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Field Descriptions

Development Economics

Development has long been one of the strengths of the Yale Economics Department. The field benefits from its rich history of leadership in the profession, and from the institutional support of the Economic Growth Center. The focus of the group is on empirical microeconomic analysis of development using a wide variety of methods.

Overview of Courses

We offer a two semester sequence. Econ 730 and Econ 731 together cover a wide variety of topics, including household modeling; the organization and analysis of production in firms and farms; informal institutions, including families and networks; aspects of risk; analysis of credit, land and labor markets; savings; education; health; aggregate growth; project evaluation; and technology adoption.


There is a development economics seminar that meets weekly at which faculty from other universities and advanced graduate students make presentations. The Economic Growth Center also sponsors a weekly lunch at which more informal presentations of work in early stages are made by faculty and graduate students.


Yale has one of the finest research groups in econometrics in the academic world. The department has consistently led international rankings in econometrics over the last three decades. Our faculty have research interests in all the major fields of econometrics, and the department provides a rich training ground and finishing school for aspiring econometricians. Over the past thirty years, the department has nurtured the development of more than 70 econometrics Ph.Ds, many of whom are now prominent econometricians working in universities, government agencies, or the financial industry.  

Yale faculty play leading editorial roles in the major econometrics journals. The journal Econometric Theory has been hosted at Yale since its establishment in 1985. Following its longstanding tradition of supporting research in quantitative economics, the Cowles Foundation provides a uniquely supportive environment for econometric work in all its modern manifestations from theory to practice and amidst its growing number of sub-disciplines from time series econometrics and financial econometrics through to microeconometrics and spatial econometrics.

The Cowles Foundation funds a regular influx of short term and long term academic visitors, post-docs, and doctoral students from other institutes, who contribute to the research atmosphere in econometrics and provide an additional intellectual resource for our own graduate students. Many prominent econometricians from around the world visit the department and spend sabbatical terms at Yale.

The Yale econometrics group has close interactions with applied fields, particularly industrial organization, labor, macroeconomics, development, structural microeconomics, and finance. These interactions assist our graduate students in developing applied interests to accompany their research in econometric theory.

Overview of Courses

The department offers an intensive six-semester sequence of courses in econometric theory and its applications. These courses enable incoming students to cover foundational material in probability theory and econometric methods. Students with strong backgrounds are encouraged to enter the second-year sequence which covers modern asymptotic theory, parametric and nonparametric modeling, time series, panel data methods, and microeconometrics. Further advanced topics courses are available in the following year as well as courses taught by faculty who specialize in empirical work.


The primary departmental requirement in econometrics is an Applied Econometrics Paper. This requirement helps students acquire experience in applied econometric work, including the use of econometric software and programming techniques, which are valuable skills for all practicing economists, irrespective of specialization. Click for further information on this requirement.


The Department runs three weekly workshop meetings in econometrics. A formal Econometrics Seminar hosts speakers invited from other universities to report on their latest research and to provide overviews of developing research areas. A less formal Econometrics Research Workshop enables students and faculty to discuss their own ongoing work and go over the details of technical proofs in their papers. The Workshop also provides a venue for short-term visitors to discuss extensions and applications of the work presented in the Econometrics Seminar. An informal Econometrics Prospectus Lunch, funded by the Cowles Foundation, is intended primarily for our graduate students to assist them in moving forward with their own research agendas, to prepare them for writing a dissertation prospectus, and to report on ideas and early findings. The Lunch enables faculty to discuss recent ideas and wider issues of econometrics, including the history of econometric thought. The Lunch is a convenient venue also for our former students who are working in government or industry to report on their work in these sectors.

Other Recommended Courses

Students are encouraged to take advanced courses in Statistics, Mathematics, and Computer Science Departments, where many complementary courses are offered.

Economic History

Economic history has long been an important part of the core curriculum in the graduate program at Yale. In addition to faculty in the economics department, there are faculty in the history department and other parts of the university with interests in economic history. Find addtional information on the Program in Economic History page.

