Courses and Requirements

Requirements and Course Description

The Ph.D. Program in Economics usually requires five years to complete. The program focuses on students beginning active research early in their career.

Course Requirements

The program stresses a strong foundation in theory and econometrics. There are nine core courses in the Ph.D. curriculum, focused on three major areas: Macroeconomic Theory (Economics 204A-B-C), Microeconomic Theory (Economics 210A-B-C), and Econometrics (Economics 241A-B-C). The core courses are completed during the first year of the program as follows:

Fall Quarter

  • Economics 204A: "Macroeconomic Theory"
  • Economics 210A: "Theory of Consumption and Production"
  • Economics 241A: "Econometrics"

Winter Quarter

  • Economics 204B: "Macroeconomic Theory"
  • Economics 210B: "Introduction to Game Theory"
  • Economics 241B: "Econometrics"

Spring Quarter

  • Economics 204C: "Macroeconomic Theory"
  • Economics 210C: "Markets and Incentives"
  • Economics 241C: "Econometrics"

In addition, all new first year Ph.D. students are required to must enroll in Economics 297: "Seminar on the Teaching of Economics."

Field Requirements

In the second year, students complete eight elective courses. Two separate fields in their entirety (each field consists of two or three courses.) Other field courses to complete the total of 8 elective courses. Elective field courses include the following:

Econometrics (Three courses required to complete field)
Economics 245A: “Econometric Theory”
Economics 245B: “Econometric Theory”
Economics 245C: “Econometric Theory”
Economics 245D: “Workshop in Econometrics”
Economics 245E: “Introduction to Bayesian Econometrics”

Environmental and Natural Resources (All three required to complete field)
Economics 260A: "Natural Resources"
Economics 260B: "Environmental Economics"
Economics 260C: "Collective Action and Open Access "
Economics 230B: "Public Finance" (alternate if one of previous 3 is not offered)

Experimental and Behavioral Economics (All three required to complete field)
Economics 276A: “Experimental Economics I“
Economics 276B: “Experimental Economics II“
Economics 277A: “Behavioral Theory“

Labor Economics (Three courses required to complete field)
Economics 250A: "Labor Economics"
Economics 250B: "Wage Structure"
Economics 250C: "Current Research Topics in Labor Economics"
Economics 250D: “Population Economics”

Macroeconomic Theory and Policy (Three courses required to complete field)
Economics 225: "Heterogeneous Agent Macroeconomics"
Economics ​228: "Aggregate Economics"
Economics 229: "Macroeconomics Theory and Policy"
Economics 253A: "Job Search Theory" (can also be used to complete the Labor field)
Economics 253B: "Topics in Search and Matching" (can also be used to complete the Labor field)

​Microeconomic Theory (All three required to complete field)

Economics 242: "Advanced Game Theory"
Economics 244: "Mathematical Economics"
Economics 249: "Dynamic Optimization"

Public ​Economics (Both courses required)
Economics 230A: "Public Finance"
Economics 230B: "Public Finance"

Additional Elective Field Courses
Economics 214A: "Development"
Economics 214B: "Development"
Economics 594MC: "Special Topics in Economics – Macroeconomics" with Dr. Finn Kydland

Normal Academic Progress

Graduate Division Requirements

All courses used to satisfy requirements of the Ph.D. program are taken for a letter grade. A grade point average of 3.0 (letter grade B) is required to receive an M.A. or Ph.D. degree.


Departmental Requirements:

First Year

Ph.D. students must complete the Macroeconomics, Microeconomics and Econometrics core courses with a grade of B or better in each course. Students must receive a Ph.D. pass on the preliminary examinations at the end of the first year in Macroeconomics, Microeconomics and Econometrics. Grading categories for the preliminary examinations are "Fail", "M.A. Pass", "Ph.D. Pass" and "Ph.D. Pass with Distinction." To proceed in the Ph.D. program, students must receive a Ph.D. Pass or better on all three preliminary exams.

Students have two opportunities to pass each examination, the first in June, after completion of the Spring quarter, and the second in August, before the start of Fall quarter. Students must pass all three preliminary exams in order to proceed to the 2nd year of the Ph.D. program.

Students who receive an M.A. pass (or higher) on the preliminary examinations (and who satisfy the above grade requirements) are eligible to receive the M.A. degree in Economics.

