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    Syracuse University
  Sep 20, 2017
2017-2018 Graduate Course Catalog

Economics, PhD

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The Ph.D. in Economics at Syracuse is a research-oriented degree, designed for those who want to do applied economics in an academic setting, government, international agencies, independent research organizations, or private businesses with a substantial research mission. The Graduate Program reflects the Department’s focus on research in Labor Economics, Public Economics, International Trade, Urban Economics and Econometric Theory.

Entering graduate students should have had at least one year of calculus, a course in mathematical statistics, and a course in linear algebra. In their class work, Ph.D. students take a course in mathematical economics, three courses in microeconomic theory, two courses in macroeconomic theory, three to four courses in econometrics, fulfill the requirements in two fields, as well as breadth requirements and electives totaling 51 credits.

Counting dissertation hours, the total number of credits in the program is 72 hours. Students may choose two fields from among labor economics, international economics, public economics, urban economics and econometrics. Students with particularly strong theoretical interests may take fields in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory. A student with strong interest in finance may take a field in it through the finance department of the School of Management. A student wishing to take a field in an area other than microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, labor economics, public economics, international economics, or urban economics must receive the explicit approval of the Director of Graduate Studies of the economics department.

Faculty and graduate students work closely in research, teaching, and graduate study. For example, Ph.D. students often write papers for journals and conferences with faculty members.

Faculty and graduate students work closely in research, teaching, and graduate study. For example, Ph.D. students often write papers for journals and conferences with faculty members. In addition, some graduate students participate in the Future Professoriate Program, a special university program that helps form good teaching practices. Syracuse University is one of a few universities that provide graduate students with a formal program to learn about college-level teaching practices.

Please note that the PhD program does begin in the Summer, typically the first week of July.

Admissions Requirements

Applications from all interested individuals are welcome. Current graduate students have varied undergraduate backgrounds, including economics, other social sciences, and mathematics. Completion of a master’s degree in economics is not required to enter a Ph.D. program, and most students do not obtain an M.A. degree before entering the Ph.D. program.

A person interested in studying for the Ph.D. should complete the application form found on the admissions website ( and have three letters of recommendation sent on her or his behalf. Applications with supporting materials must be received by January 15 to ensure full consideration.

In addition, an applicant should submit her or his scores from a recent general Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and transcripts of all collegiate and post-collegiate work. An applicant whose first language is not English should submit the results of a recent TOEFL examination. Please note that the Economics Department does NOT accept IELTS in place of TOEFL.  Preference for graduate assistantship is given to students with TOEFL scores of 100 (ITOTL) and above.

Financial Support

Merit-based financial aid awards are available to support study in the Ph.D. program in the form of fellowships and graduate assistantships. Financial support is renewed each year for four years of study, subject to maintaining satisfactory performance in the Ph.D. program. The deadline for submitting applications for a University Fellowship or the deadline for a graduate assistantship is January 15, 2018, although later applications are considered for the assistantship awards. Candidates for admission who do not require University financial support may apply at any date.


Economics applicants compete with Economics Department Ph.D. applicants for one University Fellowship. Winners receive a fellowship in their first and fourth years of study and receive graduate assistantship in their second and third years. Fellowships include a stipend ($25,290 in 2017-18) and a full-tuition scholarship for 30 credits for the academic year. Students receiving a fellowship have no service responsibilities to the University during the years that they are on the fellowship. Recipients are required to take 15 credits each semester that they are on fellowship. Fellowship recipients can opt to have University health care insurance coverage at a modest fee. Fellowship stipends are taxable under the state and federal government laws.

Graduate Assistantships

The Economics doctoral program provides opportunities to obtain teaching experience and to participate in research projects with faculty. Most entering and continuing graduate students have teaching assistantships. All teaching assistants participate in the unique Teaching Assistant Orientation Program conducted by the Graduate School. As a teaching assistant, students eventually gain experience in all aspects of teaching, from exam preparation and grading to lecture their own classes, usually teaching in the Division of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

Advanced graduate students may elect to compete for research assistantships. Research assistantships are available, through the Center for Policy Research, a research institute within the Maxwell School, or through faculty members who have externally sponsored research projects. It is useful for students to serve as both teaching and research assistants during their time in the doctoral program.

