Economics (Ph.D.)

Further your career as an economist.

Our doctorate in economics focuses on developing applied research skills that are increasingly in demand in consulting, business, government and academia.

Because of our small class sizes, you can count on receiving the personal attention of our highly qualified faculty. Our programs emphasize applied, policy-oriented economics and the development of strong econometric skills.

Economics that really matters – student-centered and research-focused. That’s the Lerner difference.

Program Highlights

Fields of specialization include development economics, industrial organization, labor economics, behavioral economics and household finance.

STEM OPT Program

The Ph.D. in economics degree is a STEM-designated degree program and provides international students 24 months of OPT (Optional Practical Training) in addition to the original 12 months.

Program Requirements

In addition to courses for the doctorate, you must complete the requirements for the M.S. in economics and applied econometrics at the University of Delaware or satisfy the equivalency requirement (see below).

You can expect to finish all required coursework within three years, with two additional years typically needed to complete the dissertation.

Required Courses

M.S. in economics and applied econometrics (30 credits)
ECON 811 – Microeconomic Theory I
ECON 812 – Macroeconomic Theory I
ECON 822 – Econometric Theory I
ECON 823 – Econometric Theory II

One from:
ECON 824 – Econometrics of Cross-Section and Panel Data
ECON 825 – Time-series Econometrics
Five electives approved by the graduate committee including one Advanced Topics course or ECON 868 Research Project

Additional required courses for the doctoral program (23 credits)
ECON 813 – Microeconomic Theory II
ECON 814 – Macroeconomic Theory II
ECON 850 – Dissertation Workshop
Two advanced topics field courses
ECON 969 – Doctoral Dissertation

Additional Requirements

Examinations in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory are required.

Current students: access the exam schedule on myLerner.

Ph.D. students must register for and attend the weekly department seminar (ECON 890) in their fourth semester of study.

M.S. in Economics Equivalency

If you have earned a master’s degree in economics at an institution other than UD, you will probably not need to complete the full 53 credits for the doctorate in economics. Courses that are deemed equivalent can substitute for required course credits for our M.S. in economics and applied econometrics. The graduate committee has sole authority to award equivalency.

Career Opportunities

The economics doctorate prepares you for a leading role in economic research, education, consulting or government agencies. The economics faculty provides job interview coaching and guidance.

Where Our Graduates Work

Academic positions:

  • American University, Dubai
  • Bucknell University
  • Chowan University
  • Otterbein University
  • Pacific University
  • Rowan University
  • Skidmore College
  • St. Mary’s University – Halifax, Canada
  • SUNY – Oneonta
  • West Chester University

Government and International Organizations:

  • Bureau of Economic Analysis
  • Delaware Department of Labor
  • Federal Reserve Banks of Philadelphia and Richmond
  • U.S. Bureau of the Census
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Social Security Administration

Consulting and Industry:

  • A2F Consulting
  • Deloitte Economic Consulting
  • Ernst & Young (Washington, NY and Atlanta offices)
  • KPMG
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers

Banking and Financial Services:

  • Bank of America
  • Barclays
  • Capital One
  • Charles Schwab
  • Citibank
  • HSBC Financial Corporation
  • J.P. Morgan Chase
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Northern Trust Corp.
  • Optionmetrics
  • PNC
  • Santander Bank
  • TD Bank
  • Wells Fargo


Economics FAQ
Q. What is distinctive about your programs?

A. First, we take a personalized approach to our students. Our program is small enough that each student receives personal attention. As a result, students finish their degrees at a faster rate than is typical elsewhere. Second, we focus on the application of economics to the real world and offer a wide array of econometrics courses designed to train students for jobs that emphasize the practical application of economics. As a result, we have been highly successful in placing our graduates in meaningful jobs that demand such skills. Third, a large number of our funded students teach either economics courses for our department or statistics labs for the Department of Mathematics. As a result, these students gain valuable experience that translates well not only to academia but to the business world, which places a premium on the ability to communicate effectively.

Which program is best for me?

Q. What is the difference between a Ph.D. in economics and a Ph.D. in economic education?

A. The Ph.D. in economics at the University of Delaware is just what it sounds like – a program designed to develop professional research skills in economics, including advanced economic theory and econometrics. Virtually all the coursework is taken in the Department of Economics. The Ph.D. in economic education is a joint program between the Department of Economics and the School of Education that trains professionals in the growing field of economic education. That field focuses on the learning and teaching of economics, especially at the K-12 level, but also at college and universities, and through general public service education programs at banks, Federal Reserve Banks, etc. This program has a substantial education course component in addition to graduate training in economics. Coursework in the program is evenly divided between the two areas. It is less quantitative than the Ph.D. in economics, but the courses in education are very reading and writing intensive. The Ph.D. in economic education is not intended as a substitute for the Ph.D. degree in economics and we expect that employers would not regard it that way. It is a distinct program of study leading to a different professional career path.

Q. What’s the difference between the Ph.D. in economic education and the M.A. degree in economics and entrepreneurship for educators (MAEEE)?

A. The MAEEE degree is designed for individuals currently working in the education field who want to strengthen their economics skills. It is a professional degree. Instruction in economics is similar to courses that might be taken by economics majors and is combined with courses on pedagogy and with implementation projects. The degree is offered in two summer sessions in consecutive years. The Ph.D. program in economic education combines graduate level coursework in economics and education. It is a research degree and, as such, places greater emphasis on research methods, including statistics, mathematics, and advanced economics. This full-time residential program can be completed in three to four years.

