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Graduate Programs

PhD program

Year One

The first year of study focuses on economic theory and econometrics.


The course requirements for the first year are

  • ECO2010H, an intensive preparatory course in mathematics and statistics for PhD students, which meets daily for three weeks beginning in mid-August
  • ECO2200H, Microeconomic Theory I
  • ECO2201H, Microeconomic Theory II
  • ECO2100H, Macroeconomic Theory I
  • ECO2101H, Macroeconomic Theory II
  • ECO2400H, Econometrics I
  • ECO2401H, Econometrics II.
Theory Comprehensive Exams

Students are required to take comprehensive examinations in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory after the end of the Winter semester. Performance on these exams is evaluated on a distinction/pass/fail basis. If a theory comprehensive examination is failed on the first attempt, it must be retaken later in the summer (usually in August) of the same year.

Year Two

During the second year, students complete field courses and prepare to undertake independent research. Regular-entry students must take at least two one-semester field courses and the year-long Graduate Research Seminar, ECO4060Y. Direct-entry students must take six one-semester field courses and the year-long Graduate Research Seminar, ECO4060Y.

Field courses

Field course selections must satisfy the requirements for two fields, one "major" and one "minor". The fields offered and the courses required for each field vary slightly from year to year; the courses for the current year are listed on this page.

Any remaining courses may be chosen from the department's graduate offerings. With prior written approval from the Associate Chair, Graduate Studies, it may be possible for a student to use a limited number of courses offered by other departments to fulfill the course requirements.

If a student wishes to specialize in a field that is not formally offered as a major or minor field, s/he should check with the coordinator for the field to determine whether courses in other fields supplemented with reading courses can satisfy the field requirements.

The fields in which we regularly (but not invariably) offer courses are

  • Behavioural Economics
  • Econometrics
  • Economic Development
  • Financial Economics
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Economics
  • Labour Economics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Public Economics

In some years we may be able to offer other fields, such as Urban Economics or Political Economy.

Field Comprehensive Exam

Students who do not meet the criteria set in the major field comprehensive examination exemption policy are required to take a comprehensive examination in their major field after the end of the Winter semester in their second year. If the exam is failed, it must be re-taken later in the summer of the same year.

Graduate Research Seminar

The objective of ECO4060Y (Graduate Research Seminar) is to foster the transition from coursework to independent research. Each student is required to write an original research paper under the supervision of a faculty member. By the time the course is completed, students will have learned presentation skills, completed the second-year paper requirement, and struck a thesis committee. Note that ECO4060Y is a "continuous" course: once a student enrols in the course s/he remains registered until s/he receives a grade of "CR" indicating successful completion, customarily in year three.

Year Three

The final draft of the original research paper required in ECO4060Y must be submitted by September 1st of the third year and presented in ECO4060Y and in one of the department's research seminar series in the Fall semester of the third year. By December 31st, students should also settle on a topic for their dissertation research and form a PhD supervisory committee. Once all coursework and field and comprehensive exam requirements have been satisfied, and the student forms a supervisory committee, s/he achieves “candidacy”.

All post-comprehensive PhD students are required to submit a progress report annually and to meet with their supervisor on a regular basis. Every student is also expected to regularly attend the specialized seminar in his/her research area.

Years Four to Six

During these years, students continue work on their dissertations. After the final draft of the dissertation has been accepted by the supervisory committee, an oral examination is scheduled and the thesis is publicly defended in accordance with the established procedures of the School of Graduate Studies.

Program completion

Students are required to maintain "good standing" throughout the program. A detailed description of the rules for maintaining good standing, and the consequences of not doing so, is available to registered students on the department's intranet. In brief, students must pass the required courses and maintain an acceptable overall average grade, pass the Microeconomic Theory and Macroeconomic Theory comprehensive examinations (first year) and pass or earn exemption from a field comprehensive examination (second year), complete the second-year paper on time, and make acceptable progress on the dissertation in years three and above.