Requirements and Recommendations


Registration. Students must register with the Graduate School for the fall and spring semesters of six years or until the dissertation is submitted. The registration must be continuous unless a formal leave of absence is obtained. During the six-year period, failure to register without a leave of absence is the same as withdrawal from the program. The Graduate School may refuse to register a student who has not met either the School’s requirements or those of the Economics Department for adequate progress. Refusing to register students withdraws them from the program.

Residence Requirement. Students are required to reside in the New Haven area for at least three years while studying for their Ph.D.

Advancement to Candidacy. A student is advanced to candidacy after having completed all requirements but the dissertation. These requirements are described below. Important Graduate School regulations regarding advancement to candidacy are the following:

  1. Students must advance to candidacy prior to registration for the seventh semester. Students will not be permitted to register if they are not advanced to candidacy by that time.
  2. Students who have advanced to candidacy must continue to register through the sixth year or until submission of the dissertation, whichever comes first.

Registration Limit. Students may not register for more than six years (i.e., 12 semesters), unless they receive a waiver of this rule from the Graduate School. Waivers are granted for students whose dissertation research requires, for instance, extensive fieldwork or learning a foreign language. Students may, however, submit dissertations after the six-year limit, provided they have advanced to candidacy. Students who are not registered are not eligible for financial aid and may not earn money as teaching assistants or part-time acting instructors.

Two Honors. Before registering for the third year of study, students must receive a grade of honors in at least one year long graduate course or two semester graduate courses in economics. As the Graduate School does not distinguish the grades of H+, H, and H–, this requirement may be met by receiving at least an H– in two graduate courses in economics.

Qualifying Examination. Students must pass a general examination separate from course examinations. In the Economics Department, the oral examination, described below, serves as the qualifying examination.

Prospectus. A dissertation prospectus must be submitted to at least two department faculty members, be signed by them, and then approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The prospectus should describe the topic of research, and contain an explanation of its importance, a quick review of what has been done by other researchers on the subject, a description of the dissertation’s contribution and of the methods and source material to be used, a tentative outline of the dissertation, and a provisional timetable for the feasibility of completing it within two or three years. A more detailed description can be found in the Economics Department Expectations for the Prospectus.


Exceptions to these requirements may be obtained only by vote of the Economics faculty. Exceptions are granted in recognition of extenuating circumstances.

Prior to Registration for the Second Year.

  1. Students must have taken for credit and passed at least six economics graduate courses.
  2. Students must pass written comprehensive examinations in micro and macro economics. These are given in May and late August of each year. They may be taken in August prior to the first year of study with permission of the Director of Graduate Studies. They must be taken in the spring term of the first year of study and in the event of failure in August of the same year. Students may take the comprehensive examinations no more than two times. Students who have not passed the exam prior to their second year of study will be permitted to register as a Masters candidate for the following fall semester for the purpose of completing enough courses to be eligible for the degree. The microeconomics and macroeconomics exams will be given on two different days for at least three hours. The exams scheduled in the spring term will occur 7 days after the end of course exams. The questions on the comp exams will be on topics listed in the micro and macro course syllabi from the immediately proceeding year. Each exam will be graded separately and in the event of failure, students will retake only the part of the exam they do not pass. Note: Comprehensive Exams taken by students prior to their first year will be graded as a pass only if they are a “solid” pass, rather than a “minimal” pass.

Prior to Registration for the Third Year.

