Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

PhD Degree Requirements

Please note: The following degree program requirements are general requirements. Each student should check with his or her Special Committee for additional course requirements, and students should also check with the Dyson School's Director of Graduate Studies (DGS) and the Graduate Field Assistant for additional requirements of the Graduate School.

  1. Special Committee: PhD students must select the chair of their Special Committee by the end of the second semester, and they must select two minor members by the end of the third semester. One of the minor members must represent a field outside Applied Economics and Management (AEM).
  2. Weekly seminar course: Required for all new PhD students in the first semester and they must enroll in AEM 7030. This mandatory seminar meets every Tuesday, beginning at 4:30 p.m. in Warren 401.
  3. Monthly graduate program seminars: In the first two years of the PhD program, all PhD students must register for AEM 7030 and attend the Applied Economics & Policy Seminars that are held once a month. Attendance is taken at each seminar. The schedule for these seminars can be found here. On occasion, if a student misses one of the required seminars, they must make this up by meeting with the guest speaker or attending another widely advertised seminar at Cornell. Students must indicate to the DGS and GFA how you plan to make up the missed seminar.
  4. 6 registration units: 6 full-time semesters of course study (minimum of 12 credit hours per semester).
  5. A grade of B- or better is required in all of the following mandatory courses during the first year of the PhD program: AEM 7010, AEM 7020, AEM 7100, ECON 6090, ECON 6100, ECON 6170, and ECON 6190. During the second year of the PhD program, all students must take one macroeconomics course (ECON 6130 or ECON 6140), one additional econometrics class (e.g., ECON 6200), Applied Microeconomics Research I and II (AEM 7150 and AEM 7151) and must receive a grade of B- or better in each of these classes.
  6. Passing grade on the graduate field of Applied Economics and Management qualifying examination (also called the "Q" exam), taken in the summer immediately following the first academic year. Failure to meet the minimum grade requirement of B- or better in all of the required classes and/or failure in passing the AEM “Q” Exam will result in the student’s removal from the PhD program in the graduate field of applied economics and management.
  7. Mentored research paper: The paper should address an applied economics issue and should be of quality to eventually be publishable in a top field journal. Work should begin in the summer following the first year of the qualifying exam. Passing grade is required on the research paper in the summer following the second year of the PhD program.
  8. Admission to candidacy exam (also called the “A” exam) is taken at the completion of the required coursework, although this does not preclude taking courses after the “A” exam.
  9. PhD dissertation.
  10. Must present a Dyson School seminar prior to oral defense of the dissertation. The seminar must be announced a minimum of one week in advance. Students are required to send the title, paper, or abstract to the Dyson Director’s office (dysondirector@cornell.edu) for distribution to all faculty, academic, and professional staff, and graduate students in the Dyson School.
  11. Final oral dissertation examination (also called the “B” exam). Please note: The Graduate School requires two full-time semesters of course study between the “A” exam and the “B” exam.

PhD Core Course Sequence and Competency in Economic Theory

First-year core course sequence: During the first year of the PhD program, students are required to take and receive a grad of B- or better in the following courses:
AEM 7010: Applied Microeconomics I
AEM 7020: Applied Microeconomics II
AEM 7100: Econometrics I
AEM 7150: Applied Microeconomic Research I
AEM 7151: Applied Microeconomic Research II
ECON 6090: Microeconomic Theory I
ECON 6100: Microeconomic Theory II
ECON 6130: Macroeconomics I or ECON 6140: Macroeconomics II
ECON 6170: Intermediate Mathematical Economics I
ECON 6190: Econometrics I

AEM 7010 (offered fall semester) and AEM 7020 (offered spring semester) incorporate five modules focusing on selected topics in production economics, the economics of consumer demand, applied welfare economics, risk analysis, and applied industrial organization.

"Q" Exam: Students must pass the AEM qualifying ("Q") written competency examination in applied microeconomics immediately following the first academic year of the PhD program. Students are allowed two attempts to pass the AEM "Q" and these attempts must be made during the summer following the first academic year of the PhD program.

Macroeconomic theory: Students are required to take and receive a grade of B- or better in a PhD-level macroeconomics theory course (e.g., ECON 6130 or ECON 6140). They are allowed two attempts to achieve the required grade. A student may substitute a passing score on the written macroeconomics qualifying examination given by the graduate field of Economics for the grade requirement, but only two attempts to pass this examination are allowed.

Econometrics: Student are required to take and receive a grade of B- or better in two additional PhD-level econometrics classes (e.g., ECON 6190, PAM 6090).

