Ph.D. Academic Requirements and Handbook

Program requirements for the Ph.D. may be found here. Students are required to read the program statement.

The supplemental online handbook below serves as a general reference for graduate students in the UCSC Department of Economics. Included is information on academic programs, requirements, staff and faculty, courses, teaching assistantships and useful campus resources. If after reviewing the information listed you still cannot find the answer to your questions, please contact the graduate programs coordinator or another staff member of the Economics Department. The office of the graduate programs coordinator's office and offices of other economics staff are located at 401 Engineering 2 (E2).

Ph.D. Requirements

First Year
Second Year

Third Year

Advance to Candidacy

Fourth Year



Academic Standing


MA Degree 


The Ph.D. program in economics provides students with training in modern microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics, combined with specialized training in the fields of international finance, international trade, economic development, monetary economics, applied microeconomics, experimental economics, and other areas.



Registration and enrollment is done on-line through the student portal, myUCSC.

First-year Ph.D. students should enroll in the following three (3) courses:
• 204 (A, B, and C): Microeconomic Theory
• 205 (A, B, and C): Macroeconomic Theory
• 211 (A, B, and C): Econometrics

Students are expected to pass these 9 courses (passing is a B- or better), and must re-take any course they fail. However, the 204 sequence does not need to be retaken if a student passes the micro preliminary exam. Similarly, the 205 sequence does not need to be retaken if a student passes the macro preliminary exam. However, students must re-take any failed course in the 211 sequence.

In addition to these three courses, students are required to take a three-week “math camp” course, Econ 210B: Mathematical Methods for Economic Analysis. Math camp typically begins at the beginning of September and ends the week before school officially starts. Actual dates vary each year.


Students must pass (with a B- or better) the preliminary examinations in the first-year core courses. Preliminary examinations are given in two parts: one test in micro theory and one test in macro theory. Students are expected to pass both exams in June of their first year. Students will be allowed to attempt each prelim exam up to two times. Prelims are offered in the second week after finals in June. September exam dates are scheduled for students who do not pass the June examinations. Grievances concerning preliminary examinations or requests for additional attempts must be made in writing to the director of the Ph.D. program. A third attempt will not be permitted under normal circumstances. Any student who fails either of the exams twice will be dismissed from the program.



Students are required to complete 2 field sequences and take 30 units of coursework in the 2nd year. The fields which are offered (not necessarily every year) are:
- Applied Microeconomics / Public Economics (Econ 250A-B-C)
- Economic Development (Econ 220A-B)
- International Finance (Econ 241A-B-C)
- International Trade (Econ 240A-B)
- Macroeconomics (Econ 221A-B-C)
- Experimental Economics (Econ 238*, Econ 270, Econ 272*) *denotes courses offered alternate years.

These fields consist of 2 or 3 courses. Students must take and pass two courses in a given field to pass the field (the minimum grade for passing is a B-). Of course, students are strongly encouraged to take all 3 courses if they intend to do research in that area. Students should enroll with a grading option of ABC, be aware the default grading option is S/U. Thus, students are expected to take a minimum of 6 5-unit courses during the academic year. Students who do not meet this units requirement will be placed on academic probation and must take these courses in their third-year.

Second-year students may take classes at another campus, if classes which they are interested in are offered elsewhere. However, they must complete at least one field at UCSC.

Field Paper

The other major requirement for the 2nd year is the field paper. The field paper consists of original research that demonstrates the students’ readiness to undertake a Ph.D. in economics. Although it is not necessary that it be a publishable piece in either form or substance, it should be well-crafted and display an element of originality. If necessary, the paper may be revised and resubmitted prior to the beginning of instruction in the subsequent fall quarter. The purpose of the field paper requirement is to demonstrate that the student can identify a research question and bring appropriate techniques to bear in addressing it.

Students occasionally want to use a paper written for another class to fulfill the field paper requirement. This is quite natural if the topic is one that the student hopes to develop into a dissertation. It is not appropriate, however, to receive academic credit twice for the same work. This means that a paper written for another class can form the basis of the field paper only if additional work extending the paper is undertaken. Students who intend to build on some earlier work to satisfy the field paper requirement, must inform the advisor and the director of the Ph.D. program that this is the case, and provide both with a copy of the paper submitted for the other class.

Guidelines on expectations for the field paper are provided on the department website.

Students must select an advisor for their 2nd year paper by the end of the second year. While students are encouraged to find an advisor earlier, the official deadline is set late in the year because otherwise students will not have interacted with faculty teaching classes in the spring quarter of the 2nd year. Students are expected to work closely with their advisor throughout the process.

The 2nd year paper advisor must sign a form agreeing to advise the prospectus. Once signed, any change to the 2nd year advisor requires the consent of the original advisor as well as the Ph.D. director. Forms are found on the department’s website.

The paper is due on August 31st in the summer after the 2nd year. It is often the case that students will be asked to revise the paper before it is officially accepted. Students who do not pass the paper in on time will be placed on academic probation.