Students who receive only an M.A. pass on any of the preliminary examinations (and who satisfy the above grade requirements) are eligible to receive the M.A. degree in Economics, but are not eligible to continue in the Ph.D. program.

First Year Course Descriptions

Economics 204A-B-C: "Macroeconomic Theory"
Prerequisites: Economics 210A and Economics 210

A. Introduction to modern macroeconomics. Study of economic growth and dynamic optimization. Representative agent, overlapping generations and monetary models. 

B. Introduction to dynamic programming. Arrow-Debreu Equilibria, Sequences of Market Equilibria, Recursive Competitive Equilibria. First and second welfare theorems. Real Business Cycles.

C. Focus on frictional economics. Topics to include: economies with incomplete markets, private information, search and matching.

Economics 210A: "Theory of Consumption and Production"
Prerequisites: Math 3A-B-C; & Economics 104A-B, or Economics 205A-B, 1st year Ph.D. standing
Constrained optimization; consumer theory and theory of the firm; uncertainty, risk and expected utility.

Economics 210B: "Introduction to Game Theory"
Prerequisites: Math 3A-B-C; & Economics 104A-B, or Economics 205A-B, 1st year Ph.D. standing
Non-cooperative and cooperative game theory; bargaining and auctions; topics in asymmetric information including adverse selection, signaling and screening.

Economics 210C: "Markets and Incentives"
Prerequisites: Economics 210A and Economics 210B, 1st year Ph.D. standing
Partial and general equilibrium of competitive and non-competitive markets. Topics to include uncertainty; welfare theorems for competitive markets; imperfect competition; externalities and public goods.

Economics 241A-B-C: "Econometrics"
Prerequisites: Mathematics 3A-B-C or equivalent, 1st year Ph.D. standing, must be taken in order starting with 241A


A. Elements of probability and statistics for econometrics.

B. The intuition and theory underpinning estimation of single and multiple equation regression models. Conducting original empirical research.

C. Extension of the general linear model, dynamic model structure and limited dependent variable estimation.

Second Year

Ph.D. students start to take eight elective courses. The courses that satisfy the two field requirement must be completed with an average grade of at least an A- (3.70). The electives must include specializations in two fields. The fields vary, but typically include: ​Econometrics, Environmental Economics and Natural Resources, Experimental and Behavioral Economics, Labor Economics, Macroeconomic Theory and Policy, and Public Finance.

* For Second Year and above course descriptions and prerequisites, please refer to the UCSB Online General Catalog in the Economics courses page.

Third Year

Students must enroll in the graduate research seminar (Economics 293) during their third year. Students are required to pass the third year review by the end of Spring quarter. To pass the third year review, the thesis supervisor endorses the student’s first research paper (3rd Year paper), which is then posted on the graduate research website. The graduate research website contains all graduate student research papers and is online for public viewing.

In the ​third year, students begin a research project to launch their dissertation research. When they complete the project and defend proposals for the rest of their dissertation in an oral qualifying examination administered by their doctoral committee, they advance to candidacy. The goal is to reach this important milestone by the end of the Fall quarter of the ​fourth year.

Fourth Year

Students are ​required to advance to candidacy (all field courses and field electives must be first completed) by the end of the Fall quarter. To advance, students select a dissertation committee and discuss a research proposal.

Students are required to pass the fourth year review by the end of Spring quarter of the fourth year. To pass the fourth year review, students receive their supervisor’s endorsement to post their second research paper (4th year paper) and they receive the endorsement of their committee that they are ready to enter the job market in the fall of their fifth year.

Public defense of the completed dissertation is required​.

Fifth Year

Students work toward the completion and submission of their dissertation. Students enter the job market and graduate by the end of the Spring quarter.

Degree Progress Check Sheets

Graduate students in the Department of Economics Ph.D. program can use the below printable check sheets, to track their progress in the program and/or connected emphasis. Questions about meeting program requirements and progress towards being awarded the doctoral degree can be addressed to the departmental graduate advisor.

Doctor of Philosophy - Economics (Requirements - PDF)
Master of Arts - Economics (Requirements - PDF) (Based on successful completion of first year Ph.D. program requirements)
Demography Emphasis (Requirements - PDF)
Economics and Environmental Science (EES) Emphasis (Requirements - PDF)