wikiHow to Get a Doctorate in Economics

Candidates for a doctorate, or a Ph.D, in economics usually earn the degree to advance a career in economic research, theory, government, teaching or the private sector. Doctoral candidates will be expected to study economic conditions on both a micro and macro level. Earning a doctorate will include studying international economies, systems and banking, as well as analytical and research methods. Get a doctorate in economics by continuing your graduate education at a college or university, developing a dissertation, and defending that dissertation during an oral examination.


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    Obtain your bachelor's degree and master's degree. To obtain a doctorate, you must have completed graduate work in economics.
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    Choose a school. The best graduate programs for economics, according to U.S. News and World Report rankings, include Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute for Technology (M.I.T.), Princeton University and the University of Chicago.
    • Consider staying with the school you have attended already. Continue studying at the institution where you received your undergraduate or graduate degree, if you like the program.
    • Look at online programs. Obtaining a doctorate in economics online is a possibility. There are not a lot of programs available, but you can find one on
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    Take the required courses. Each school will have different classes that must be taken when you are working towards your doctorate.
    • Consult your school's handbook for the requisite courses. They will likely include advanced level classes in macroeconomics, microeconomics, statistics and research methods.
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    Choose a field to major in. Most doctoral programs will require students to choose an area to specialization. Depending on your school, you can choose majors in Health Economics, Labor Economics, International Trade and Development and other fields.
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    Take supporting courses. The other courses you choose to take should enhance your study of economics, and prepare you for your Ph.D. These electives will often have to be approved by the chairperson of the economics department.
    • Include plenty of research instruction. Supplement your economics studies with extra classes in math, statistics and other quantitative and analytical research courses.
    • Check for foreign language requirements. Some schools will require that you demonstrate you can understand at least 1 foreign language.
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    Work closely with an advisor or mentor. Ensure your Ph.D studies are on the right track by developing a relationship with your advisor. Your advisor can help you choose classes, and help you plan for your dissertation.
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    Pass your doctoral examinations. Many schools will require you to pass qualifying examinations to demonstrate your preparation to write and defend a dissertation, or thesis.
    • Take the written examinations when they are scheduled by your school. Some schools may also require an oral examination.
    • Study hard and be prepared. If you do not perform well on your qualifying or preliminary examinations, some programs will not allow you to continue working towards your doctorate in Economics.
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    Prepare a research plan for your doctoral dissertation.
    • Work with your advisor and other faculty members on what you will write for your dissertation. The dissertation is a substantive research paper that offers your academic point of view on a particular topic, and provides the findings and conclusions you have drawn based on your study.
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    Defend your dissertation. At the end of your doctoral studies, you will need to submit your dissertation to a committee of faculty and administrators, and orally defend what you wrote against their questions about your research and findings.


  • Increase your chances of getting accepted by a good doctoral program by doing well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), submitting strong letters of recommendation, and maintaining a high grade point average during your undergraduate and graduate studies.
  • Remember to pay attention to all deadlines and schedules provided by your school. Submit your dissertation on time, and schedule your oral and written examinations according to the school's academic calendar.


  • Pursuing a doctorate in Economics will be intensive and time-consuming. Be prepared to make sacrifices in other parts of your life while you pursue this rigorous course of study.

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Categories: Economics