Curriculum and Degree Information

Students in the Ph.D. program in Economics must complete a minimum of 60 credits, which includes required courses, electives, and seminars; maintain satisfactory standing; pass a first and second examination; and conduct original research for a dissertation and defense.

All students must follow an approved program of study. Programs can be approved by either the Executive Officer or the Deputy Executive Officer.

Students should familiarize themselves with the following requirements to succeed in the Ph.D. Program in Economics:

For reference, sample paths to degree and information about the en-route M.A. degree are also available. 

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.

Sixty-Credit Requirement

At least 60 credits of approved graduate work are required for the Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. Program in Economics are 3 or 4 credits, depending on the specific course. 

There are several required courses, including two courses in Microeconomics, two courses in Macroeconomics, and three courses in Econometrics. The third required course in Econometrics is either Applied Microeconometrics or Applied Macroeconometrics and is normally taken in the second year in the program. In addition, all students are required to complete a three-credit course in Economic History or the History of Economic Thought.

Further, students will participate in the ongoing program Seminar in Applied Economics. Students must take the seminar one time for credit and have an option of taking it a second time for credit. The seminar may be audited in subsequent semesters. Attendance will begin following completion of the Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics course requirements for the first examination. Some students will be selected in their advanced stage to present papers at this seminar.

All students also must complete the course Research Methods and Writing in Economics, normally in the student’s second year of study. This course, inter alia, contains a component involving the student presentation of his/her own research papers and a critique of them by students and the instructor.

Students who are recipients of a teaching fellowship (GCF) must complete a no-credit course in Teaching Strategies offered either by the department or The Graduate Center during their first academic year (prior to teaching assignments).

A new, full-time student who has completed the mathematics requirements (see 1.C) would normally take the first Micro, Macro, and Econometrics courses during his or her first semester and the second course in each sequence in the second semester. First-year students might also take courses in Economic History.

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.

The 60-credit requirement for a full-time student without previous graduate work in economics is typically fulfilled as follows:


Core Courses (Micro, Macro, and Econometrics) 24 credits
Economic History or History of Economic Thought 3 credits
Research Methods and Writing in Economics 4 credits
Applied Micro-Econometrics, or Applied Macro-Econometrics 4 credits
Seminar in Applied Economics (one semester) 3 credits
Advanced Level Field Courses (2 courses per field) 12 credits
Electives* (which may include Individual Research units and/or additional course work in the two advanced fields, or an additional course in applied econometrics, or an additional semester of the Seminar in Applied Economics.) 10 credits
Total 60 credits

*Students may take up to 3 electives on a Pass/Fail basis.

The 60 credit requirement 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 course replace a required course in the program. In most cases transferred courses will be given “blanket,” or nonspecific, credit. 

Faculty Mentorship

All graduate work is carried out under the direct and regular supervision of faculty. At the time of admission, the Executive Officer or Deputy Executive Officer acts as the student’s mentor, and continues to do so until the student determines the field in which he or she would like to specialize.

At that time, in consultation with the Executive Officer or Deputy Executive Officer, the student will choose an adviser in his or her desired field of specialization. Typically, this adviser will also be the student’s dissertation adviser. The faculty mentor will advise the student regarding issues such as advancing in a professional career. If the student decides to change his or her field of specialization, he or she may choose to change advisers. It is the student’s responsibility to choose an adviser and to inform the adviser of his or her interests and intentions.

In addition to being advised by doctoral faculty, all new incoming students are assigned a student mentor as part of the peer advisement program.

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.

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. View details of the First Examination.

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 Graduate Center) with at least a B average, complete all required courses, and pass the Second Examination. View details of 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


The dissertation process starts after completion of the level 2 requirements by successfully passing the second examination and satisfying the 60-credit requirement of the GC. Working closely with faculty mentors, the student will develop a dissertation proposal, a dissertation composed of original research, and an oral defense. View details of the dissertation

Professional Development and Ethics

Graduates from the Ph.D. Program in Economics will demonstrate that they have achieved the program’s professional development goals and show commitment to the standards for conducting ethical research. These goals are measured by the following:

Learning Goals: Students are expected to have demonstrated mastery of the discipline of economics in general, and their own specialization in particular, at a level that would permit them to find employment as professional economists in academia, business, and government.

