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Ph.D. Program Preparation

A PhD in economics is a research degree. Students should pursue this degree if they are interested in a career answering questions on issues from health to monetary policy to development using economic models and/or data. Although the requirements of the economics degree at Yale will give you a good foundation for graduate studies, most Ph.D. programs expect students to have taken additional courses, particularly in statistics and mathematics.

Mathematics. Most graduate programs expect familiarity with multivariate calculus (for example, Math 120), linear algebra (Math 222, or even better, a proof-based course such as 225 or 226) and real analysis (Math 255 or 256). More advanced mathematics work in linear algebra, differential equations, analysis and other proof-based courses is useful preparation for graduate work.

Econometrics and Statistics. It is strongly recommended that students take at least two semesters of econometrics. More advanced courses in econometrics (for example financial time series or applied microeconometrics) , or in probability, statistics and stochastic processes (offered in the math or statistics departments) are useful preparation for graduate work.

Economic Theory. Although the more mathematical theory courses (Econ 125, 126, 350, and 351) are not required for admission to graduate school, taking one or more of them gives extra preparation and exposes students to the kind of course material they can expect in graduate school.

Research Assistance. Working as a research assistant to an economist on campus or off campus, provides excellent exposure to the type of work that PhD economists do.

Senior Essay. The independent research experience involved in writing a senior essay is extremely valuable as preparation for graduate school.

Additional Resources. Each year the department has an information session for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a PhD. The slides from the most recent meeting are here. The American Economic Association (AEA) has an informative section on Preparing for Graduate School to help students wade-through the process of a terminal degree in economics.  This article in the AEA annual newsletter, Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession, gives a good overview of getting into and finishing a PhD program.

AEA Summer and Scholarship Programs. Since 1974, the AEA Summer Training Program and Scholarship Program have increased diversity in the field of economics by preparing talented undergraduates for doctoral programs in economics and related disciplines. AEASP is a prestigious program that enables students to develop and solidify technical skills in preparation for the rigors of graduate studies. As many as 20% of PhDs awarded to minorities in economics over the past 20 years are graduates of the program.

All students receive 2 months of intensive training in microeconomics, math, econometrics and research methods with leading faculty. At 3 credits per class, students have the opportunity to earn 12 college credits.