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Requirements for Degree

Required Preparation in Economics and Mathematics

All incoming students are required to have completed courses in Intermediate Microeconomics and Intermediate Macroeconomics at the undergraduate level. Further, all incoming students are required to have a knowledge of calculus and linear algebra (two courses of undergraduate calculus and one course in linear algebra, or the equivalent). Successful completion (B grade or better) of undergraduate courses in these areas will normally satisfy this requirement.  Even so, students are strongly advised to take additional, more advanced courses in mathematics, such as differential equations and real analysis.  In addition, students are required to have had at least one course in undergraduate statistics and one course in undergraduate econometrics.

The core courses in Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, and Econometrics are taught on the assumption that students have the required preparation in economics and mathematics.

Criteria for Advancement

Level I to Level II: Advancement from Level I to Level II requires the student to complete 45 credits and to pass all three parts of the First Examination (Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics). For the First Examination, students must take written exams in three areas but may have the written exam in a third area waived if they have at least a B average in its respective course sequence. Students must complete the First Examination within the first two years. Click HERE for more details.

Level II to Level III: Advancement from Level II to Level III requires the student to be advanced to Candidacy. Advancement to Candidacy requires that the student complete 60 credits (at least 30 of which must be taken at the CUNY Graduate Center) with at least a B average, complete all required courses, and pass the Second Examination. Click HERE for more details on the Second Examination. 

The list of required courses that must be completed prior to advancement from Level II to Level III consists of the following:

  • The six core courses in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics that are the basis of the First Examination
  • Two courses each in two Advanced Fields of Study
  • One of the following two: (i) Applied Macroeconometrics, (ii) Applied Microeconometrics
  • One of the following: (i) History of Economic Thought, (ii) American Economic History, (iii) European Economic History [Note: If none of these courses are offered in a given academic year, another field course may be substituted subject to the approval of the Executive Officer.]
  • Research Methods and Writing in Economics
  • Applied Economics Seminar

Standards for Retention

The student's record will be evaluated at the end of each academic year, and his or her matriculation may be terminated for unsatisfactory scholastic performance.

To maintain a satisfactory standing in the program, the student must meet the following standards:

1. A quantitative standard -- The student must maintain a minimum cumulative average of 3.0 (a "B" average).

2. The Graduate Center also defines satisfactory progress as having no more than two incompletes at any one time and completion of degree in a timely fashion (see The Graduate Center Bulletin and Student Handbook for additional details).

3. The First Examination requirements must be completed in a timely manner as described in section below.

These requirements are interrelated. Together they provide an overall profile for each student's progression in the program and a means for determining the status of the student.

Sixty-Credit Requirement

At least 60 credits of approved graduate work are required for the Ph.D. in Economics.  These may include up to 30 acceptable graduate credits taken prior to admission to the program, provided the courses were completed with a grade of B or higher within an appropriate period preceding the time of application and are equivalent to comparable courses at the City University.  An evaluation of previously earned credits will be made after the student has passed the First Examination.

To apply for an evaluation of transfer credits, the student should fill out an “Advanced Credits” form, available in the program office, and have it approved by the Executive Officer.

Students who plan to transfer credit should be aware that only in special cases and at the discretion of the Executive Officer will a transferred courses replace a required course in the program. In most cases transferred courses will be given “blanket,” or nonspecific, credit.  

Students may take courses in other related fields, such as corporate financce, mathematics, statistics, etc., with approval of the Executive Officer.  Such courses may be counted toward the 60-credit requirement if they fit into a rationally designed overall student program in Economics.

At least 30 of the credits required for the degree must be taken in residence at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York.   Doctoral students are expected to spend one year in full-time residence at The Graduate Center.  Full-time residence consists of a schedule of no fewer than 7 credits. Courses in the PhD Program in Economics are 3 or 4 credits, depending on the specific course. 


Before receiving his/her degree, each student in the Economics Program is strongly encouraged to have taught a course in college- or graduate-level economics under his/her sole control. The student must normally have the title of Adjunct Lecturer or Teaching Fellow in CUNY, but equivalent positions inside and outside CUNY may be approved by the Executive Officer.

Last updated: April 16, 2019