Doctoral Degree in Economics
Program Description and RequirementsPhD students: read the following. For details on the expectations about milestones and procedures, click here (access limited to current students).
The Ph.D. program in economics trains students in theoretical and empirical skills, and exposes them to a broad range of policy issues to prepare them for careers in academia, business or government. The small size of the program, approximately ten new Ph.D. students each year working with twenty one full-time faculty members, promotes close collaboration between faculty and students.
We have a diverse group of faculty and students coming from over twenty countries from around the world. The Department welcomes students from all countries.
Students in the program can draw on faculty expertise from most areas in economics, including: international economics, population economics, labor economics, economics history, health economics, experimental economics, microeconomics, econometrics, macroeconomics, economic development, public economics, and environmental and resource economics.
Note: Effective Fall 2020, the following is the new requirements. Students who were admitted prior to Fall 2020 must choose the new requirements or the old ones: see here
for the old requirements.Students who satisfy all prerequisites and who follow a prescribed schedule can finish the program in five years. The Ph.D. in economics requires
successful completion of:
- Seven core courses;
- Qualifying examinations in microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory;
- In addition to the core courses, seven 600-level and 700-level courses in economics
- One course in Methods/Theory;
- Two fields, each consisting of two courses;
- Two elective courses if Methods/Theory is elected as a field; one elective course otherwise;
- Econ 730
- A third-year research paper;
- An oral comprehensive exam, and the defense of the dissertation proposal;
- A final oral exam, including defense of the final dissertation;and
- Submission of the final dissertation manuscript to Graduate Division.
Review Sessions in Mathematics for EconomicsOffered in late July or early August, the review sessions are optional for Ph.D. or M.A. students; attendance is highly encouraged! The review sessions provide a partial review of mathematics encountered by students in ECON 606 and 607 during August and September of their first semester. No credit is given for these sessions. There is no fee for UHM Economics students to enroll. Graduate students from other departments may attend on a space-available basis if they pay a fee.
Ph.D. students must complete seven core courses with a grade of B- or better in each course. Normal progress requires completion of the core courses in the first three semesters of the student's enrollment. Three or four courses per semester constitute a full load for first- and second-year graduate students (two or three courses per semester for graduate assistants). If students have time for non-core courses during their first three semesters of enrollment, they may wish to undertake work in English as a second language; mathematics (e.g., calculus, differential equations, or linear algebra), statistics and probability theory; or graduate courses from other fields. Core courses are offered according to the following schedule.
|Econ 606||Microeconomic Theory I||1st Year Fall|
|Econ 607||Macroeconomic Theory I||1st Year Fall|
|Econ 627||Mathematical Economics||1st Year Fall|
|Econ 608||Microeconomic Theory II||1st Year Spring|
|Econ 609||Macroeconomic Theory II||1st Year Spring|
|Econ 628||Econometrics I||1st Year Spring|
|Econ 629||Econometrics II||2nd Year Fall|
Econ 606, 607, 627, and 629 are offered only in the fall semester, and Econ 608, 609, and 628 are offered only in the spring semester.
The Ph.D. program core courses begin in the fall semester, and Ph.D. students should plan on starting their program with the review sessions in Mathematics for Economists given during July/August prior to the beginning of the first year. Students with deficiencies in economics or mathematics should plan to enroll in summer school. Students with an M.A. degree in economics may in some cases be eligible for enrollment during the spring semester and should consult with the Graduate Chair.
Ph.D. students who enroll with an M.A. degree in economics may be exempted by the Graduate Chair from taking some or all of Econ 606, 607, 608, and 609. However, they will still be required to take and pass the microeconomics and macroeconomics qualifying examinations. Econ 627 and Econ 628 may also be waived by the Graduate Chair if equivalent courses were passed in the student's M.A. program and the M.A. degree is of recent vintage.
Qualifying Examinations in Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Theory
All Ph.D. students, as well as all M.A. students who would like to apply for admission to the doctoral program, must take qualifying examinations in microeconomics and macroeconomics at the end of their first year. Students must complete Econ 606 and 608 with grades of "B-" or better before taking the microeconomics qualifying exam and must complete Econ 607 and 609 with a grade of "B-" or better before taking the macroeconomics qualifying exam. Students receiving a grade lower than a "B-" in any of the microeconomics or macroeconomics core courses must retake and pass the course with a grade of "B-" or better before they are eligible to take the qualifying exam in that field. The deferred examination must be taken at the next scheduled examination date. An eligible student who does not sit for a qualifying exam at the end of the first year must take and pass the exam in August of the same year or the student will not be allowed to proceed in or be admitted to the doctoral program.
