PhD Program in Applied Economics and Management

PhD Program Requirements

Please note: The following are general requirements for the Applied Economics and Management PhD program. Each student should check with their 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 and the Applied Economics and Management (AEM) Graduate Field.

  1. Special Committee: The Graduate School requires that Applied Economics and Management PhD students must select the chair of their Special Committee by the end of the third week of their first semester. By the end of the 3rd semester you must have your three member committee consisting of your chair and two minor members. The chair needs to be a member of the graduate field of Applied Economics and Management. A student can ask for an extension if more time is needed (please see the AEM PhD handbook for details).
  2. Dyson School/Applied Economics and Policy (AEP) seminars: All PhD students are encouraged to attend weekly Applied Economics & Policy Seminars as well as seminars organized by different fields (such as Development Economics, and Sustainable Environmental, Energy and Resource Economics). The schedule for the AEP seminars can be found here.
  3. Registration units: To earn a Cornell PhD, a student must be registered for a minimum of six full-time academic semesters (which requires a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester). The AEM PhD degree completion usually takes 10 semesters of study, and students are expected to finish all their required courses by end of their fourth semester. Students must also maintain a meaningful engagement with the Cornell academic community (attendance and active participation in various workshops and seminars on campus, as an example).
  4. A grade of B- or better is required in all of the following mandatory courses during the first year of the PhD economics program: AEM 7010AEM 7020, AEM 7021, AEM 7100, ECON 6090, ECON 6170, and ECON 6190. During the second year of the PhD program, all students must take one macroeconomics course (ECON 6130 or AEM 7040), one additional econometrics class (ECON 7200, ECON 7230, PAM 6090, PAM 6091), Applied Microeconomics Research (AEM 7150 and AEM 7151) and at least six credits of elective courses in the student’s major area of specialization [Environment, Energy and Resource Economics (EERE), Food and Agricultural Economics (FAE), International and Development Economics (IDE), and Management (MGMT)].
    Note: The AEM Graduate Field requires students to receive a minimum grade of B- in each course (required or elective) to be in good academic standing. For continued financial aid, however, the AEM Graduate Field requires that students receive at most one B- per semester.
  5. Passing grade on the graduate field of Applied Economics and Management qualifying examination (also called the “Q” exam), usually taken at the end of the second semester. The Q-exam is based on material covered in AEM 7010 and AEM 7100 (combined); AEM 7020 and AEM 7021. Students have 2 attempts to pass all the 3 components of the Q-exam.
  6. Mentored research paper (AEM 7150): 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Submission of PhD dissertation.

Applied Economics PhD Coursework Template

Year 1

Fall Semester

ECON 6090 (Microeconomic Theory I)
ECON 6170 (Intermediate Mathematical Economics I)
ECON 6190 (Econometrics I)
AEM 7010 (Applied Microeconomics I)

Spring Semester

AEM 7020 (Applied Microeconomics II: Game Theory)
AEM 7021 (Applied Microeconomics III: Applied General Equilibrium Analysis)
AEM 7100 (Applied Econometrics)

Year 2

Fall Semester

AEM 7150 (Applied Microeconomic Research I)
Either ECON 6130 (Macroeconomics I) or AEM 7040
Econometrics Elective (ECON 7200, ECON 7230, PAM 6090 or PAM 6091)
Major Area Elective(s)

Spring Semester

Econometrics Elective (ECON 7200, ECON 7230, PAM 6090 or PAM 6091)
Major Area Elective(s)

Please Note

  1. Students on a teaching or research assistantship should expect three credit hours of time will need to be allocated to the teaching or research assistantship each semester.
  2. Courses necessary for each major and minor are determined by the student’s Special Committee. Some concentrations (e.g., Finance) require written qualifying examinations.

EXAMS

Three exams are required by the field as benchmarks toward meeting requirements of the Philosophy of Doctor program.

PhD Qualifying Examination ("Q" Exam)

This exam is based on materials that were covered in AEM 7010, AEM 7020, AEM 7021, and AEM 7100. Students will have 2 attempts to pass all four components of the “Q” Exam. This will be a written test where you are expected to answer the question(s) of the professor’s choosing for each component. The professors of these courses will be blindly grading the test (meaning they will not know who’s test they are grading). You will have approximately 2 hours to complete each component of the test.

The test will be administered to all first year PhD students over 2 days at the beginning of June with the make-up test (if needed) administered at the end of July. Students are provided past tests to practice. Results will be provided towards the end of June.

If you are not successful in passing all four components in the first attempt, you need to retake only the component(s) that you failed. Faculty can decide whether to release details about specific answers regarding what or why you received the grade that you received on a component.

In the event you fail both attempts of the “Q” exam you can choose to submit an appeal to the Dyson Graduate Studies Committee to request a reconsideration of the results. If the committee declines your petition you will be removed from the PhD program.

Examination for Admission to Candidacy ("A" Exam)

A student is admitted to doctoral candidacy after passing a comprehensive examination administered by the student’s special committee. This examination is either oral, or written and oral, as determined by the special committee. The passing of this examination certifies that the student is eligible to present a dissertation to the graduate field.

The “A” exam is taken before the beginning of the student’s 7th semester (end of their 3rd year). After completing the exam, the results must be filed with the Graduate School within three business days of the completed exam. Four outcomes are possible:

  1. Passing. If you pass an exam, all members of the examining committee should report this decision to the Graduate School within three business days. No further action is required.
  2. Conditional Passing. You may conditionally pass an exam, in which case the examining committee provides you and the Graduate School with the conditions for passing. Once these conditions are met, you pass the exam.
  3. Failing. If you fail an exam, a reexamination is allowed only with the approval of the special committee. At least three months must pass from the time of the failed exam to the reexamination.
  4. Unanimously Failing. If you’re unanimously failed, you must petition the General Committee to continue study. If the minor members, but not the chair, oppose allowing a reexamination; or the chair, but not all the minor members oppose a reexamination, you must petition the General Committee to continue study. Graduate faculty members who attend the exam, but are not on the examination committee, may inform the dean in writing if they disagree with the results of the exam.

Final Examination for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree ("B" Exam)

A doctoral candidate takes the Final Examination upon completion of all requirements for the degree but no earlier than one month before completion of the minimum registration requirement. This oral exam covers the general subject of the student’s dissertation. The passing of this examination certifies that the student is eligible to graduate.

A minimum of 2 semesters must be completed between passing the “A” exam and scheduling the “B” exam.

After completing the exam, the results must be filed with the Graduate School within three business days of the completed exam. Four outcomes are possible:

  1. Passing. If you pass an exam, all members of the examining committee should report this decision to the Graduate School within three business days. No further action is required.
  2. Conditional Passing. You may conditionally pass an exam, in which case the examining committee provides you and the Graduate School with the conditions for passing. Once these conditions are met, you pass the exam.
  3. Failing. If you fail an exam, a reexamination is allowed only with the approval of the special committee. At least three months must pass from the time of the failed exam to the reexamination.
  4. Unanimously Failing. If you’re unanimously failed, you must petition the General Committee to continue study. If the minor members, but not the chair, oppose allowing a reexamination; or the chair, but not all the minor members oppose a reexamination, you must petition the General Committee to continue study. Graduate faculty members who attend the exam, but are not on the examination committee, may inform the dean in writing if they disagree with the results of the exam.