time. For those of you who struggle, take it as a signal of things you need to work on. Just because some of the material covered in Math Camp may be difficult or new to you, it doesn't mean that you can't handle the program – but it does mean that you may have to put in extra time over the next few months ensuring that you understand the mathematical tools that you will need to know (this is part of what ECON 6170 is about). Fall semester is as much about picking up tools and mathematical skills as it is about learning economics (which is more of the focus in spring semester).

While the first week or two of classes are usually quite gentle, you will quickly hit the first wave of exams. At Cornell, almost every first-year Econ Ph.D. class has two exams (aka. prelims, midterms, quizzes), plus a final exam. The Econ Ph.D. program coordinates things, so you have two waves in the fall semester of about an exam or two per week (one wave in late September/early October, and one around November). Be prepared, and don't underestimate the classes based on the first couple of weeks. In second semester the schedule changes a little, and the focus shifts in the final run-up to qualifying exams (aka. "Qs"), which occur in early June. There are two weeks of intense studying between finals in May and the Qs in June. There are re- takes of the qualifying exams that are given at the beginning of August.

As mentioned above, the first semester courses focus a lot on building up tools and problem-solving skills. Many would say that the most important course during this semester is Econ 6090: Microeconomics I, which lays much of the foundation for what you do in later classes. It teaches you the basic structure of graduate-level economics, and also how to do fundamental things like solve an optimization problem, do comparative statics, or think about economic uncertainty in a rigorous way. Your macroeconomics sequence (Econ 6130 in the fall and Econ 6140 in the spring) is basically an introduction to dynamic modeling and a presentation of some of the key static and dynamic models in the field. Your Mathematics for Economists class (Econ 6170) is mainly focused on mathematical problem solving, though the material it conveys is also very important in other classes and for all economists to know. Your Econometrics I class (Econ 6190) is mainly focused on conveying the essential things you "need to know" in probability and statistics, both for later work in econometrics, and also for other theory courses.

In second semester, the focus shifts a little, with more emphasis on materials that can be mapped into real economic modeling and analysis. The microeconomics course in general equilibrium theory (Econ 6100), builds off of Microeconomics I, and in the end provide you with a broad look at much of the foundational material in microeconomics that is used by researchers in every imaginable area of economics. Your Econometrics II course gives a broad (and very fast) overview of many of the important topics in econometric theory (i.e. regression analysis). You may be asked to come up with, work on and present (both orally and in written form) a small empirical project, to demonstrate that you are capable of finding, organizing and analyzing economic data.

Most students take all eight of these core courses (three in micro, two each in macro and econometrics, and one in mathematical economics) during the first year. The exceptions are usually students who pass out of the math course or the first econometrics course. All course planning advice should come from the faculty, and especially our graduate director, Prof. Levon Barseghyan. Please talk to Prof. Barseghyan and/or senior faculty in the relevant area if you want to discuss your course planning further, and they can be extremely helpful in general. Remember, the department wants you to succeed.

If you are taking all four courses in you first semester, you will have two lectures per day of one hour and fifteen minutes each from Monday through Thursday. Lectures are taught by one of the faculty. On top of this, you will have four sections on Friday, again one hour and fifteen minutes each, which are taught by TAs (usually upper-years Econ Ph.D. students). Fridays give you an opportunity to look at material again from a different (often more directly applied and exam-relevant) perspective. But the biggest drain on your time will be problem sets, which are assigned on roughly a weekly basis in each class. Once you start having four problem sets a week, you may occasionally need to sacrifice a lot to get through these. Do get through them though – give each problem set the attention it deserves because solving problem sets is the primary way to learn graduate-level material.

One other thing you might not expect is the number of students in your classes. Beyond your core group of twenty-or-so first-year economics Ph.D. students, you will have about as many other students from other departments or academic levels. The next biggest group will be students from the Applied Economics and Management (AEM) department, who are required to pass our microeconomics qualifying exam, and also pass a semester of macro. There will also be small bunches of students from other Ph.D. or masters programs – in Policy Analysis and Management, Business, Finance, certain areas of engineering, etc. There are also students who are re-taking some of the first-year classes for various reasons. And finally, you'll usually see a couple of ambitious undergrads taking the Ph.D.-level courses.

How to Study

You're here, right? So you must know something about how to study. Yet sometimes the techniques that got you here may not necessarily be the ones that will carry you through successfully. Remember, Ph.D. means Doctor of Philosophy – which carries the implication that the holders of such degrees will have acquired knowledge at a level deeper than simple short- term memorization. It means the ability not just to understand material, or even to respond to specific (familiar) questions, but to compare, contrast and criticize various theories and arguments, and to be able to contribute to that knowledge and convey one's insights to others. Acquiring such mastery, especially within the mathematical framework of mainstream economics, requires time, practice and hard work, and you will need to develop a system that works best for you in your first year. Here are some things that have worked well for others:

  • Take problem sets (very) seriously. Perhaps the most important skill you need to develop in the first-year is the ability to understand and solve challenging economic problems (usually with mathematical content). Your ability to learn the skill of problem solving and proving mathematical results will help you succeed in your class exams, qualifying exams, and ultimately in your future research. Whenever you are faced with a problem (or something you don't understand in a lecture or in your reading), try to figure it out yourself. Then, try to look it up. Failing that, go to your peers (eg. your study group) or the TA. Then go back to it. If all else fails, see the professor.
  • Learn how topics fit together and develop your intuition. Hopefully you will notice throughout the year that some approaches and concepts reappear many times through the eight courses in your first year. The sooner that you find these links the more successful you will be. The Microeconomics qualifying exam is known for introducing material that you haven't seen before – but it is more about applying concepts you have seen to new areas. If you are able to see this link, it will make your life easier through your first year, on qualifying exams, and looking at research projects.
  • Form a study group. At Cornell there is no quota on how many students can pass the qualifying exams. This means that students are not in direct (only relative or indirect) competition with each other. This means that you can leverage thetremendous learning benefit of regularly studying with peers. It is difficult to overemphasize the benefit you can derive from being able to discuss problems, see how other people do things, and get hints and help with places where you are stuck. Try to find a good group of people that you can work well with, and plan a regular (eg. weekly, bi-weekly, etc.) meeting time. Some people insist that they learned more in graduate school from their study group and peers than from their lectures.
  • Work on your own before meeting your study group. Your study group should be there to leverage the knowledge of your classmates – but not to replace working out problems on your own. There is tremendous value in struggling through material on your own before going to your study group for help. If you don't try problems on your own first, you will be unable to learn from your mistakes and the same mistakes are likely to reappear on your exams. As noted before, struggling through the material to the point of defolicating yourself before you actually understand it is fairly common.
  • How much should you read? This is a personal thing. Just be aware that there are (quickly) diminishing returns to underlining and highlighting. Academic economists will tell you that it is best to read (eg. textbooks, articles, etc.) with a pencil in hand and some paper close by, and to try to jump ahead and solve the math yourself whenever possible and practical while you read. Such discipline will benefit you later on. In a similar vein, don't overload yourself with study materials. While some people find it helpful to supplement their primary textbooks with other texts or resources, getting different viewpoints will not replace deeply digesting the material in one book.
  • See your TAs. TAs are some of the greatest resources your courses have to offer – students experienced in the courses, and with time available to help you through your difficulties. Try to talk to them regularly, even about things you think you understand, to reinforce your knowledge and understanding. You should read their problem set solutions to learn new ways to solve problems. On the other hand, do not overtax TAs – they are also not private tutors, and as a Ph.D. student you are expected to put in the necessary effort to figure things out yourself. So, don't be surprised if a TA occasionally seems surprised at something you don't understand or says that ‘this should be obvious from …'. If it isn't obvious to you ask for clarification or another text or notes where you could find a more detailed exposition. The main thing to remember here is, don't wait until it's too late to ask for help. Better to ask early than be sorry later. Don't suffer in silence! Also, do not be embarrassed if others in your class seem to be breezing through and you are struggling. If they are it is extremely likely because they have seen this exact material before, for example in a Master's program somewhere and not because they are smart and you are dumb.
  • The style of learning in a Ph.D. program is different from undergrad. You will often need multiple encounters with the material to develop mastery. This may come through lecture, TA sections, reading, problem sets, discussion with peers and further examination of the concepts. But effort spent in mastering economic theory will yield tremendous benefits in your future research career no matter what area you specialize in.
  • It is important to avoid the big pitfall of looking at others' solutions to old exams (Q or in- semester) before or while trying to solve them yourself. This typically leads to memorization and not understanding. A pitfall being that you can then very easily get stuck in a new problem (in your exam) that follows the same theme as the ones you have solved but has a different twist than the previous one. This also means that you need to be able to learn from your mistakes. You will fall down at some points, but stay positive and learn to analyze what went wrong and how to fix it.
  • What difference do grades make? Certainly, you shouldn't take them as seriously as you have been trained to in the past. They are definitely a nice signal of your progress and understanding of the material, and your ability to take exams under pressure (which we must all do on the qualifying exam). However, do not take them too seriously. If you do well, do not get overconfident, because there is always more to learn. If you do not do as well as you would like, know that almost everybody in the program has struggled at certain points or in certain classes. Sometimes, a bad exam is just a fluke and nothing more, which can occur for various reasons. And in the end, grades are a noisy predictor of ultimate success in research.In any case, as long as you are really learning and internalizing the material, you will be fine on the qualifying exams, and having passed those, the first-year will be largely forgotten anyway (although hopefully the material won't…).
  • Time management. Of course, this is key. You must find a system that works for you. If you've made it this far, you probably have. If not, try to get advice on this from other students.
  • A very good suggestion for digesting material is to review your class notes within a few hours after the lectures. One way to do this is by going through in detail, trying to "fill in the blanks" and construct many simple and complex examples based on the material. You will find that the material you learn successively builds up, so it is good to build on a solid foundation from the start, even if things seem somewhat easy at first. It is amazing how easy it is to think that you have understood something, when you really didn't, so try to work with the material frequently.
  • One technique for internalizing knowledge that works well for some students is to write up a "summary" of the material leading up to an exam (or keeping a running summary). The idea is to write up a briefer summary of the material in your own words, highlighting the most important points. This can be both a great way to go over material and force yourself to write and think, and also can provide great "crib sheets" for later review.
  • Don't hide under the veil of "not realistic." Many first years complain that this and that model or theory is not real-world based, or they don't make any real-world sense. Good students look to the core, find the objectives of the models, and assess the model on how it addresses such objectives. Bear in mind, there ain't no "General Theory of the Real World." We can only provide snapshots of whatever phenomena we are interested in. If you don't want to believe the theories, fine. But you should know that a lot of these works have great motivations behind them, not only mathematical curiosity.
  • A big determinant of your success will be the attitude you take to your studies – try to stay positive as much as possible. Try to see ways in which the material you are learning can be useful later. A wide and deep knowledge of economic theory will benefit you no matter what future research you do (including applied or empirical work) – it will provide you with tools and structures that allow you to communicate and analyze ideas more rigorously, effectively and professionally.

