Ph.D. in Economics

As the first and only Ph.D. program in Economics in Nevada, our program provides a collegial and supportive academic atmosphere where students and faculty have a high level of contact. Students have opportunities to work as teaching or research assistants. Collaboration between the Department of Economics and other departments within the College of Business, as well as the University at large, enables a wide range of coursework, options for applied research, and access to a variety of faculty interests.

About the Doctor of Philosophy in Economics Degree Program

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Economics offered by the Department of Economics at the University of Nevada, Reno is an applied graduate program based on strong theoretical and quantitative foundations.
The program is a full-time commitment with rigorous math and research requirements.
Students are required to choose two of the following four major fields of specialization:

What can I do with a Doctoral Degree in Economics?

The Ph.D. in Economics prepares individuals for jobs in academia and the private or public sector. Academic jobs traditionally consist of teaching and research, while private and public sector jobs consist of applied research and econometric analysis.
View a list of job placements for Economics Alumni.

Is funding available?

When you apply to the program, you are simultaneously considered for available assistantships. No additional submissions are required. The Office of Student Financial Aid & Scholarships is available to meet with any students needing information on federal- and state-based financial aid programs. For additional information on funding for graduate students, learn what funding is available through the Graduate School as well as external funding opportunities.

How do I apply?

To be considered for Fall semester, all materials must be received by February 1.
To be considered for Spring semester, application materials must be received by October 15.
Review the admissions tab at the top of this page for application and admission procedures.

Additional Resources for PH.D. Students

The Department of Economics has several resources for prospective and currently enrolled students, providing information on advisors, dissertations, and a graduate student handbook.

View the Economics graduate program handbook.


Contact the Economics Ph.D. Director

Sankar Mukhopadhyay
(775) 784-8017

Course Overview

The University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School requirements for doctoral coursework include a minimum of 72 graduate credits, with:

  • at least 48 credits in course work and
  • at least 30 credits in 700-level courses, exclusive of dissertation credits.
  • 2 consecutive semesters (excluding summer sessions) of 9 credits each, and
  • a minimum of 24 dissertation credits.

A maximum of 24 credits of course work (with grades of "B" or better) from a master's degree program may be allocated toward the Ph.D. Students may use as many as 18 700-level credits from a master's degree program. The student's advisory committee, the Graduate Program Director and the Dean of the Graduate School all must approve a Credit Transfer Evaluation Request Form.

The first year of the Ph.D. program includes core theory courses which are followed by theory comprehensive exams. Students should focus on their coursework (and not any dissertation work) particularly in that year.

The three categories of coursework for the Ph.D. in Economics are:

  • 6 core courses,
  • 4 field courses, and
  • 6 or more elective courses.

Core Courses

Three two-course sequences comprise the Ph.D. core curriculum:

  • Microeconomic Theory I and II (ECON 702, ECON 712),
  • Macroeconomic Theory I and II (ECON 703, ECON 704), and
  • Econometrics I and II (ECON 741, ECON 742).

Students are expected to give their full attention to these core courses, as they will take two comprehensive exams in microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory to test knowledge of core course content at the end of their first year. These comprehensive exams are graded on a pass/fail basis.

Students are expected to take a total of six courses in their first year. These courses must include the two microeconomic theory courses, two macroeconomic theory courses, and two econometrics courses. Students should normally take all six Ph.D. core courses during their first year. Exceptions require the approval of the Graduate Director and may result in a loss of assistantship funding.

Comprehensive Exams

Students must be accepted into the Ph.D. program in order to take the comprehensive exams. Ph.D. students are required to take the comprehensive exams in the first summer following the completion of the core microeconomic and macroeconomic theory courses. Failure to take the comprehensive exams at this time will be considered a Fail and the student will have only one additional opportunity to re-take the exams in January. 

Fields of Specialization

Students choose specializations in two fields from the following four:

Each field consists of two 700-level courses, but these would typically be complemented by other courses from a list of recommended electives. In cases where the same course satisfies requirements of two fields, students are still required to take a minimum of four 700-level courses for their two fields.

