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Boston University - PhD program in Economics

Boston University, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics, Boston Massachusetts, USA

PhD program in Economics

This is a standard American PhD program. Unlike many universities we offer a two course track devoted to health economics, as well as an inter-university health economics seminar. Our PhD program is oriented towards students interested in becoming serious researchers, learning skills that are useful for universities, government, research firms, as well as for-profit and non-profit private sector firms. Most students entering the program have training in economics or another subject that creates skills in analytical and empirical modelling and critical thinking. All students are expected to attend and give practice seminars and participate in research activities once courses are completed.

PhD students take 16 courses, roughly half of which are spent acquiring the core analytic tools of the profession (microeconomics, macroeconomics, and quantitative methods), with the balance spent applying those tools in particular fields of specialization. All PhD students must complete a doctoral dissertation (thesis). Health is a popular field in the department, with a dozen faculty members who have published at least one paper on a topic in health economics.


Structure of program:

Theory and Quantitative Core Requirements, to be completed in year 1.

  • Advanced Microeconomics I and II
  • Advanced Macroeconomics I and II
  • EC 707 Advanced Statistics for Economists
  • EC 708 Advanced Econometrics I

Field Requirements

All students must pass two 2-course fields and at least two other courses from among the following fields:

  • Development
  • Econometrics
  • Economic Theory
  • Empirical Finance
  • Finance
  • Financial Econometrics
  • Health
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Economics
  • Labor Economics
  • Money/Macroeconomics
  • Public Economics

Selected courses can also be taken in the Questrom School of Business and the School of Public Health.


Entry requirements:

Applicants must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test at least one month before the application deadline. Proof of English proficiency is required of all applicants.

Most admitted students will have passed some advanced undergraduate or graduate courses in economic theory, mathematics, statistics, and econometrics, and have a working knowledge of computer programming, but any well-qualified individual with a baccalaureate degree may apply for admission.

Graduate admissions are highly selective. While a GRE quantitative score above the 90th percentile provides strong evidence of PhD-level ability; this indicator is neither necessary nor sufficient for admission, however, as the candidate‚Äôs full dossier is taken into account.

The deadline for applying is December 1.


Length and timing of program:

Most students complete the degree in five or six years. Most students complete almost all of their course work in the first two years, with the remaining time spent working on dissertation research. Conditional on remaining in good standing, all admitted PhD students at Boston University are guaranteed five years of financial support for tuition fees and living expenses. Grants for research expenses, paper editing, travel expenses for conference presentations and data purchase are also available. In exchange for this support, students are expected to work part-time as research assistants, teaching assistants, teaching fellows, or in later years as instructors.

Online or residential/on-site program:

Residential program.

URL for more details of program:


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The International Health Economics Association was formed to increase communication among health economists, foster a higher standard of debate in the application of economics to health and health care systems, and assist young researchers at the start of their careers.

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