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PhD in Economics

Applications must be made online; please go to the Graduate School Admissions web site. In order to be considered for financial assistance in the following fall semester, applications must be received by Feb. 1. In addition to the information below, please read the Frequently Asked Questions section of this page and also the Prospective Student Information provided by the LSU Graduate School. Any additional questions not answered by the information in these web pages can be addressed to the Graduate Director.  




The Master's and PhD programs have different objectives. The MS program is designed to provide the training necessary for careers in government and business where original research is generally not the primary concern. The PhD program is designed to train economists capable of adding to the knowledge of economics, doing independent research, and teaching at college or university levels.

Admission Policies

Applicants for graduate studies in Economics must meet the requirements for admission to the Graduate School and be accepted by the Department of Economics. Detailed information can be found at the LSU Graduate School website, Prospective Students link.  Kindly note that the LSU Graduate School Requirements, in addition to the ones specific to the Economics Department described in the next paragraph, are only for consideration and do not guarantee admission.


In addition to the Graduate School requirements, we would like students to have completed undergraduate courses in calculus, statistics, and intermediate macroeconomics and microeconomics before entering the PhD program. It would be preferable for students interested in pursuing the PhD degree to also take at least a year of calculus, a linear algebra course, and probability and statistics. Further, the Economics Department requires a minumum GRE score of 300, and those who are accepted usually have at least a score of 160 on the quantitative section of the GRE. A minimum TOEFL score of 80 (internet-based exam) or 213 (compute-based exam) or a minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS or a minimum PTE score of 59 is required for admission of international students.

Non-economics majors with strong academic records and the requisite math and statistics background are encouraged to apply.  However, these individuals would be required to work through intermediate macroeconomics and microeconomics textbooks on their own by the end of the summer preceding entry into the PhD program.  A list of suitable textbooks will be supplied by the department.


The Department also requires three letters of recommendation.  We do not require writing samples.


Financial Assistance


All PhD students, both domestic and international, including entering graduate students, are eligible to apply for assistantships. A full time (20 hours/week) graduate student assistant receives a competitive stipend, and is also provided a full tuition waiver but must pay university fees. Students holding assistantships are expected to assist the faculty in their research and teaching for a maximum of 20 hours per week. Teaching assistantships, which involve teaching an entire section, are available to those advanced graduate students who have successfully passed the PhD qualifying exams. Summer stipends for teaching or research have been available in the past and will be available in the future, but their number varies from summer to summer.​


Requirements for the PhD Program

Students may first earn a MS degree and then enter the PhD program, or may immediately enter the doctoral program. The PhD in economics consists of a core of macro and micro theory and three fields of specialized study--a macroeconomics field, a microeconomics field, and the econometrics field. The courses and sequencing are as follows: 

    1.       Required Courses
      • Year 1, Fall Semester (9 hours)
        • Advanced Microeconomics I (Economics 7702)
        • Advanced Macroeconomics I (Economics 7718)
        • Econometric Methods (Economics 7630)​

      • Year 1, Spring Semester (9 hours)
        • Advanced Microeconomics II (Economics 7703)
        • Advanced Macroeconomics II (Economics 7719)​
        • Econometric Methods II (Economics 7631) 

      • Year 2, Fall Semester (9 hours)
        • Advanced Macroeconomics Field Course*
        • Applied Micro Course**
        • Microeconometrics (Economics 7632)  

      • Year 2, Spring Semester (9 hours)
        • Advanced Macroeconomics Field Course*
        • Applied Micro Course**
        • Dynamic Econometric Theory (Economics 7633)  
      • Year 3 and beyond, Fall Semester (and subsequent semesters) (9 hours)
        • Pre-dissertation/Dissertation Research (9 hours)
    *Advanced Macroeconomi​cs courses are selected from Economic Growth, Monetary Economics, International Macroeconomics, and Advanced Topics in Macroeconomics. The courses making up the Advanced Macro field for each entering class will be determined by student preferences and by faculty availability and preferences.
    **Advanced Micro courses are selected from Industrial Organization, Health Economics, International Trade, Public Finance, Game Theory, and Labor Economics. The courses making up the Applied Micro field for each entering class will be determined by student preferences and by faculty availability and preferences.
    2.       PhD Qualifying Examination

    Qualifying examinations are required over macroeconomics and microeconomics theory. Students take both qualifying exams in August following the first year of coursework. The exams cover all macro and micro theory coursework taken and together constitute the General Exam required by the Graduate School. To be eligible to take the qualifying exams, a student must have at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA and not more than one C grade or lower in a first year course.