    Timothy W. Guinnane
    Professor of Economics, Yale University
    Contact information & office hours: is external)

Overview of Courses

We offer to graduate-level courses intended for economics PhD students every year. Econ 580 focuses on Europe. Econ 581 deals with the United States. In addition, we typically have one or more long-term visitors in residence, and these people offer courses about other times and places. Economics Ph.D. students doing a field in economic history may also be interested in taking courses offered by the History Department.  These courses do not satisfy the PhD requirement, and they will not be part of the basic course offerings for a field in the Economic Department, but they can be useful additions for students in some areas.  Interested students should consult the economic history faculty in the Economics Department for further information.


There one is the formal weekly workshop. Most presentations at this workshop are by speakers invited from other universities.

Ph.D. Requirement

Students in the economics Ph.D. program must have completed either Econ 580 or Econ 581 before they can be admitted to candidacy. Note that Econ 585 does not satisfy this requirement.

Economic History in the Oral Exam

Economic history can be either the major or the minor field in a student’s oral examinations. In each case, the student will have taken both Econ 580 and Econ 581. An oral exam with economic history as a minor field will cover the material from these two courses as well as material from a single topic agreed by the students and instructors in economic history. An oral exam with economic history as a major field will cover Econ 580 and Econ 581. In addition, the student will be responsible for a presentation that could lead to a dissertation topic, and for additional readings relevant to that project.

Other Recommended Courses

Students intending to write a dissertation in economic history will probably find it useful to take courses offered in the history department or elsewhere in the university. There are no formal requirements of this sort, however, and such additional coursework is agreed after discussion with the relevant faculty.

Economic Theory

Microeconomic Theory at Yale is characterized by a large faculty and comprehensive course offerings across all specializations, foremost among them decision theory, game theory, and general equilibrium theory.

The Cowles Foundation is supporting a Research Prorgram in Economic Theory which hosts every year a number of long-term visitors.

Overview of Courses

Microeconomic Theory I (Econ 500a) and II (Econ 501b) is a two-course core sequence for all students in the Ph.D. program. Material covered includes consumer and producer theory, choice under uncertainty, general equilibrium theory, game theory, information economics, and mechanism design. The sequence is designed to provide a thorough overview of microeconomic tools that will be used by Ph.D. students in all fields; it also prepares students for the comprehensive exams taken at the end of the first year in the program.

Advanced Microeconomics I (Econ 520a) and II (Econ 521b) is a two-course sequence examining in more depth foundational issues in game theory, information economics, mechanism design, and social choice.

Mathematical Economics I (Econ 530a) and II (Econ 531b) is a two-course sequence focused on issues in general equilibrium theory. Typically, these sequences are taken by Ph.D. students in the second year, including both those who will end up specializing in microeconomic theory and those who will do applied research using advanced tools of microeconomic analysis.

Course Requirements and Descriptions

The first-year sequence (Econ 500a and 501b) is designed for first-year students in the Economics Ph.D. program. Other students should seek the permission of the instructor. The first-year sequence is a prerequisite for the second-year courses (Econ 520a, 521b, 530a, 531b).

     — ECON 500a: Microeconomic Theory I
     — ECON 501b: Microeconomic Theory II
     — ECON 520a: Advanced Microeconomics I
     — ECON 521b: Advanced Microeconomics II
     — ECON 530a: Mathematical Economics I
     — ECON 531b: Mathematical Economics II

A central element of the research environment in microeconomic theory are the:

     — Micro Theory Lunch (Tuesday, 12:00 - 1:00 pm)
     — Microeonomic Theory Workshop (Wednesday, 2:30 - 4:00 pm)

both of which are an integral and indispensable part of intellectual communication in microeconomic theory.

Recommended Mathematics Courses of Theory Graduate Students

In microeconomic theory, mathematics and statistics represent important languages and techniques to express our ideas. We, therefore, recommend that graduate students in economic theory at Yale take or audit a stream of mathematics and statistics classes. If you take one course a term starting in the second year on, then by the end of the fifth year you will have at least eight important courses to support your ability to develop, analyze, and solve mathematical models. At Yale, there are a number of courses we can recommend and a partial list is the following:

     — AMTH 237a: Optimization and Complexity
     — AMTH 462a: Graphs and Networks     — MATH 250a: Vector Analysis
     — MATH 260a: Basic Analysis in Function Spaces
     — MATH 301a: Introduction to Analysis
     — MATH 305b: Real Analysis MATH
     — MATH 320a: Measure Theory and Integration MATH
     — MATH 325b: Introduction to Functional Analysis

     — STAT 251b: Stochastic Processes
     — STAT 330b: Advanced Probability
     — STAT 637a: Deterministic and Stochastic Optimization

Financial Economics

Yale has played a central role in the development of modern Financial Economics, ever since James Tobin created the Capital Asset Pricing Model and championed the general equilibrium approach to macroeconomics and finance.  John Geanakoplos, Bob Shiller, and Eduardo Davila, together with the faculty in the School of Management, and the faculty in related fields in economics, cover nearly all areas of finance, theoretical and empirical.  Yale is an exciting place to do research in finance.

