Mason's nationally ranked graduate programs in economics are noted for their emphasis on comparative institutional analysis and their concentration on the relationships among economic, political, and legal institutions. This distinction is illuminated by the fields of study associated with the department: experimental economics, Austrian economics, public choice, constitutional political economy, law and economics, and new institutional economics. Research in the Economics Department covers a broad spectrum, from problems of current interest to fundamental questions of economic and social organization.
The core courses of the program train students in modern theory and quantitative techniques. The field courses stress the application of theory to relevant economic problems. Dissertation work requires students to master and apply their skills to original research. The department emphasizes publishing, and many graduate students have articles accepted for publication in professional journals.
The program prepares students for careers in academia, business, and government.
Students who enter with a master’s degree in economics 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.
A typical first-year program of study for a full-time doctoral student includes ECON 811, 830, and 715 in the fall; ECON 637, 812, and 816 in the spring; and micro and macro comprehensive exams in August. A typical second-year program includes Field 1 and Field 2 in the fall; Field 1 (continued) and Field 2 (continued) in the spring; and field exams in August. If possible, part-time students should arrange their work schedules to take two courses per semester in the first year. Doctoral students must enroll at the Fairfax Campus for their required theory and mathematics courses.