To achieve this goal, The Economics program pursues two broad objectives.  First, students must have the skills to become successful employees.  Common between these employment targets is a need to make effective presentations, to conduct high-quality research, and to write well.  Second, students must have the skills to make both successful entry and productive transitions in their employment market, key to continued growth on the career path.

(i)  Development of the presentation, research and writing skills


  • Successful completion of a course entitled Research Methods and Writing in Economics, a required element of the Second Examination.  In this course, students write a paper that is graded by both the course instructor and a second reader who is a specialist in the field that the paper addresses, and they make presentations on their research topic.
  • As part of the Level 2 requirements, successful completion of the course in Applied Macroeconomics or Applied Microeconomics.  The course provides students with state-of-the-art tools in applied econometrics, which they use in their dissertation and providing them with skills to advance in their career.  

  • Incorporation in field courses of term papers, referee reports on published works and short essay assignments as part of their course grade.

  • Successful completion of the department’s Applied Economics Seminar as part of level 2 requirements.  This seminar features guest speakers and resident faculty giving presentations of their research.  Students discuss the presented papers and write reports on them.  Those preparing to go to the academic job market are required to present their dissertation research in this seminar.   Students in the health and demography field are expected to attend the monthly Health and Demography Seminar each semester.

  • Participation in the student-run seminar that meets bimonthly where students present their preliminary research in front of their peers.

  • Conference participation at NBER’s annual spring and summer Health Economics Meetings in Cambridge, Massachusetts, funded by The National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) for students specializing in health economics.

  • Completion of the course in Teaching Strategies in Economics. The course is required for the Graduate Teaching Fellows and other students planning to take adjunct jobs are invited to attend this semester-long seminar on teaching during the first year of their appointment.

  • Teaching Evaluations: the EO collects the evaluations sent by the HR and monitors the progress of the Graduate Teaching Fellows, and keeps a close contact with campus chairs concerning the students teaching in the campuses.

(ii)  Development of Skills In Job Market Search


  • Seminar series on information about job search: At the beginning of the last year prior to graduation, students are invited to a short series of seminars where the hiring process in the field of economics is described: preparing the application package; locating job market opportunities; anticipating the timeline of evaluation and invitation to job interviews at major economics conferences; the fly-out; the campus interview; Students are invited to submit their application package to supervising faculty and to the Executive Officer and Deputy Executive Officer for comment.
  • Mock interviews: Students are invited to participate in mock interviews that resemble conditions at the job interview at the conferences or at the academic campus or corporate office. 

  • Job talks: Students are invited to present their “job market paper” in front of faculty and peer students, and feedback is provided.  

  • Contacts with Alumni:  The Program organizes an annual Alumni Day at the Graduate Center where alumni come and meet students, and where a Roundtable Discussion addresses an important topic of current interest.  Faculty also keeps close connection to alumni for placement purposes.  The Program maintains a current list of alumni that is accessible on our website.

Learning Goals: Students should develop the ability to adopt and demonstrate commitment to the standards for conducting ethical research.  Economics Program three aspects of ethical behavior: (i) data mining, selective reporting of results, falsification of results, and providing data for replication; (ii) research data, which describe individuals or firms are confidential, therefore must be carefully protected in order to safeguard the privacy of survey respondents; (iii) avoiding plagiarism and documenting sources properly. 


The Economics Program assesses students’ grounding in professional ethics in several ways:

  • Successful completion of the course in Research Methods and Writing in Economics, which covers plagiarism and documentation, the ethical aspects of the range of issues on “data mining”, selective reporting of results, falsification of results, and providing data for replication.  
  • Completion of the IRB exam about data confidentiality (in specific courses).

  • Completion of the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training as directed in CUNY’s RCR Training Plan.

  • Incorporation in Econometrics I and II the statistical and econometric consequences of data mining.


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.