The "Q's"

There are three qualifying exams (or Qs, qualifying exams, quals, etc.), one in econometrics, one in microeconomics, and one in macroeconomics. They are usually given in the second week of June and again in early August. The exams are four hours long, and consist of graduate-level economic problem solving. They will be chosen roughly from the areas of study you have covered in your core micro and macro classes, though you will usually also see stuff you "haven't seen before."

If you want to make normal progress in the program, you need to pass them by the end of your first year, and this is your primary responsibility in the first year. However, most people pass them, and you should not let yourself be overwhelmed by the thought of them.

Here are some brief suggestions on things you can do to prepare throughout the year:

  • Learn the material in your classes. This is the best thing you can do. Don't just study hard leading up to prelims and finals – master and internalize material as much as possible (mainly by independently solving problems), because it is hard to review a whole year's material in the two weeks between May finals and the Qs.
  • You can ask the Graduate Field Assistant to share with you a Box folder containing the past 10 years of Q exams sometime later on in the fall. One technique is to use Q problems relevant to the exams in your classes as exam-prep materials. Since 10 years of Qs means about 120 micro problems and 80 macro problems (though not all relevant), it can be useful to start early, though don't panic and start too early. Another technique is to use your breaks as time for Q prep (eg. a couple weeks in January, spring break, etc.). Another is to set aside a little time each week in second semester to study for Qs.
  • Don't worry about what other people are doing. How you chose to study for the Qs is a personal choice, and everybody has their own study habits that work for them. There is no right or wrong way to study (except, of course, not studying). It is important to decide what will work for you, even if it is different from what your classmates are doing.
  • Don't get stressed over the numbers. You will hear various figures about pass rates in previous years' Q exams. Remember, these are meaningless. The exam is not graded on a curve, and the faculty grading the exam does not have a target pass rate. All you can do is study as well as possible throughout the entire academic year, and set yourself up to perform at your best on the exam.
  • The last two weeks before June Qs are a good time to go back over your weaknesses and prep. Use them well. One successful strategy is to regularly (eg. daily) take full 4-hour practice Q exams, especially if you are not familiar with the experience and physical challenge of taking longer exams. One part of success in the Q is the ability to deal with the time pressure in the exam and pace yourself, yet solve problems relatively quickly and efficiently. You need to learn this skill, and it takes practice. Plus, doing practice exams gets you to solve more practice problems, and gives you something to go over with your study group.
  • The Qs are ultimately about showing the faculty that you're ready to move on in the program and do research. This means, as discussed above, the ability to tackle, solve and analyze original problems (broadly understood). In many cases, the professors care as much about your ability to set up a problem, and "see" the solution, or apply economic intuition, as anything. Therefore, students who get into the Q and sit down and try to simply write whatever comes to mind, as quickly as possible, tend to be less successful.
  • You are allowed to take food and water into the exam, and this can also help one stay fresh and energized.
  • It's not the end of the world if you don't pass in June. It happens. Don't count on passing the June Qs – i.e. don't pack your summer with plans, because that only puts on extra pressure. Do whatever you can to take the pressure off so you can go in and do your best.
  • Get advice from other students and faculty on what and how to study for the Qualifying exams throughout the year if you feel that will help. You will find people very forthcoming with advice (since everyone here has gone through the Q process at some time), but remember that everyone learns differently and you will find a schedule that you are comfortable with.

Don't worry too much about Qs right now. The upper-years graduate students in the department will probably provide you with more information and advice on Qs specifically, in the spring.

Life in the Department

Hopefully, you will enjoy life in the department, and find your place. You will find that the grad students and faculty at Cornell are generally a friendly, though socially diverse, group. Quite early on you will hear about the Graduate Student Association For Economics (GSAFE), which is essentially the "student government" inside the department. GSAFE is traditionally made up of second-year students, who take on social and academic responsibilities like organizing departmental parties and grad student gatherings, representing the department on graduate student committees in the university, and acting as a liaison between the grad students and the faculty in the department. Take advantage of the events and other things that GSAFE organizes. The "graduate student union" at Cornell is the Big Red Barn, which is conveniently located within a 1-minute walk from Uris Hall. There are various grad student-oriented events held there, and the Friday afternoon T.G.I.F. ("tell grads it's Friday") is particularly popular with Econ Ph.D. students. Oftentimes upper-year students won't get to know you unless you get involved or introduce yourselves. But they do enjoy the chance to talk, so make use of their presence.

Unlike some programs, economics has quite a structured and focused first-year. Most, if not all, of your first-year courses are explicitly mapped out, and there is a specific target to focus on – passing qualifying exams. For this reason, the interaction between grad students and professors is usually not as extensive in the first year as in other doctoral programs. Sure, you may interact with your professors in regards to the courses, but serious discussions about research and advisement usually happen after the first year. So don't be disappointed about this, but still take the chance to get to know who's doing work in areas you're interested in, and what field courses you might like to take in subsequent years.

If you are empirical, talk to empirical professors once in a while too. They'll provide comforting and great advice for people heading towards that direction (even what you should look to gain from first year classes). Empirical and applied people should also find the Johnson School of Business, AEM, ILR (Industrial and Labor Relations), and PAM (Policy Analysis and Management) comforting as places to meet faculty and students with similar interests, take future classes, and perhaps find a TA-ship.

Finally, one of the department's big gifts to its graduate students is an awesome seminar program. There are weekly presentations from star economists in Micro and Macro Theory, Econometrics, Development, Labor, Applied Micro, Public Economics, Policy Analysis and more. Seminars are scheduled throughout the week, usually at 4:00 pm, and (for the most part) classes are timed so as not to conflict with seminars. Attendance at a weekly seminar is only required as of third year, but you should not view them as a chore. In first year you will not generally have the time to go to a presentation regularly, but you are certainly welcome to attend them and we would encourage you to go to at least one or two presentations in each semester. Remember that there is life after the Qs and you will ultimately be judged on your ability to make the transition from student to researcher – getting a feel for the research done by top-name economists in your area of interest is an integral part of this process.

Being Successful Isn't Just About Studying

Do not take this point too lightly. While some of you may have Herculean visions of prolific studying exploits, in reality you do need to rest, as hard as that may seem at times. First of all, from the standpoint of a simple cost-benefit analysis, you are human, and therefore to perform at your peak you need to have reasonable amounts of sleep and rest. While it is true that you can push yourself for periods of time (and this is certainly necessary at certain times), you also need to listen to your body. Secondly, some of you may come here with families, significant others, etc., and they'll still want to hear from you and spend time with you. You may have a religious affiliation, and it can be nice to stay connected to that community during a trying year. And finally, rest time gives your brain time to subconsciously absorb and digest material. So if you find yourself studying 18 hours a day, 7 days a week, you probably need to think twice about your study habits and how efficiently you are using your time. Making new friends at Cornell is also important. However, while socializing is important, partying is not. Use your Cornell friends for human contact and social support, but make sure that your social life does not take energy away from studying.

Going through a Ph.D. program is not only an academic challenge – it is a mental, emotional and psychological challenge, too. It is perfectly normal if sometime in the next few months you find yourself questioning your abilities, your decision to come here, why in the world anyone would care about the stuff you're learning, or any other common feeling. Know this: you are not alone. Don't let disappointing grades, hard material, frustrating lecturers, or personal stresses get you down too much. Remember, the first year is important for your life as economist, but it is not everything. Seek help if you need it – your fellow grad students can be good sounding boards, and in a more difficult situation you can try to talk to someone at the Counseling Centre in Gannett Health Service. There is no question that this program is hard – it should be. Do what you need to do to be at your best.

Another good habit is to try to exercise regularly. Be realistic about this – some people come here with overly ambitious plans about athletic endeavors, and in many cases you will have to choose studying over the sports or activities you enjoy. But at the same time, try to find time a couple times every week to at least get out, have a walk, go for a jog, go dancing, or play a sport. Talk to other grad students about the activities available in and around Ithaca and Cornell.

To Research Or Not to Research

Some of you will come here with a research background and will be eager to continue that work. Others might have ideas they want to start exploring early on. Ultimately, research is what we are here for – not exams, problems sets, or listening to lectures. But the research frontier in economics has high technical demands, and to reach it we need preparation and study. That is what the first-year is mostly about.

Some professors and grad students will tell you that you should be thinking about research ideas and working on things in your first year. They will say that you should try to attend seminars (see above). These are all good things to try to do, as long as you are fulfilling your primary responsibility in the first-year – preparing to pass the qualifying exam. Some would say that attending seminars and doing your own research provides extra motivation and energy to master the tools thrown at you in the classes, especially if you find places where they can overlap. Others might say that it can be a distraction, and the attitude needed for research is different than that needed to master the large body of material thrown at you in first-year. This is ultimately something you must decide on your own, but it is good to seek multiple opinions and experiment. Usually, one's first attempts at research are rather weak and unsuccessful, and so it can be nice to get such attempts out of the way early, for more successful progress in second and subsequent years. Or as some faculty and students put it, ‘the first paper is crap anyway'. Additionally, being able to get something out of seminars is something that takes time (they generally involve presentations of technical, frontier-level research, and so if you only understand 10% of what is said in your first few seminars, that is quite normal), and so again, starting early can get you ahead of the game later on.

Taking Advantage of Cornell Resources

One of the great things about being at a world-class research university is the great set of resources at your disposal, in terms of people, technology, and other support. Right when you arrive on campus, you will receive information about things like library tours and computing classes. When it comes time to write your paper for Econometrics II, you can look into taking econometric software classes in programs like Stata and SAS through CISER (Cornell Institute for Social and Economic Research), and sign up for a CISER computing account that allows you online access to most of the leading econometric software packages from almost anywhere in the world.

One thing that some graduate students do is apply to use a "carrel" at Olin library. Applications for new grad students are in late August, and a carrel is basically a desk that you get first priority over. You can see them if you go to the stacks in Olin library and walk to the sides of the library near the windows. Depending on how you like to study, this can be a convenient place to do most of your work, or at least have a place to stop by and get work done during the day. Unless you are a TA or RA in your first year, you will not have a proper office assignment in the Economics Department, so a carrel can be a useful alternative. The application is free but competitive, so look up the library web page early to find out about the application process.

In future years (or for some students, in first year), you might take advantage of courses offered in other departments like Mathematics, Statistics or Operations Research, or even Regional Planning, Sociology, Psychology, Government, Computing, Information Science or any other, within Cornell's motto of "any person, any study." You might attend lectures and talks in these other departments.

