PhD in Economics

As a student in our PhD in economics program, you will study with faculty who are experts in their fields, work with bright and capable students, and obtain a vast amount of knowledge of your field. Our PhD program is designed so that the motivated student can make steady progress toward the PhD degree.
Professor Jenny Minier, Director of Graduate Studies

Admission Guidelines

Admissions are competitive. To be considered for the PhD in Economics program, the applicant must meet the admission guidelines of the Graduate School and Gatton College of Business and Economics.

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Degree Requirements

Economic Theory - The student must show competence in economic theory by passing departmental written examinations in Microeconomic Theory and Macroeconomic Theory. These examinations are given twice a year, in January and June, and students must pass both exams at the PhD level. Students failing either exam are allowed a second attempt; those failing on the second attempt are not permitted to continue in the program. The student should take the theory examination at the end of two semesters after entering the program. The theory examination should be taken after completing:

ECO601 - Advanced Microeconomic Theory
ECO602 - Macroeconomic Theory
ECO701 - Neoclassical Microeconomic Theory
ECO702 -Advanced Macroeconomic Theory

OR equivalent courses.

Statistics/Econometrics - Students must demonstrate competence in the area of statistics and econometrics. This competence may be demonstrated by satisfactory performance in the following courses:

ECO603 - Research Methods and Procedures
ECO703 - Introduction to Econometrics I
ECO706 - Introduction to Econometrics II

ECO707 - Research Seminar in Economics or ECO 790 - Time Series Analysis 


OR by passing a special examination.

Elective Areas-All PhD students must choose two fields of study approved by the student's Advisory Committee. The two fields may be chosen from the following:

  • Environmental and Health Economics
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Economics
  • Labor Economics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Public Economics

Minimum course preparation for each field shall consist of at least two courses as determined by the student's Advisory Committee. In addition to the chosen fields, the student is encouraged to take elective courses in other areas of economics, such as econometrics or economic theory, or in other disciplines such as Agricultural Economics, Finance, Marketing, Mathematics, or Public Administration. Courses in other disciplines must be approved by the DGS of Economics in order for them to count toward the economics elective requirements.

Supporting Work - At least nine hours of supporting course work must be selected. These courses must be approved by the student's Advisory Committee. The supporting work will allow the student to pursue more intensive study of one or both of the two chosen fields, or to pursue courses in other fields of economics. The supporting work cannot consist of 400 or 500 level courses, ECO610 or ECO611, ECO652, or any of the core courses in economic theory (ECO601, ECO602, ECO701, ECO702, ECO704) or econometrics (ECO703, ECO706). Only three of the nine elective hours can be satisfied by taking ECO797.

Grades- A minimum average of grade "B" must be attained in all courses attempted for graduate credit after being admitted to the Graduate School . Students obtaining six quality points below a "B" average will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Qualifying Examination

Written Examination - The written examination must be taken in one of the student's elective fields as part of the requirements for candidacy for the PhD degree. This examination is given twice a year following the year in which the field is offered, in June and, if necessary, in January. The written examination is prepared and graded by specialists in the respective fields. In the event that the student fails the examination, the student's Advisory Committee determines the conditions which must be met before another examination is given. Two failures to pass the written examination constitute failure of the qualifying examination. Students typically take the field exam in June after completing their second year in the program.

Oral examination - After the student has passed the written qualifying examination, the Director of Graduate Studies will, on the advice of the Advisory Committee, schedule an oral examination through the Graduate School which will be administered by the Advisory Committee. The examination will ordinarily consist of the presentation and defense of a dissertation proposal. The student should complete the oral examination prior to the end of the 7th semester in the program.

PhD Dissertation-The dissertation will be based on original research on a significant topic. The dissertation will be defended in an oral examination.

Typical PhD Course Schedule

First Year:

Fall Semester Spring Semester

Micro & Macro Prelims are taken in June at the end of the 1st year of coursework.

Second Year:

Fall Semester Spring Semester


OR ECO790 -TIME SERIES ANALYSIS (2018, 2019) or Elective

1st Course in 1st Field 2nd Course in 1st Field
1st Course in 2nd Field 2nd Course in 2nd Field

Written field exams are usually taken in June at the end of 2nd year of coursework.

Third Year:

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Elective Course Elective Course or ECO707 OR ECO790

Dissertation Research and Workshops

Fourth Year:

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Elective Course  

Dissertation Research and Workshops

Frequently Asked Questions

Obtaining your PhD involves a tremendous amount of preparation and hard work. Click the link below for some answers to frequently asked questions about achieving your PhD in Economics.

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