Doctor of Philosophy

Admission Requirements

Applicants are required to submit three letters of recommendation, a statement of interest, official transcript(s) delivered and/or mailed in a sealed envelope by the Registrar of the college/university attended, and the most recent Graduate Record Examination scores.

Applicants for admission into the Doctor of Philosophy Program in Economics must have earned a Master of Arts degree in economics. Applicants with a Master's degree in a related field may be considered for a conditional admission to the Doctor of Philosophy program upon submission of proof that work completed is equivalent to the requirements for the Master of Arts degree in economics at Howard University.

Students admitted into the Ph.D. program with an MA degree must have a GPA of well over B and a minimum of 24 graduate course credits, including at least 6 credits in economic theory, 3 credits in econometrics, and 3 credits in graduate statistics.

Students may be admitted with a deficiency in mathematics or statistics on the condition that the deficiency be corrected in the first semester. These makeup credits will not count toward completion of the degree program in which the student is enrolled. The student must earn a grade of B or better in these courses.

To apply to our graduate programs, please click here then click on GradCAS.

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Residence Requirements

The completion of minimum course requirements or credits does not guarantee receipt of the degree. The student must have at least four semesters of residence and full-time study (at least 9 credits per semester) or the equivalent in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Howard University. Two of these four semesters of residence and full-time study, or the equivalent, must be consecutive. No graduate student will be permitted to take more than 15 credits per semester.

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Financial Assistance

Full-time students admitted to the Ph.D. program may apply for research assistantships which carry a stipend.

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Graduate School Requirements (all Ph.D. Students)

Language Requirement

Each student is required to demonstrate in a formal examination a reading proficiency in French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, or Japanese. Under exceptional circumstances, the department may permit students to substitute for a language examination an advanced course that provides skills relevant to dissertation research, such as computer programming, mathematics, or advanced topics in econometrics. Such exceptions must be approved in advance by the Department. The language requirement must be fulfilled before the student is admitted to candidacy.

English Competency and Expository Writing

All graduate students must demonstrate their competency in the English language as evidenced by earning a passing score on the English Proficiency Examination administered by the Graduate School. Students who do not pass the examination must successfully complete a course on expository writing, "Writing Workshop in Exposition for Graduate Students." All graduate students, both part-time and full-time, must satisfy this requirement during their first year of enrollment. Students will not be allowed to advance to candidacy without having satisfied this requirement. Doctoral students who have demonstrated competency at the Master's level at Howard University need not do so again at the doctoral level.

Responsible Conduct of Research

The Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) Workshop is intended to provide students with information on pertinent federal and University guidelines and regulations pertaining to the responsible conduct of research as well as to instruct them in a method of utilizing moral reasoning skills in responding to ethical dilemmas in research. Workshop topics include intellectual property, data sharing and understanding of Institutional Review Board (IRB) policies and procedures, data acquisition and management, and mentoring. The RCR training workshop is a requirement for admission to candidacy. To receive the RCR certificate, students must complete all required training sessions and successfully complete a learning assessment exercise at the end of the workshop.

More details about these Graduate School requirements may be found on the Graduate School website:

GS.Howard.edu/admissions/admission-requirements

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Doctor of Philosophy and the Dissertation (all Ph.D. students)

The Dissertation Proposal and Admission to Candidacy

After completing the requirements listed above, the student must prepare a formal written dissertation proposal under the supervision of a member of the graduate faculty. Selecting a principal advisor for the dissertation proposal is extremely important to the future of the student. In general, the student should choose an advisor who has extensive research experience in the field in which the student proposes to write the dissertation. For example, a dissertation focusing on economic development in Nigeria should be supervised by a member of the graduate faculty who has published in development economics; a dissertation focusing on racial discrimination in home mortgage lending in Detroit should be supervised by a member of the graduate faculty who has published in urban economics. The graduate faculty member may decline the invitation to serve as principal advisor in a specific case, but all graduate faculty members are expected to serve as principal advisors from time to time. Hence, any graduate faculty member may be approached by a student seeking a principal advisor.

Once substantial work has been done on the proposal by the student under the supervision of a principal advisor, it is advisable to maintain the principal advisor-student relationship until the dissertation is completed. However, the student may elect to change advisors for any reason if he/she wishes, understanding that such a change may require substantial changes in the student's proposal and, ultimately, his/her dissertation. Once the written proposal is completed to the satisfaction of the principal advisor, the student presents the dissertation proposal orally in a formal seminar to the faculty. Once the faculty judges the proposal to be satisfactory, the student and the advisor prepare the requisite paperwork for advancement to candidacy. Once such paperwork is approved by the Graduate School, the student becomes a doctoral candidate.