Q. How long does it take to finish the different degrees?

A. The M.S. in economics and applied econometrics is a three-semester degree. Students take three courses each semester and register for ECON 868 Research Paper, in any of the three semesters. Students often work on the research project during the summer between the second and third semesters. M.S. student may take a tenth course instead of ECON 868. We advise students to do this during their third semester. Ph.D. students need three years to finish their coursework and an additional two years to complete the dissertation.

Q: What do you mean by “equivalency” ?

A: Although a student cannot use credit earned for another degree to earn a master’s degree in economics at the University of Delaware, some of these credits may reduce the overall number of credits needed to complete the Ph.D. degree. Students without prior graduate work in economics must complete the requirements of our M.S. in economics and applied econometrics (30 credits) in addition to satisfying the requirements for the Ph.D. (23 credits). Students will be awarded both degrees upon completion of the requirements. If you have completed a master’s degree in economics at another comparable university, it is possible that you may only need to complete the remaining 23 credits (including 9-credit thesis) at the University of Delaware. However, since master’s degrees do not always include comparable courses at a comparable level of rigor, the graduate committee must evaluate each student’s record on an individual basis. Students must supply information concerning course content (for example, copies of course syllabi and exams) to support their request for equivalency.

Q: If I have completed a MBA recently, how many more courses will I have to take to complete the Ph.D.?

A: This depends on exactly what courses you took for your MBA degree. Generally, there is little overlap between coursework for a traditional MBA and a master’s degree in economics. The graduate committee evaluates each student’s record on an individual basis. Students must supply information concerning course content (for example, copies of course syllabi and exams) to support their request for equivalency.

Q: I’m applying for the Ph.D. in economics; I currently hold a MBA degree. You stipulate that I must eventually meet the requirements of the M.S. in economics and applied econometrics in addition to the requirements for the Ph.D. program. Do I submit my application for the M.S. or the Ph.D. program?

A: You can apply directly to the Ph.D. with a MBA degree. You will be required to complete the M.S. equivalency at UD as part of your Ph.D. program (30 credits for the M.S. degree plus the 29 credits for Ph.D.). If you receive equivalency for any coursework taken for the MBA, you will not be able to use those credits for the M.S. degree. However, those credits would reduce the total number of credits needed for the Ph.D. degree. Students who receive equivalency for coursework will receive only a Ph.D. degree.

Q: I have a limited background in economics but, as an undergraduate, I took two semester courses in calculus and statistics. Should I get a M.A. degree prior to switching to the Ph.D. program?

A: You would benefit from a calculus-based Intermediate microeconomics course. You should consider taking the course prior to starting graduate work in economics. If your background in mathematics and statistics is especially strong, you could still succeed in either the M.S. or Ph.D. program. The graduate committee would have to evaluate your record once you have applied and advise you as to which program is the most appropriate. Once at UD, you can change programs at any time as long as the graduate committee approves.

Q: What can I do to increase my chances of being admitted to the M.S. or Ph.D. program?

A: We have found that students do better if they have a stronger background in mathematics. The minimum mathematics requirement is a two-course undergraduate sequence in calculus that includes multivariate calculus (that is, partial differentiation). We offer a self-contained course in mathematics for economists (ECON 810) in the fall semester. Also recommended are courses in linear algebra and differential equations.

Q: What is the minimum requirement (such as TOEFL and GRE scores) if I want to apply for a TA or RA?

A: The minimum TOEFL for admission to the Ph.D. is 100 IBT and minimum GRE quantitative score is 156.

Q: Does the University of Delaware treat a 3-year bachelor’s (honors) degree from another country as equivalent to its U.S. counterpart and accept the applicant for direct admission to the graduate program?

A: No, a three-year degree is not acceptable for admission to UD. One more year of post-graduate studies at your University would be acceptable and then you may apply for admission to graduate studies at UD.

Q: I have already received the official letter of admission from the University of Delaware but I was not given financial aid. Do I have any chance of obtaining financial aid?

A: We realize that money is a problem and it is very difficult for you to come without aid. However, we have limited aid awards. It is our experience that it is very difficult for foreign students to cope financially in the United States without the help of a sponsor from outside the University.

Q: When do you make your funding decisions for the fall semester? Can you tell me what my chances are in advance?

A: We do fund a limited number of new students. We make the funding decisions for the fall semester in either March of April once we have reviewed all of the applicants’ records. The committee looks at all applicants at the same time and uses the criteria listed on our website. Unfortunately, it is not possible to make more specific statements about an individual student’s situation until we see the completed application.

Q: If I do well in my first year, will I be funded during the remaining time that I will need to finish the Ph.D.?

A: Funding in 2nd – 5th years of study is contingent on the satisfactory performance in the program. Most students are funded for 5 years.

Q: Am I more likely to receive funding if I apply to the Ph.D. program than a master’s program?

A: While we fund a small number of new master’s and Ph.D. students, applying for the master’s or Ph.D. program does not affect the funding or admission decision. Funding beyond the first year is dependent on success in the first year.


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Admissions Information

Learn more about economics Ph.D. admissions requirements, deadlines, tuition and financial aid available to you.

Job Market Candidates
Lerner Ph.D. in Economics students have the quantitative skills needed to conduct applied economic research and are ready for careers in consulting, government or academia.

STEM-Designated Program
This STEM-designated program provides international students 24 months of OPT (Optional Practical Training) in addition to the original 12 months.

Hutchinson Lecture in Economics
Hutchinson Lecture in Economics
The Hutchinson Lecture in Macroeconomics brings distinguished scholars and policy-makers to campus each spring semester.

Carol A. Ammon Case Competition
Carol A. Ammon Case Competition
Graduate student teams present their solutions to current issues faced by the competition’s focal company.