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Ph.D. in Economics

STEM Designated Degree Program


The faculty of the Department of Economics at the University of Oklahoma has a strong commitment to excellence in graduate education. The curriculum provides a solid base of core theoretical and empirical skills and the opportunity to pursue advanced careers in Economics. More than 150 Ph.D.s in Economics have been earned since the early 1950s. Many of our graduates have gone on to distinguished careers in higher education, government, and the private sector.

There are three structural elements of our Ph.D. program. The first is a rigorous and well-integrated core curriculum of economic theory and statistical analysis. The second element consists of concentrated study in selected fields, including development economics, industrial organization, international economics, and public economics. The third element consists of training designed to prepare students to undertake independent research. This process culminates in a significant work of original research in the form of a dissertation. Having completed all three elements, our graduates are qualified to pursue academic, professional, or governmental careers.

Helpful Information and Resources

Application & Admissions Information

The Graduate College of the University of Oklahoma has specific admission requirements of:

  • A “B” average or better over the last 60 hours of undergraduate study or the last 12 hours of graduate study.
  • For non-native English speaking applicants, a TOEFL score of 79 on the IBT.

The Department of Economics does not have specific admissions requirements. Instead, we evaluate each applicant individually and admit those who have the aptitude, scholarship, and analytical skills necessary to successfully complete an advanced degree in economics. The admissions committee recommends admission on the basis of GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and prior academic record.

To apply visit OU Graduate Application website for online application instructions or to obtain a hard copy of the application form. You will need to provide the following items to complete your application:

  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate coursework
  • Scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) aptitude test. (Preferably, the exam must have been taken in the last two years.) Unofficial copies are sufficient for initial screening.
  • Three (3) confidential letters of recommendation. 
  • Scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or acceptable alternative for applicants from non-English speaking nations. See the Graduate College website for more information.
  • Statement of purpose


All Ph.D. students are advised by the Graduate Program Director, Dr. Daniel Hicks, until they form a Doctoral Committee. The Director will advise students regarding their field and elective course selections. In addition, the Director has final authority (within the rules of the Graduate College) over the acceptance of transfer credit from a Master’s Degree Program in Economics or other graduate program.

The Dissertation Committee, typically formed by the third year of the program, will prepare and conduct the student’s General Examination and supervise the preparation of the dissertation and conduct the final oral examination over the dissertation.

Financial Aid – Graduate Assistantships

Each year the Economics Department typically extends financial support in the form of research and teaching assistantships for 6-10 incoming Ph.D. students. For full consideration of financial aid, applicants are encouraged to apply to the Ph.D. program by late January.

Students receiving a regular financial aid package will receive an assistantship for 4-5 years of graduate work, conditional on satisfactory progress in the Ph.D. program and satisfactory performance of assigned duties. Additional support for the fifth year is typically available. 

For the 2015-16 academic year, nine-month full time assistantships have a stipend of $14,203 and include individual health insurance, tuition waivers for up to the 90 credit hours of courses required for degree completion. Conditionally admitted students may request waivers for courses needed prior to beginning the graduate coursework. Students are responsible for associated fees. Family health insurance plans are also offered through the University. For information on current resident and non-resident and fees, please see the University of Oklahoma Bursar’s website. 

A student on a full time assistantship is expected to perform approximately 20 hours of work per week and is required to attend the department’s weekly seminars. Duties include serving as research assistants and assisting in the Department’s teaching mission. Accordingly, students are expected to become certified to teach courses at the University of Oklahoma by the English Assessment Program by the end of their first year of study. English Language classes are available at no cost to qualifying graduate students.

Question: I’ve been admitted to the Ph.D. program, so how do I apply for an assistantship?

Answer: If a student is admitted to our Ph.D. program, they are automatically considered for an assistantship. There is no separate application or further information needed. If you are to be offered an assistantship,you will receive an email from the Graduate Director with a letter attached. These letters are typically emailed in late March, early April every year.

Question: If I do not receive an assistantship offer, is there still a chance of a tuition waiver?

Answer: No, we are not able to offer tuition waivers to students who are not on assistantship.


The Department has a generous scholarship funding provided by the Chong Liew Endowed Scholarship Fund. Beginning in 2007 we have established several graduate student scholarships.

The Chong Liew Outstanding Graduate Student Award is available for first year Ph.D. students. These are meant to support summer study and allow students to devote more time to their studies in Norman. Each year we typically select 2-4 students based on first year coursework performance. The awards range from $750 to $1000.

