PhD Degree Guidelines

Upon entry, students are advised by the Director of Graduate Studies. Once a field of specialization is chosen (by the end of the second year), the major supervisor of the dissertation will become the student’s advisor.

Credit Hours

The minimum credit hour requirement for the PhD track is 72 credit hours. Of these, a minimum of 36 credits must be earned in economics courses. The remaining 36 credit hours may be earned from graduate courses inside or outside the department and from Independent Study, Supervised Research or Thesis Guidance in Economics.

In selecting all outside courses, students must seek advice from their doctoral dissertation committees or from the Director of Graduate Studies (if such committees are not yet in place). Please note: Inappropriate outside course selection against advice may affect a student's financial aid decision.

All students are expected to maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (B) at all times.

Program Completion Requirements

Please note: Any request for deviation from these requirements must be addressed in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies.

First Year

A first-year student must enroll in all of the following courses (except when a waiver has been obtained). These courses have been designed to provide a strong foundation in the major introductory aspects of economics. Each first-year course is worth 3 credits (for a total of 18 credit hours), and is scheduled to meet for three hours per week. A student is expected to take no more than 25 credits in their first year, with language courses being possible additions at the student’s discretion.

Fall Semester

  • ECO 665: Microeconomic Theory I
  • ECO 609: Macroeconomic Theory I
  • ECO 611: Math for Economists I*

Spring Semester

  • ECO 666: Microeconomic Theory II
  • ECO 610: Macroeconomic Theory II
  • ECO 613: Introduction to Econometrics

*Math for Economists I is a service course for the Microeconomic Theory, Macroeconomic Theory, and Econometrics courses. 

Written Waiver Examinations

To enable PhD students to begin their dissertation research as early as possible, the department offers all incoming students the opportunity to take written waiver exams in any of the required first-year courses. Success in a waiver exam exempts the student from the relevant course, but does not count toward the 72 credit hours required for the PhD degree. Please note: There is no penalty for failing a waiver exam; the student simply takes the course. 

Faculty Research Seminar

There is an additional 1-credit course required of all first-year students. Individual faculty present their research interests to provide some research insight to the students and to familiarize the students with each of the faculty. The course meets every other week throughout the academic year.

Student Research Seminar

There is an additional non-credit course in which doctoral students present their research in progress. First-year students must attend this seminar but do not need to give a presentation. The course meets every other week throughout the academic year.

Microeconomics and Macroeconomics Preliminary Examinations

In August at the end of the first year, students must take both the Microeconomics and Macroeconomics Preliminary Examinations, which are prepared by two separate faculty committees.

The purpose of the Preliminary Examinations is to ascertain whether students have acquired a knowledge sufficient to conduct their own original research using microeconomic and macroeconomic concepts and methods of analysis. If a student fails either examination, the student must retake the examination the next time it is given. Students are allowed a total of four attempts to pass both exams. For example, if a student passes the Macroeconomics Preliminary Examination on the first try, then the student has up to three tries to pass the Microeconomics Preliminary Examination, and vice versa. Failure to pass the Preliminary Examinations after the allotted number of attempts will ordinarily result in the termination of the student’s program of study. A student may request an exception to this by submitting a written petition to the Graduate Studies Committee.

Possible grades on the Preliminary Examinations are “high pass,” “pass,” “marginal pass,” “master's pass” and “fail.” A master's pass represents a fail with respect to the PhD program but is deemed a pass for a Master’s degree.

Second Year

In the second year of the program, students are normally expected to take applied econometrics (ECO 614) and a sequence of 700-level field courses preparing them for their field exam. Students are expected to take between 18 and 24 credits in their second year, with a minimum of 9 credits each semester. A student should also select a principal dissertation supervisor by the end of their second year. 

Course Selection

Instructors of advanced economics courses file outlines and reading lists describing the contents of the courses with the graduate program secretary. These are available to help students decide which courses they would like to take. The department does not offer all second-year field courses every year.

The list of fields offered for the PhD plays an important role in shaping the offerings of advanced courses by the department. The department’s objective is to offer good training to students choosing one or more of these fields of study by teaching appropriate advanced courses in these fields so that students are prepared to take the corresponding field examinations.

Student Research Seminar

Second-year students must attend the student research seminar and present some tentative research plans.

Master of Arts Degree

Completion of 30 credit hours of course work with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0, as well as receipt of the master's pass or better in both Preliminary Examinations, qualifies PhD students for the MA in Economics degree. Students are also able to obtain an MA degree without taking the Preliminary Examinations by completing 30 units of credit in the courses designated below with a 3.0 GPA and writing a Master's Project.

ECO 505 Microeconomic Theory (or ECO665)
ECO 507 Macroeconomic Theory (or ECO609)
ECO 576 Topics in Microeconomics (or ECO666)
ECO 580 Econometrics 1 (or ECO613)
ECO 581 Econometrics 2 (or ECO614)
5 additional economics electives at the 500-level or higher

Third Year

During the third year, the student makes substantial progress on the dissertation. Some students also elect to take one or more courses in the third year. This is most appropriate when a course of particular interest was not offered during the student’s second year, or when additional coursework related to a dissertation topic is offered by the department or university. 

By the end of the third year, students must:

  1. Select a dissertation supervisor.
  2. Confirm their field by passing a field exam offered by their dissertation supervisor or by obtaining their dissertation supervisor’s endorsement and explanation for a field exam waiver.
  3. Start developing a dissertation proposal deemed acceptable to their dissertation supervisor.

Student Research Seminar

Third-year students must attend the student research seminar and present their research leading up to the dissertation proposal.