We hope that this document has provided you with a useful head start on the first year. We all know that it is challenging, but you need to know that it is worth it. To achieve excellence in any field, one needs to master the fundamentals, and that is what the first year is all about. Yes, it requires discipline and diligence, but keep the end-goal in mind – the opportunity to pursue the interests and areas that first fascinated you about economics, but now with a whole new set of tools and language with which to do so.

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How to Become an Economist: PhD Required

Earning a PhD in Economics means you have completed the highest level of education in the discipline, thereby creating nearly unlimited opportunities for any job in a related field. 

As a PhD economist, you'll have the skills to analyze real-world economic data with rigorous statistical techniques, critically assess the economic implications of public policy, and understand the complex relationships behind key macroeconomic variables like GDP growth, interest rates and inflation. 

The Department of Economics at SMU is highly ranked among economics departments in the United States and has prepared PhD candidates for careers as economists in both academic and non-academic positions for more than 55 years. 

If you want to become a PhD Economist, this guide will help you understand SMU's unique approach to the study of economics and prepare you to apply to our PhD program with confidence. 

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what is a phd in economics

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Best Doctorates in Economics: Top PhD Programs, Career Paths, and Salaries

If you’re a graduate student and interested in pursuing an advanced study in the field of economics, you should start researching the best PhDs in Economics. By enrolling in an economics PhD program, you’ll be getting an in-depth education on past and current economic trends.

In this article, we’ll try to help you choose the right PhD in Economics by going over some of the best programs in the United States. We’ll also cover some of the highest-paying economics jobs on the market and provide an overview of the PhD in economics salary possibilities.

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What is a phd in economics.

A PhD in Economics degree is an advanced doctoral degree program that studies the distribution and consumption of goods and services. Economics classes teach students to analyze small-scale and global-scale economic factors to make predictions for future markets.

The main goal of economics departments in PhD programs is to teach students how to help different institutions improve and optimize their economic actions. Through a mix of teaching, research, and a heavy course load, economics grad students will perfect their quantitative skills and learn to make decisions that increase the profitability of the organizations they work for.

How to Get Into an Economics PhD Program: Admission Requirements

The admission requirements to get into an economics PhD program include a bachelor’s degree in a related field and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Other admission requirements can include GRE exam scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Admissions counselors will look at a student’s comprehensive experience before grad school.

Different schools have other specific admission requirements for their economics PhD programs, but all international and English as a second language-speaking (ESL) students will have to submit proof of English proficiency in the form of Test of English as a Second Language (TOEFL) exam scores.

PhD in Economics Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related field
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • GRE test scores (optional for most schools)
  • Two to three letters of recommendation
  • Proof of English proficiency (for ESL and international students)
  • Statement of purpose
  • Previous knowledge in math-intensive subjects, such as economic theory, statistics, mathematics, differential and integral calculus, and linear algebra

Economics PhD Acceptance Rates: How Hard Is It to Get Into a PhD Program in Economics?

It can be very hard to get into economics PhD programs. Economics PhD acceptance rates vary between 2.4 and 7.4 percent. At Johns Hopkins University, for example, only 12 students are selected to enroll in the Economics PhD program out of more than 500 applications.

How to Get Into the Best Universities

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Best PhDs in Economics: In Brief

Best universities for economics phds: where to get a phd in economics.

The best universities for PhD economics programs include Arizona State University, John Hopkins University, Syracuse University, and Drexel University. These schools will adequately equip you with the economic knowledge and skills needed to ensure you are ready for a well-paying job in the economics career path of your dreams. Continue reading for all you need to know to prepare for grad school at one of the top Phd in Economics degree programs.

Arizona State University is a public research university founded in 1886. It is considered one of the best institutions for superior education. ASU offers more than 400 graduate degree programs led by experts and has been ranked as the nation’s most innovative university by US News & World Report . 

PhD in Economics

This economics PhD program provides training in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, applied economics, and econometrics. Classrooms are relatively small, with about 45 graduate students, to facilitate mentoring and provide greater faculty attention within the department of economics. The program prepares students for teaching and research positions in the field of economics. 

PhD in Economics Overview

  • Program Length: 5 years
  • Acceptance Rate: Not stated
  • Tuition: $ 858/credit (in state); $1,361/credit (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, graduate teaching assistantships
  • Bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Graduate admission application and application fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation

Colorado State University was founded in 1870. It is a public land-grant research university and is considered the flagship university of the Colorado State University System. It offers several programs and certificates across many fields and has over 7,000 enrolled graduate students.

This economics doctoral program offers meticulous training and teaches research methods in the many different areas of economics. These math intensive classes include microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and econometrics. This econ program requires a minimum of 72 credits and allows students to focus on different areas like environmental, international, political, Keynesian, feminist, or regional economics.

  • Tuition: $601.90/credit (in state); $1,475.80/credit (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Graduate assistantships, scholarships, fellowships, internships, grants
  • Online application and application fee
  • Official transcripts of all collegiate work completed post-high school
  • Letters of recommendation

Drexel University was founded in 1891. It is a private research university with over 8,900 enrolled graduate students. Their co-op education program sets this university apart from others, offering students the opportunity to get paid and gain real-world experience prior to graduating.

This PhD in Economics teaches a set of core courses including microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. Students are then required to specialize and demonstrate math skills in industrial organization, international economics, or macroeconomics. This PhD is an official STEM Designated Degree Program. Each class is composed of three to six doctoral students to optimize and facilitate interactions between students and faculty. 

  • Tuition: $1,342/credit
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Graduate assistantships
  • GRE scores from the past five years
  • Personal statement
  • Two letters of recommendation

Johns Hopkins University is a world-renowned private research university. It was founded in 1876 and is now organized into 10 campuses in Maryland and Washington, with international divisions in Italy and China. The university has over 22,000 graduate students enrolled across its social sciences, engineering, arts, and business schools.

This economics program is led by expert faculty and trains students in applied microeconomics and macroeconomics, economic theory, and econometrics. Students will receive one-on-one attention from faculty, allowing them to conduct better research and strengthen the complex analysis and quantitative skills necessary in the field of econ. 

  • Program Length: 5-6 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 2.4%
  • Tuition: $58,720/year 
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Departmental fellowship (1st year), teaching or research assistantships (2nd to 5th years), Carl Christ Fellowship, Kelly Miller Fellowship, tuition fees funded by the department for enrolled students
  • Unofficial transcripts from all previous colleges and universities
  • GRE scores (quantitative scores of 160 or above)
  • Minimum of two letters of recommendation

Kansas State University was founded in 1863 as the first public institution of higher education in Kansas. KSU is a public land-grant research university and has over 4,500 enrolled graduate students across 73 master's and 43 doctoral degree programs.

This PhD Economics program teaches students about the latest advances in econometrics, economic theory, and computation. The program requires the completion of a minimum of 90 credits, of which 30 are designated to researching and writing a high-quality dissertation.

  • Tuition and Fees: $6,282/year (in state); $12,746/year (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Teaching assistantships, the Wayne Nafziger Graduate Scholarship, the Lloyd and Sally Thomas Graduate Scholarship, and Edward Bagley Graduate Scholarship; tuition fees funded by the department for enrolled students
  • Academic transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework from each institution attended
  • Short statement of objectives for graduate study
  • GRE scores from the past five years (optional but encouraged)

Oregon State University ’s roots can be traced back to 1856 as a public land-grant research university that was founded as a primary and preparatory community school. Today, the university is the largest in Oregon. Oregon State is particularly renowned for its programs in earth, marine, and biological sciences and has over 5,668 enrolled graduate students.

PhD in Applied Economics

The 108-credit Applied Economics PhD degree program teaches students about economic theory, econometrics, development economics, and other quantitative methods. Grad school students of this program will gain the intellectual autonomy needed to examine real-world problems and apply relevant solutions regarding policy, education, trade, and the environment. 

PhD in Applied Economics Overview

  • Program Length: 4-5 years
  • Acceptance Rate: 6.7%
  • Tuition: $498/credit (in state); $1,011/credit (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Graduate assistantship

PhD in Applied Economics Admission Requirements

  • Academic records from each institution attended
  • Letters of reference
  • Statement of objectives

Syracuse University is a private research university founded in 1831 with over 6,800 enrolled graduate students. Syracuse is ranked 59th on US News & World Report’s list of best national universities and features famous alum President Joe Biden. 

The PhD in Economics program at Syracuse University is a research-oriented degree that requires the completion of 72 credits. The program teaches students about mathematical economics, microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and econometrics. Students will specialize in a primary field in labor, international, public, urban economics, or econometrics. 

  • Acceptance Rate: N/A
  • Tuition: $32,436/year
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: University Fellowships, graduate assistantships, Melvin Eggers Graduate Economics Scholarship for Doctoral Students, David Greytak Fellowship Fund
  • Transcripts from all collegiate and post-collegiate work
  • Three letters of recommendation 

University of Maryland (UMD) at College Park was founded in 1856 and is the flagship campus of the University System of Maryland. UMD is a public, land-grant research university with 10,500 enrolled graduate students in over 230 graduate degree programs.  

PhD in Economics (ECON)

This econ PhD program offers a wide range of specializations to students, including advanced macroeconomics or microeconomics, behavioral and experimental economics, econometrics, economic history, international trade, and public economics. Students who enroll directly after they finish their bachelor’s degree are also able to obtain a Master of Arts degree simultaneously. 

PhD in Economics (ECON) Overview

  • Acceptance Rate: 4.1%
  • Tuition: $1,269/semester (in state); $2,496/semester (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Graduate assistantships, Fellowship in Support of Diversity and Inclusion

PhD in Economics (ECON) Admission Requirements

  • Transcripts from all institutions attended after high school
  • Description of research and work experience
  • GRE exam scores (optional)

University of Utah was established in 1850 as a public research university and is now considered the flagship institution of the Utah System of Higher Education. It currently has over 8,400 enrolled graduate students and offers several programs with financial assistance, academic opportunities, and postdoctoral fellows.

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This economics PhD program allows students to explore many topics, including economic theory, post-Keynesian macroeconomics, Marxian economics, the economics of gender, labor market institutions, and intensive math classes. The program focuses particularly on themes of inequality, globalization, and sustainability. 

  • Acceptance Rate: 7.4%
  • Tuition and Fees: $1,271.79/credit (in state); $4,517.11/credit (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Graduate assistantships (research and teaching), fellowships, scholarships
  • Completion of intermediate microeconomic and macroeconomic theory prerequisite courses 
  • Three academic reference letters
  • Brief statement of personal academic goals

West Virginia University was founded in 1867 as a public land-grant research university. Today, the university enrolls over 5,700 graduate students in more than 350 programs throughout 14 colleges and high-quality schools.

This 45-credit PhD program trains students to conduct original research, produce publishable articles, analyze real-world problems from economists and policymakers, and effectively communicate their results. Doctorate students must choose a specialization in health, international, monetary, public, regional, or urban economics. Classes in economics have a small number of students to facilitate and encourage interaction between students and faculty.