Chong Liew Summer Research Awards support dissertation research, especially in the summer before students plan to go on the job market. Students who have passed all of their required exams are eligible to submit a research proposal outlining their summer research plan. Proposals are selected based on merit and potential. Each year this award is typically given to 1-2 students. The awards range from $2000 to $2500 each.

Travel Support

Chong Liew Graduate Student Travel Scholarships are available to support graduate student conference participation. Students are required to apply for travel support from the Graduate College and Graduate Student Senate prior to requesting Chong Liew Travel support.

Supplemental Teaching

Graduate students who become certified to instruct at the University of Oklahoma may request to teach courses during summer terms or between semesters (Intersession). Students are chosen to teach these based on teaching experience, teaching performance, and undergraduate demand for courses.

Other Financial Support

The University offers several outlets and opportunities to obtain tuition assistance. Please explore the following links as they have helpful links within their websites: 

Graduate College – Funding Opportunities
Financial Aid Office
Office of the Bursar

Curriculum & Program Requirements

Previous Coursework

Incoming Ph.D. students usually have a bachelor's degree in economics or a related field, but this is not required for admission to the program. Prerequisites include some coursework in economics including intermediate micro and macroeconomics as well as a good working knowledge of mathematics and statistics. The minimum recommended math requirements are at least two semesters of calculus and one semester of basic statistics or their equivalents. A previous course in linear algebra is strongly recommended.

Math Camp

All incoming economics Ph.D. students are expected to attend Math Camp before beginning graduate coursework. The non-credit, free camp consists of two-hour sessions offered during the two weeks prior to the start of fall classes. Mathematical techniques and applications needed in graduate economics courses will be reviewed. Student performance will be reported to the Graduate Program Director.


The Ph.D. degree requires at least 90 hours beyond the Bachelor’s degree. A minimum of 54 these hours must consist of formal coursework, with the remainder comprised of dissertation research (ECON 6980). Credit may be transferred in from prior graduate coursework. The Graduate Program Director, in consultation with the Graduate College, will determine which hours of previous coursework will be accepted for transfer.

The program is also subject to all the requirements of the Graduate College. For more specific information on required and elective courses and a recommended program of study, please see the current Ph.D. Handbook.

Fields of Specialization

Fields of specialization are designed to develop an in-depth knowledge of the theory and current literature in various areas of economics. The two course sequences prepare students to become active researchers in the field and to identify potential topics for dissertation research. Our department offers four fields of specialization: Growth and Development Economics, Industrial Organization, International/Macro Economics, and Public Economics. For specifics on which courses can be taken for each field, please see the current Ph.D. Handbook.

We offer depth in our four supported fields: each field has several faculty members who are actively engaged in research and are able to supervise dissertations. This is supplemented with strong support in applied econometrics, including time-series and panel data methods. Students who wish to concentrate in fields not supported by our department should consider applying to programs that better match their research interests.

Qualifying Examinations

Students in the Ph.D. program must pass two qualifying examinations which test their competency in various components of economic theory. The first qualifying examination is based on the first year required classes and is administered in early August prior to the start of fall semester classes. The purpose of this exam is to assure that students have mastered the vital tools covered in first year courses prior to taking advanced courses. The exam is in three parts: microeconomic theory (ECON 5123 and ECON 6213), macroeconomic theory (ECON 5163 and ECON 6313) and math, statistics and econometrics (ECON 5153 and ECON 5213).

The second qualifying examination is administered in early August prior to the start of third year classes. The purpose of this exam is to assure students can master advanced material required to under take research. The exam has two parts: econometrics (ECON 5243 and ECON 6343) and one of the department's four field sequences. Typically two of the four field sequences will be offered each year, so students must take the courses for one of the fields offered in their second year and then be tested on those courses.

Students must pass all parts of both qualifying exams to remain in the Ph.D. Program. Students are allowed one opportunity to retake failed portions of qualifying exams. Retakes are given in January during the week prior to the start of spring semester classes. A student who fails to pass qualifying exams on the second attempt is required to leave the Ph.D. program but can continue their graduate studies in the Applied Economics Track of the M.A. program.

General Exam

In addition to the department's qualifying examinations, students must also pass a General Examination as required by the Graduate College. Students are expected to take the General Exam in the semester in which they complete their formal course work. A student following a standard program of study will take the General Exam in the Spring semester of the third year. With special permission from the Graduate Program Director, the General Exam may be taken during the semester following completion of coursework.

