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PhD Curriculum

The PhD program offers rigorous training designed to lead students to the forefront of advanced economic research and policy.

Year 1 and 2

  • After completing the first year (normally four courses per semester), students then take preliminary examinations in theory.
  • After completing field courses, usually in one or two years, students take examinations in two areas of specialization.
  • After the first year, all PhD students in residence enroll in ECON 399a (Topics in International Economics and Finance). The workshop provides opportunities for advanced students to present papers and define thesis objectives. 
  • PhD students begin the transition to research in the second year when they are required to take part and present in the PhD seminar.
  • PhD students may enroll in the internship course (ECON 297a) that corresponds to outside research activities, but are limited to taking this course up to three times within the first two years.

Year 3 and beyond

  • By the third year, the PhD candidates should begin work on the dissertation and prepare initial work on the thesis during that third year. 
  • In the third year and beyond, the thesis takes shape and a formal committee is assembled. Once a thesis defense date is scheduled, the student presents the core of the thesis work, and once completed, the degree is awarded during the next degree period. 
  • A fourth year is devoted primarily to completion of a doctoral dissertation (begun by the third year).
  • In years 3-5, students are required to take 2 credits of independent research while also engaging in one outside research/teaching experience per year. This gives Brandeis IBS PhD candidates important experience with real world research problems. It may be fulfilled with either an internship course (ECON 297a) or as an independent study (ECON 298a) with a Brandeis IBS faculty member as an advisor.


Key facts about the program:

  • PhD students are required to work as either a teaching or research assistant at Brandeis IBS in years 1-5 of the program.
  • Students admitted to the MS program follow the same path as PhD candidates in their first two years of study, encompassing course work, part of the theory examination, and/or a significant research paper. Both groups of students receive the Master of Science degree upon successful completion of two years of study.