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- Independent Study (Econ 297A) Enrollment is with the field paper advisor in the fall quarter only.
- Dissertation Research (Econ 299B)
- Workshops (Econ 274, Econ 275, Econ 276)


Students are advanced to candidacy upon successful completion of the oral qualifying examinations. Before students can advance into doctoral candidacy, they must fulfill the following requirements:  
• Pass all required coursework in years 1 and 2.
• Pass all written qualifying examinations.
• Form a doctoral committee.
• Submit a completed Nomination of Doctoral Qualifying Examination Committee Form to the Graduate Division for approval.
• Submit a written dissertation proposal to the doctoral committee.
• Pass the University Oral Qualifying Examination.

Once advanced to candidacy, international students do not pay foreign student fees (nonresident tuition) for three years beginning the quarter following the terms in which the student formally advanced to candidacy.

A. Prospectus Advisor

In the fall of the 3rd year, students must select a prospectus advisor. It is often - though not always - the case that the prospectus advisor will be the same faculty member who advised the 2nd year paper. In general, it is very helpful if the 2nd year paper ends up forming a part of the prospectus. This faculty member will advise the student on the prospectus and guide the student through the oral qualifying exam. They typically become the main dissertation advisor. Per department policy, the prospectus advisor can serve on the oral exam committee but not as chair. The prospectus advisor must sign a form agreeing to advise the prospectus. Once signed, any change to the prospectus advisor requires the consent of the original advisor as well as the Ph.D. director.

B. Prospectus

Students must submit a written dissertation prospectus before they can advance to doctoral candidacy. Students should work with their prospectus advisor closely on this document. More details on expectations for the prospectus are provided on the department website. Please read this document carefully.

NOTE: The prospectus should be made available to the dissertation committee members at least two weeks prior to the date of the oral qualifying examination.

C. University Oral Qualifying Examinations

Academic Senate regulations require all Ph.D. students to complete and pass the University Oral Qualifying Examinations prior to doctoral advancement to candidacy. Under Senate regulations the University Oral Qualifying Examination is open only to the student and appointed members of the doctoral committee.

Students should attempt the oral examination no later than the end of the spring quarter of their third year of study. Students must have been registered in the immediately preceding term in order to take the examination. In case of failure, a student may repeat the oral qualifying examination once. Students who do not pass their oral examination by the end of the spring quarter of their third year will be placed on academic probation with the Graduate Division. 

Students will receive an internal grade on the exam, which will be kept by the Economics Department. The grades will be high pass, pass, pass with reservations, and fail. This grade will be used for internal rankings for funding.

Preparing for the University Oral Qualifying Examination:
•The Economics department uses a "score sheet" for the exam. This form is on the department website. Please carefully review the score sheet.
• The oral qualifying exams are typically conducted at the end of the academic quarter. Please coordinate with the Ph.D. director and the graduate program coordinator in scheduling a time. To minimize faculty disruption, the department tries to schedule these exams around the same time, at the end of the term, rather than scattered throughout the year.
• Obtain a Doctoral Qualifying Examination Committee Nomination Form from the graduate coordinator, or at
• Form a doctoral committee and schedule the exam. Coordinate a time with the committee members and reserve a room with the graduate coordinator.
• Return the completed Doctoral Qualifying Examination Committee Form to the graduate coordinator at least four weeks prior to the oral qualifying exam date.
• Await approval of the committee from the Graduate Division. The exam cannot take place until the committee has been approved by the Graduate Division.
• Provide the prospectus to committee members at least two weeks prior to the date of the oral qualifying examination. You are highly encouraged to ask for and respond to feedback on your prospectus prior to the oral exam.
• One or two days before the exam, remind committee members of the time and location of the exam. The exam cannot proceed if any members are not present at the exam.
• After the exam, the committee members sign the Report on the Oral Qualifying Exam Form. The chair of the committee returns the form and report directly to the graduate coordinator.
• The student “advances to candidacy” when a successful Report on the Oral Qualifying Exam Form is received by the Graduate Division. Doctoral candidacy fees totaling $90 will be billed to the student’s account. Students are responsible for this fee.

After successfully advancing to candidacy, students must form a dissertation committee of at least three faculty members. A student must pick a dissertation advisor, a tenured faculty member who will chair this committee, as well as two other faculty members. Assistant professors cannot chair a dissertation committee. At most, they can be considered co-chairs with a tenured faculty member as the other co-chair. Students must have faculty sign a form to agree to serve on the committee. Once the committee is formed, any changes in the advisor or any other member of the committee must be approved in writing by all members of the committee as well as the Ph.D. director.

All third-year students are required to participate in one of the three graduate workshops in the department: 274 (Macro/Finance), 275 (Applied Micro/Trade), or 276 (Experimental). Though requirements vary from group to group, receiving credit for these workshops requires regular attendance and presenting several times per academic year. Enrollment grading option will be S/U.