Application to Candidacy for the PhD Degree

Once the student has selected a three-member committee for the dissertation, the student should file an Application to CandidacyDownload pdf (ATC) form with the Graduate School. This form is also needed for Certification of Full-Time Status if a student is registered less than full-time in the program. If the student’s plans change, the ATC form may be revised by filing a Graduate Student Petition. Students should complete the ATC form, attach their unofficial transcript and send both documents to the graduate program secretary for processing. For more information, visit the UB Graduate School.

For Degree Conferral On: Feb. 1 June 1 Sept. 1

Completed application to candidacy submitted to the divisional committee by:

Sept. 1

Feb. 1

June 1

Completed and fully-signed application to candidacy received by the graduate school by:

Oct. 1

March 1

July 1

All required materials received by the graduate school by:

Friday before Spring classes begin

Last day of Spring exams

Friday before Fall classes begin

Students registered as a graduate student for the immediately preceding:

Fall semester

Spring semester

Either Spring or Summer semester

Field Examination

A field examination is designed to test a student’s knowledge of a specialized area of economics. Typically, the area will be closely related to a topic that the student intends to make the subject of the dissertation. A major field is a cohesive and focused subgrouping of economic studies. Examples of fields include:

  • Advanced Microeconomics
  • Advanced Macroeconomics
  • Advanced Econometrics
  • Economic Growth and Development
  • Economics of Information and Uncertainty
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Economics
  • Labor Economics
  • Marxian Economics
  • Mathematical Economics
  • Urban and Regional Economics


Fourth and Fifth Year

The student is expected to make progress on the dissertation during the fourth and fifth years and complete it by the end of the sixth year. Participation in dissertation workshops is strongly encouraged. Limited amounts of dissertation funding may be available through the University Graduate Student Association. 

Students should also anticipate that considerable time may be required during this period to prepare themselves and their vitae for entry into the job market.

Defense of Dissertation

This is an oral examination presenting the student's thesis work. It will be scheduled after completion but prior to final submission of the PhD dissertation. The defense of dissertation examination is open to all members of the Department of Economics. Examiners include the three members of the student’s dissertation committee.

Student Research Seminar

Students in their fourth year and beyond must attend the student research seminar and present their ongoing dissertation research.

Dissertations Recently Completed by PhD Student


  • Improvement of Estimation of Optimal Covariance Matrix and Forecast for Financial Risk Management - The Perspective of Global Stock Market -
  • Private Provision of Public Infrastructure: Growth and Welfare Implications
  • An International Comparison of the Effectiveness of Demand-side and Supply-side Policies to Alleviate Urban Traffic Congestion
  • Essays on Social Security and Labor Issues
  • Essays on Retirement, Self-employment, and Business Entry
  • Fiscal Transfers in Optimal Spatial Economies with Urban-Rural and Intercity Trade
  • Four Essays on Labor and Development Economics


  • Essays on Education and Health in Rural China
  • Essays on Behavioral Labor Economics
  • Essays on Investment in Health and Economic Development
  • Essays on Corruption and Tax Evasion
  • Externality, Market Imperfection, and Optimal Environmental Policy
  • Essays on Return Predictability in Equity Market and Corporate Bond Market
  • Essays on Municipal Bonds
  • Effect of Transport Improvements on Urban Form, Employment Location and Prices


  • Models of Urban Income Inequality and Heterogeneity
  • Essays on Urban Spatial Structure Theory
  • Essays in Information and Labor Economics
  • Applications of the Regional Economy, Land Use and Transportation CGE Model to Urban Transportation Pricing and Investment Policies
  • Three essays on applied microeconomics
  • Three essays on Chinese economy


  • The education-health gradient and causality


  • Essays on the economic assimilation of African immigrants in the United States
  • Essays on the New Economic Geography
  • Essays on international trade and financial frictions
  • Demand for Long-Term Care and Long-Term Care Insurance – A Human Capital Perspective
  • Essays on quantity discounts
  • Public Spending with Congestion Costs, Two-sector Model, Equilibrium, and Transitional Dynamics


  • Essays on the growth of Chinese cities
  • Essays on empirical studies in East Asian economy
  • Public spending, public funds, and growth dynamics
  • Essays on international trade in vertically related markets
  • Essays in applied econometrics


  • Three essays on growth theory
  • Does the Legal System Affect the Cost of External Financing?—Evidence from IPO Underpricing of Foreign Firms Listed in U.S. Stock Markets
  • Essays in managerial and financial economics
  • Essays on entrepreneurship and economic growth
  • Essays on dynamic Laffer curves
  • Essays on Urban Externalities
  • The role of anti-speculative taxation in Asian emerging market economies
  • Tenure Choices, Housing Prices and Mortgage Default in Dynamic Models of the Housing Market


  • An explanation of unemployment persistence: The role of monetary policy shock and the household as a transmission channel
  • The Endogenous Skill Composition of Migration and Migrant Inequality Over the Course of Economic Development
  • Liquidity effects on momentum and reversal
  • The Trading Competition among Multiple Short-term Institutional Blockholders for Corporate Governance Mechanism
  • Investment Duration and Corporate Governance
  • Why Do Firms File for Confidential Treatment?


  • Product diversification of U.S. manufacturing firms: A theoretical and empirical investigation
  • Essays on industry investment and financial markets
  • Essays on monetary trade, international trade, and slave trade
  • Two essays on asset pricing
  • International trade and imperfect labor market
  • Corporate Governance and the Informational Efficiency of Asset Price
  • Productivity growth and technology spillovers from foreign direct investment: Evidence from Vietnam
  • Education and women's life outcomes: Empirical investigation based on evidence from Taiwan
  • Nursing home quality: A theoretical and empirial investigation


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