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Economics Graduate School Preparation

If you are potentially interested in graduate school in Economics, you should talk to several faculty members in Economics early in your undergraduate program to help you understand your options and make important decisions in terms of courses to take. Below is an overview of the options for graduate school in Economics as well as an indication of the importance of taking courses in mathematics and statistics if you plan to go on to graduate school in Economics.

PhD Degree in Economics: The PhD degree in Economics is the most advanced degree in the field of economics and is generally considered a research degree. Earning a PhD typically involves several years of post-baccalaureate study, including advanced courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, quantitative analysis, and econometrics, followed by courses in the student's field of specialization. After all coursework is completed, students develop a research plan for a doctoral dissertation. In many Ph.D. programs, the proposed research path is the subject of an oral examination before the research path is approved. The PhD is awarded after successful defense of the doctoral dissertation, usually during a final oral examination.

Master's Degree in Economics: The master's degree in Economics can be viewed as a terminal degree or as additional preparation (beyond the baccalaureate degree) for more advanced study. In some cases, a Master's degree is routinely awarded after completion of a designated phase of a PhD program. Earning a Master's degree in economics typically involves two years of post-baccalaureate study, generally including courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, quantitative analysis, and econometrics. Terminal Master's degree requirements generally include completion of a Master's thesis.

Mathematical Preparation: If you are interested in graduate study of economics, it is important to include in your undergraduate program a number of courses in mathematics and statistics. At a minimum, you should take the following courses in mathematics and statistics: calculus (2-3 semesters), linear algebra, and mathematical statistics. For PhD programs, it is highly recommended that you take additional courses including courses on differential equations and real analysis. Real analysis is usually the first "rigorous" mathematics course, where you have to work through all proofs and write some yourself, and as such is good preparation for initial graduate courses.