ph.D. in economics

Our doctoral program provides rigorous training in modern theory and data analysis. We are particularly strong in the fields of applied microeconomics, especially labor economics, education, economic development, public finance and health economics, and also international macroeconomics. Our graduates work as university professors, conduct policy analysis in government agencies and non-governmental organizations, and work in leading private sectors firms.

We enroll about 10 new doctoral students per year and the modest size of our program allows us to have small classes, provide support to our students, and have a lot of student-faculty interaction. About half of our students are from the United States and the other half come from all over the world.

We are particularly excited about the young faculty members who we were able to recruit to teach at UIC over the last few years. They, along with our senior faculty, help create a lively intellectual atmosphere and ensure our students have sufficient training and mentoring to do great work. A distinguishing feature of our department is a high level of faculty research collaboration with graduate students. Over the past three years graduate students have coauthored articles with faculty that have been published in the Economic Journal, the Journal of Labor Economics, the Journal of Health Economics, and the Economics of Education Review. We also have three weekly research seminars where external scholars and UIC faculty and students present and discuss their work. 

Information on the application process can be found on our How to Apply page.

The PhD degree requires at least 104 hours beyond the bachelor's degree and 72 hours beyond the master's degree. Our program is designed to be completed in five or six years. Below are our course requirements, exams, and research requirements. 

Course Requirements

1. Economics Core - 28 hours
The economics core consists of two courses each in microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory and three courses in econometrics (Econ 509, 510, 511, 512, 534, 535 and 539).

2. Areas of Concentration - 16 hours

Students in our program will select either the Applied Microeconomics area of concentration or the International Macroeconomics area of concentration.

Student who select Applied Microeconomics will complete Labor Economics I (Econ 531) and Public Economics I (Econ 575), plus two courses from Development Economics (Econ 516), Labor Economics II (Econ 532), Economics of Education (Econ 551), and Health Economics (Econ 555).

Students who select International Macroeconomics will complete International Monetary Policy (Econ 515) and Time-series Econometrics (Econ 537), plus two courses from Development Economics (Econ 516), Labor Economics I (Econ 531), Labor Economics II (Econ 532), Economics of Education (Econ 551), Health Economics (Econ 555), and Public Economics I (Econ 575).

3. Electives- 12 hours 
Students must take at least one additional 500-level course in economics and two graduate courses related to their field of study in either economics or in any other discipline.


1. Comprehensive Examinations
After completion of their core coursework, students must pass comprehensive examinations in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics that are designed to test their scholarly competence and knowledge in these subjects. Unlike final examinations administered at the conclusion of specific courses -- which are limited to material covered in that course -- the comprehensive exams test the ability to handle a range of material related to core concepts in economics within two years after admission to the program. Students who receive a failing grade on any qualifying exam on two occasions, or who have not passed all examinations by the end of their second year of study, will not be allowed to continue in the Ph.D. program. Each examination is 4 hours and is offered twice a year.

2. Preliminary Examinations
Upon successful completion of the comprehensive exams and field coursework the student is eligible to take the preliminary examination. This exam will consist of required questions for each area of study (Applied Microeconomics or International Macroeconomics) and optional questions based on specific topics courses that the student has taken. 

Third Year Paper

During the third year of study students write a paper that explores a specific area of research in-depth, under the direction of two faculty members who mentor and guide the student in their work. This paper is an important part of graduate training since it facilitates the transition from coursework to independent research that will ultimately lead to a dissertation. 


The dissertation is an original scholarly contribution and is the culmination of graduate education. Students write their dissertation under the direction of a five-member committee. Part of the preparation of the dissertation is a dissertation proposal, which states the topics to be explored, a summary of the relevant literature, the relevant theoretical and empirical issues, the data to be used and methods of analysis, and a statement of the anticipated significance of the research project.