Degree Requirements

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Linked documents in this page:

      Doctoral Program Requirements

      Ideas about the Prospectus

      Information on Committees and Defenses

      Paper Comp Option

Students must complete the following courses: one semester of Macroeconomics, two semesters of Microeconomics, one semester of Political Economy, one semester of Mathematical Methods, two semesters of Econometrics, and one semester of Economic History.

Students are required to pass two comprehensive examinations. One of the exams must be in one of three core economic theory fields, and the second may be in an applied economics field or in another economic theory field. The second comp may, in some cases, take the form of a comp paper instead of a traditional exam.  The description of the paper comp option can be found here.

The three core theory fields are Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Political Economy. Other fields include Applied Econometrics, Comparative Economic Systems, Development Economics, Economic History, Environmental Economics, Feminist Economics, Industrial Organization, International Economics, Labor Economics, and Marxian Economics.

Students are required to complete two courses in each of two fields (advanced theory or applied). Various other formal requirements are stipulated by the Graduate School and the Department.

The student must prepare and defend a Dissertation prospectus, and then write a Dissertation. The Dissertation demonstrates the candidate's ability to make original contributions to economic knowledge. The completed dissertation must be approved by a Dissertation Committee and successfully defended in an oral Dissertation Defense.  More detailed information about assembling a committee and scheduling defenses may be found here.

A standard timeline is for students to complete course work and comps by the end of year 3, defend a prospectus by the end of year 4, and defend the dissertation by the end of year 6.

All students will be matched with a faculty pre-dissertation advisor (PDA) in their second year in the doctoral program. The purpose of the PDA relationship is to assist the student in making the transition from course work to dissertation research. The PDA relationship ends when the student establishes a working relationship with a faculty dissertation supervisor (possibly the same person as the PDA advisor) who will then serve as the student's advisor.

See the document entitled "Doctoral Program Requirements" for additional information including the recommended course sequence and performance standards.

Master of Arts Degree Requirements

The Graduate Program in Economics is primarily designed for doctoral candidates, but a Master of Arts in Economics can be awarded along the way. Course requirements for the Master's are the same as for the Ph.D.. The Comprehensive Examinations, Dissertation Prospectus, and Doctoral Dissertation are not required. The candidate may elect to submit a Master's Thesis.  

4+1 MA Degree Requirements

Please note:  the 4+1 program is undergoing departmental review and is not accepting new applications at this time.

Students must complete 12 graduate courses including 8 required courses. The required courses are one course each in macroeconomics, mathematical methods, introduction to economic history, and political economy, and two courses each in microeconomics and econometrics.

Students in their fourth year take two graduate courses each semester. In the fifth year, a student takes four graduate courses each semester, for a total of 12 courses, or 36 credits. UMass students who have accumulated at least 126 credits by the end of their senior year can count up to six credits of graduate course work toward both their BA and MA, completing both degrees in five years. Students at the other four colleges should consult their academic advisor to determine how they can complete the MA degree in the fifth year.