Recommended electives listed for each field are not a comprehensive list of possible electives. Students may find that other elective graduate courses effectively complement their chosen fields.

Elective Courses

The six Ph.D. core courses and four field courses account for 30 700-level graduate credits. Students take six additional elective graduate courses (18 credits) to complete their course requirements.

Elective courses are typically chosen in consultation with the student’s academic advisor to support the student’s doctoral research, to strengthen fields of specialization. Most 600 or 700 level courses in the departments of Economics, Mathematics and Statistics, and some in other departments in the College of Business are approved electives.

Students who are engaged in research applications that are related to other fields may find it helpful to take graduate courses in another field. These can be counted toward fulfilling the elective requirements as long as they are at the graduate level (600 or 700 level) and are approved by the student’s advisory committee.

Courses from the Department of Mathematics and Statistics supplement core economics coursework and provide technical expertise for research. Students who desire additional preparatory coursework may take some of these early in the program to support the Ph.D. core coursework. A list of some of these courses is below. Courses that are particularly useful in preparing for the Economics Ph.D. Core sequence are noted with a *.

  • MATH 612 – Functional Analysis
  • MATH 619 – Topics in Analysis (Techniques of Problem Solving)*
  • MATH 620 – Math Modeling
  • MATH 629 – Dynamical Systems
  • MATH 640 – Topology
  • MATH 661 – Probability Theory*
  • MATH 662 – Introduction to Stochastic Processes
  • MATH 666 – Numerical Methods 1
  • MATH 667 – Numerical Methods II
  • MATH 686 – Game Theory* MATH 687 - Deterministic Operations Research
  • MATH 685 – Graph Theory and Combinatorics
  • MATH 701 – Numerical Analysis 1
  • MATH 713 - Abstract Real Analysis I
  • MATH 751 - Operations Research I: Linear Programming and Extensions*
  • MATH 752 – Operations Research II: Stochastic Operations Research
  • MATH 753 – Stochastic Models and Simulation
  • MATH 786 – Cooperative Game Theory*
  • STAT 652 – Statistics: Continuous Methods*
  • STAT 653 – Statistics: Discrete Methods*
  • STAT 667 – Statistical Theory*
  • STAT 756 – Survival Analysis
  • STAT 758 - Time Series Analysis

Math Camp

New graduate students are expected to participate in our Economics Math Camp, an intensive review/summary of the mathematics necessary for the Ph.D. core courses. Math Camp is held during the week prior to the start of classes each fall semester and does not count toward graduate course credit. If after Math Camp a student determines that he or she would benefit from additional coursework during the first year to remediate deficiencies, changes in her or his schedule can be made prior to the start of classes. Students taking remedial math courses are not eligible for assistantships.

Transfer of Graduate Coursework from Master's Programs

Students who have completed a Master’s degree prior to enrolling in the Doctoral program may transfer up to 24 credits of graduate coursework with a grade of “B” or better, including up to 18 credits of 700-level credits to partially fulfill elective requirements. The Program director and the Dean of the Graduate School must approve these credits.

Admission Criteria

Admission criteria for the Ph.D. in Economics include, but are not limited to:

  • A minimum GPA of 3.0 for all previous coursework from accredited undergraduate and graduate institutions,
  • GRE scores and
  • Department-level evaluation of a student’s preparation.
  • Intermediate Microeconomics or comparable undergraduate course.
  • Intermediate Macroeconomics or comparable undergraduate course.
  • Undergraduate Econometrics or comparable course
  • Two semesters of calculus

The TOEFL is required of international students. Students must fulfill all University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School requirements.

While no minimum GRE score is required, students scoring below the 70th percentile are generally not admitted. Admission is competitive and meeting minimum qualifications is not a guarantee of admission.

Application Deadlines

To be considered for Fall semester, all materials must be received by February 1.
To be considered for Spring semester, application materials must be received by October 15.

Application Procedure

The Ph.D. in Economics program is governed by University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School requirements. All material should be submitted online through the graduate school.

Applicants should submit the following:

  1. All required application materials as required by the Graduate School admissions requirements, including official transcripts from all previous educational institutions and GRE scores.
  2. A minimum of two and preferably three letters of recommendation.
  3. A letter of intent describing research interests, background preparation, and experience.
  4. Optional: Prospective students may elect to submit resumes and short examples of written work (articles published and/or working papers).