Overview of Courses

The core sequences in Microeconomics (Econ 500a and 501b) and Macroeconomics (Econ 510a and 511b) provide our students with the first exposure to core ideas in Financial Economics.  Students interested in Financial Economics as a field can take Econ 530a and Econ 531b, a full second-year sequence that studies frontier topics, with particular emphasis on macro-finance, financial theory, and general equilibium.  Topics covered in Mathematical Economics I and II include general equilibrium with incomplete markets (GEI), collateral equilibrium and the leverage cycle, default and punishment, adverse selection and moral hazard in general equilibrium, monetary equilibrium, asset price bubbles, limits to arbitrage, liquidity and credit crunches, intermediation and banking, financial regulation, dispersed information and learning in financial markets, and financial recessions.

In addition to the sequence offered by the Department, our students have access to the multiple courses offered by the finance group at the School of Management. These courses include: Financial Economics I (MGT 740/Econ 670), Empirical Asset Pricing (MGT 747), Empirical Corporate Finance (MGT 748), Financial Crises (MGT 746/Econ 674), Behavioral Finance (MGT 745/Econ 672), and Household Finance (MGT 744). Our students often work on cutting-edge topics at the intersection of Financial Economics and other fields, including Macroeconomics, Economic Theory, or Industrial Organization, among others.

Visit the Finance at Yale webpage(link is external) for updated information regarding course offerings and other finance related information.


There is a weekly Finance Workshop, hosted at the School of Management, in which outside speakers make presentations. There is a weekly Finance Lunch co-sponsored by the department and the School of Management where Yale PhD students and faculty present work in progress. The Macroeconomics and Theory weekly workshops often host Finance related outside speakers. Graduate students interested in Finance often present work in progress in other lunches hosted at the department.

Industrial Organization

Industrial Organization at Yale is a strong and distinctive group. Over the past 10–20 years, Yale ranks as one of the largest producers of top IO graduate students, and Yale currently places at least one IO student in a faculty position in the “top 20” virtually every year.

Faculty in IO have a set of strongly interrelated research interests in empirical IO, microeconomic policy, and related methodological techniques. This yields a highly collaborative and collegial research environment. Regular formal and informal interactions with the IO-based Economics group at the School of Management (SOM) broadens the group, particularly in areas of policy interest, creating a larger, vibrant IO community. In recent years, the field has benefited greatly from the formation and growth of the Structural Microeconomics program at the Cowles Foundation.

Overview of Courses

We offer a two-semester sequence (Econ 600 and 601) that covers a broad range of topics. The first semester begins by locating the study of industrial organization within the broader research traditions of economics and related social sciences. Alternative theories of decision making, organizational behavior, and of market evolution are sketched and contrasted with standard neoclassical theories. The semester includes a detailed examination of the determinants and consequences of industrial market structure. The second semester moves on to policy issues including public control of utilities and antitrust regulation, as well as modeling of dynamic oligopoly, collusion, and technological change.


The IO seminar meets weekly and hosts leading senior and junior faculty from around the world. There is also an IO Prospectus Workshop primarily for Yale graduate students presenting thesis work at various stages of development.

International Trade

The International Trade group at Yale extends across the department and the School of Management and includes faculty who work on theoretical, empirical, and quantitative trade models, trade policy, political economy, and international finance. The field also benefits from the university’s globalization initiative.

Overview of Courses

To complete the International Trade sequence, students must take at least two of the following three courses:  720, 721, and 794.  On the theoretical side, these courses cover the theory of international trade, policy, and institutions.  Specifically, the sequence covers a discussion of classical, neo-classical, and imperfect-competition-scale-economies-based static models of trade; dynamic extensions of some of the issues, such as gains from trade, tariffs and quotas, customs unions and free trade areas, and the political economy of trade policymaking.  On the empirical side, the sequence covers a variety of topics in international trade with particular emphasis on current research areas.  Topics include tests of international trade theories; studies of the relationship between international trade, labor markets, and income distribution; recent trade liberalization episodes in developing countries; empirical assessment of various trade policies, such as VERs and Anti-Dumping; productivity (and its relation to international trade liberalization); and exchange rates, market integration, and international trade.”


