PhD Program


Below is a summary of the graduate program with information on the PhD degree. The official details of the program can be found in the UWM Academic Catalog.

STEM Designation

Our graduate programs (MA and PhD) are classified as STEM (CIP Code 45.0603: Econometrics and Quantitative Economics). Students in such STEM degree programs can apply for a 24 month STEM extension of the F1 visa under Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Fields of Study

The following fields are offered:

Statistical methods (statistics and econometrics)
Specialized Areas of Concentration:
Industrial Organization
International Economics
Labor Economics
Monetary Theory and Policy

Doctor of Philosophy in Economics

Application, Admission, and Financial Aid: An applicant must meet The Graduate School’s requirements to be considered for admission to the program. Required materials for the PhD application include transcript(s), Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. International applicants should consult this page for additional requirements. Application materials, with the exception of letters of recommendation, are submitted directly using the UWM Graduate School Application Form. Letters should be mailed to the department address.

We only admit new students to the PhD program for the Fall semester. There is no official deadline, however applications are considered by the department beginning January 15. So, applications received by then receive the fullest consideration, particularly for financial aid awards. After the graduate school reviews the application materials for completeness, they are sent to the department of economics admissions committee for review. We consider all applicants simultaneously for admission and financial assistance (teaching assistantships and fellowships). The following are particularly important in our determination:

Coursework: Two semesters of course work in intermediate economic theory, one semester of statistics, and two semesters of calculus are considered minimum adequate preparation for the PhD. Neither an MA or BA in economics is required for admission.

Graduate record examination (GRE): The quantitative score is particularly important. We give strongest consideration to those above the 85th percentile.

Two letters of recommendation: Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with applicant’s scholastic achievement and potential.

Proof of English language proficiency: For students whose native language is not English, please consult the requirements for showing English proficiency.

Course of Study

The minimum degree requirement is 54 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, at least 27 of which must be earned in residence at UWM. The core curriculum is 6 credits in microeconomic theory, 6 credits in macroeconomic theory, and 6 credits in statistical methods (statistics and econometrics), and a total of 12 credits in two areas of concentration. The following rules apply:

  • Residence: The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements. The Ph.D. student meets the continuous portion of the residence credit requirement by completing 8-12 graduate credits in each of 2 consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions. Residence credit is not earned at the Master’s level or prior to award of the Master’s degree.
  • Comprehensive Preliminary Examination: The student must pass exams in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and statistical methods in the summer after the completion of the core curriculum before formal admission for candidacy for the PhD degree.  Failure to pass the exams in two tries (May and August) will result in the student being moved to the MA program. A student passing two of the three exams will be allowed a third chance in the other exam the following May.
  • Research Paper: A second-year research paper must be completed by the end of the spring semester of the third year. Completion requires approval from both a faculty advisor and the instructor of ECON 790 (the Director of Graduate Studies may substitute for a faculty advisor or be used if the advisor is the instructor of 790). The student attains dissertator status only after successful completion of this research paper requirement.
  • Dissertation: The candidate must write a dissertation which demonstrates ability to formulate a research topic and pursue independent and original investigation. The candidate must, as a final step toward the degree, pass an oral examination in defense of the dissertation.
  • Time Limit: All degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program.

Graduate Grievance Procedures

Federal law and UWM policy require programs and departments to have procedures for graduate students to appeal academic decisions such as grades or scholastic standing. These procedures ensure the protection of students’ rights. These pages serve as a reference on procedures for graduate student academic appeals.

Contact Information

Please direct questions to our Director of Graduate Studies …

Matthew McGinty
Bolton Hall 888