College of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD in Economics

The PhD in economics prepares students for careers in academia, business, and government. Core courses train students in modern theory and quantitative techniques, while field courses stress the application of theory to relevant economic problems. Dissertation work requires students to master and apply the skills of original research. The department emphasizes publishing; many students have had articles accepted for publication in professional journals while in the graduate program. Research in the Department of Economics covers a broad spectrum, from problems of immediate policy importance to fundamental questions of economic and social organization.

For policies governing all graduate degrees, see the Academic Policies section of the catalog.

Reduction of Credit

Students who enter with a master’s degree may have their credit requirement reduced by up to 30 credits, depending on the department's judgment about the degree of closeness of that work to work that would have been taken at George Mason University. Reduction also requires approval of the dean. Requests for reduction of credit are reviewed only after acceptance to the doctoral program.

Program of Study

All students must have an approved program of study as specified in the Requirements for Doctoral Degrees section of the catalog.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements (Catalog Year 2016-2017)

The program requires 72 credits of coursework and dissertation. Students must earn a minimum GPA of 3.00 in coursework applied to the degree. No more than two courses with a grade of 2.00 may be applied toward the degree.

Doctoral Course Work (48-60 credits)

Six core courses (18 credits)

ECON 637 - Econometrics I Credits: 3

ECON 715 - Macroeconomic Theory I Credits: 3

ECON 811 - Microeconomic Theory I Credits: 3

ECON 812 - Microeconomic Theory II Credits: 3

ECON 816 - Macroeconomic Theory II Credits: 3

ECON 830 - Mathematical Economics I Credits: 3 or ECON 831 - Mathematical Economics II Credits: 3

Elective courses (30-42 credits)

Students choose their electives from economics courses in any of the fields offered by the department. Students may substitute up to 6 credits of courses outside economics in closely related fields with prior written approval of the director of the graduate program. ECON 695 Special Topics cannot be applied toward PhD requirements.

Qualifying exams

Students must successfully pass qualifying exams in microeconomics and macroeconomics.

Field exams

Students must successfully pass field exams in two knowledge areas.  Subject to course availability, the department offers courses in the following fields of study on which the knowledge area field exams will be based. Because the specific courses offered each year vary, students should consult the department for the courses that can be used for each field.

    • Austrian economics
    • Constitutional political economy
    • Economic history
    • Experimental economics
    • Industrial organization
    • Individualized field exam
    • Institutions and development
    • Law and economics
    • Monetary theory
    • Public choice
    • Smithian political economy

Advancement to Candidacy

To advance to candidacy, students must complete all course work required on their approved program of study and all exams. In addition, students must have a dissertation committee appointed by the dean as well as an approved proposal. Evidence of the approved proposal must be on file in the Dean’s Office before a student can advance to candidacy.

Dissertation Research (12 to 24 credits)

Once enrolled in 998, students in the economics doctoral program must maintain continuous registration in 998 or 999 each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Libraries. Once enrolled in 999, students must follow the university’s continuous registration policy as specified in the Academic Policies section of the catalog. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of 999.

Students must complete a minimum of 3 credits of 999. They may apply a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 24 dissertation credits (998 and 999 combined) to the degree.

ECON 998 - Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Research Credits: 1-9

ECON 999 - Doctoral Dissertation Research Credits: 1-15 (minimum of 3 credits)

Total: 72 credits

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