Graduate assistantships are renewed each academic year on the basis of satisfactory progress in the Ph.D. program and of the recent performance as a teaching or research assistant. Assistantships include a stipend for the academic year ($18,650 in 2016-17) and a subsidy toward health insurance coverage for the year. Assistantships require 20 hours of service per week in teaching, grading, or research. A full graduate tuition scholarship for 24 hours of course work per year is also awarded with the assistantship. Students with assistantships take 9 hours of courses during each semester, and use their remaining 6 hours during the summer to register for additional courses or for dissertation credits. Graduate stipends are subject to tax by state and federal government but, at this time, are not subject to the social security payroll tax.

Summer Support

The economics department offers opportunities for teaching, research, and summer fellowship support. Summer funding is also available to graduate students through externally funded research projects. All summer support is subject to taxation by the state and federal governments but, at this time, is not subject to the Social Security payroll tax.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Introduction and practice of fundamental knowledge of econometric methods

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. degree in Economics at Syracuse is designed to be completed in four years, but five years to completion is common. In the normal program, after 30 credits of graduate course work in economics, students in the Ph.D. program qualify for a master’s degree in economics and may apply for one in the Department office.

The Ph.D. program consists of three stages:

1. Completion of graduate course work with an average grade of B or better.

2. Satisfactory performance on both the qualifying examination and the field comprehensive examination(s).

3. Submission and successful defense of the dissertation

In practice these stages are intermingled, but it is useful to describe them separately:


For students entering with no prior graduate work, the course work generally consists of 2½ to 3 years (51 credits) of graduate work credits and 21 hours of dissertation credit hours. The program builds on a set of core courses and includes elective courses that allow for breadth of study in economics.

The core courses include:

1. 601 , 611 , 612 : Microeconomic Theory I, II, and III

2. 613 , 614 : Macroeconomic Theory I and II

3. 605 , 620 , 621 , 622 : Mathematics for Economists, Mathematical Statistics, and Econometrics I and II.

    *605 and 620 are taken in the summer of the students’ first year.

In addition to the core courses, each student studies two fields, in which they develop considerable expertise. The course work beyond the core is applied toward the field courses and the fulfillment of program breadth requirements.

Field Coursework:

Two Ph.D.-level courses in each field. Students supplement with related courses offered in the Department.

Breadth Requirement:

The breadth requirement may be satisfied by ECN 615  (History of Economic Thought), ECN 720  (Advanced Econometrics) and other courses offered in applied economics fields in The Maxwell School or courses related to Economics. Students should consult about fulfilling the breadth requirements with the Director of the Graduate Studies as well as with other economics faculty members who may serve as graduate advisors.

Dissertation Workshop I and II:

In Dissertation Workshop I, ECN 820 , students learn essential research skills, develop a dissertation proposal, and write basic dissertation chapters. Dissertation Workshop II, ECN 821 , is a seminar with students presenting dissertation research in progress.

Course Schedule

A typical course schedule for a student on a graduate assistantship is as follows:

Summer 2019

Qualifying Examination

Fall 2019

Spring 2020

Summer 2020

Field Examination

Fall 2020

  • ECN 821 - Dissertation Workshop II 3 credit(s)
  • ECN Breadth
  • ECN Breadth
  • The fourth and fifth years are dedicated to dissertation research and writing. Students with graduate assistantships should register for up to six dissertation hours or take courses during the summer semesters.

Transfer Credits

A student who has taken graduate course work at another institution and wishes to matriculate in our Ph.D. program can transfer course credits to Syracuse University. A student may transfer up 24 credits of course work from another institution. A graduate course is eligible for transfer credit if the grade in the course is 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or better. Students who transfer courses should review their programs of study with the Director of Graduate Studies before they begin coursework at Syracuse, so that courses are not repeated.


