Ph.D. Program

Duke University offers a world-class doctoral program in economics, featuring a vibrant faculty of exceptional scholars and teachers along with superior research facilities. The faculty is dedicated to anchoring all teaching and research firmly in the core disciplines of microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. The first year of the program lays the critical foundation necessary for later work in field courses and dissertation-level research.

Degree Requirements

  • Attend Math Camp during the month of August preceding the first year
  • Minimum of 48 graded, graduate credits
    • Six core courses (18 credits):
    • Two semesters of ECON 704 First-Year Research Workshop (6 credits)
    • Pass qualifying examinations in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics 
    • 3 credits of technical skills modules (ECON 890), to be completed during Summer Term II prior to the second year.
    • ECON 801 Writing and Presenting in Economics (3 credits)
    • 15 credits of field courses/modules, (typically ECON 880-888) to be completed by the end of the third year 
    • Certification in one major and one minor field, see below for details
      • Fields:
        • Applied Microeconomics
        • Econometrics
        • History of Political Economy
        • Macroeconomics and International Economics
        • Microeconomic Theory
      • Major field requirement: 6 credits (four modules OR two courses) in the field, and a field exam, to be completed by the end of the second year. Field Paper to be completed by the end of the first semester of the third year.
      • Minor field requirement: 6 credits (four modules OR two courses) in the field to be completed by the end of the third year
    • ECON 890S Dissertation Writing Seminar, taken Fall Semester of the third year (3 credits)
    • Participation in a seminar/lunch group and workshop every semester beginning in the spring semester of the third year
      • Seminar/Lunch Group course series: ECON 950-959 (1.5 credits per semester)
      • Workshop course series: ECON 900-909 (3 credits per semester)
    • Additional course credits as approved by the director of graduate studies
  • Pass the preliminary examination by the end of the third year
  • Present a preliminary job market paper each year after the third year until the job market year
  • Present a job market paper during the fall semester of the job market year
  • Dissertation
  • Pass a final examination by the end of the fifth or sixth year; required to be completed within four years of the preliminary examination 
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Training

Course Details

Core Courses: In rare circumstances, students may place out of one of these courses, but only with the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies. In this case, students may register for additional courses in applied economics, statistics, business, mathematics or other fields of interest. The student's cumulative GPA in the six core courses must be 3.0 or higher at the end of the first year and a grade of B+ or higher must have been received in at least two of the core courses. For each core course in which a student did not attain at least a grade of B+, competency must be demonstrated by passing a written examination during the summer following the first year.

Course Structure for the Second Year and Beyond: After the first year, many (but not all) of the upper-level courses in economics are divided into half-semester modules. The purpose of this structure is to allow students to take courses along methodology lines rather than field lines and to better align coursework with their research interests. By their nature, modules only count for 1.5 credits and students must complete enough of them to fulfill their graded course requirements. Module courses are all currently listed under special topics course number ECON 881-890. Students who wish to major in an Applied Microeconomics field have some flexibility in their choice of courses, but must obtain explicit approval of their course plan from their advisor.

Students must pass all classes. A failing grade in a class results in immediate removal from the program.

For International Students

International students whose first language is not English are required to take a writing and speaking exam administered by the English for International Students (EIS) program. This requirement applies to all students, and is over and above the submission of the TOEFL or IELTS score. Under certain circumstances, some students may be exempt if their undergraduate degree is from an institution in an English-speaking country. Please note that the purpose of these exams is not to measure English proficiency. Rather, they assess whether you will benefit from targeted training in academic speaking and writing in order to succeed in your academic career here and beyond, and in which English for International Students (EIS) classes you would be best placed. While required by The Graduate School, these courses will not count toward our degree programs' course requirements.

The EIS program currently offers the following courses:

  • GS 720 Academic Writing I (3 credits)
  • GS 721 Oral Communication (4 credits)
  • GS 730 Academic Writing II (3 credits)
  • GS 731 Academic Presentations (3 credits)
  • GS 740 Advanced Pronunciation (3 credits)
  • GS 745 College Teaching for International Teaching Assistants (3 credits)

For more information, visit the EIS website.