The Dissertation

Once the student advances to candidacy, the preparation of the dissertation begins. The dissertation is an original, creative work that advances knowledge in the discipline of economics. The dissertation may be a single paper studying a specific research question. In recent years, the "three-essay" dissertation has also become a popular and appropriate approach to the dissertation. In this dissertation model, the student addresses three different questions within the same general area of inquiry with separate essays. Essays may also focus on different aspects of the same problem. For example, a student may write one article as a primarily theoretical exploration of a topic, a second as a general modeling exercise, and a third as a specific application of a model to a particular example. Each of these essays could become the foundation for an article submitted for publication to a refereed scholarly journal. In all cases, each of the three essays is a self-contained research project; the three essays are combined into a single final product for presentation to the faculty.

As a doctoral candidate, the student is required to enroll for twelve (12) dissertation credit hours over the course of the dissertation process. The principal advisor and the student work together to complete the staffing of the dissertation committee. This committee is made up of the principal advisor and two additional graduate faculty members from the Department of Economics. Its members advise the student throughout the dissertation process. A formal defense of the dissertation is required. The dissertation cannot be defended during the same semester that the student advances to candidacy. The examination committee is made up of the principal advisor, two additional graduate faculty members drawn from the Department of Economics, an economist drawn from outside the university who, based on his/her credentials is judged by the Economics Department and Graduate School to be qualified to serve as a graduate faculty member, and a Howard University graduate faculty member drawn from a department other than the Department of Economics. After the student presents the formal oral defense of the dissertation, the examination committee determines whether the defense was satisfactory and whether the written dissertation is completely correct. Should the student fail the defense as a whole, a second opportunity for a defense may be established by the Department and Graduate School within six (6) months of the first examination. Should the student be judged to have passed the oral defense itself but have additional corrections or changes to make to the written document, the examination committee will determine the process and timing for ensuring that such corrections meet the requirements of its members for the satisfactory completion of the dissertation evaluation process.

General Requirements for Students Entering the PhD Program with a

BA, BS, or MBA Degree

General Program Requirements

Students entering this track must earn a minimum of 72 credits beyond the baccalaureate degree, of which 12 must be devoted to dissertation work, 27 to electives and to the area of concentration, and 33 to the following core course requirements:

  • Microeconomic Theory I (ECOG-200)
  • Microeconomic Theory II (ECOG-201)
  • Microeconomic Theory III (ECOG-205)
  • Macroeconomic Theory I (ECOG-203)
  • Macroeconomic Theory II (ECOG-202)
  • Macroeconomic Theory III (ECOG-206)
  • History of Economic Analysis (ECOG-204)
  • Workshop in Economic Research (ECOG-207)
  • Econometrics I (ECOG-211)
  • Econometrics II (ECOG-212)
  • Mathematics for Economists (ECOG-213)


Areas of Specialization

The Department offers four areas of specialization. The required courses for the Ph.D. degree in each of the specializations are as follows:

  • Growth and Development Economics - ECOG-220, ECOG-221, ECOG-228
  • Urban Economics - ECOG-230, ECOG-231, ECOG-237
  • Labor Economics - ECOG-261, ECOG-262, ECOG-263
  • International Economics-ECOG-244, ECOG-249, ECOG-245


The Major Field

Each student chooses a primary area of specialization (the Major Field) from among the four areas. The student completes the three required courses (all three courses in the area of specialization labeled I, II, and III) with a grade of B or better in each course. The student then takes the comprehensive examination or chooses to write a field paper related to their Major Field. To acquire certification in their Major Field, the student must pass the three courses (with a grade of B or higher), pass the comprehensive examination, or, instead of the field comprehensive examination, write a research paper that, in the judgment of the faculty in that field of specialization, demonstrates mastery of that field.

