The major requirements for the Ph.D. degree consist of passing the comprehensive examination and writing an acceptable dissertation. Other requirements include computer competency, specific courses, credit hours, grade point average, and residence. All of these are briefly described below.

Qualifying Examination

Every student must pass a written comprehensive examination in Micro and Macro Economic Theory at the end of their first year of study. This eight hour exam will take place over two days in May, with a second attempt being offered in July. Students who do not pass this exam on either attempt will not be allowed to continue in the program. Only students that maintain a GPA of 3.0 in the first year required courses are allowed to take the qualifying exam.

Field Courses

Two fields are required. Each field involves at least six hours of 7000 level course work in a specified area and must be completed with at least a B in each course. Pre-prospectus Workshop (ECO 7304) or Introduction to Applied Econometric Methods (ECO 6375) can be used, with the prior approval of the Director of Graduate Studies, to count toward three hours of one six-hour field requirement.

Third Year Research Paper

By the end of third year, all students must complete a research paper that has to be approved by their faculty advisor, present the research paper at a symposium, and have it evaluated by the faculty.


The student must pass the qualifying examinations and must complete the field requirements before beginning work on the dissertation. Once these requirements are completed, work on the dissertation proceeds in two stages. The first stage occurs in the third year in which the student completes the third year research paper. During this period, the student is expected to select a dissertation committee and an adviser. After the paper is completed the second stage begins during which the formal work on the dissertation is performed. After it is complete, the student must defend their dissertation in an oral examination conducted by their committee members.

Required Courses

Every Ph.D. student must satisfactorily complete eight required courses: Introduction to Quantitative Economics (ECO 6371), two microeconomics courses (ECO 6384, and 6385), two macroeconomics courses (ECO 6394, and 6395), and three econometrics courses (ECO 6372, 6374, and 6375).

In addition to required credit courses, students must attend a pre-prospectus workshop and departmental seminars.

Credit Hours

Every Ph.D. student must earn 48 semester credit hours in economics in an approved program of study. Up to 24 semester credit hours of graduate course work may be transferred from another institution upon approval by the department and by the Office of the Graduate Dean. Students considering this option should submit a petition to the Director of Doctoral Studies describing the courses to be considered for transfer along with course syllabi. Requests must be made prior to the student’s first semester in the program. The 48-hour requirement excludes ECO 8000-Dissertation Research, ECO 7304-Prospectus Workshop and ECO 7275-Econometrics Workshop.

Grade Point Average

Each student is expected to maintain at least a cumulative B (3.0) average over all courses taken in the program.


Every Ph.D. candidate must be in residence at SMU for at least one academic year.

Time Limit

The dissertation must be successfully defended within eight years from the date the student enters the graduate program.