The two qualifying examinations will usually be scheduled during the second week following the final exam week of the spring semester. Those who receive passing grades on the two theory qualifying examinations will be admitted into or allowed to proceed in the doctoral program. A student who fails a theory qualifying examination must retake it in August of the same year. A student who fails a qualifying examination for the second time will not be admitted to or allowed to proceed in the doctoral program. The possible grades for these examinations are: High Pass, Pass and Fail. At their discretion, examining faculty members may append a plus (+) or a minus (-) to grades of High Pass and Pass.
Courses Beyond the Core
Doctoral students are required to complete seven 600-level and 700-level courses in economics (including Econ 730) beyond the seven-course core. Students can petition the Graduate Chair to count up to two 600-level and 700-level courses at the doctoral level in other departments toward this requirement.
Doctoral students are required to complete two fields, each consisting of two courses, from our five fields of specialization: Economics Development, Internationals Economics, Methods/Theory, Public Policy, and Resource & Environmental Economics. The courses are as follows:
|Economic Development||610 and 611|
|International Economics||660, 661, 662, and 664 (pick 2 of 3)|
|Methods/Theory||620, 621, 630, and 686 (pick 1 of 4)|
|Public Policy||651, 670, 672, and 674 (pick 2 of 4)|
|Resource & Environmental Economics||637 and 638|
Students choosing Methods/Theory as a field take 6 additional credits as electives. Students who do not choose Methods/Theory as a field take 9 additional credits as electives. Students may petition in advance to substitute a field in another discipline or another field in economics for the five fields listed above.
Some field courses are offered more frequently than others. As early as practicable, students should decide on the field sequences they intend to take and determine the semesters in which they are offered.
Third-Year Research Paper (Click here to download the form and instruction)
The third-year research paper is a transition experience between Ph.D. coursework and independent dissertation research. A successful paper will meet two criteria: (1) it will demonstrate a depth of knowledge within an area of specialization, and (2) it will demonstrate the ability to implement the research methods needed for dissertation-level research.
Before the end of the fourth semester in the program, students should reach an agreement with a UHM Economics faculty member to serve as their academic advisor and research paper advisor. Any member of the economics graduate faculty may serve as a paper advisor, and the arrangement is by mutual agreement. Students then invite two other faculty members to serve as readers of the paper. Students should have their paper advisor and readers indicate their willingness to serve by having them sign the research paper form, which can be obtained from the staff in the Economics Department office. Submit the form to the Graduate Chair for approval before or during the fall semester of your third year of graduate study. During that semester, students are required to register for Econ 730, Research Seminar, and make substantial progress on their research paper.
The research paper topic should fall within a subject area for which students have taken field courses or other advanced coursework. Often, the third-year research paper will serve as preliminary research for the dissertation, although students are not committing to a dissertation topic or advisor at this stage.
Students are encouraged to consult with their paper advisor periodically as they work on their research paper. Students may also consult with their second and third readers. Completed papers are to be submitted to the advisor and readers, who will evaluate the paper against the two criteria identified above. They will assign a grade of "pass," "high pass," or "fail." They will report the result on the field paper form. If revisions are needed, they will let their students know, and students will have one additional opportunity to submit a revised paper to satisfy the requirements. The deadline for submitting the paper is May 1 of the third year of graduate studies, and the deadline for resubmission is August 1. Students who do not meet these deadlines will be placed on academic probation in the fall semester of their fourth year of studies.
The research paper must represent original research output, and for this reason co-authored papers will not be accepted. The Seiji Naya Outstanding Third-Year Research Paper award is made each year to encourage early efforts at completing publishable research. The primary selection criteria is the quality of the paper and the importance of the research topic. In addition, the selection committee may also consider whether the paper has been submitted for publication, any journal reviews of the paper, and whether the paper has been published or accepted for publication.