Research paper: Students are required to complete a research paper on an applied economics issue by the end of their second academic year. This research paper should be of sufficient quality to be publishable in a top field journal.

Failure of any of the requirements listed above is considered evidence of inadequate preparation for the oral admission candidacy examination ("A" exam). Students must meet the requirements above before they begin their seventh semester of the PhD program.

Examination results and coursework in economic theory from other universities cannot be substituted for Cornell's PhD requirements in the graduate field of Applied Economics and Management.

Suggested Courses

Background Preparation

Incoming PhD applicants are required to have a thorough knowledge of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and quantitative methods. All applicants must have a thorough knowledge of calculus, linear algebra, and at least two semesters of advanced mathematics, including a course in real analysis. Math classes such as differential equations, mathematical probability and statistics, optimization, and stochastic differential equations are also good preparation for the PhD program. All of these classes should have a grade of B or better at the time of matriculation. Applicants who do not have this academic background will not be admitted into the PhD program but will be considered for admission to the M.S. degree program.

Theory

PhD students should take ECON 6090, ECON 6100, ECON 6170, and ECON 6190 to prepare for the required written applied microeconomics qualifying examination at the end of the first year. Additional theory courses should be taken to support development of your expertise in your chosen field of research.

Math

Students should choose ECON 6170 concurrently with ECON 6090 in the fall semester. Many students benefit from additional mathematics training taken prior to the beginning of PhD-level economic theory, often including coverage of material taught in MATH 2230 and MATH 3110.

Statistics

ECON 6190 is required of all first-year PhD students. BTRY 4090 is recommended for students minoring in econometrics or quantitative methods.

Econometrics and Quantitative Methods

At least two PhD-level courses in econometrics are required. Examples, if offered, are: AEM 7100, ECON 6190, ILRLE 7410, ILRLE 7420, or PAM 6090.

Examples of quantitative methods courses are Computational Economics, General Equilibrium Modeling, and Mathematical Programming.
If specific classes are not being offered, please check with the chair of your Special Committee or DGS for guidance.

Major and Minors

Courses necessary for each major and minor are determined by the student's Special Committee. Some concentrations require written qualifying examinations.

Electives

To help understand the literature outside their own major and minors, students are encouraged to take at least one course in each area of concentration.

PhD Program for Years 1 and 2

Year 1

Fall Semester

AEM 7010: Applied Microeconomics I
AEM 7030: Graduate Seminar (required)
ECON 6090: Microeconomic Theory I
ECON 6170: Intermediate Mathematical Econ I
ECON 6190: Econometrics I

Spring Semester

AEM 7020: Applied Microeconomics II
AEM 7030: Graduate Seminar (required)
AEM 7100: Econometrics I
ECON 6100: Microeconomic Theory II


Year 2

Fall Semester

AEM 7030: Graduate Seminar (required)
AEM 7150: Applied Microecon Research I
Macroeconomics or Econometrics
Field Course
Field Course

Spring Semester

AEM 7030: Graduate Seminar (required)
AEM 7151: Applied Microecon Research II
Macroeconomics or Econometrics
Field Course
Field Course

Please note:

  1. Students on a teaching or research assistantship should consider 3 credits hours of time will need to be allocated to the teaching or research assistantship each semester. Please do not enroll in more classes than necessary.
  2. Nine credit hours is considered full-time Ph.D. study each semester in AEM.
  3. In choosing course electives, first-year students should consult Professor David Just (unless otherwise assigned to individual faculty) during the fall semester, and students should work with Professor Antonio Bento or the chair of their Special Committee for the selection of spring semester courses.
  4. Students will be expected to pass the AEM Applied Microeconomics qualifying examination immediately following the end of Year 1. Therefore, all first-year Ph.D. students are required to enroll in AEM 7010 (fall), AEM 7020 (spring), AEM 7030 (fall-spring), ECON 6170, and ECON 6190.
  5. Students are required to enroll in ECON 6090 (fall), ECON 6100 (spring), ECON 6170, and ECON 6190 in Year 1 of their Ph.D. program.
  6. Students are required to enroll in AEM 7100 (spring) in Year 1 of the Ph.D. program.
  7. During Year 2, students should fulfill the macroeconomics course requirement, two additional econometrics course requirements, and the mentored research paper project, AEM 7150 (fall) and AEM 7151 (spring).
     

Student Spotlight

Oleg Firsin

Oleg Firsin

Hometown

Vilnius, Lithuania

Anticipated degree and concentration

Ph.D., International and Development Economics

Why I chose the Dyson School

I chose Dyson for the intellectually stimulating and dynamic research environment and its particular strength in development economics.