Third year students are also encouraged to take further coursework if it is relevant to their research interests, either at UCSC or another campus.

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- Dissertation Research (Econ 299B)
- Workshop (Econ 274, Econ 275, Econ 276)

All fourth-year and beyond students are required to participate in one of the three graduate workshops in the department: 274 (Macro/Finance), 275 (Applied Micro/Trade), or 276 (Experimental). Though requirements vary from group to group, receiving credit for these  workshops requires regular attendance and presenting several times per academic year. Workshops are graded on a S/U basis.


A. Dissertation Preparation

All policies and procedures for dissertation preparation, including manuscript construction, formatting instructions, and submission are available at:

B. Dissertation Filing

Students who are not registered for the term in which the manuscript is filed must follow the steps below to determine eligibility:
• A doctoral candidate must be registered for the immediately preceding term in order to be eligible to pay the filing fee in lieu of registering for the current term (note: spring term is considered to be the term which immediately precedes both summer and fall terms). Candidates who were not registered for the immediately preceding term must register for the current term in order to file the dissertation.
• A student who was registered for the immediately preceding term and who does not need to be registered for the current term for any other reason (e.g., an academic apprentice personnel appointment), obtains the Filing Fee Application Form at The application must be signed by all the committee members.

The student submits the completed application to the graduate coordinator. If approved, the fee is billed through the student’s account.

(Students who are registered for the term can skip the above steps.)

The dissertation must be filed online as an Adobe PDF file. It is not necessary to be physically present on campus to submit the dissertation; only access to the internet is required. However, original signatures are required on the title page. Effective March 13, 2012, only electronic filing of the dissertation is accepted.

Submissions on the day of the deadline will be accepted until 5pm PST. To count as submitted, the following steps must have been completed:
• All required committee members have signed off with original signatures
• Committee has certified you have passed the final oral exam (if applicable)
• You submitted a final PDF via ProQuest
• You completed the online Graduate Division process

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A key step in doing academic research is presenting own research and observing and commenting on others’ research. In years 3 and above, all students must enroll in a workshop. These are organized around three general topics. 274 is for students interested in macroeconomics and international finance; 275 is for students interested in applied microeconomics, development and international trade; and 276 is for students interested in experimental economics. Students should enroll in the workshop of their interest (and of course, it is expected that a student would enroll in the workshop in which their advisor participates). Expectations vary from workshop to workshop, but usually involve regular attendance/participation, and several presentations per year. Grading is based on S/U.

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The main requirements for the program are as follows; - Students must pass all first year courses - Students must pass the micro and macro preliminary exams within the maximum 2 attempts. - Students must pass the 2nd year paper, due on August 31st in the summer after the 2nd year. - Students must pass the oral qualifying exam. This is expected to be completed by the end of the fall quarter of the 3rd year. - Students must pass a workshop in each quarter in years three and above. Students who fail to meet any of these requirements within the timeline specified in this handbook will be placed on academic probation with the Graduate Division. Students who fail to rectify the terms of their probation within the timeline specified in their probation will be dismissed from the program. Note that probation and dismissal can only be formally issued by the Graduate Division (under recommendation from the Economics Department). More detail on these procedures, as well as student’s right to appeal such decisions, can be found in the Graduate Division Handbook: The minimum residency requirement for a Ph.D. degree at UCSC is six quarters. To receive a graduate degree from UCSC, you must be registered at the Santa Cruz campus for at least three of the six quarters. A minimum of one quarter in residence must elapse between advancement to candidacy and awarding of degree.

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Students require official faculty advisors at several points. First, students must have an advisor for the 2nd year paper. This advisor must be identified by the end of the 2nd year. Second, students must have a prospectus advisor to help guide them through the orals. This advisor must be identified by the fall of the 3rd year. Finally, the student must have a dissertation advisor and dissertation committee. This committee is formed immediately after passing the oral qualifying exam. In all cases, any changes to an advisor requires the approval of both the current advisor, the new advisor, and the Ph.D. program director. Forms are available on the departments website or by the program coordinator. It is often, though not always, the case that the same faculty member will advise the paper, the prospectus, and the dissertation. While not necessary, students should think carefully before choosing an advisor at any stage of the process.

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The M.A. degree in economics is designed for students in the Ph.D. program who decide not to complete the Ph.D. or who wish to teach part-time at other institutions as a way of gaining experience or supporting themselves as they complete the Ph.D. It is only available to students at UCSC who were admitted for the Ph.D. in economics. Satisfactory completion of 35-units of coursework is required. This course requirement represents three quarters of full-time study and courses successfully completed must include at least: (1) five graduate courses in economic theory - 25 units (Econ 204ABC, 205ABC) (2) two graduate courses in quantitative economic methods - 10 units (Econ 211ABC). In addition to the 35-unit coursework requirement, students must pass one of the preliminary exams (microeconomics or macroeconomics) at the M.A. level (grade of C).

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