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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; a major consists of two courses within the field and one graded field seminar, a minor consists of two courses within the field.

We offer courses in the following six fields:

  • Applied Microeconomics
  • Econometrics
  • Experimental Economics
  • Labor/Development
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics

Most students complete the course requirements for the majors and the minor by the end of their third year. Student can also take courses outside the department, most notably at Carnegie Mellon University.

All students beyond the first year are expected to be registered in a field seminar every term. Starting in the second year students are also expected to attend the weekly brown bags in their fields of interest. Faculty and students present research in progress at these brown bags and receive feedback on their projects.

During the second year a number of students serve as teaching assistants (TAs) for either undergraduate or graduate classes.


Course offerings in each field are available here.

During the year the following mandatory 1-credit courses prepares students to be effective TAs and instructors, and prepares them to the transition to research:

Teaching Economics (Econ 3210)

This course aims to provide orientation and training for second-year graduate students in preparation for their duties and responsibilities as Teaching Assistants.  Additionally, the course will serve to introduce the basic tools and skills necessary for university level instruction to those graduate students who might eventually teach courses independently for the first time. A sample syllabus can be found here.

Research Methods in Economics (Econ 3220)

The course introduces students to strategies for identifying interesting research ideas, to determine whether the idea is worth pursuing, to effectively review the literature, and to plan how to conduct the research. Insights into how these strategies change across fields within economics are provided by relevant faculty guests. Other topics discussed in the course include the typical difficulties involved in conducting research and how to address them; how to deal with advisors; academic etiquette; techniques for presenting work in progress at seminars; and how to write and submit academic papers. Requirements include the drafting of the second-year paper proposal (PhD Comprehensive Research Paper) and the selection of two faculty readers. A sample syllabus can be found here.

Second Year Paper

By mid-April of the second year of study students submit a research proposal for their second-year paper, an important milestone in the program. This paper satisfies the PhD Comprehensive Examination requirement. The research proposal must be approved by two faculty readers. Students spend the summer working on their research project and submit a paper the last week of August. Most second year students use their second-year research proposal to apply for a summer fellowship award.