Doctor of Philosophy with a Major in Economics

The School of Economics will start its PhD program with a major in Economics in August 2010. The program is unique in its focus on the common globalization and innovation issues that interconnect environmental economics, industrial organization and international economics. It emphasizes the economic forces that generate the impetus for individuals to compete globally and analyzes the interrelated effects that these forces have on the environment, international trade, and the behavior of firms in a variety of industrial sectors in the U.S. In the new millennium, globalization and creative activity, as fundamental precursors and outputs of industrial activities, have important implications for environmental, trade, and industrial policies. Policy changes in one arena (e.g. trade) may have significant effects in other areas (e.g. environment, antitrust). There is an increasing demand for PhD economists who have the training and skill sets to carefully think through these issues. Our doctoral program will prepare students to meet this increasing demand, qualifying them for positions in academia, private and public sectors.

Our curriculum features 27 credit hours of first year core courses, at least twenty-one credit hours of fields, electives and workshop, at least 18 credit hours of departmental seminars and at least thirty-three credit hours of dissertation research (see Table below). Thus, the minimum number of credit hours to be fulfilled is 99. Students receive rigorous training in microeconomic theory and quantitative methods during their first year of study. Our first year core coursework also features a two-course sequence in the economics of innovation. This cluster is designed to teach students the key microeconomic and macroeconomic foundations of innovation. In Microeconomics of Innovation, students will be taught the microeconomic theoretical concepts, techniques and reasoning that underlie innovation processes.

Table: Planned Curriculum and Sample Schedule for the PhD Program – All courses 3 credit hours

Fall Spring
First Year

Mathematics for Economists (July-August)
Microeconomic Theory I
Econometrics I
Game Theory
Elective I

Microeconomic Theory II
Econometrics II
Microeconomics of Innovation
Macroeconomics of Innovation

Second Year

Major Economics Field, Course I
Minor Economics Field, Course I
Empirical Research Methods
Seminar I

Major Economics Field, Course II
Minor Economics Field, Course II
Elective II
Seminar II

Third Year

Research Dev. & Presentation Workshop
Dissertation Research
Seminar III

Dissertation Research
Seminar IV

Fourth Year

Dissertation Research
Seminar V

Dissertation Research
Seminar VI

In Macroeconomics of Innovation, students will learn the macroeconomic factors that lead to technological change, the roles played by technological innovation and knowledge spillovers as promoters of economic growth, and the scope for fiscal and monetary policies to foment research and development and hence economic growth.

With the exception of the two-course sequence in the economics of innovation, our core courses are standard. Mathematics for Economists introduces students to the core coursework. This is an intensive three-week course, offered to students during July-August, ending in the week before the start of the fall semester. The main goal of this course is to provide students with the necessary quantitative skills to perform well in the subsequent core coursework. Microeconomic Theory I and Microeconomic Theory II cover standard topics in microeconomics. Game Theory complements the knowledge in microeconomics and examines static and dynamic games of complete and incomplete information. In addition to Mathematics for Economists, students take three courses in quantitative methods, a two-course sequence in statistics and econometrics and a course in empirical research methods.

We offer three specialization fields, Environmental Economics, Industrial Organization and International Economics. Our fields build on our set of core courses, providing students with opportunities to explore research topics within three distinct but related areas while simultaneously preserving and enhancing our program’s focus on globalization and innovation. Each field shares globalization and innovation as a “common language,” since a substantial share of its content pertains to the importance played by globalization and innovation within the field. Each field provides an equal mix of theory and practice, consisting of two 3 hour courses.

Students are required to have a major and at least one minor in fields offered by the Department of Economics. Occasionally, the Department of Economics will offer elective courses that complement our field courses. In addition, students are allowed to take elective courses outside of Economics subject to the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. A set of elective courses taken in another discipline will constitute a minor in that particular discipline if at least two courses are taken from this discipline.

The goals of the Research Development & Presentation Workshop are threefold. First, the workshop provides an extra incentive for students to start working early on the topic of their third year paper, since students present papers closely related to their third year papers to peers and the instructor. Second, the workshop provides each student with regular feedback from the instructor and peers on the student’s ability to deliver lectures. Third, the workshop serves the purpose of enhancing the student’s ability of writing a research paper. Students will not only present papers closely related to their own, but will also discuss papers presented by peers, evaluate their peers regarding presentation skills and present the first drafts of their third year papers at the end of the term.

School Seminars provide students with an opportunity to get involved in the research life of the Department. They also enable students to start acquiring key presentation skills. Each student is required to attend all School seminars each semester, starting in the fall semester of the second year. The Director of Graduate Studies will keep an attendance list, and students will have to submit weekly reports summarizing the papers presented. Absences will have to be justified in writing – copies of such documents are kept in the student’s file together with other student records. Absences may affect the student’s eligibility for funding or the amount of funding in the subsequent semester. At the end of each semester, the Director of Graduate Studies will evaluate the students’ performances and issue “pass” or “no pass” grades. Those who receive pass grades will earn three credits. Each student must earn a minimum of 18 Seminar credit hours to graduate.

In addition to the School Seminar, students must also register each semester for Dissertation Research, starting in the fall semester of the third year. In such a semester, students must register for at least six hours of Dissertation Research. In every subsequent semester, students must register for at least nine hours of Dissertation Research. Students must complete a minimum of 33 Dissertation Research credit hours to graduate.