Oral Comprehensive Examination ("Proposal Defense")
Following successful completion of the core courses, six field courses, the two qualifying exams, the third-year research paper, and the dissertation proposal, an oral examination will be administered jointly with the defense of the dissertation proposal. In consultation with the graduate chair, the student selects a chair and dissertation committee members, to whom the proposal draft is circulated. The oral examination can include a broad probing of the student's general economic knowledge. A student who fails the comprehensive examination may repeat it once. A student who fails the second time is dismissed from the program. Students who pass the oral exam are advanced to the candidacy for the Ph.D. See the Milestones and Rules section below for more information regarding the timing of proposal defense.
Final Oral Examination
An oral exam covers the candidate's defense of the final dissertation and related subjects. The exam must be announced on the News@UH website and is open to the public. It is the candidate's responsibility to contact the Graduate Division to obtain and submit the necessary forms for the News@UH website. Candidates failing the final examination may repeat it once upon petition approved by the graduate faculty concerned and the dean of the Graduate Division. Those failing it twice are dismissed from the program.
A dissertation acceptable to the dissertation committee must be submitted to the Graduate Division. UH regulations require that the dissertation be a scholarly presentation of an original contribution to knowledge resulting from independent research. The student must also comply with all university-wide criteria regarding the format and content of the dissertation. See the Milestones and Rules section (below on this page) for more information regarding the timing of dissertation completion. Normal progress for a student starting the economics graduate program as a Ph.D. program is as follows:
- 2 semesters into Ph.D. program
- Pass Econ 606, 607, 608, 609, 627, 628 with grade of "B-" or better. Pass macroeconomics and microeconomics qualifying exams.
- 4 semesters into Ph.D. program
- Pass 5 of the 7 courses required beyond the core. Pass Econ 629 with grade of "B-" or better.
- 5 semesters into Ph.D. program
- Enroll in Econ 730.
- 6 semesters into Ph.D. program
- Pass all 7 courses (including Econ 730) required beyond the core. Complete research paper.
- 7-8 semesters into Ph.D. program
- Pass proposal defense.
- 10 semesters into Ph.D. program
- Dissertation completed. Graduation!
Some students transfer from the M.A. program to the Ph.D. program after completion of the M.A. program at the end of their 4th semester. Normal progress for these students is as follows:
- 2 semesters into Ph.D. program (6 total)
- Pass all remaining core courses with grade of "B-" or better. Pass 5 of the 7 courses required beyond the core.
- 3 semesters into Ph.D. program (7 total)
- Pass all 7 courses (including Econ 730) required beyond the core. Complete research paper.
- 4 semesters into Ph.D. program (8 total)
- Pass proposal defense.
- 6 semesters into Ph.D. program (10 total)
- Dissertation completed. Graduation!
Milestones and Rules
(1) Third-year research paper deadlines (Effective August 1, 2009)
Upon completion of the paper, submit it to your advisor and readers, who will evaluate the paper against the two criteria identified above. They will assign a grade of "pass," "high pass," or "fail." They will report the result on the field paper form. If revisions are needed, they will let you know and you will have one additional opportunity to submit a revised paper to satisfy the requirements. The deadline for submitting your paper is May 1 of your third year of graduate studies and the deadline for resubmission is August 1. Students who do not meet these deadlines will be placed on academic probation in the fall semester of their fourth year of studies.
(2) Dissertation proposal defense (Effective August 1, 2011)
A student is placed on probation if the student has not passed the proposal defense at the end of their fourth year. A student could petition against being placed on probation. Under extenuating circumstances such petitions are approved with the graduate committee's consent.
A graduate student on probation due to late proposal defense will be dismissed if the proposal is not defended within a semester. The graduate committee considers a student's petition to have the proposal defense beyond the middle of the fifth year. Such petitions are approved only with the graduate committee's consent.
(3) On implementing the 7-year rule for graduation (Effective August 1, 2011)
The Graduate Division at UH Manoa has a 7-year rule for graduation for PhD students. The economics graduate program commits to this rule. Under extenuating circumstances, the graduate committee considers students' petition for extensions beyond 7 years. Such petitions are approved only with the graduate committee's consent. An extension given at a time is no longer than a semester. Without an approved petition, the student who is beyond their seventh year will be dismissed from the program.
(4) Periodic meeting with the advisor and the Graduate Chair
With senior students, the dissertation supervisor (or the third-year paper advisor if the student does not have a dissertation supervisor) and the graduate chair may hold a joint meeting once a year to review the student's progress and address the student's concerns.