PhD Program

Beginning with an intensive mathematics course and continuing through the program’s fifth and final year, our PhD program prepares students for job-market success. Review the full timeline for completion of PhD requirements as well as the following key milestones.

Summer Math Camp

Admitted students begin the PhD program with an intensive math class that meets daily for three weeks prior to the start of fall classes. Students are encouraged to review course materials ahead of time to prepare.

First Year

Students take four core courses during the fall term of the first year. Courses meet twice a week, and recitation sessions for each class are held once a week. A minimum GPA of 3.0 (B) is required for students to remain in good academic standing. Failure to attain this minimum results in probation (without suspension of funding) during the spring term.

Second Year

Starting in the second year, students take courses from a variety of fields within economics. A requirement of the PhD program is to complete two majors and one minor in different fields. We offer courses in six fields.

Third Year

Students must present their second-year paper by the end of October of the third year. Papers are presented at the brown-bag session relevant to the student’s field of research. Both faculty readers and a member of the graduate committee must attend the presentation. Papers should be revised according to the readers’ feedback, and a final version of the paper must be submitted by the first week of December. Readers evaluate the paper based on its potential for eventual publication in a top or second-tier field journal. All papers are considered for the department’s Best Second-Year Paper Award.

Fourth Year

Students who have earned 72 credits may register for full-time dissertation study, which maintains their full-time status for funding and immigration purposes but does not earn them any academic credits. Students are still expected to attend and participate in field seminars relevant to their dissertation. During the fourth year, students are expected to work on a research project that may become their job market paper. They should also form their dissertation committee, consisting of a.) three Economics Department graduate faculty members and b.) one member from another Pitt department or other university; this external member must have experience advising graduate students and must be approved by the dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

Fifth Year

The fall of the fifth year is busy for students in the job market who are completing their teaching and research statements, as well as completing and posting their research papers online. They deliver their job market presentations and participate in mock interviews to prepare for the American Economic Association meetings in January.

Fifth-year students staying into the sixth year should continue presenting papers at external conferences and submitting papers for publication.