Ph.D. Program Components

Ph.D. Program Components

Ph.D. Program Components

The course of study described in this section requires the completion of 75 credit hours. This includes 18 hours of workshops, 6 hours of internship (or an additional field consisting of two courses), and 12 hours of doctoral dissertation.

Core requirements

Each student is required to take a core of nine courses: four theory courses and five courses in quantitative economics. Seven of these nine courses are taken during the student's first year:

  • ECON 5040 Mathematical Economics - 3 hrs.
  • ECON 6190 Introduction to Econometrics - 3 hrs.
  • ECON 6220 Economic Statistics - 3 hrs.
  • ECON 6650 Microeconomic Theory I - 3 hrs.
  • ECON 6660 Microeconomic Theory II - 3 hrs.
  • ECON 6750 Macroeconomic Theory I - 3 hrs.
  • ECON 6760 Macroeconomic Theory II - 3 hrs.

After completing the first year courses, each student must pass comprehensive examinations in Microeconomics Theory and Macroeconomics Theory. Each student has two attemps to pass each examination. The first attempt is given in early July following the student's first year in the program. Students not passing the Microeconomics Theory, Macroeconomics Theory, or both, must retake the examinations(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

Each student is required to specialize in two of the following fields:
  • Economic development
  • Human resource economics
  • Monetary economics
  • Business economics/industrial organization
  • International economics

To specialize in a particular area, students take a sequence of two courses. Students are required to pass a field qualifying examination in each specialization. Students are given two opportunities to pass each examination. The first attempt is given in early July following the student's second year in the program. Students not passing must retake the examinations(s) in late August. Students who have not passed both the field examinations by the start of the third year will be dismissed from the program.

Thus, students' curricula in their second year is composed of four field courses plus:

  • ECON 6700 Advanced Econometrics I -3 hrs
  • ECON 6710 Advanced Econometrics II - 3 hrs
  • ECON 6990 Workshop - 3 hrs.

Workshops, the internship, and the dissertation

Third- and fourth-year candidates devote their time to their internship, workshops, and the dissertation. An additional field may be taken in place of the internship; there is no qualifying examination over the additional field. The six workshops are designed to provide the bridge between economic theory and applied economic analysis. The dissertation is the culminating experience for each student. Dissertations are based on economic theory, employ modern econometric methodology, and focus on solving real-world problems. The defense of the dissertation will take the form of an oral examination and otherwise 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.

The nature and structure of workshops

Doctoral candidates are required to participate in six workshops designed to deepen their understanding of theoretical and empirical economics by giving them 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 and for familiarizing them with a great variety of applied economic research. An Applied Economics workshop (ECON 6990) is offered each semester and during the spring session. Because a workshop is intended as a forum for presenting on-going 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.

The nature and role of the internship

In the third year, candidates may intern at a non-academic organization. Examples of such organizations include state, county, and local government agencies; consulting or research firms; financial institutions; businesses; and health care organizations. Interns are 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 at a time in the program when students have completed their core courses in economic theory and methods as well as field courses, which contain a mixture of theory and applications. The internship provides students an opportunity to put what they have learned into practice and to gain practical experience. The intern works under the close scrutiny of a faculty advisor, who approves the topic and provides primary supervision of the intern. Supervision is also provided by one or more individuals at the sponsoring organization. These individuals are most closely familiar with the institutional setting of the problem and with the available data. Internships are tailored to the individual student. However, the internship is normally 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.

The dissertation

An original doctoral dissertation is required of all students in accordance with The Graduate College's regulations and the regulations established by the department. Students shall work with a dissertation committee under whose guidance the dissertation will be written. A satisfactory oral defense of the dissertation completes all the requirements of the Ph.D. degree.

Questions? Contact:
Dr. James Hueng


Department of Economics
5307 Friedmann Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008 USA
(269) 387-5535 | (269) 387-5637 Fax