Prior to taking the General Exam, a student must form a Doctoral Committee, consisting of at least five graduate faculty members, with one chosen from outside the department within the University. The student’s Doctoral Committee will hold an advisory conference to assess the student's program and areas of specialization. Once a student's program is approved and reported to the Graduate College, the student can apply for permission to take the General Exam.

The General Exam consists of both a written and an oral portion. The written exam is designed by the student's Doctoral Committee to test the student's mastery of her field of specialization and proposed dissertation topic. Committee members will provide guidance as to the material covered by the written exam. If the performance is adequate on the written exam, an oral exam will be scheduled. The General Exam is completed when the oral exam has been passed, at which point a student will be admitted to Candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

Students who do not perform satisfactorily on either the written or oral exam are given an opportunity to address inadequacies. By Graduate College rule, a student who fails the General Examination a second time is disenrolled from the Ph.D. program. The student may choose to complete the requirements for the MA Degree/Applied Economics track.


In order to facilitate the transition from formal coursework to dissertation research, students enroll in ECON 5960 during the spring semester of their third year. The course instructor will be the faculty member who has agreed to chair the Doctoral Committee. The course objective is to guide a student in defining a dissertation topic and preparing a dissertation proposal.

Successful completion of ECON 5960 requires submission of a written dissertation proposal to the student's Doctoral Committee and presentation of a seminar on the topic to the Economics faculty and graduate students. The seminar enables the faculty to share its collective knowledge with the candidate and to ensure support for a topic that can feasibly be developed into a dissertation. Copies of the prospectus will be made available to the participants at least one week prior to the seminar. After the seminar, the Doctoral Committee will meet to approve either the original prospectus or a modified version of it.

The department requires that the dissertation be completed, accepted, and the final oral examination be passed no later than five calendar years after Admission to Candidacy. Failure to meet this deadline will result in termination from Ph.D. Candidacy. Under extraordinary circumstances, the Doctoral Committee, with the consent of the faculty and the Graduate Dean, may extend the five-year deadline for a short period.

Recent PhD Placements

Ross Hallren (2015) U.S. International Trade Commission, Washington, D.C.
Souleymane Soumahoro (2015) Center for Global Development, Washington, D.C.
Trey Dronyk-Trosper (2015) Murphy Institute Postdoctoral Fellow, Tulane University, Louisiana
Alex Ufier (2015) Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Washington, D.C.
Jia Wang (2015) Sewanee University of the South, Tennessee
Lingxiao Zhao (2015) Southwest University of Finance and Economics, China
Chengrui Xiao (2014) Southwestern University of Finance and Economics
Su Li (2013) Capital University of Finance and Business
Michael Walker (2013) United States Military Academy at West Point
Lord Andzie-Quainoo (2012) Bentley University
Chintamani Jog (2012) Oklahoma City University
Bea Maldonado (2012) College of Charleston
Brian Piper (2012) Sam Houston State University
Chen Wu (2012) Colgate University
Yifei Ding (2011) PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ltd., Hong Kong
Norman Maynard (2011) Humboldt State University
Xuebing Yang (2009) Pennsylvania State University-Altoona
Jie Shuai (2009) Nankai University
Jacob Dearmon ( 2008) Oklahoma City University
Luisa Blanco (2007) Pepperdine University
Haichun Ye (2007) University of Colorado-Denver
Van Pham (2007) Salem State University
Xiaoyi Mu (2006) University of Dundee, UK
Shu Lin (2005) University of Colorado-Denver
Nicole Cornell-Sadowski (2005) York College
Jennifer Willeford Logan (2005) Southern Arkansas University
Anuruddha Kankanamge (2005) University of Peradeniya
Zhitao Sui (2005) Econ OneMohammed Basyah (2003) PT Citra Van Titipan Kilat, Jakarta
Lori Bell (2003) Upper Iowa University
Chengte Hsiao (2003) Ming-Chuan University, Taiwan
Kodrat Wibowo (2002) Padjadjaran University, Indonesia
Deergha Adhikari (2002) University of Louisiana at Fayetteville
Dakshina DeSilva (2002) Texas Tech University
Maha Shalaby (2002) University of Central Oklahoma
Soon Cheul Lee (2002) Korea Institute for Economic Policy
Rex Pjesky (2002) West Texas A&M University

Daniel Hicks
(405) 325-7049
Tami KinseyManagerial Assistant