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 or the introductory econometrics sequence being possible additions to the basic courses 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 612: Math for Economists II

*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. Should a student pass a waiver exam in one of these subjects, the student would be expected to replace that course sequence with the introductory econometrics sequence. Please note: There is no penalty for failing a waiver exam; the student simply takes the course. 

Faculty Research Seminar
There is one additional 1-credit course required for 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.

Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Preliminary Examinations
In August at the end of the first year, students must take either or both of the Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Preliminary examinations which are prepared by two separate faculty committees. If a student chooses to take only one prelim in August, the other must be taken the following January.

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. Two failures in any one examination 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 the sequence in introductory econometrics (ECO 613 and ECO 614) and a sequence preparing 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 (see below) 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.

Field Examination
If at all possible, each student should attempt to take and pass at least one field examination by the end of August of their second year. This is a written examination. The 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. Please note: One field examination must be passed. A student can elect to take a second field examination.

A major field must be 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

Other fields may be possible, but the student must petition the Graduate Studies Committee for approval. 


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 students for the MA in Economics degree. Students are also able to obtain an MA degree without taking Preliminary Examinations, by completing 30 units of credit in designated courses with a 3.0 GPA and writing a Master's Project.

ECO 505 Microeconomic Theory – ECO665
ECO 507 Macroeconomic Theory – ECO609
ECO 576 Topics in Microeconomics – ECO666
ECO 580 Econometric 1 – ECO613
ECO 581 Econometrics 2- ECO614
and 5 economics electives

Third Year

During the third year, the student make substantial progress on their 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. Pass at least one field examination
  2. Select a dissertation supervisor
  3. Develop a dissertation proposal deemed acceptable to the supervisor
  4. Orally present the proposal to a group of three department faculty, one of whom is the student’s dissertation supervisor

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 Candidacy (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 PhD Secretary for processing. For more information, visit the UB Graduate School

Application Deadlines

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

Fourth Year

The student is expected to complete the dissertation during their fourth 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 fourth year 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.

Sample Dissertation Topics

  • Education and Women’s Life Outcomes: Empirical Investigation Based on Evidence from Taiwan
  • Decentralized provision of a local public good
  • The Role of Human Capital in Imperfectly Informed Asset Markets
  • Wage differentials based on marital status of women
  • Economic and Institutional Determinants of Geographical Concentration of Industries in Transition Economies: Evidence from China
  • Essays on strategic trade policies and the game structure of an international duopoly
  • Firm Size, R&D, Product and Process Innovation
  • Three essays on duopolistic competition under asymmetric cost conditions
  • The Health Care Safety Net and Health Insurance: A Theoretical and Empirical Investigation
  • Geographical pattern of industry with product life cycle
  • Intermediated Matching: Two Essays
  • Essays on the gradualist transformation of the Chinese economy: theoretical assessment
  • Intergenerational Diffusion of Innovations
  • International factor mobility and trade in the context of social policies and institutions
  • The reformed public health insurance in urban China: an economic assessment
  • Theory and policy of trade in vertically related markets with quality-differentiated products
  • Homeownership in household finance [electronic resource]
  • Optimal allocation and taxation in a free enterprise economy with stochastic influences
  • Two essays on maximum likelihood estimations of Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium models
  • Three studies on competition and the technological structure of the U.S. telephone industry
  • Broad-based stock options program and firm productivity
  • The evolution of product markets
  • Entrepreneurial function and its rewards
  • Essays on theoretical and empirical issues on monetary policy
  • The country and exchange risk premium with the Euro Area and the U.S. based on price parity models
  • Error component models with classical and one-sided measurement errors
  • Urban development under uncertainty: A real options approach
  • International trade policy in the presence of foreign investment
  • Exiting the health insurance market as a rational choice: Demand for health insurance in a learning model
  • Essays on trade theory with vertically-related and quality-differentiated products
  • Essays on the minimum wage
  • The institutional elements of economic growth
  • Actual insider trading returns and determinants of short term returns
  • Money and inflation in China: a reassessment
  • Essays on international trade and economic growth
  • Essays on vertically related market, endogenous quality, and international trade
  • Essays on scientist research productivity and industry innovation
  • Optimal linear aggregation of markets and the construction of price and quantity indexes
  • Sub-center formation in a neg-model of a city system
  • The effects of monetary and fiscal policies on rates of return in a general equilibrium framework
  • Fundamental uncertainties and firm-level stock volatilities
  • Irreversible investment under uncertainty, contingent claims analysis, and competition
  • The microeconomic analysis of productivity change
  • Hostile tender offers and internal control mechanisms
  • Three essays on public finance and urban endogenous growth theory
  • Analysis of the U.S. married women’s labor supply with special reference to the endogeneity-exogeneity of wife’s work experience, husband’s work experience and husband’s earned income
  • Managed care organizations and efficiency losses from ex post moral hazard
  • Essays on state-owned enterprises in Sub-Saharan Africa: measurement and theoretical assessment
  • Essays on the economics of E-commerce, integration and infrastructure
  • The evolution of debt and capital stock in a small open economy
  • Essays on strategic trade policies with cross-ownership and privatization
  • The concept of value in Marx: a critique
  • Essays on international trade in knowledge-based services
  • Essays on business cycle asymmetry in output
  • Industrial structure, growth and income disparity
  • Foreign investment, capital accumulation and growth in the developing economy: the case of the mining sector in the Republic of Guinea
  • Macroeconomics with frictions
  • An empirical study of learning by doing
  • Strategic trade and competition policies with horizontal and vertical market structures
  • Structuring public insurance benefits around risk and efficiency
  • Essays on housing markets
  • Mortality, morbidity, Medicare, and social security: essays in health and aging
  • The productivity of government output
  • Economic incentives in physicians’ behavior: specialty and location choice and labor supply in the short run
  • A spatial theory of money demand and the origins of money
  • Union growth and economic factors: an international comparison
  • Economic models of telecommuting
  • The theory of transition and the case of Nicaragua, 1979-1989
  • A search-theoretic approach to two-sided matching
  • Essays in the economics of industrial organization and asymmetric information
  • Trade and economic performance
  • Keynesian results in a neoclassical framework
  • Spatial models of economic integration with a public sector
  • Asymmetric information in managerial incentive contracts and in futures markets
  • Intergenerational transfers focusing on educational expenditures: a theoretical and empirical study
  • The choice of product and process innovation, and market structure
  • Strategic alliances involving banks
  • Endogenous firm growth and individual workers’ human capital accumulation
  • Intercity and intracity externalities in a system of cities: Equilibrium, transient dynamics and welfare analysis
  • Black household energy demand: a demand system approach
  • Female labor supply, fertility, economic growth and business cycles
  • Essays on the theories of trade and growth

Contact Us

Graduate Programs

Phone: (716) 645-8679

Jameson Yu
Department of Economics
College of Arts and Sciences

425 Fronczak Hall

Phone: (716) 645-8676

Director of Graduate Studies and PhD Program
Department of Economics
College of Arts and Sciences