Doctor of Philosophy Program Components

The Ph.D. program in the Department of Economics at Western Michigan University requires the completion of 75 credit hours. This includes:

  • Workshops (18 hours)
  • Internship (six hours) or an additional field consisting of two courses
  • Doctoral dissertation (12 hours)

Core requirements

You will be required to take a core of nine courses: four theory courses and five courses in quantitative economics. Seven of these courses are taken during your first year: 

  • Mathematics for Economists (ECON 5040)—three hours
  • Introduction to Econometrics (ECON 6190)—three hours
  • Economic Statistics (ECON 6220)—three hours
  • Microeconomic Theory I (ECON 6650)—three hours
  • Microeconomic Theory II (ECON 6660)—three hours
  • Macroeconomic Theory I (ECON 6750)—three hours
  • Macroeconomic Theory II (ECON 6760)—three hours

Comprehensive examinations

After completing the first-year courses, you must pass comprehensive examinations in microeconomics theory and macroeconomics theory. You are given two opportunities to pass each examination. The first attempt is given in early July following your first year in the program. If you do not pass one or both of the exams, you must retake the examination(s) in late August. Students who have not passed both examinations by the start of the second year will be dismissed from the program.

Field requirements

You will be required to specialize in two of the following fields:

  • Business economics/industrial organization
  • Economic development
  • Human resource economics
  • International economics
  • Monetary economics

Field qualifying examinations

To specialize in a particular area, take a sequence of two courses. You are required to pass a field qualifying examination in each specialization. You are given two opportunities to pass each examination. The first attempt is given in early July following your second year in the program. If you do not pass the exam, you must retake the examination(s) in late August. If you do not pass both of the field examinations by the start of the third year, you will be dismissed from the program.

Second-year curricula

Your second-year curricula is composed of four field courses plus:

  • ECON 6700 Advanced Econometrics I (three credit hours)
  • ECON 6710 Advanced Econometrics II (three credit hours)
  • ECON 6990 Workshop (three credit hours)

Workshops, the internship and the dissertation

During your third and fourth years, you will devote your time to your workshops, internship and dissertation.

Workshops

As a doctoral candidate, you are required to participate in six workshops designed to deepen your understanding of theoretical and empirical economics by giving you the opportunity to discuss the research being conducted by the department's faculty, economists from other institutions and graduate students. These workshops are the principle instrument for teaching students how to construct and execute a research project, to familiarize them with a great variety of applied economic research and to bridge economic theory and applied economic analysis. The Applied Economics Workshop (ECON 6990) is offered each semester and summer I session. Because a workshop is intended as a forum for presenting ongoing and recently completed research, the faculty member in charge of the workshop facilitates a seminar-type discussion based on the presenter's work. Presenters include the students in the class, other Ph.D. students, economists doing applied research at non-academic organizations and faculty involved in applied research from this and other economics departments. Students have the opportunity to become familiar with a great variety of applied economic research and make comparisons to their own internship projects.

Your fourth year will be spent taking two additional workshops and concentrating on the dissertation.

Internships

In the third year, you may intern at a non-academic organization such as a state, county and local government agency; consulting or research firm; financial institution; business; and health care organization. You will be required to carry out an extensive analysis of a real-world economic problem and to prepare a report on the solution to that problem. The internship comes after you have completed your core courses in economic theory and methods and field courses, which contain a mixture of theory and applications. The internship provides you an opportunity to put what you have learned into practice and to gain practical experience. You work under the close scrutiny of a faculty advisor who approves the topic and provides primary supervision. Supervision is also provided by one or more individuals at the sponsoring organization. These individuals are most familiar with the institutional setting of the problem and with the available data. Internships are tailored to you and will normally be within commuting distance of the University. Interns are typically unpaid and are expected to work approximately 20 hours per week on the internship project. Advisors and students are matched on the basis of mutual interest in the internship project.

An additional field may be taken in place of the internship; there is no qualifying examination over the additional field.

Dissertation

An original doctoral dissertation is the culminating experience for each student and is required in accordance with the Graduate College's regulations and the regulations established by the department. You will work with a dissertation committee under whose guidance you will write your dissertation.

Dissertations:

  • Are based on economic theory
  • Employ modern econometric methodology
  • Focus on solving real-world problems

The defense of the dissertation will take the form of an oral examination and conform to University policy. The candidate's third year will be spent in an internship (ECON 7120) or taking an additional field and taking three workshops (ECON 6990). The fourth year will be spent taking two additional workshops and concentrating on the dissertation. A satisfactory oral defense of the dissertation completes all the requirements of the Ph.D. degree.

Questions?

Contact Mark Wheeler, director of graduate programs, for more information.