The Minor Field

Each student chooses a second area of specialization (called the Minor Field) either from the four areas (Growth and Development, Urban, Labor, or International) or from the elective field courses. If the minor field is chosen from the four areas, students must complete two courses (either I and II or I and III) in their area of choice with no grade lower than a B. If the student chooses the minor field from among the elective field courses, the student must complete the field course and either Independent Study (ECOG 290, 291, 292, 293, or 294) or Research Topics in Economics (ECOG 295, 296, or 297) related to their field of choice. The student must receive a B or better in each of these two courses. There are no further requirements for certification of the Minor Field. Neither a comprehensive examination nor a field paper is required for the Minor Field.

Internship

Students may earn up to 6 credits in an internship program as part of their elective choices (Internship I, ECOG 298 and Internship II, ECOG 299).

Comprehensive Examinations

Students must pass comprehensive examinations (which are offered twice annually) in the following four areas: microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, econometrics, and the major field. The student may substitute a research paper in the student's Major Field for the major-field comprehensive examination. This research paper must, in the judgment of the faculty in that field of specialization, demonstrate mastery of that field.

Students are required to take the Ph.D. comprehensive examinations in both microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory after they have successfully completed the required macroeconomic and microeconomic theory course sequences. If the student passes both of these examinations, the student becomes eligible to take the comprehensive examinations in econometrics and the student's Major Field.

MA or MS Degree in Economics

General Program Requirements

Students must earn a minimum of 72 credits beyond the baccalaureate degree. Up to 24 credits from the student's MA program may be transferred into the Ph.D. program. Fifteen (15) credit hours must be earned in the core courses. Twenty-one (21) credit hours are earned in the major field and electives, and twelve (12) credit hours must be devoted to dissertation work.

Core Course Requirements

  • Microeconomic Theory II (ECOG-201)
  • Microeconomic Theory III (ECOG-205)
  • Macroeconomic Theory II (ECOG-202)
  • Macroeconomic Theory III (ECOG-206)
  • Econometrics II (ECOG-212)


Areas of Specialization

The Department offers four areas of specialization. The student selects one are of specialization called the Major Field. The required courses for the Ph.D. degree in each of the specializations are:

  • Growth and Development Economics - ECOG-221, ECOG-228
  • Urban Economics - ECOG-231, ECOG-237
  • Labor Economics - ECOG-262, ECOG-2632
  • International Economics - ECOG-249, ECOG-245


Field Prerequisites

Each of these two-course sequences has a prerequisite. Specifically, the prerequisites are:

  • Growth and Development Economics - ECOG-220
  • Urban Economics - ECOG-230
  • Labor Economics - ECOG-261
  • International Economics - ECOG-244


If the student has taken an equivalent course and achieved a grade of B or better at a different university, it may be substituted for the field prerequisite if the Director of Graduate Studies approves.

The Major Field

Each student chooses his/her first area of specialization (called the Major Field) from among the four areas. The student completes the prerequisite (or approved equivalent course from another university) and two required courses (all three courses in the area of specialization labeled, II, and III) with a grade of B or better in each course. The student takes the comprehensive examination in that field or chooses to write a major paper related to that field. The student must either pass the comprehensive examination or receive approval by a graduate faculty member of the major paper to achieve certification in the Major Field.

The Minor Field

Each student chooses a second area of specialization (called the Minor Field) either from the Department's four areas of specialization (Growth and Development, Urban, Labor, or International) or from the elective field courses. If the minor field is chosen from the four areas of specialization, the student must complete two courses (either I and II or I and III within that area) with no grade lower than a B. If the student chooses the minor field from among the elective field courses, the student completes the field course and either Independent Study (ECOG-290, ECOG-291, ECOG-292, ECOG-293, or ECOG-294) or Research Topics in Economics (ECOG-295, ECOG-296, or ECOG-297) related to the field of choice. The student must receive a B or better in each of these two courses. There are no further requirements for certification of the Minor Field. Neither a comprehensive examination nor a field paper is required for the Minor Field.

Internship

Students may earn up to 6 credits in an internship program as part of their elective choices (Internship I, ECOG 298 and Internship II, ECOG 299).

Comprehensive Examinations

Students must pass comprehensive examinations (which are offered twice annually) in the following four areas: microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, econometrics, and the major field. The student may substitute a research paper in his/her major field for the major-field comprehensive examination.

Students are required to take the Ph.D. comprehensive examinations in both microeconomic theory and macroeconomic theory after they have successfully completed the required macroeconomic and microeconomic theory course sequences. If the student passes both of these examinations, the student becomes eligible to take the comprehensive examinations in econometrics and the student's Major Field.

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