Current Students

Program Timeline

Completing the PhD program will take on average five to six years, although some students will be able to complete the program in less time.

The PhD program consists of three major stages:

1. Core Courses and Preliminary Examinations (Year 1)

Students must complete the following core courses in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics in their first three quarters. Each core course is required to be passed with a grade of B or better.

Required Core Courses

Fall Quarter

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

Winter Quarter

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

Spring Quarter

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

In addition, all first-year PhD students are required to enroll in ECON 297: "Seminar on the Teaching of Economics."

Course descriptions can be viewed on the Economics Course Catalog.

Preliminary Examinations

At the end of the first academic year, students will take preliminary examinations in the areas of Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics. Students have two opportunities to pass each examination: the first in June/July, after the completion of the Spring Quarter, and the second in August, before the start of Fall Quarter. Students must receive a PhD Pass or a PhD Pass with Distinction on all three exams to proceed to the second year of the program.

Preliminary Exam Grading:

  • PhD Pass with Distinction
  • PhD Pass
  • MA Pass
  • Fail

Students who receive only an MA Pass on any of the preliminary examinations and satisfy the core course grade requirements are eligible to receive the MA degree in Economics, but are not eligible to proceed in the PhD Program.

Most students pass the preliminary exams and proceed into the PhD. The Department only admits students who it expects will pass.

2. Field Specialization (Year 2)

Students will take field specialization courses, studying two chosen fields from the following list:

  • Econometrics
  • Environmental and Natural Resources
  • Experimental and Behavioral Economics
  • Labor Economics
  • Macroeconomic Theory and Policy
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Public Economics

Course offerings will vary from year-to-year, and in some cases, completing a field may require continuing field specialization into the third year. A full document detailing the unit requirements is available on the sidebar.

Faculty-Led Working Groups

Beginning in the Fall Quarter of their second year and continuing each quarter until graduation, students will be required to enroll in a faculty-led Research Working Group, which is listed as the ECON 290 series. Working groups will typically be led by two or more faculty members. Course credit will be given for participating in working groups, but it will not count towards meeting the unit requirements for a student’s specialization or for their elective requirements.

Research Paper

To provide a more consistent and guided structure during the second year, doctoral students will also be required to produce a formal research paper. Students will produce a formal written proposal for a paper, which will be approved by the faculty advisor of the student’s Working Group.

More information on the requirements for the research paper can be found in a pdf in the sidebar.

3. Advancement to Candidacy and Completion of Dissertation (Years 3-6)

Requirements to Advance to Candidacy

Once all field courses, field electives, and research paper requirements have been completed, students are required to advance to candidacy. To advance, students form a dissertation committee, and will present a dissertation proposal to the committee’s dissertation chair.

All students are required to advance to candidacy by the end of the Fall Quarter of their fourth year.

Guidelines for the dissertation can be downloaded from the sidebar.

Fourth Year Review

By the end of Spring Quarter of the fourth year students will be required to receive their supervisor’s endorsement to post their second research paper (fourth year paper). They will also be required to receive the endorsement of their dissertation committee that they are ready to enter the job market in the fall of their fifth year.

Fifth Year, Job Market, and Graduation

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

The Department provides approved job market candidates and Economics PhD alumni with an in-house job market letter of recommendation service.

Information on Choosing an Emphasis

Students in the Economics PhD program may also choose to add an interdisciplinary graduate emphasis. Students can apply to:

  • The Demography Emphasis, which offers interdisciplinary courses between Anthropology, Economics, Geography, Sociology, and Global Studies
  • The Economic and Environmental Science Emphasis (EES), which is in conjunction with the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management
  • The Climate Sciences and Climate Change Emphasis, which offers interdisciplinary courses between Geography, the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, Earth Science, Economics, and Interdepartmental Graduate Program in Marine Science (IGPMS)

Entrance to each emphasis depends on the completion of required courses and various projects, for which more information is available in the sidebar.

Graduate Student Funding Requests

Requirements for All Proposals

The Department accepts funding proposals for research, data purchase, experiments, and travel for PhD students. All Economics PhD students in residence at UCSB, in good academic standing, and who are meeting time to degree requirements are eligible to apply. Proposals will be evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students who are submitting a funding request are required to travel or conduct their experiments within the dates listed on the Funding Request Form in the sidebar. These dates may differ with each academic year, and are updated accordingly. There are no exceptions to this policy.

Students cannot apply for funds that will take place in a future academic year. For example, a student may not request funding for an event that will take place in the Fall Quarter of next year until the current academic year has ended. Proposals that take place in future academic years will be accepted at a later deadline.

Please note that due to requirements for funding and paperwork processing, it may take some time for funds to be available to students. Students may need to pay for expenses out of pocket before they receive approval or funding from the Department, or if funding is denied.

Students applying for funding for an experiment are required to get the written approval of the faculty member who runs the experimental reading group, Prof. Ryan Oprea, as well as a written letter of recommendation for their dissertation advisor.

Please contact the Graduate Advisor, Mark Patterson, with any questions.

Requirements for Travel Proposals

When submitting a funding request for travel expenses, please refer to the Policy on Departmental Support for Graduate Student Travel in the sidebar. Students who submit a funding proposal are by default acknowledging and agreeing to the terms and conditions of the travel policy.

In addition to the general guidelines, students who are submitting a funding request for travel should note the following:

Due to California state law AB 1887, “Travel Prohibition to Certain States Using State Funding Source”, the Department may or may not fund travel to states that are subject to California’s ban on state-funded and state-sponsored travel. Prohibited states are listed below:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • West Virginia

Remember that receipts are mandatory to be turned in for all travel funding requests. Stipends will not be given for travel funding, but students will be reimbursed up to the amount allowed by the travel policy. This amount must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.


Journal Submission Fees

The Department accepts funding proposals for paying journal submission fees. All Economics PhD students who are in residence at UCSB, in good academic standing, and are meeting time to degree requirements are eligible to apply. Proposals will be evaluated by the Director of Graduate Studies. 


  1. The subsidy has to be approved before submission.
  2. The journal has to be an Economics journal (broadly defined).
  3. A letter of support from the student's committee chair is required.
  4. The paper cannot coauthored with a faculty member, here or elsewhere.
  5. Submission fees must be reasonable (No page charges or other costs).
  6. Cost must be $100-$200 per submission, and there can be no more than two submission fees per paper.

The Department is currently piloting this subsidy program and rules are subject to change. 


  1. Fill out the online Graduate Student Funding Requests form (available in the sidebar).
  2. Email a copy of the paper and the funding proposal to
  3. The student's Dissertation Chair or Main Advisor must email a note or letter of approval before the funding request will be reviewed.
  4. The journal submission will be reviewed and preapproved (internally) before the student submits it.
  5. If the request is approved, the student will submit their work and the submission fee will be paid by the department, during a scheduled meeting with the departmental Staff Graduate Advisor. Students should not pay the submission fee out of pocket.

PhD Program Recruitment

For students who have been accepted into the PhD Program, please find more information on our recruitment page

 Incoming Students

Learn about the resources the graduate program has to offer and how to prepare for your time at UCSB!

List of 2022-23 PhD Courses

 Requirements for Choosing an Emphasis

 Graduate Student Funding Requests