    The qualifying exams are marked as PhD pass, Masters pass, or Fail by the graders. A student must receive a PhD pass on both the macro and micro theory exams to continue in the PhD program.  If a student receives a Masters pass on one or both of the exams, the student can retake the exam(s) at the beginning of the spring semester of the second year. Each exam can be taken no more than twice, and exams are given only twice a year. If, on the first try, a student receives a Fail on one or both of the exams, the student will not be allowed to retake the exam and hence will not be able to continue in the PhD program. 

    PhD students receiving either a PhD pass or a Masters pass on the qualifying exams are eligible to receive a Master of Science in Economics degree.  For students who receive a PhD pass on both qualifying exams, the third year paper (discussed in the next section) will constitute the final exam for the MS degree.  For students who receive a Masters pass on one or both exams on both the first try and also on the retake, the retake will serve as the final exam for the MS degree.​
    3.       Original Research Paper 

    Students will finish all required course work by the end of the second year.  At this time they will choose a faculty advisory committee that will approve and ultimately grade an original research paper (aka the "third-year paper").  The third-year paper is between the general exam (i.e., the qualifying exams described in the previous section) and the dissertation defense (which constitutes the final exam for the PhD).  The third-year paper is the final exam for the MS in Economics degree for PhD students. 


    Students will be expected to complete and present the paper before the end of the Fall semester of their third year.  Upon approval of their faculty advisory committee, they will present and defend the third year paper in an open department seminar before the end of this semester.  The faculty advisory committee will determina a passing or failing grade.  Students who fail this requirement will not be guaranteed funding in the future.  At the discretion of the advisory committee, students may resubmit the paper by the end of February in the spring semester of the third year. Students who fail to pass in the second attempt will not be allowed to continue in the program after the spring semester. 

    4.       Completion of 36 Hours
    A total of 36 hours of coursework must be completed. These consist of the core macro and micro theory courses, the econometrics courses, and the macro and micro field courses. Any coursework taken for an outside minor is in addition to the 36 hours of economics courses.
    5.       Dissertation
    A satisfactory doctoral dissertation must be presented by each candidate.
    6.       Final Examination
    The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation. Graduate School regulations require that the Final Exam cannot be held until at least one academic year has elapsed since the student was admitted to candidacy (i.e., passed the General Exams).
    7.       Other Requirements of the PhD Program
    Time Limit

    No less than one academic year must elapse between the passing of the General Examination and completion of all requirements for the PhD. In addition, the student must complete all PhD requirements within seven calendar years of being classified as a student in the doctoral program. If this time period is exceeded, the student must retake the General Exam (i.e. retake both the macro and micro qualifying exams), and this can be allowed only under the discretion of the Economics Graduate Committee.
    8.       Fields and Course Descriptions
    Courses available for graduate students are in the General Catalog and Graduate Catalog​.
    9.       Minor in Economics
    A Minor in economics requires the following 12 hours of coursework:
      • ECON 7701 (Introduction to Advanced Microeconomics)
      • ECON 7717 (Introduction to Advanced Macroeconomics)
      • ECON 7000 level elective
      • ECON 4000 level or above elective other than 4710 and 4720.
    A minimum of a 3.0 average across these four courses is required. If the student fails to maintain a 3.0 average across these four, he or she has two options: 1. pass the MS Comprehensive Examination in Economics; 2. take ECON 4000-level courses other than 4710 and 4720 or take Econ 7000-level courses until the average in 4000-level or above Economics coursework is at least 3.0.
     10.     Graduate Certificate in Econometrics (click title for information)

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