  • Program Length: 4 years
  • Tuition and Fees: $899/credit (in state); $2,053/credit (out of state)
  • PhD Funding Opportunities: Graduate assistantships, Arlen G. and Louise Stone Swiger Doctoral Fellowship, W.E.B. Du Bois Fellowship, Provost Graduate Fellowship
  • Minimum GRE score of, 300
  • Completion of statistics, intermediate micro and macro theory, and calculus prerequisite courses

Can You Get a PhD in Economics Online?

Yes, you can get a PhD in economics online. Liberty University currently offers an online PhD in Public Policy with a concentration in Economic Policy. This program focuses on teaching students how to shape economic policy across legislation, communications, politics, education, and international relations. Grad school students can complete this online program in three years.

Best Online PhD Programs in Economics

How long does it take to get a phd in economics.

It takes five years on average to get a PhD in Economics. The first two years are usually spent completing core classes in economics, and by the third year, students prepare for exams in their specialization field of choice. The final two years are for research and writing a dissertation.

Some students are able to complete their PhD program in less time. Others take up to seven years to finish their degrees, especially if they don’t already have a master’s degree in the field, or are taking courses part-time.

Is a PhD in Economics Hard?

Yes, a PhD in Economics is a hard degree to obtain. However, at this level of education, regardless of the area of study you choose, all programs are hard to complete. Doctoral programs are intended for students who wish to become true experts in their field of choice.

Economics PhD programs are hard because extensive research and practical capabilities are required of candidates. Through a heavy course load, econ grad students are expected to work hard to develop their skills to the maximum and create publishable, high-quality work.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a PhD in Economics?

It costs an average of $19,314 per year to get a PhD in Economics , according to the National Center for Education Statistics. This value is an average of the graduate tuition required in all public and private institutions between 2018 and 2019. Tuition rates will vary by school, and private universities are often more expensive than public institutions.

How to Pay for a PhD in Economics: PhD Funding Options

PhD funding options that students can use to pay for a PhD in Economics include research and teaching assistantships, and many different fellowships and scholarships. These can either be provided directly by the university or by independent institutions and organizations.

Some of these include the Provost Graduate Fellowship, the Melvin Eggers Graduate Economics Scholarship for Doctoral Students, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

Best Online Master’s Degrees

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What Is the Difference Between an Economics Master’s Degree and PhD?

The main difference between an economics master’s degree and a PhD is that master’s degrees are more career-oriented, while PhDs are focused on research. Since many doctorate students wish to pursue academic careers and teach in high-quality schools, they opt for a PhD program that allows them to acquire expert-level knowledge through research and assistant teaching.

Other differences between these two programs include funding options for payment, as master’s degrees don’t have as many funding options as PhD programs do, as well as the time of completion and the difference in salary between economics master’s and PhD graduates.

Master’s vs PhD in Economics Job Outlook

Employment for both economics master’s and PhD graduates is expected to grow in the next 10 years. However, the growth percentage is much higher for certain economics jobs for those with a doctoral degree. For example, employment for budget analysts, a position that requires only a Master’s Degree in Economics, is projected to grow five percent from 2020 to 2030, which is slower than the average growth for all occupations.

On the other hand, employment for postsecondary teachers, who typically need to have a PhD in Economics, is expected to grow 12 percent in the next 10 years .

Difference in Salary for Economics Master’s vs PhD

Considering the differences mentioned above, there’s a significant difference in average salaries for economics master’s and PhD graduates. While a budget analyst makes around $84,240 on average per year, a postsecondary teacher makes $124,090 on average per year.

According to PayScale, the average salary of someone with a Master’s Degree in Economics is $82,000 per year , whereas the average salary of someone with a PhD in Economics is $110,000 per year .

Related Economics Degrees

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Why You Should Get a PhD in Economics

You should get a PhD in Economics because it will allow you to learn many valuable quantitative and analytical skills in the field, improve how you communicate with peers and non-experts alike, learn from a wide variety of specializations, and put you on track for a career in research and academics.

Reasons for Getting a PhD in Economics

  • Wide range of specializations. A PhD in Economics allows you to specialize in an area that interests you most, such as financial, labor, international, political, business, feminist, Keynesian, environmental, or development economics.
  • Improve communication skills. Throughout your economics PhD program, you’ll be required to publish high-quality articles for peer review. This means that you’ll also be expected to learn how to communicate your findings to the common layman.
  • Learn many relevant skills. Econ students learn skills that will allow them to work for several institutions. They’re able to evaluate and calculate risk, make predictions, develop and use mathematical models, and deeply understand market dynamics.
  • Work in academia. Most PhD graduates desire to become professors themselves. A PhD in Economics allows students to work for all kinds of superior institutions and have a fulfilling career in research and academia.

Getting a PhD in Economics: Economics PhD Coursework

A financial advisor sitting in an office and giving finance application tips to a client  taking notes, based on her monetary policy knowledge and econ background

Getting a PhD in Economics begins with core economics PhD coursework. For most programs, these courses include micro and macroeconomics, econometrics, mathematics for economists, and research design and methodology.

Microeconomics

A microeconomics course teaches decision-making when it comes to allocating resources of production, exchange, and consumption. Students learn about consumer and producer theory, general equilibrium theory, game theory, and other key applied microeconomic topics.

Macroeconomics

Macroeconomics is the area of economics that studies the economy as a whole. It accounts for the total goods and services provided, economic growth, and total income and consumption. In this course, students learn about the different macroeconomic models and current trends in macroeconomic thought.

Econometrics

In an econometrics course, students learn about probability and statistics, random variables, and hypothesis-testing procedures. Students will also be able to apply mathematical formulations to create complex economic models.

Mathematics for Economists

This core course is important to review the mathematical techniques required in economics. Students consolidate their knowledge in calculus, matrixes, algebra, differential equations, and set theory.

Research Design and Methodology

This introductory course is fundamental to guide students through conducting relevant research in economics literature for their dissertation, article publications, seminars, and any other papers they’ll need to prepare.

Best Master’s Degrees

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How to Get a PhD in Economics: Doctoral Program Requirements

If you’re wondering how to get a PhD in Economics, the answer is pretty straightforward. To successfully complete an economics PhD program, students will have to complete all of the doctoral program requirements. These include successfully concluding core economics classes, establishing a program of study, passing the qualifying exam and candidacy examination, and defending a final dissertation.

Every PhD student will have to take a common set of core courses during their first year. These courses in micro and macroeconomics, econometrics, and mathematics provide students with basic training for conducting research in their field at advanced levels.

At the end of the first year, students will take their first-year exam to prove their competence in the core course and readiness to continue with the program. Passing these exams will allow students to choose their specialization courses for the second year.

Just before the beginning of the second year, students will work with an advisor to help them figure out the specialization courses best for them. They will also facilitate the process of finding a permanent advisor and creating a program of study for the rest of the degree program.

Candidacy examinations, or field course exams, are tests that prove a student’s knowledge in the specialized fields in which they wish to pursue their dissertation research. Upon passing these examinations, students are then recognized as PhD candidates.

By the end of the fifth year, most students have already completed their research and are ready to present and defend their theses. Students defend their dissertation in a final oral examination. Upon passing the defense, students must submit a final copy of their dissertation.

Potential Careers With an Economics Degree

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PhD in Economics Salary and Job Outlook

Getting a PhD in Economics will grant you career stability and financial security. Career prospects in the economics field are great, as employment in these jobs is projected to grow faster than average. Continue reading for a list of some of the best PhD in Economics jobs available to graduates and an overview of their annual salaries.

What Can You Do With a PhD in Economics?

With a PhD in Economics, you can apply to many high-paying jobs in the field. These jobs can include financial manager, postsecondary economics teacher, economist, personal financial advisor, or even urban and regional planner roles.

Best Jobs with a PhD in Economics

  • Financial Manager
  • Postsecondary Economics Teacher
  • Personal Financial Advisor
  • Urban and Regional Planner

What Is the Average Salary for a PhD in Economics?

The average salary for someone with a PhD in Economics is $110,000 per year , according to PayScale. This value varies depending on the career path you choose, the company you work for, or even the industry you base your work in.

Highest-Paying Economics Jobs for PhD Grads

Best economics jobs with a doctorate.

In this section, we’ll cover the best economics jobs you can get with a doctoral degree. They include financial managers, postsecondary teachers, and economists. Other high-paying jobs include personal financial advisors and urban and regional planners.

Financial managers are responsible for the financial standing of a company or organization. They coordinate accounting and investing, create financial reports, and develop long-term financial goals for their company. They must have knowledge of the tax laws and regulations specific to their industry.

  • Salary with an Economics PhD: $153,460
  • Job Outlook: 17% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 681,700
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, Delaware, and New Jersey

Many economics PhD students are interested in teaching in postsecondary academic institutions. After being hired, these professors are placed in the school’s department of economics where they can conduct research and teach one or more courses in the field.

  • Salary with an Economics PhD: $124,090
  • Job Outlook: 12% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 1,276,900
  • Highest-Paying States: New Hampshire, Montana, and California

Economists apply their knowledge and skills in economic analysis within a great variety of fields. They study the cost of products, examine employment, taxes, and inflation levels, and analyze economic history trends to make predictions for the future.

  • Salary with an Economics PhD: $120,830
  • Job Outlook: 13% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 18,600
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, Washington DC, and California

Personal financial advisors advise clients on investments, insurance, mortgages, taxes, and other areas related to financial investment and management. They work to assess a client’s needs and help them make the best financial decisions for their future.

  • Salary with an Economics PhD: $119,960
  • Job Outlook: 5% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 275,200
  • Highest-Paying States: New York, Washington DC, and Washington

Urban and regional planners gather and analyze information regarding economic, population, and environmental factors to advise developers on their plans to use land. Using their analytical and data skills, they eventually have the final say on whether a land project is feasible.

  • Salary with an Economics PhD: $81,310
  • Job Outlook: 7% job growth from 2020 to 2030
  • Number of Jobs: 39,100
  • Highest-Paying States: Washington DC, California, and New York

Is a PhD in Economics Worth It?

Yes, a PhD in Economics is worth it. Getting an economics PhD is a great way to gain valuable skills for the econ job market, work on your overall communication, and guarantee financial security and stability over the course of your career.

Economics PhD graduates can choose between conducting research and teaching in superior institutions, prestigious government positions, and continuous work at some of the highest-paying private institutions.

Additional Reading About Economics

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PhD in Economics FAQ

Some of the top companies that are hiring economists in 2022 include RAND, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the World Bank. Fannie Mae, the IMF, and Amazon are also top companies looking for economists.

Yes, you are expected to teach or somehow be involved in classroom experiences during your PhD program. Most students receive financial funding through teaching assistantships. These are viewed as an important component of the PhD college career.

