Course of Study (2013-Present)

A year-by-year description of the course of study in the Ph.D. program is detailed on this page. A PhD degree requires the completion of 54 credits. Please note that the information given here pertains to students entering the program in the Fall 2013 semester or later. For performance standards associated with the course of study, see Satisfactory Progress. Read an informal description of the learning goals of our Ph.D. Program. 


Incoming first year students are required to arrive three weeks before Fall Semester classes begin to take an intensive mathematics refresher course (Summer Math Camp). The math refresher course typically begins in mid August and provides some basic background material needed for first year courses. All students are required to take two semesters each of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Econometrics and one semester of Math for Economics. Specifically, during the first year all students must take the following courses:

In the Fall:

  • Microeconomics I
  • Macroeconomics I
  • Econometrics I
  • Math for Economics

In the Spring:

  • Microeconomics II
  • Macroeconomics II
  • Econometrics II

Comprehensive Exams are taken in mid June before the beginning of the student’s second year. If retakes are necessary, they occur in mid-August. Students must pass these exams to continue in the Ph.D. program. For further information relating to Comprehensive Exam see Satisfactory Progress.


During the second year of study, students must take 7 courses, typically four in the Fall and three in the Spring semester. In the second year, each student is required to take at least two full-sequence fields. A full-sequence field consists of a formal two-course sequence. The content of the field is determined by the relevant course instructors.

Students may fill out the remaining credit requirements by taking courses that are complementary with his/her two fields (e.g. Micro and Econometrics with the Labor field).

Nine fields are offered. Field offerings may change according to faculty availability. Students may choose among the following fields:

  • Econometrics
  • Economic Development
  • Economic Theory
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Macro and Finance
  • International Trade
  • Labor Economics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Public Economics and Political Economy

Course offerings will vary from year to year. Although deviations from credit loads described here are not encouraged, students may consult with Graduate Program Coordinator and/or Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) about possible alternative arrangements. These must be defined no later than the Fall semester of a student’s second year.  


In each semester of the third year students register for and participate in one of the following workshops: Econometrics, Development, International Trade, Macro, or Micro. Finally, they register for thesis research ECON 999-03 in both semesters.

By the end of the fall semester of the third year, each student must have the Graduate School’s official Outline of Thesis or Dissertation approved by a faculty advisor (who will normally be the student’s dissertation advisor). Each student must present an oral defense of his or her dissertation proposal to the department faculty by the end of the third year. For further information about the thesis proposal, see Satisfactory Progress.


Students must accumulate a total of six credits for workshop participation. Two of these are acquired in the third year; the remainder are acquired in the fourth and fifth years. At this stage students are expected to be focusing solely on their doctoral theses under the supervision of their faculty committees. Finally, each student is expected to present at least one seminar in the appropriate workshop by the end of the fourth year.