PhD Program Overview

The Ph.D. is granted to those who have gained a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of theoretical and applied economics.  Only those who show promise of superior attainment are admitted to candidacy.

Please see the PhD Handbook for the most complete and current details.

The Ph.D. program is designed to encompass training in economic theory and quantitative methods, as well as flexibility for students in choosing course work to suit their interests and intended careers.  For those entering the program with a bachelor's degree, the following courses are required:

  • Econ 8370 (mathematics for economics);
  • Econ 9451 and Econ 9452 (microeconomics);
  • Econ 9453 and Econ 9454 (macroeconomics);
  • Econ 9472 and Econ 9473 (econometrics);
  • 12 credit hours of Econ 9413 (PhD research workshop);
  • 6 credit hours of 9000-level economics courses in one area of specialization;
  • Four other 9000-level economics courses (excluding 9090 and 9480);
  • Up to 9 credit hours of Econ 9085, Econ 9480 or other electives;
  • 12 or more credit hours of dissertation research (for a total of 72 credit hours).

Courses taken to satisfy these requirements (except dissertation research) may be taken while earning an MA at MU, or, as with students entering the program with prior graduate coursework, at other accredited colleges and universities as recommended by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Qualifying Examination:  Students pursuing the Ph.D. degree must pass a qualifying examination.  Upon completion of required courses in the first year, students take the qualifying examination, which covers microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics.  The exam is 6 hours in length; it is administered in parts, with two-hours devoted to each of the three core subjects.  The first offering of the exam is in late May.  Students who fail to pass all three parts of the exam the first time may retake the failed part(s) the following July/August.  Students who fail the exam may continue in the MA program.

Comprehensive Examination:  Students pursuing the Ph.D. degree must pass a comprehensive examination.  The comprehensive exam has a written section and an oral section, both administered by the student’s dissertation committee.  The oral section of the comprehensive exam is part of the dissertation proposal defense.

Fields:  Students are required to complete one area of specialization consisting of two courses and a filed paper.  It is expected that this area will be related to the objectives of the student’s dissertation.  The instructors of the field courses will provide written guidance about field papers and oversee the content of the research paper, and the instructor of the PhD research workshop (Econ 9413) oversees the mechanics of the paper.  Field requirement is satisfied after both courses have been passed and the instructor(s) of both field courses as well as Econ 9413 approve the field paper.  The areas of specialization from which the student can choose are listed below.  The department commits itself to offering a second course in any field to all students who have completed an initial course in the field, within two semesters of the student completing the initial course (not counting the summer semester).  This course may consist of a readings course with one of the faculty members in the field in lieu of a regular course.  If a readings course is provided, then the faculty member is required to provide the department with the reading list for the course.

List of fields and courses:

Econometrics – Economics 9474 and 9476 or 9477

Industrial Organization – Economics 9455 and 9456 or 9471

International Economics – Any two of Economics 9425, 9426, or 9460

Labor Economics – Economics 9411 and 9412

Monetary Economics – Economics 9430 and 9431

Public Economics – Economics 9415 and 9416

Public Policy – Public/International – Economics 9415 or 9416 and Economics 9425, 9426, or 9460

Quantitative Microeconomic Policy Analysis – Economics 9446 and 9447

Dissertation:  The dissertation must make a substantial contribution to knowledge.  Upon completion of the dissertation, students pursuing the Ph.D. degree must pass a final oral examination.  This exam can include an evaluation of the dissertation, the student's defense of the dissertation, and the student's general comprehension of economics, and is open to the academic community.

Statement on Satisfactory Progress:  I) Taking and completing required course work on schedule and maintaining a GPA of at least 3.0.  II) Enrollment in a full-time program of study, i.e., completion of at least nine credit hours per semester.  III) Taking and passing qualifying and comprehensive examinations on schedule.  IV) Completing the field requirement on schedule.

Ph.D. Required Plan of Study

Fall Semester Year 1 Spring Semester Year 1
Econ 9451: Advanced Micro Theory I Econ 9452: Advanced Micro Theory II
Econ 9453: Advanced Macro Theory I Econ 9454: Advanced Macro Theory II
Econ 9472: Advanced Econometrics I Econ 9473: Advanced Econometrics II
Econ 8370: Mathematics for Economics*  

* Econ 8370 will be taken during a two-week camp in early August.

Qualifying exam (micro, macro & econometrics) at end of Year 1.

Fall Semester Year 2 Spring Semester Year 2
Area of specialization (course 1)** Area of specialization (course 2)**
Econ 9xxx: Economics Elective Econ 9xxx: Economics Elective
Econ 9xxx: Economics Elective Econ 9xxx: Economics Elective

** Econometrics field is composed of 9474 and one of the following 2 classes: 9476, 9477.

Field paper for area of specialization completed by end of fall semester of Year 3.

Fall Semester Year 3 Spring Semester Year 3
Econ 9413: Ph.D. Research Workshop Econ 9413: Ph.D. Research Workshop
Econ 9085 or 9480*** Econ 9085 or 9480***

*** May be substituted by other elective classes from economics, statistics, or mathematics upon recommendation by dissertation supervisor.

Dissertation proposal/PhD comprehensive exam completed by end of Year 4.

Years 4 & 5   
PhD research (Econ 9090)  
Final oral examination by end of Year 5