You’ll need to have some kind of mathematics background to be admitted to an economics PhD program. All candidates must have taken intensive math classes and need proven math ability in calculus, linear algebra, and differential equations.

No, you don’t need an econ master’s degree to enroll in an economics PhD. However, only a small number of applicants are accepted into these programs and a master’s degree could be considered a competitive edge.

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What You Should Know Before Applying to an Economics PhD Program

Here's One Student's Experience Applying to an Economics PhD Program

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I recently wrote an article about the types of people who shouldn't pursue a Ph.D. in economics . Don't get me wrong, I love economics. I've spent a majority of my adult life in the pursuit of knowledge in the field studying around the world and even teaching it at the university level. You may love studying economics, too, but a Ph.D. program is an entirely different beast that requires a very specific type of person and student. After my article was published, I received an email from a reader, who just happened to be a potential Ph.D. student. 

This reader's experience and insights into the economics Ph.D. program application process were so on point that I felt the need to share the insights. For those considering applying to a Ph.D. program in Economics, give this email a read.

One Student's Experience Applying to an Economics Ph.D. Program

"Thanks for the graduate school focus in your recent articles. Three of the challenges you mentioned [in your recent article ] really hit home:

  • American students have a comparative disadvantage for selection compared to foreign students.
  • The importance of math cannot be overstated.
  • Reputation is a huge factor, especially that of your undergraduate program.

I applied unsuccessfully to Ph.D. programs for two years before conceding that I might not be ready for them. Only one, Vanderbilt , gave me even a wait-list consideration.

I was a little embarrassed at being shunned. My mathematics GRE was 780. I had graduated at the top of my class with a 4.0 GPA in my economics major and completed a statistics minor . I had two internships: one in research, one in public policy. And accomplished this all while working 30 hours a week to support me . It was a brutally hard couple of years.

The Ph.D. departments I applied to and my undergraduate adviser all pointed out:

  • I attended a small, regional public university, and our professors spent significant time with students to the detriment of their own publishing.
  • Though I took a heavy load of statistics coursework, I only had two terms of calculus.
  • I had never been published; not even in an undergraduate journal.
  • I aimed for highly-ranked schools in the Midwest like Illinois, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Michigan, Wisconsin, Washington University in St. Louis, but neglected schools on the coasts, which might have seen me as a more 'diverse' candidate.

I also made what many considered a tactical error: I went to talk with the graduate programs before I applied. I was later told that this is a taboo and seen as schmoozing. I even talked at length with the director of one program. We ended up talking shop for two hours and he invited me to attend presentations and brown bags whenever I was in town. But soon I would learn that he would be ending his tenure to take a position at another college, and would no longer be involved in the approval process for that program.

After going through these obstacles, some suggested I prove myself with a Master's Degree in Economics first. I had originally been told that many schools pick top candidates immediately after undergraduate, but this new advice made sense because departments commit considerable resources to their Ph.D. candidates and want to make sure their investment will survive first-year exams.

With that path in mind, I found it interesting that so few departments offer a terminal Masters in Economic. I'd say about half as many as those that offer only the terminal Ph.D. Fewer still offer an academic Master's - most of these are professional programs. Still, I'm glad it gives me a chance to dig deeper into research and see if I'm ready for Ph.D. research."

My Response 

This was such a great letter for many reasons. First, it was genuine. It wasn't a "why didn't I get into a Ph.D. program" rant, but a personal story told with thoughtful insights. In fact, my experience has been nearly identical, and I would encourage any undergraduate student considering pursuing a Ph.D. in economics to take this reader's insights to heart. I, myself, was in a Master's program (at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada) before I entered my Ph.D. program. Today, I must admit that I wouldn't have survived three months as a Ph.D. student had I not attempted an MA in Economics first. 

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Phd in economics: requirements, salary, jobs, & career growth, what is phd in economics.

A PhD in Economics is a doctorate-level degree that focuses on advanced training and research in the field of economics. It is a research-oriented degree that prepares students to contribute to the field through original, in-depth research and analysis.

The program typically involves taking advanced coursework in economics, completing a research project, and writing a dissertation that presents original findings. The coursework and research topics covered in a PhD in Economics program can include microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, game theory, economic history, and various specialized areas within the field.

The PhD in Economics is ideal for individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in academia, government, international organizations, or research-focused organizations. Graduates of the program are equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to conduct independent research, analyze data, and develop innovative solutions to complex economic problems.

How much money do people make with a PhD in Economics?

The earning potential of individuals with a PhD in Economics can vary widely based on a number of factors such as their experience, location, and type of employer. On average, economists with a PhD can expect to earn a higher salary than those with a master’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in the field.

According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for economists was $105,020 in May 2020. However, salaries can range from less than $60,000 for entry-level positions to over $150,000 for experienced economists in leadership positions.

In academia, assistant professors with a PhD in Economics can expect to earn a starting salary in the range of $70,000 to $90,000, while full professors can earn well over $100,000. In the government sector, economists with a PhD can earn salaries that range from $70,000 to $120,000 or more, depending on their level of experience and the type of agency they work for.

In the private sector, salaries for economists with a PhD can be even higher, particularly for those working in consulting, finance, or other high-paying industries. However, the earning potential in the private sector is highly dependent on the specific job and the location, with salaries in certain cities, such as New York or San Francisco, being significantly higher than those in other parts of the country.

It’s important to note that salaries can vary greatly based on factors such as the individual’s level of experience, the type of employer, and the location.

What is expected job growth with PhD in Economics?

The job growth for individuals with a PhD in Economics is expected to be relatively strong in the coming years. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of economists is projected to grow 6% from 2019 to 2029, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.

Demand for economists is expected to remain strong, particularly in the government and private sectors, as organizations continue to seek individuals with expertise in analyzing data, developing economic models, and creating solutions to complex economic problems.

In the government sector, there is expected to be continued demand for economists who can analyze economic data and provide research and policy analysis to inform government decision-making.

In the private sector, economists with PhDs are expected to be in high demand in consulting firms, financial institutions, and other organizations that require advanced economic analysis and problem-solving skills.

In academia, opportunities for economists with PhDs are expected to remain strong, as universities continue to seek highly trained individuals to conduct research and teach the next generation of economists.

Overall, the job outlook for individuals with a PhD in Economics is positive, and they can expect to have a range of opportunities across various sectors and industries. However, as with any job market, there may be fluctuations in demand based on economic conditions and other factors.

What can you do with a PhD in Economics?

A PhD in Economics provides individuals with advanced training and research skills in the field of economics, preparing them for a variety of careers in academia, government, international organizations, the private sector, and non-profit organizations. Some of the most common career paths for individuals with a PhD in Economics include:

1. Academia: Many individuals with a PhD in Economics pursue careers in academia as university professors, where they conduct research, teach courses, and mentor students.

2. Government: Economists with a PhD can find careers in the government sector, working in agencies such as the Federal Reserve, the Department of Labor, or the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

3. International organizations: PhD economists can also find careers in international organizations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, or the United Nations.

4. Private sector: Economists with PhDs can also find careers in the private sector, working for consulting firms, financial institutions, or other businesses that require advanced economic analysis.

5. Non-profit organizations: Economists with a PhD can also find careers in non-profit organizations, where they can use their expertise to address social and economic issues.

6. Research organizations: Economists with a PhD can also find careers in research organizations, where they can conduct independent research and publish their findings. 

What are the requirements for a PhD in Economics?

The requirements for a PhD in Economics can vary slightly depending on the specific program and university, but in general, most PhD programs in Economics require the following:

1. A bachelor’s or master’s degree in economics or a related field: Most PhD programs in Economics require applicants to have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in economics or a related field, such as mathematics, statistics, or finance.

2. Coursework: PhD programs in Economics typically require students to complete advanced coursework in economics, including microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, game theory, and other specialized areas of the field.

3. Examinations: Many PhD programs in Economics require students to pass written and oral comprehensive exams to demonstrate their mastery of the field.

4. Research project: PhD students in Economics are typically required to complete a research project, either independently or as part of a team, and present their findings in a written thesis or dissertation.

5. Teaching experience: Many PhD programs in Economics also require students to complete teaching experience, either as a teaching assistant in an undergraduate course or as the instructor of their own course.

Looking For Scholarship Programs? Click here

How long does it take to get a phd in economics.

The time it takes to complete a PhD in Economics can vary, but most programs take between 4 to 7 years on average. The exact duration of the program depends on a number of factors, including the specific program requirements, the student’s course load, and the amount of time they can dedicate to their studies.

Typically, the first 2 to 3 years of a PhD in Economics program are spent completing coursework and exams, while the remaining years are dedicated to research and writing a thesis or dissertation. During this time, PhD students are also typically required to complete teaching or research assistantships to gain practical experience in their field.

In some programs, students may be able to complete their PhD more quickly by taking a heavier course load, while in others, students may need to take more time to complete their research and writing.

It’s important to keep in mind that the length of a PhD program can vary significantly depending on the specific program and the student’s individual circumstances.

Some students may complete their PhD in as little as 4 years, while others may take 7 years or more. Additionally, some programs may allow students to take a leave of absence or pause their studies for personal or professional reasons, which can also impact the overall duration of the program.

Looking For Fully Funded PhD Programs? Click Here

Do you need a masters in economics to get a phd in economics.

Not all PhD programs in Economics require a master’s degree, but many do. A master’s degree in economics can provide students with a strong foundation in the field and help them prepare for the more advanced coursework and research required in a PhD program.

However, some PhD programs in Economics accept applicants with only a bachelor’s degree, particularly if they have strong academic performance and relevant work experience.

In some cases, PhD programs in Economics may offer a combined master’s and PhD program, allowing students to complete both degrees in a shorter amount of time. This can be a good option for students who are interested in pursuing a career in academia or research and want to obtain both degrees as quickly as possible.

What are the Best PhD in Economics Degree programs?

Harvard university, massachusetts institute of technology (mit), stanford university, university of chicago, princeton university, columbia university, new york university (nyu), university of california, berkeley (uc berkeley), university of pennsylvania, yale university, leave a comment cancel reply.

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Calculating ROI: Getting Your Master’s vs. PhD in Economics

what is a phd in economics

No matter what field they study, prospective graduate students should always consider the value of their degree.  As a potential graduate economics student, you’re likely familiar with the term return on investment or ROI — the ratio used to calculate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency of several different investments.

Though there’s no cut-and-dry way to determine the value of a graduate degree , there are some important numbers and factors to consider when determining which degree will be most valuable to you.  

The overall ROI of any graduate degree comes down to:

  • the type of job you want,
  • the school you attend,
  • the degree you pursue,
  • your program length
  • and available financial assistance.

Want to know more about graduate funding opportunities at SMU? Learn how the Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies is reducing financial barriers to earning a graduate degree thanks to a $100 million commitment from the Moody Foundation. 