We have a weekly International Trade Workshop at which faculty from Yale and other universities and advanced graduate students make presentations. The department also sponsors a weekly International Trade Lunch where Yale faculty and graduate students present work in its early stages.

Labor Economics

With Joe Altonji, Costas Meghir, and several very strong junior faculty, Yale has one of the top labor economics groups in the country. The faculty and graduates are active in research on traditional topics such as determinants of wages and human capital accumulation as well as newer areas such as the impact of health care reform, financial literacy, and behavioral economics.

Overview of Courses

The department offers a two-semester sequence in Labor Economics (630 and 631). The first semester of the sequence includes topics such as static and dynamic approaches to demand, human capital and wage determination, wage income inequality, unemployment and minimum wages, matching and job turnover, implicit contract theory, and the efficiency wage hypothesis, while the second semester covers static and dynamic models of labor supply, firm-specific training, compensating wage differentials, discrimination, household production, bargaining models of household behavior, intergenerational transfers, and mobility.


There is a joint Labor/Public Economics Workshop that meets weekly at which faculty from other universities and advanced graduate students make presentations. The department also sponsors a weekly Labor/Public Economics Prospectus Workshop at which more informal presentations of work in its early stages are made by faculty and graduate students in the field.


Yale has a long and storied tradition of excellence in macroeconomics and is currently one of the most vibrant macro research groups in the world. It includes faculty leading the field in both theory and empirical research as well as several faculty influencing current policy debates. It consistently trains and places macroeconomists in leading universities and policy institutions around the world.

Overview of Courses

The graduate macro sequence consists of two core courses (510 and 511) and two advanced courses (525 and 526). The core courses analyze short-run determination of aggregate employment, income, investment, saving, prices, interest rates, asset prices, as well as growth, fiscal and monetary policy. To this purpose, core courses extensively train students in the methodology of modern dynamic economics: Dynamic Programming, Vector Autoregressions, Equilibrium concepts, and computational methods. The advanced courses are topical and track frontier research in macroeconomics. Prominent examples of recently covered topics are heterogeneous agent economics with adjustment costs to capital and labor, wealth inequality in incomplete market economies with financial market imperfections, optimal taxation, and search theory of unemployment.


We have a weekly Macroeconomics Workshop at which faculty from other universities and advanced graduate students make presentations. The department also sponsors a weekly Macro Lunch where Yale faculty and graduate students present work in its early stages.

Political Economy

Political economy is a relatively new strength at Yale, benefiting from new faculty and increased collaboration with the Yale Political Science department.

Overview of Courses

The Political Economy sequence consists of two courses: 790 and 791. The first covers basic theoretical models but focuses on empirical political economy. It covers topics such as voting, campaign finance, the behavior of government representatives, incumbency, and corruption. Econ. 791 begins with lectures on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 20th Century and then studies the debates in egalitarian political philosophy beginning with John Rawls about the nature of distributive justice.  Philosophical proposals are critiqued with the aid of economic models.


Political Economy Research is presented every week in the Leitner Political Economy Seminar, as well as in several of the regular economics seminars including MacroInternational, and Labor/Public.

Public Economics

Our faculty in public economics come together from several other sub-fields in the department. These include macro faculty who do theoretical public finance, environmental faculty who work on policies to address climate change, and health economists who work on health care policy. And of course, several of our labor and development faculty also work on public policy issues.

Overview of Courses

The department offers a two-semester sequence in Public Finance (680 and 681). The sequence covers theories of government provision of public goods, moral hazard, and adverse selection. Empirical methodologies will vary from standard reduced-form techniques to structural estimation. Substantive areas will include health economics, taxation, social security, and non-health components of government spending.


There is a joint Labor/Public Economics Workshop that meets weekly at which faculty from other universities and advanced graduate students make presentations. The department also sponsors a weekly Labor/Public Prospectus Economics Workshop at which more informal presentations of work in its early stages are made by faculty and graduate students in the field.