  1. Students must have met the two honors requirement specified by the Graduate School.
  2. Students must have taken at least 14 semester courses in economics and have received a grade of at least P– in each of them. With the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies, courses in related fields and independent reading courses can be used to fulfill this requirement. Workshops may not be used to satisfy it.
  3. Students must have received an average of at least HP in the courses they have taken. The admissibility of courses for this requirement is the same as for the 14 course requirement mentioned above. Grades within the Economics Department include pluses and minuses. The grade average is computed as follows. A failure counts as a zero, a P– as a 1, a P as a 2, a P+ as a 3, an HP– as a 4, and so on up to a 9 for an H+. The arithmetic average of these numbers must be at least 4.5.
  4. All students should submit a draft of their applied econometrics paper.
  5. All students must take their first attempt at each of their two oral exams by June 30 of their second year of the program. The examination tests a student’s general analytic ability in economics and knowledge of two fields chosen by the student. At least one of the fields must have substantial empirical and institutional content. Such fields are drawn from a departmental list that includes labor economics, market organization, macroeconomics, financial economics, behavioral economics, economics of the public sector and the environment, international trade and finance, economic development, and comparative economic systems. Students may also choose as one of their fields mathematical economics, advanced micro and macroeconomic theory, economic history, or econometrics. Students may request examination in a special field designed in consultation with faculty members. The choice of fields must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.  Students may take the oral exam in one field no more than twice. An oral examination that was failed on the first try must be retaken in the fall of the third year, and the retake must be in the same field. Students are given the opportunity to list two preferred examiners in each field. Efforts are made to fill all preferences subject to faculty availability and the number of students making similar requests. The exam is question and answer on subfields the students describe. While students are expected to have a general command of their field, they should choose subfields in which they have concentrated their study. They should indicate the literature and topics which interest them. The broader the subfields, the more likely the examiners are to confine questioning to the subfields listed. Students will be expected to know in depth the material in the areas they specify. Students are required to provide field sheets for each exam which outline the topics to be discussed and the subfields they plan to prepare. Students should consult faculty members in their field of interest as they prepare their description in that field. NOTE: It is not appropriate for students to solicit or recruit faculty to sit on their committee. It is the responsibility of the Graduate Office to assign faculty examiners based on faculty availability and the number of exams in a given field. Consideration is given to the preferences listed on student sign-up sheets.

Admission to Candidacy. Recall that the Graduate School requires that students be admitted to candidacy prior to registration for the fourth year of study. Students are recommended to the Graduate School for admission to candidacy by vote of Department faculty after having completed Department requirements (1) and (2) above, the Graduate School’s prospectus requirement, and the following additional requirements:

  1. Students must have completed two one-semester prospectus workshops (one per semester). Prospectus workshops have the word “prospectus” in their title. There are other workshops. If students can find no prospectus workshop corresponding to their interests, they may substitute for this requirement other workshops. In order for workshops to count toward the prospectus workshop requirement, students must make a presentation in each workshop and present original work in one of them. This stipulation applies even if a workshop is labeled as a prospectus workshop. If students can find no workshop whatsoever in their area of interest, they may substitute an independent study guided by a faculty member, provided the independent study leads to a dissertation prospectus that is accepted.
  2. Students must receive a grade of HP– or better in Economics 551 (Econometrics II) or 552 (Econometrics III). More advanced courses may be substituted for these with special permission.
  3. Students must receive a grade of Satisfactory on an applied econometrics paper, which is evaluated by the faculty advisor of the paper and another faculty member. In the paper, the student should:
       a. Specify an economic model useful for the investigation of an interesting economic problem,
       b. Select data and econometric methods appropriate to the question,
       c. Conduct proper statistical analysis, and
       d. Interpret the results in an intelligent way.
    The Department’s description of the Applied Econometrics Paper Requirement should answer any questions you might have about it. It may be written in the the course Economics 556 or independently with the help of a faculty advisor, the standards for the paper being the same in both cases. The paper is not expected to be of publishable or nearly publishable quality, but should demonstrate facility in the application of econometric methods to an economic question. Note: Jointly authored papers will NOT be accepted.
  4. Students must complete with a grade of at least HP– a term of economic history, drawn from a list of courses approved by the Director of Graduate Studies and economic history instructors.
  5. Pass an oral examination given by a committee of faculty members.

Additional Requirements

  1. All economics doctoral students must give a dissertation prospectus to their advisory committee by the second Friday in May of their third year.  Students will be asked to provide the names of their advisory committee by February 1st
  2. In each academic year after the second, all economics doctoral students must regularly attend at least two workshops. At least one of them must be an “informal” prospectus workshop lunch or reading group, and at least one must be a “formal” research workshop. Each student must present at least once a year in one or other of the workshops that they regularly attend.
  3. Third year students must submit an econometrics paper by February 1st.

Submitting the Dissertation. The dissertation should make an original contribution to its field that demonstrates the student’s mastery of relevant resources and methods.  Although the dissertation may cover several related topics, it should have a unifying theme. The dissertation may consist of several essays or one essay of sufficient scope. The dissertation is guided by a committee of two Graduate School faculty advisors, at least one of whom must be a member of the Economics Department, who serve also as readers. After a first draft of the dissertation is completed, the Director of Graduate Studies appoints a third reader. The student and the committee may recommend third readers, but the choice remains with the Director of Graduate Studies, since the third reader serves as an independent referee.

Expiration of Admission to Candidacy. Advancement to candidacy expires ten years after the date it is granted, if no dissertation has been submitted and approved in the intervening period.