PhD in Economics Salary

The most important factor to consider first is the type of job you want. Most of the time, a Master’s degree opens the door to more advanced positions in the same types of jobs you can get with a Bachelor's degree. But, a PhD opens the door to jobs in the private sector, academia, government, think tanks and international organizations. Remember, on average, a PhD economist has a 34% higher salary than a Master’s economist.

Next, you need to consider cost. Economics PhD students, including our SMU students, have a full tuition waiver and a stipend to cover living costs. So, the only cost is lost wages from the job you would otherwise have. On the other hand, an Economics Masters's degree takes 2 years or less but the average cost of a master’s degree in the U.S. is $66,340.

You need to weigh up these costs and benefits to know the return on investment for you of pursuing an advanced degree in economics. 

What Can I Do with a PhD in Economics?

Earning a PhD in Economics means you have completed the highest level of education in the discipline, thereby creating nearly unlimited opportunities for any job in a related field. 

Economics PhDs specialize in areas like labor economics, macroeconomics,  industrial organization, or international economics and pursue careers within that specialization. For example, institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) — the international trade body —  the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or the World Bank might seek to hire economists who have specialized in international economics.

  • The Federal Reserve Bank system hires lots of PhD macroeconomists.
  • Government agencies like the Federal Trade Commission hire PhD economists specializing in industrial organization.
  • The Census Bureau hires lots of PhD economists specializing in fields like labor economics.

These complex, high-profile positions are often found in the corporate sector or government and frequently involve exploring regulatory, strategic or public policies.

In addition to jobs in government and industry, academic economists play leading roles in the development of new ideas in economics and hold faculty positions in a variety of academic settings.

Explore Economics at SMU

The Department of Economics at Southern Methodist University (SMU) is highly ranked among economics departments in the United States and offers comprehensive coverage of the major fields in modern economics. For more than 55 years the department has prepared PhD candidates for careers as economists in both academic and non-academic positions.

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A PhD in economics is the only one worth getting

Here’s the equation you need to know. PhD in economics=JOB.

People often ask me: “Noah, what career path can I take where I’m virtually guaranteed to get a well-paying job in my field of interest, which doesn’t force me to work 80 hours a week, and which gives me both autonomy and intellectual excitement?” Well, actually, I lied, no one asks me that. But they  should  ask me that, because I do know of such a career path, and it’s called the economics PhD.

“What?!!” you sputter. “What about all those articles telling me  never ,  ever , ever , ever  to get a PhD?! Didn’t you read those?! Don’t you know that PhDs are  proliferating like mushrooms  even as  tenure-track jobs disappear ? Do you want us to be stuck in eternal postdoc hell, or turn into adjunct-faculty wage-slaves?!”

To which I respond: There are PhDs, and there are PhDs, and then there are econ PhDs.

Basically, I think of PhDs as mostly falling into one of three categories:

1. Lifestyle PhDs . These include math, literature and the humanities, theoretical physics, history, many social sciences, and the arts. These are PhDs you do because you really, really, really love just sitting and thinking about stuff. You work on your own interests, at your own pace. If you want to be a poor bohemian scholar who lives a pure “life of the mind,” these PhDs are for you. I totally respect people who intentionally choose this lifestyle; I’d be pretty happy doing it myself, I think. Don’t expect to get a job in your field when you graduate, though.

2. Lab science PhDs.  These include biology, chemistry, neuroscience, electrical engineering, etc. These are PhDs you do because you’re either a suicidal fool or an incomprehensible sociopath. They mainly involve utterly brutal hours slaving away in a laboratory on someone else’s project for your entire late 20s, followed by years of postdoc hell for your early 30s, with a low percentage chance of a tenure-track faculty position. To find out what these PhD programs are like,  read this blog post . If you are considering getting a lab science PhD, please immediately hit yourself in the face with a brick. Now you know what it’s like.

(Note: People have been pointing out that electrical engineering isn’t as bad as the other lab sciences, with somewhat more autonomy and better job prospects. That’s consistent with my observations. But econ still beats it by a mile…)

3. PhDs that work.  I’m not exactly sure which PhDs fall into this category, but my guess is that it includes marketing, applied math and statistics, finance, computer science, accounting, and management. It  definitely , however, includes economics. Economics is the best PhD you can possibly get.

Why get a PhD in economics? Here’s why:

Reason 1: You get a job

Can I say it any more clearly? An econ PhD at even a middle-ranked school leads, with near-absolute certainty, to a well-paying job in an economics-related field. I believe the University of Michigan, for example, has gone many, many years without having a PhD student graduate without a job in hand.

You will not always get a tenure-track job, though there are a lot more of those available right now than in other fields (thanks, I am guessing, to the nationwide explosion in business schools, which hire a lot of econ PhDs, including yours truly). But if you don’t get a tenure-track job, you will get a well-paid job as a consultant, or a well-paid job in finance, or a decently-well-paid job in one of the many, many government agencies that hire armies of economists. All of these are what are commonly referred to as “good jobs,” with good pay, decent job security, non-brutal working conditions, and close relation to the economics field.

Now, this may be less true at lower-ranked schools; I don’t have the data. I imagine it’s not as certain, but still far, far better than for lab science PhDs at similarly ranked schools.

Why do so very few newly minted econ PhDs face the prospect of unemployment? Part of it is due to the econ field’s extremely well-managed (and centrally planned!)  job market . Part of it is due to the large demand from the lucrative consulting and finance industries. And part is due to the aforementioned proliferation of b-schools. There may be other reasons I don’t know. But in an America where nearly every career path is looking more and more like a gamble, the econ PhD remains a rock of stability—the closest thing you’ll find to a direct escalator to the upper middle class.

Reason 2: You get autonomy

Unlike the hellish lab science PhD programs, an econ grad student is not tied to an adviser. Since profs don’t usually fund econ students out of grants (few even have big grants), economics students mostly pay their way by teaching. This means you usually have to teach, but that is not nearly as grueling as working in a lab. Even when a professor does support you with a grant, he or she generally employs you as a research assistant, and gives you ample time to work on your own research.

Compare this to a lab science PhD, in which you basically do the project your adviser tells you to do, and you succeed or fail in part based on whether your adviser chooses a project that works out. Your destiny is out of your hands, your creativity is squelched, and your life is utterly at the mercy of a single taskmaster. In economics, on the other hand, you can start doing your own original, independent research the minute you show up (or even before). Professors generally encourage you to start your own projects. Unlike in lab science PhD programs (but as in “lifestyle” PhD programs), your time is mostly your own to manage.

This means that as an econ grad student, you’ll have a life. Or a chance at having a life, anyway.

Reason 3: You get intellectual fulfillment

Econ is not as intellectually deep as some fields, like physics, math, or literature. But it’s deep enough to keep you intellectually engaged. Econ allows you to think about human interactions, and social phenomena, in a number of different intellectually rigorous ways (e.g. game theory, incentives, decision theory, quantification of norms and values, bounded rationality, etc.). That’s cool stuff.

And economists, even if their research is highly specialized, are encouraged to think about all different kinds of topics in the field, and encouraged to think freely and originally. That’s something few people appreciate. In a lab science, in contrast, you are encouraged to burrow down in your area of hyper-specialization.

In econ, furthermore, you get exposed to a bunch of different disciplines; you get to learn some statistics, a little math, some sociology, a bit of psychology, and maybe even some history.

Also, as an economist, your status as an intellectual will not disappear when you get a job. Even if you go to work as a consultant or a financier, your thoughts will be welcomed and considered by economists in the blogosphere. And you can even publish econ papers as a non-academic.

In fact, it’s also worth pointing out that econ is a field in which outsiders and mavericks are able to challenge the status quo. This is in spite of the economics profession’s well-known deference to intellectual authority figures. The simple fact is that in econ, you don’t need money to advance new ideas, as you do in biology or chemistry. And you don’t need math wizardry either, as you would if you wanted to introduce new ideas in physics.

Reason 4: The risk of failure is low

In economics PhD programs, the main risk of failure is not passing your preliminary exams. This happens to a substantial fraction of people who get admitted to econ programs (maybe 25% or fewer at Michigan). But if you flunk out,  you get a complimentary Master’s degree , which is probably worth the 2 years that you’ll have spent in the program. And after you pass the prelims, there is little risk of not finishing a dissertation; unlike in most fields, you do not have to publish to graduate.

Caveats about the econ PhD

Of course, I don’t want to make it seem like the econ PhD is an utterly dominant strategy for life fulfillment. There are some caveats that you should definitely take into account.

First, there is the fact that an econ PhD program is still a PhD program. That means, first of all, that you will be in poverty in your late 20s. That is not fun for most people (some “lifestyle PhD” students and bohemian artists excepted). Also, econ PhD programs force you to manage your own time, while giving you very little feedback about how well or badly you’re actually doing. That can be stressful and depressing.

Second, be aware that the culture of economics is still fairly conservative, and not in the good way. Econ is one of the few places in our society where overtly racist and sexist ideas are not totally taboo ( Steve Landsburg is an extreme example, but that gives you the general flavor). Discrimination against women, in particular, probably still exists, though I’d say (or I’d hope, anyway) that it’s on the wane.

Finally, there is the fact that if enough people read and believe this blog post, it will cease to be true. There’s a piece of economics for you: as soon as people become aware that a thing is overvalued, they will start bidding up its price. But information diffuses slowly. Expect the econ PhD to lose its luster in five to 10 years, but that still gives you a window of time.

Anyway, despite these caveats, the econ PhD still seems like quite a sweet deal to me. And compared to a hellish, soul-crushing, and economically dubious lab science PhD, econ seems like a slam dunk. There are very few such bargains left in the American labor market. Grab this one while it’s still on the shelves.

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PhD Spotlight

Distinguished teaching assistants   .

The Distinguished Teaching Assistant Awards for 2022-23 were presented at the start-of-year reception on October 12, 2023. The winners of a certificate, a limited-edition coffee mug, and a year's membership to the Econometric Society or the American Economic Association were Clement Bohr , Marie Decamps , Andrea Di Giovan Paolo, Jose Higueras, Diego Huerta , Miguel Jorquera, Avner Kreps, Gaston Lopez , Yiqi Lou, Maria Petri Betto , Evgeni Rachkovski , Pablo Sanchez, Jingyuan Wang , Jin Yang, and Tomer Yehoshua-Sandak . These awards are given to the top third of our Teaching Assistants, based on student and faculty evaluations. These awards have been listed prominently on the vita of our students on the job market, and act as a strong signal to potential employers of your teaching capabilities. This is especially true for students from countries where English is not the first language.

PhD Candidate Spotlight

Deborah Kim , a 7 th year PhD candidate in the Department of Economics, was recently interviewed by The Graduate School about her research and experiences in the PhD program at Northwestern.

