The economics PhD prepares students for careers in academia, business, and government. Core courses train students in modern theory and quantitative techniques, while field courses stress the application of theory to relevant economic problems. Dissertation work requires students to master and apply the skills of original research. With an emphasis on writing for publication, many students have had articles accepted and published in professional journals while in the graduate program. Research in the department covers a broad spectrum, from problems of immediate policy importance to fundamental questions of economic and social organization.


Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions. For information specific to the PhD in economics, see Application Requirements and Deadlines on the departmental web site.


Students must earn a minimum GPA of 3.00 in coursework applied to the degree. No more than two courses with a grade of 2.00 may be applied toward the degree.

For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP .6 Graduate Policies.

Reduction of Credit

Students who enter with a master’s degree may have their credit requirement reduced by up to 30 credits, depending on the department's judgment about the degree of closeness of that work to work that would have been taken at George Mason University. Reduction also requires approval of the dean. Requests for reduction of credit are reviewed only after acceptance to the doctoral program.

Program of Study

All students must have an approved program of study as specified in AP.6.10.3 Program of Study.

Banner Code: LA-PHD-ECON

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 72

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Core Courses

ECON 637Econometrics I3
ECON 715Macroeconomic Theory I3
ECON 811Microeconomic Theory I3
ECON 812Microeconomic Theory II3
ECON 816Macroeconomic Theory II3
ECON 830Mathematical Economics I3
or ECON 831 Mathematical Economics II
Total Credits18


Select 30-42 credits of electives from economics courses in any of the fields offered by the department 130-42
Total Credits30-42

Qualifying Exams

Students must successfully pass qualifying exams in microeconomics and macroeconomics.

Field Exams

Students must successfully pass field exams in two knowledge areas. Subject to course availability, the department offers courses in the following fields of study on which the knowledge area field exams will be based. Because the specific courses offered each year vary, students should consult the department for the courses that can be used for each field.

  • Austrian economics
  • Constitutional political economy
  • Economic history
  • Economic sociology and political economy
  • Experimental economics
  • Industrial organization
  • Individualized field exam
  • Institutions and development
  • Law and economics
  • Monetary theory
  • Public choice
  • Smithian political economy

Advancement to Candidacy

To advance to candidacy, students must complete all coursework required on their approved program of study and all exams. In addition, students must have a dissertation committee appointed by the dean as well as an approved proposal. Evidence of the approved proposal must be on file in the Dean’s Office before a student can advance to candidacy.


Students must complete a minimum of 12 credits of doctoral proposal (998) and doctoral dissertation research (999), including at least three credits of 999. A maximum of 24 credits of 998 and 999 may be applied to the degree. Once enrolled in 998, students in the economics doctoral program must maintain continuous registration in 998 or 999 each semester (excluding summers) until the dissertation is submitted to and accepted by the University Libraries, as specified in AP.6.10.6 Dissertation Registration. Because of the continuous registration policy, students may be required to register for additional dissertation credits beyond the maximum 24 credits. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least one credit of 999.

Dissertation Research12-24
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Research.
Doctoral Dissertation Research (minimum of 3 credits)
Total Credits12-24

Program Outcomes

  • Achieve proficiency in microeconomic theory.
  • Achieve proficiency in macroeconomic theory.
  • Achieve proficiency in quantitative methods.
  • Achieve proficiency in two specialized fields.
  • Develop and demonstrate the ability to produce original, value-added scholarship.