Candidates seeking assistantships should indicate their preference for teaching versus research assistantships in the University's application for graduate school admission.

International Students

For international student information, please consult the Office of International Students and Scholars.

Tuition, Cost Calculator and Funding

Tuition for the doctoral degree in Economics will vary depending on the number of courses needed and the background of the student. Here are several steps you can follow to understand the cost of the program and the funding opportunities available.

International Students

View a sample table of the fees for international graduate students.
For information on funding for international students, please consult the Office of International Students and Scholars.

Advising Structure

The Economics Ph.D. program director serves as the temporary academic advisor for all graduate students. Within a semester after passing their qualifying exams, the student selects a permanent advisor who will chair the student's advisory/examining committee. The student and the permanent advisor arrange the appointment of the advisory/examining committee. This committee, the advisor, and the program director together supervise the student's course of study and examinations.

The research advisor may be a different faculty member than the permanent chair. Students may request the appointment of a committee member from the faculty of another university or from a relevant discipline or profession, provided the prospective member has achieved a record of distinction. The Graduate Dean formally approves the appointment of the student’s advisory/examining committee.

Additional information:

  • A program of study form must be filed with the graduate school as soon as possible after the advisory committee is formed.
  • All Graduate School forms, paperwork, and other correspondence regarding the academic progress of Ph.D. students must be routed through the program director, irrespective of whether a permanent advisor has been selected.
  • Students employed as Graduate Research Assistants (GRAs) have research supervisors associated with their employment. The GRA supervisor, who may be assigned upon entry to the program, is not the student’s academic advisor. It is often the case that a student will request that their GRA supervisor becomes their academic advisor; however, these are two different roles.
  • Changes in the program may be made only with the approval of the entire committee and graduate dean. When necessary, substitute members of the committee may be appointed by the graduate dean.

Advisory Committee

Your advisor should be the primary department contact for information, guidance, and mentoring throughout a student's graduate studies. It is the student's responsibility to contact his/her advisor about appropriate coursework, research questions, and selection of a graduate committee.

The Ph.D. graduate committee consists of at least five members of the graduate faculty, including your advisor. In addition to the permanent advisor as chair, the committee is composed of two or more members from Economics; one or more members from departments in related fields; and one member outside Economics, who is the Graduate School Representative. You should work with your advisor when selecting the committee and should be done in your second year after passing the comprehensive examinations.

The role of the graduate school representative committee member is to assure compliance with Graduate School regulations and procedures and report any deviations from prescribed standards to the Graduate School. The advisory/examining committee consists of at least five graduate faculty members. In addition to the permanent advisor as chair, this committee includes three or more members of the Ph.D. in Economics program list of Graduate Faculty and at least one graduate faculty member from outside the program faculty who serves as the Graduate School Representative.

All advisory/examining committee members are involved in the approval of the student's program of study and in the topic design of the dissertation and in the conduct of the dissertation oral examination.

Program of Study

The approved program of study describes the student's specific plan of courses, research, and related activities. The graduate student's advisor, the program graduate director, and the advisory/examining committee determine the program of study for each degree candidate, including the dissertation and the acceptable courses for completion of the degree. The Graduate Dean has final approval of the program of study.

Subsequent changes may be made at any time via the online Change in Program of Study Form or Change of Advisory Committee Form, with the approval of the major professor, graduate director of the program, advisory/examining committee and the Graduate Dean. The student's advisory/examining committee may require the student to take additional courses if, in its opinion, additional training is needed to achieve the expected level of proficiency.

S/U Grades

  • A maximum of nine (9) graduate credits toward a doctoral degree of satisfactory/ unsatisfactory (S/U) grading, in addition to the S/U credits for the comprehensive examination including transfer credits, is acceptable.
  • A maximum of 24 dissertation credits may be applied to a Doctoral degree. Final credits for dissertation are not officially recorded until the faculty for the graduate degree via the online Doctoral Notice of Completion Form approves the candidate.

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