Read the full interview here

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PhD scholarships in Economics

Copenhagen Business School invites applications for a number of vacant PhD scholarships in Economics. The expected start date is September 1, 2024

The Department of Economics provides research, teaching, and knowledge exchange within the core areas of economics, i.e., microeconomics, macroeconomics, and quantitative methods. The Department is especially active in business-related, applied economic research, and comprises three research centres: Copenhagen School of Energy Infrastructure (CSEI), Centre for Innovation (CFI), and Pension Research Centre (PeRCent).

Core research areas of the Department of Economics are:

  • Behavior, Incentives and Economic Design
  • Design Employment and the Functioning of Labor Markets
  • Energy, Environment and Resources
  • Firm Behavior, Innovation and the Functioning of Markets
  • Growth, Unemployment, and Inflation
  • Globalization, Migration and Urbanization; 
  • Quantitative/Empirical Methods and Data Science
  • Welfare: Education, Health Care and Pensions

The Department of Economics has a strong research focus and has been successful in fundraising activities. It is currently hosting research projects supported by the Danish/EU research councils, as well as private foundations and companies.

Teaching responsibilities of the Department include undergraduate and graduate teaching in microeconomics, macroeconomics, quantitative methods, and field courses.

The 5+3 PhD scheme: The regular three-year PhD programme at CBS gives you the opportunity to conduct research under the supervision of CBS’s associate professors and professors, supported by research related PhD courses. The programme is highly international, and you are expected to participate in international research conferences and to spend time at another research institution as a visiting PhD student. See the CBS homepage for more information about the PhD programme, https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/phd-programme .

CBS PhD graduates are held in high esteem not only in academia and research institutions but also in government and business where their research qualifications are in high demand.

CBS is committed to ensuring excellence, transformative and relevant teaching and research. Candidates who wish to join us must be interested in working in an organisation of this type and it is expected that the applicant shows an interest in joining the department's research environment. You can read more about the department's research here: https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/departments-and-centres/department-of-economics .

Application and admission requirements The department will give priority to applicants with high grades from their universities. To be considered the applicant must

  • have a basic education at master's level (corresponding to the 3 + 2 Bologna process).
  • have received the grade of 10 (or equivalent) for the master's thesis according to the Danish 7-point grading scale ( https://eng.uvm.dk/general-overview/7-point-grading-scale ).
  • have a weighted grade point average of at least 8.2 on the Danish 7-point grading scale for the bachelor's and master's degree combined or alternatively a weighted grade point average must be at least 9.5 for the master's degree alone. If the grade point average is not met, documentation for being in the top 40% of the class is also accepted.
  • have an educational background in the social sciences.
  • have completed the master's programme before starting the PhD programme at CBS.
  • master academic English at a high level in writing and speaking.

The 4+4 PhD scheme: For admittance to the 4 + 4 PhD scheme, the applicant must have completed a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) and have passed subjects corresponding to 60 ECTS in a relevant master's programme within the CBS' subject areas. The minimum weighted grade point average is 8.2 on the Danish 7-point grading scale for the entire programme (i.e. for the full bachelor and one year of the master studies together), and at least the grade 10 for the bachelor thesis or equivalent final examination project. If the grade point average is not met, documentation for being in the top 40% of the class is also accepted. Applicants who are not enrolled in a master's programme at CBS will be assessed by the Admissions Office.

The application (see link below) must include a five-page project description. The project description must include:

  • a presentation of an original research question.
  • a description of the initial theoretical framework and method.
  • a presentation of the proposed empirical material.
  • a work plan for the three years.

More information can be found here: https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/phd-programmes/admission

In addition to the project description, copies of the following must be included:

  • diploma for bachelor's and master's degree or other certificates at an equivalent level as well as the grade transcripts.
  • documentation for being in the top 40% of the class (if grade requirements are not met).
  • a concise curriculum vitae (CV).
  • a list of articles and publications (if applicable).
  • one example of a selected written work (e.g. master's thesis).
  • documentation of English language skills.

The PhD student is enrolled in the CBS PhD School. Further information about PhD scholarships and the PhD programme can be found at https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/phd-programme .

For further information please contact Professor Dolores Romero Morales, email [email protected] . Information about the department can be found at https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/departments-and-centres/department-of-economics .

Employment and salary A PhD scholarship runs for a period of three years, and includes teaching obligations equivalent to six months’ work (840 work hours). The scholarships are fully salaried positions, according to the national Danish collective agreement. The monthly salary is currently approximately DKK 28,993 up to DKK 35,015 depending on seniority and a pension contribution totaling 17.1%. The scholarship includes tuition fees, office space, course and travel costs (according to the current CBS agreement).  Salary level and employment take place in accordance with the Ministry of Taxation's agreement with the Academics' Central Organization.

Recruitment procedure  The Recruitment Committee shortlists at least two-five applicants to be assessed by the Assessment Committee. Applicants are informed whether their application has proceeded for assessment. Applicants selected for assessment will be notified about the composition of the Assessment Committee and will receive their personal assessment later. Selected applicants will be invited for an interview. Please note that a positive assessment does not automatically result in an interview. Once the recruitment process is completed each applicant will be notified of the outcome of their application.

The application must be sent via the online link below.

Copenhagen Business School must receive all application material, including all appendices (see above), by the application deadline.

Details about Copenhagen Business School are available at www.cbs.dk/en .

Information meeting There will be an online information meeting regarding this call on February 13, 2024, from 4pm to 5pm Copenhagen, Denmark time. There will be a presentation of the Department of Economics and an opportunity to ask questions. To receive a link for the meeting, please sign up at: https://cbs.nemtilmeld.dk/881/  

Closing date: 29 February 2024.

Apply online

WE TRANSFORM SOCIETY WITH BUSINESS  CBS is a globally recognised business school with deep roots in the Nordic socio-economic model. Our faculty has a broad focus on societal challenges, and we have earned a reputation for high-quality disciplinary and interdisciplinary research and education. 

We are located at Frederiksberg and have approximately 20,000 full and part-time students, 800 full-time faculty members, 200 PhD students and 700 administrative staff, and a full portfolio of bachelor, master, MBA/EMBA, PhD and executive programmes taught in English and Danish. 

Our global profile carries the obligation to address critical challenges in our research and to develop the transformational capabilities of students, graduates and business leaders via our educational activities and opportunities for lifelong learning. Complex challenges call for joint action, and therefore our strategy focuses on strengthening current and starting new partnerships with other sciences, the business community, authorities and civil society.

CBS is working continuously on becoming a diverse and inclusive organisation, and we encourage all regardless of gender identity and expression, ethnicity, religious beliefs, LGBT+ status, cultural background etc. to apply. Reach out to us if you need assistance in the application or recruitment process, if there is something we should know, or if as a person with disability you wish to make use of your preferential access.

PhD scholarships in Economics, Department of Economics

Copenhagen Business School

Job Information

Offer description.

Copenhagen Business School invites applications for a number of vacant PhD scholarships in Economics. The expected start date is September 1, 2024

The Department of Economics provides research, teaching, and knowledge exchange within the core areas of economics, i.e., microeconomics, macroeconomics, and quantitative methods. The Department is especially active in business-related, applied economic research, and comprises three research centres: Copenhagen School of Energy Infrastructure (CSEI), Centre for Innovation (CFI), and Pension Research Centre (PeRCent).

Core research areas of the Department of Economics are:

  • Behavior, Incentives and Economic Design
  • Design Employment and the Functioning of Labor Markets
  • Energy, Environment and Resources
  • Firm Behavior, Innovation and the Functioning of Markets
  • Growth, Unemployment, and Inflation
  • Globalization, Migration and Urbanization; 
  • Quantitative/Empirical Methods and Data Science
  • Welfare: Education, Health Care and Pensions

The Department of Economics has a strong research focus and has been successful in fundraising activities. It is currently hosting research projects supported by the Danish/EU research councils, as well as private foundations and companies.

Teaching responsibilities of the Department include undergraduate and graduate teaching in microeconomics, macroeconomics, quantitative methods, and field courses.

The 5+3 PhD scheme:  The regular three-year PhD programme at CBS gives you the opportunity to conduct research under the supervision of CBS’s associate professors and professors, supported by research related PhD courses. The programme is highly international, and you are expected to participate in international research conferences and to spend time at another research institution as a visiting PhD student. See the CBS homepage for more information about the PhD programme,  https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/phd-programme .

CBS PhD graduates are held in high esteem not only in academia and research institutions but also in government and business where their research qualifications are in high demand.

CBS is committed to ensuring excellence, transformative and relevant teaching and research. Candidates who wish to join us must be interested in working in an organisation of this type and it is expected that the applicant shows an interest in joining the department's research environment. You can read more about the department's research here:  https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/departments-and-centres/department-of-economics .

Application and admission requirements The department will give priority to applicants with high grades from their universities. To be considered the applicant must

  • have a basic education at master's level (corresponding to the 3 + 2 Bologna process).
  • have received the grade of 10 (or equivalent) for the master's thesis according to the Danish 7-point grading scale ( https://eng.uvm.dk/general-overview/7-point-grading-scale ).
  • have a weighted grade point average of at least 8.2 on the Danish 7-point grading scale for the bachelor's and master's degree combined or alternatively a weighted grade point average must be at least 9.5 for the master's degree alone. If the grade point average is not met, documentation for being in the top 40% of the class is also accepted.
  • have an educational background in the social sciences.
  • have completed the master's programme before starting the PhD programme at CBS.
  • master academic English at a high level in writing and speaking.

The 4+4 PhD scheme:  For admittance to the 4 + 4 PhD scheme, the applicant must have completed a bachelor's degree (or equivalent) and have passed subjects corresponding to 60 ECTS in a relevant master's programme within the CBS' subject areas. The minimum weighted grade point average is 8.2 on the Danish 7-point grading scale for the entire programme (i.e. for the full bachelor and one year of the master studies together), and at least the grade 10 for the bachelor thesis or equivalent final examination project. If the grade point average is not met, documentation for being in the top 40% of the class is also accepted. Applicants who are not enrolled in a master's programme at CBS will be assessed by the Admissions Office.

The application (see link below) must include a five-page project description. The project description must include:

  • a presentation of an original research question.
  • a description of the initial theoretical framework and method.
  • a presentation of the proposed empirical material.
  • a work plan for the three years.

More information can be found here:  https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/phd-programmes/admission

In addition to the project description, copies of the following must be included:

  • diploma for bachelor's and master's degree or other certificates at an equivalent level as well as the grade transcripts.
  • documentation for being in the top 40% of the class (if grade requirements are not met).
  • a concise curriculum vitae (CV).
  • a list of articles and publications (if applicable).
  • one example of a selected written work (e.g. master's thesis).
  • documentation of English language skills.

The PhD student is enrolled in the CBS PhD School. Further information about PhD scholarships and the PhD programme can be found at  https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/phd-programme .

For further information  please contact Professor Dolores Romero Morales, email  [email protected] . Information about the department can be found at  https://www.cbs.dk/en/research/departments-and-centres/department-of-economics .