The department regularly offers four applied fields. These fields are labor economics, international economics, public economics, and urban.

Special Fields

A student with a particularly strong interest may also apply to the Graduate Committee for a field in economic theory or econometrics. The course work for an economic theory field is selected in consultation with a professor who will assume responsibility for both the supervision of the field and the comprehensive examination in the field. A field in econometrics requires two courses (in addition to ECN 620 , 621 , 622 ): consisting of two separate offerings of ECN 720 , Topics in Econometrics.

Financial Economics

A student whose interests and research goals would benefit from a deeper understanding of financial economics may be permitted to take a second field in financial economics. Course work and the comprehensive examination in this field are administered by the Finance Department in the School of Management.

The field can focus on either corporate finance or investment. Completion of the following courses with a grade of B or better is required in order to take a comprehensive exam in financial economics: FIN 601, 751, 855, and 960 (Topics in Corporate Finance). FIN 601, 756, 758, 960 (Topics on Investment) must be completed for a concentration in investment. The Economics Department can make no assurance as to the availability of these classes or to the timing of the examination. A student wishing to take a field in financial economics must receive the explicit approval of the Graduate Committee and the Chairperson of the Department of Finance.


Students take two comprehensive qualifying examinations in areas of microeconomic theory and econometrics; and a comprehensive examination in one of the fields. Students not passing an examination are able to retake it once. Progress toward the degree and grades to that date generally determine whether the student is advised to continue in the Ph.D. program.

Qualifying Examination

Students take the qualifying examinations in late June, after one year of study. By that time, students will have completed courses in Microeconomic Theory (601 , 611 ) and Econometrics (620 , 621 , 622 ). An average grade of B or better in these courses is normally required to take the qualifying examination, although the Director of Graduate Studies can make exceptions for unusual cases. Students who do not pass either qualifying examination in late June, may retake the examination late July of the same year

Field Examinations

Students must take a comprehensive examination in their primary field which will be one of the four fields. The field exam is normally given in late May after the completion of the second year of study. The second field may be fulfilled through course work if the course grades are high enough, or through a comprehensive examination. Students will normally take the field examinations at the next scheduled sitting following the completion of the field examination sequence (even if a grade of incomplete is recorded). Not taking the examination at the next scheduled sitting will count as a failure.

Field 1: At least two courses must be completed in the primary field, which is one of the four fields offered within the department. The exact sequence of courses varies according to field. Grades of B or better in both courses are required to take the comprehensive examination in the field.

Field 2: At least two courses must be completed in the second field. The second field is usually one of the department’s four regularly offered fields. If the student receives an average grade of B+ or better in the course work for the second field, the requirements for the second field are complete. Students without a B+ average in the course work will take a comprehensive examination in the second field or follow some other approved remedial action. The rules governing Field 2 apply to students taking a field in econometrics. Separate arrangements for examination are made when a student takes a field in economic theory.


The dissertation involves original, independent (though guided) research, using economic theory and quantitative methods to solve research problems of interest to the student and the profession. Our program is designed so that students begin planning dissertations during their third year (or earlier) and aim to finish them by the end of their fifth year. The dissertation workshop sequence beginning in the second year introduces research topics of interest to the profession, guides the selection of a topic and an advisor, and help the candidate make a smooth transition from course work to research in the economics profession.

Satisfactory Progress

Only students making satisfactory progress are eligible for departmental support. A student is making satisfactory progress as of the beginning of the second year if he or she has

  • passed all first year core courses;
  • maintained a cumulative average of 3.0 or better;
  • earned a grade point average of 3.0 or better in ECN 613  and ECN 614 , and
  • passed both the econometric and microeconomic qualifying examinations

A student is making satisfactory progress at the beginning of the third year if he or she has

  • passed all second year core courses;
  • maintained a cumulative average of 3.0 or better; and
  • passed his or her preliminary field comprehensive examination

A student is making satisfactory progress at the beginning of the fourth year if he or she has

  • maintained a cumulative average of 3.0 or better; and
  • completed his or her secondary field requirements

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