Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

    Jun 13, 2024  
American University Catalog 2023-2024 
American University Catalog 2023-2024

Economics (PhD)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Programs

Offered by the Department of Economics , College of Arts and Sciences .

Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, applicants must earn a satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general tests (verbal, math, analytical). Admission is based on academic record, test scores, and at least two letters of recommendation. Applicants who are not native speakers of English must submit the results of TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). In general, a B+ average for previous undergraduate work or a B+/A- average for previous graduate work, whichever is more recent, is the minimum required. (Most students admitted have higher grade averages.) As a rule, students are admitted for the fall semester only; application must be made by the previous February 1 in order to be considered for financial support.

Degree Requirements

  • 45 credit hours of approved graduate work, exclusive of ECON-898 Doctoral Continuing Enrollment (1-9) /ECON-899 Doctoral Dissertation (9) 
    • 18 credit hours of core courses, normally taken during the first year of study
    • With the permission of the program director and in accordance with university academic regulations, transfer credits may be applied to the PhD program. Customarily the number of total credits transferred to the program would be no greater than 6 credit hours
  • Preliminary theory comprehensive examination based on ECON-802 Macroeconomic Analysis I (3)  and ECON-803 Microeconomic Analysis I (3)  must be completed after taking those courses, normally at the end of the first year. A student who fails the comprehensive examination may apply to the program director for one additional attempt
  • Program of study must be approved prior to registration for courses beyond the core courses, normally in the second semester of the first year. The program of study must identify the courses to be taken in the tracks, rotations, and research seminars. The selection of courses must be justified as helping prepare for a dissertation
    • Advanced theory track: Students must complete one of the following two-course sequences, normally in the second year: microeconomics, macroeconomics, or heterodox economics
    • Rotations: Students must take one economics history course and four additional applied courses in preparation for their dissertation. The selection of courses in the rotation must be justified in the program of study and should reflect a student’s interest in a particular field of study
    • Research seminars: Students must complete one empirical research seminar (ECON-882 Seminar in Empirical Macroeconomics (3)  or ECON-883 Seminar in Empirical Microeconomics (3) ), normally in the fall semester of the third year. Students must complete at least three credit hours of ECON-897 Doctoral Dissertation Seminar (3) , normally in the fall and spring of the third year. If approved by the program director, a field research seminar can be used as a substitute for ECON-897  
  • Research paper: Students must submit a substantial and original research paper prior to defending the dissertation proposal. The paper is due on the last day of the academic year in which course requirements are completed. The paper serves as a comprehensive examination. The paper must be graded on a pass/fail basis by a faculty member of the department. A student who does not submit a passing paper by the due date may apply to the program director to submit a revised paper. Resubmission is due on the first day of the following fall semester and is graded by at least two faculty members
  • Dissertation:
    • Committee approval: Subject to applicable university academic regulations, students must identify an eligible faculty member working in their area of interest who is willing to become chair of their dissertation committee as well as at least two additional dissertation committee members. Students must obtain approval for the composition of the committee, normally in the third year
    • Proposal defense: Subject to applicable university academic regulations and departmental requirements, students must submit a written proposal to the dissertation committee prior to the dissertation proposal defense. Students must successfully present and defend a dissertation proposal to an approved dissertation committee, normally at the end of the third year but no later than the end of the fourth year
    • Oral dissertation defense: When the actual dissertation is nearly finished, an oral defense of the complete draft dissertation is held. The oral defense includes the dissertation committee as well as an outside member that meets the qualifications as stipulated in the applicable university academic regulations. Final approval of the dissertation depends on satisfactory completion of any changes required by the committee members following the oral defense. Dissertations are subject to all applicable university regulations

Course Requirements

Rotations (15 credit hours)

Research Seminars (6 credit hours)


Complete 3 credit hours from the following, or substitute field seminar approved by program director:

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Academic Programs