Employment and salary A PhD scholarship runs for a period of three years, and includes teaching obligations equivalent to six months’ work (840 work hours). The scholarships are fully salaried positions, according to the national Danish collective agreement. The monthly salary is currently approximately DKK 28,993 up to DKK 35,015 depending on seniority and a pension contribution totaling 17.1%. The scholarship includes tuition fees, office space, course and travel costs (according to the current CBS agreement).  Salary level and employment take place in accordance with the Ministry of Taxation's agreement with the Academics' Central Organization.

Recruitment procedure  The Recruitment Committee shortlists at least two-five applicants to be assessed by the Assessment Committee. Applicants are informed whether their application has proceeded for assessment. Applicants selected for assessment will be notified about the composition of the Assessment Committee and will receive their personal assessment later. Selected applicants will be invited for an interview. Please note that a positive assessment does not automatically result in an interview. Once the recruitment process is completed each applicant will be notified of the outcome of their application.

The application must be sent via the online link below.

Copenhagen Business School must receive all application material, including all appendices (see above), by the application deadline.

Details about Copenhagen Business School are available at  www.cbs.dk/en .

Information meeting There will be an online information meeting regarding this call on February 13, 2024, from 4pm to 5pm Copenhagen, Denmark time. There will be a presentation of the Department of Economics and an opportunity to ask questions. To receive a link for the meeting, please sign up at:  https://cbs.nemtilmeld.dk/881/  

Requirements

Additional information, work location(s), where to apply.

Columbia | Economics

Edgeworth Economics: PhD Summer Symposium 2024

Edgeworth is excited to be re-launching its PhD Summer Symposium this year. This program is designed to help interested PhD candidates get exposure to the consulting industry and learn how to utilize the skills they’ve obtained in their PhD program to real-world scenarios. It is scheduled to take place from June 25 th  to June 27 th . We believe this program is best suited for third- or fourth-year PhD candidates.

If you are interested, please apply as soon as possible as there are a limited number of spaces. The link to apply and upload necessary documents is  here . You will receive a confirmation email once your application is submitted.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Riley Kelley at [email protected] or Linda Dang at  [email protected] .

what is a phd in economics

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  1. Overview

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  2. PhD in Economics

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  4. Read Getting a PhD in Economics Online by Stuart J. Hillmon

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  5. PhD in Economics Program Description

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VIDEO

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  4. Lecture # 5: SAVING AND INVESTMENT IN AN OPEN ECONOMY

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  6. QP ANALYSIS UGCNET EXAM 12TH DEC 2023

COMMENTS

  1. Doctoral Program

    Doctoral Program. The Ph.D. program is a full time program leading to a Doctoral Degree in Economics. Students specialize in various fields within Economics by enrolling in field courses and attending field specific lunches and seminars. Students gain economic breadth by taking additional distribution courses outside of their selected fields of ...

  2. PhD Program

    The Ph.D. Program in the Department of Economics at Harvard is addressed to students of high promise who wish to prepare themselves in teaching and research in academia or for responsible positions in government, research organizations, or business enterprises. Students are expected to devote themselves full-time to their programs of study.

  3. PhD Program

    PhD Program. Year after year, our top-ranked PhD program sets the standard for graduate economics training across the country. Graduate students work closely with our world-class faculty to develop their own research and prepare to make impactful contributions to the field. Our doctoral program enrolls 20-24 full-time students each year and ...

  4. The complete guide to getting into an economics PhD program

    Here is the not-very-surprising list of things that will help you get into a good econ PhD program: good grades, especially in whatever math and economics classes you take, a good score on the ...

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    The Ph.D. program at Berkeley is designed for students interested in pursuing advanced study and conducting original research in Economics. The Ph.D. degree is awarded in recognition of the recipient's qualifications as a general economist and of the ability to make scholarly contributions in fields of specialization.In advancing to the Ph.D. degree, students pass through two major stages:

  6. Requirements for the PhD. in Economics

    The Requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, effective for the entering class of 2020, consist of successfully completing: Course Requirements. Doctoral Written Examination. Doctoral Dissertation. This document describes each of these requirements in detail.

  7. Ph.D. Program Preparation

    A PhD in economics is a research degree. Students should pursue this degree if they are interested in a career answering questions on issues from health to monetary policy to development using economic models and/or data. Although the requirements of the economics degree at Yale will give you a good foundation for graduate studies, most Ph.D ...

  8. Why Earn a PhD in Economics?

    Preparing for graduate school in Economics can often be a confusing process for students. The goal of this webpage is to illuminate this process and clarify what is required to be a competitive applicant. While we emphasize the importance of taking difficult mathematics courses, in general, as you choose less selective Economics PhD programs ...

  9. How to prepare for a PhD in Economics

    Taking graduate courses in economics or mathematics can send a strong signal to admissions committees. This can be slightly risky, however. Undergraduates may be at a disadvantage as graduate students tend to form study groups for first year courses. If you decide to take a graduate course, you should plan on devoting A LOT of time to the course.

  10. PhD in Economics

    PhD Program The success of our PhD program is reflected in our career outcomes record. Historically, approximately 53 percent of our graduates find jobs in the tenure-stream academic market, 28 percent in research institutions, post-docs and non-tenure-stream appointments, 10 percent in government or international organization and 9 percent in industry.

  11. Why an economics PhD might be the best grad degree

    An economics PhD is one of the most attractive graduate programs: if you get through, you have a high chance of landing a good research job in academia or policy - promising areas for social impact - and you have back-up options in the corporate sector since the skills you learn are in-demand (unlike many PhD programs). You should especially consider an economics PhD if you want to go into ...

  12. Preparing for a PhD in Economics

    Preparing for a PhD in Economics. The minimum requirements of the Economics undergraduate major are not designed to be training for doctoral economics programs. Students who plan to continue their education should take more quantitative courses than the minimum required for the major. Preparation should start early in your undergraduate education.

  13. Why Get an Economics Ph.D?

    Academic economics is set up for people who have a comparative advantage in research. Go somewhere where a comparative advantage in communication is an asset - such as a business school or into consulting. A recent blog post by GMU Economics Prof Tyler Cowen, titled Trudie's advice to would-be economists that is an absolute must-read for anyone ...

  14. Advice for First-Year Ph.D. Students in Economics at Cornell

    While the first week or two of classes are usually quite gentle, you will quickly hit the first wave of exams. At Cornell, almost every first-year Econ Ph.D. class has two exams (aka. prelims, midterms, quizzes), plus a final exam. The Econ Ph.D. program coordinates things, so you have two waves in the fall semester of about an exam or two per ...

  15. The Economy of Everything: Why You Need a PhD in Economics

    Earning a PhD in Economics means you have completed the highest level of education in the discipline, thereby creating nearly unlimited opportunities for any job in a related field. As a PhD economist, you'll have the skills to analyze real-world economic data with rigorous statistical techniques, critically assess the economic implications of ...

  16. Preparing for a Ph.D. in Economics

    Economics at the graduate level is vastly different from the economics courses you may have taken as an undergraduate. Graduate-level economics is dominated by either highly mathematical theory or sophisticated empirical research (econometrics). "…the point has been simply to stress that they need to prepare mathematically.

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    A PhD in Economics allows you to specialize in an area that interests you most, such as financial, labor, international, political, business, feminist, Keynesian, environmental, or development economics. Improve communication skills. Throughout your economics PhD program, you'll be required to publish high-quality articles for peer review.

  18. Read This Before Applying to an Economics PhD Program

    The importance of math cannot be overstated. Reputation is a huge factor, especially that of your undergraduate program. I applied unsuccessfully to Ph.D. programs for two years before conceding that I might not be ready for them. Only one, Vanderbilt, gave me even a wait-list consideration. I was a little embarrassed at being shunned.

  19. Ph.D. in Economics Course, Eligibility, Career, Salary ...

    Ph.D. in Economics is a three to five-year doctorate course. Eligibility for the course is a postgraduate course in Economics, candidates should also have Bachelor's degree in Economics/Bachelor in Technology in Economics from a recognized University. Top institutes which are offering Ph.D. in Economics courses are as follows:

  20. What Can I Do with a PhD in Economics?

    If a graduate degree in economics is on your mind, you may wonder why someone would pursue a doctorate degree in the field. After all, many master's degrees in economics are designed to prepare students like you for myriad economics careers. But while a master's degree will help you stand out against competitors in the job. market, a PhD can open even more doors.

  21. PhD in Economics: Requirements, Salary, Jobs, & Career Growth

    What is PhD in Economics? A PhD in Economics is a doctorate-level degree that focuses on advanced training and research in the field of economics. It is a research-oriented degree that prepares students to contribute to the field through original, in-depth research and analysis.

  22. Calculating ROI: Getting Your Master's vs. PhD in Economics

    But, a PhD opens the door to jobs in the private sector, academia, government, think tanks and international organizations. Remember, on average, a PhD economist has a 34% higher salary than a Master's economist. Next, you need to consider cost. Economics PhD students, including our SMU students, have a full tuition waiver and a stipend to ...

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    In economics PhD programs, the main risk of failure is not passing your preliminary exams. This happens to a substantial fraction of people who get admitted to econ programs (maybe 25% or fewer at ...

  24. PhD Spotlight: Department of Economics

    PhD Candidate Spotlight. Deborah Kim, a 7 th year PhD candidate in the Department of Economics, was recently interviewed by The Graduate School about her research and experiences in the PhD program at Northwestern. Read the full interview here.

  25. PhD scholarships in Economics

    PhD scholarships in Economics. Copenhagen Business School invites applications for a number of vacant PhD scholarships in Economics. The expected start date is September 1, 2024. The Department of Economics provides research, teaching, and knowledge exchange within the core areas of economics, i.e., microeconomics, macroeconomics, and ...

  26. Earn a Graduate Degree with Fogelman College of Business and Economics

    1 The Online MBA and Professional MBA are currently offering GRE/GMAT waivers for applicants who meet certain criteria, available here. To find out if you qualify, please email [email protected]. 2 We are accepting Duolingo, a fully-online English proficiency test, as an alternative to the currently accepted TOEFL/IELTS/PTE.

  27. PhD scholarships in Economics, Department of Economics

    Copenhagen Business School invites applications for a number of vacant PhD scholarships in Economics. The expected start date is September 1, 2024. The Department of Economics provides research, teaching, and knowledge exchange within the core areas of economics, i.e., microeconomics, macroeconomics, and quantitative methods.

  28. Edgeworth Economics: PhD Summer Symposium 2024

    Edgeworth is excited to be re-launching its PhD Summer Symposium this year. This program is designed to help interested PhD candidates get exposure to the consulting industry and learn how to utilize the skills they've obtained in their PhD program to real-world scenarios. It is scheduled to take place from June 25 th to June 27 th.