Collaborative Work in the Dissertation. The policy with respect to collaboration is to achieve a reasonable compromise between two conflicting goals. While the Department wishes to encourage collaborative research among students and between students and faculty, a dissertation should demonstrate the student’s ability to do independent research.

A substantial part of a dissertation should present work done and written solely by the student. Specifically the dissertation should contain at least one substantial essay written solely by the student. The dissertation committee and the Director of Graduate Studies must approve the inclusion of collaborative work in the dissertation. Students must acknowledge and describe any collaboration in the preface of the dissertation.


These recommendations are NOT requirements.

Normal Sequence of Courses. During the fall semester of the first year, students usually take Economics 500a (microeconomic theory), 510a (macroeconomic theory), 550a (econometrics I), and an economic history class which would satisfy the economic history requirement if a grade of at least HP– were obtained. In the following spring, they usually take Economics 501b (microeconomic theory), 511b (macroeconomic theory), 551b (econometrics II), and a fourth course in economics or related subjects, such as probability theory, mathematics, or finance. Some students who are well prepared in econometrics may take an advanced econometrics course instead of Economics 550a in the fall of their first year after consulting with the DGS and appropriate econometrics faculty. Students take the comprehensive examination in theory in May of the spring semester of their first year. If they fail the exam, then they take it again in the following August.

During the second year, students normally take economics courses in specialized fields, such as industrial organization, mathematical economics, international trade, public finance, and so on. They may also take courses related to economics from other departments. It is a good idea to work on the econometrics paper in the fall of the second year. By the end of the second year, students should normally have accumulated at least 14 courses with an HP average. During the fall of the second year, students should locate a faculty adviser, who will advise them about their studies.

The third year should normally be devoted to finding a dissertation topic and beginning research on it. Third year students typically take one prospectus workshop or seminar each semester and make a presentation in each.

Advisers and Dissertation Topics. An important task of the student is to make the transition from being a taker of classes to a participant in research. Important elements in making this transition are thinking critically about material learned, reading widely, choosing topics that are feasible and of interest to the student, and gaining contact with faculty. Students must take the initiative in making such contact.


The Master of Art degree is awarded upon completion of at least eight term graduate courses listed or cross-listed in the Department of Economics. At least six of these courses must be Ph.D. courses (not IDE courses) in the Department of Economics. The exact list of courses must be approved by the DGS in Economics. The average grade of all the graduate courses taken that are listed or cross-listed in the Department of Economics must be at least a High Pass, and at least two of these grades must be an Honors. Students must complete at least two of the three first year two-course sequences in microeconomics, macroeconomics, or econometrics for first year graduate students.

In computing the grade average, the relevant grades are those reported to the registrar and do not include pluses and minuses. A Fail counts as a zero, a Pass counts as a 1, a High pass counts as a 2 and an Honors counts as a 3.  To say that the average grade must be a High Pass means that the arithmetic average of these numbers must be at least 2.

Students in doctoral programs outside the Department of Economics may earn an MA in economics under the conditions listed in the previous two paragraphs. Such students automatically earn an MA in their own department when awarded a Ph.D., and Yale allows students to earn only one MA degree. Therefore students must apply to have the MA in their own department replaced by the Economics MA.  This application must be made to the DGS of Economics and to the DGS of the student’s own department. Prior to making this application, the student must have taken the first one-semester course in at least one of the three first-year two-course sequences in microeconomics, macroeconomics, or econometrics, and obtained a grade of at least a High Pass.  As part of the application, the student must submit a proposed list of economics courses and this list must be approved by the two DGS’s and by the appropriate dean of the Graduate School. The DGS of Economics must approve any deviation from this list, and this approval should be obtained before taking courses not on the original list.

Students working toward a JD in the Law School may also earn a Masters of Art degree in economics.  All the rules described in the previous three paragraphs apply to these students. In addition, students wishing to join this JD/MA in Economics program must apply for admission to the Economics Graduate Program.  Students admitted to the program pay three years tuition to the Law School and one year tuition to the Graduate School. The Graduate School does not offer fellowship support to JD/MA candidates.

The Economics MA earned by doctoral students in the Economics or other departments is an en route degree. The Economics MA earned by JD students in the Law School is a terminal MA.

The Master of Philosophy degree is awarded to students in the Economics Ph.D. program upon completion of fourteen term courses with at least two grades of Honors. In addition, students must pass the comprehensive examinations in economic theory and the oral examinations, and satisfy the course and paper requirements in econometrics and the course requirement in economic history.