Jul 15, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Economics (PhD)

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The PhD in Economics program requires students to complete a total of 60 units of graduate-level course work. The 60 units include ECON 794a  and ECON 794b.  Those interested in applying to the PhD program should review information concerning admission procedures and requirements within the following websites:

In addition to the course requirements listed below, students within the PhD in Economics program must also satisfy these requirements:

Core Theory Examination

Before beginning the third semester of graduate study, each student must pass a written examination in general economic theory including applications. A maximum of two attempts is allowed. Not taking the examination at a given due time is considered as failing the examination once. The core theory examination is offered twice every year during the summer session. Any exceptions are subject to approval of the Director of Doctoral Studies (DDS).

Second-Year Paper

During the summer after the fourth semester of study, each student must submit an empirical paper using quantitative methods to the examination committee. The paper may use field, experimental or simulated data. In this paper, each student should demonstrate competence in using a computer programming language and software.

Third-Year Paper and Presentation

During the summer after the sixth semester of study, each student must submit and present a research paper to a committee of faculty. The paper must be of publishable quality.

Qualifying Examination

Upon successful completion of course requirements, the second- and third-year paper requirements, and the core theory examination, each student stands for a qualifying examination that focuses on the presentation and defense of the written dissertation proposal. After passing the qualifying examination, a student is admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. This examination must be taken no later than the end of the eighth semester of study.

Doctoral Dissertation

Following passage of the core theory examination and approval of a dissertation topic by the qualifying exam committee, each student accelerates their dissertation-focused research under the supervision of the dissertation committee. The primary requirement of the PhD is a quality dissertation that is based on a substantial amount of original research conducted.

It is also each student’s responsibility to carefully follow Graduate School procedures and requirements pertaining to formal submission of their dissertation.

Master of Arts in Economics (optional)

PhD students may earn an MA degree as they progress through their doctoral studies. 

ECON 601 ECON 602 ECON 609  and ECON 611  may be substituted for ECON 500 ECON 501  and ECON 513  requirements of the MA in Economics degree. The remaining elective units may be selected from graduate-level ECON courses that the department has approved.

First-Year Courses (24 units)

Each student must complete the following courses during their first year in the PhD program:

Seminar Courses (6 Units)

All seminar courses are repeatable. Each student must complete six units from amongst the following courses:

Frontier Research (6 Units)

Each semester, the Department offers multiple sections of ECON 700  with each section focusing on a distinct field. Each student must complete this repeatable course three times:

Elective Courses (20 Units)

The Director of Doctoral Studies (DDS) must approve all elective courses. ECON and non-ECON courses may count toward the elective requirement. Each student must complete twenty units of elective coursework.

Dissertation Courses (4 Units)

Each student must complete at least these two dissertation courses:

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