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Why earn a PhD in Economics?

  • A PhD prepares you to do independent research at the frontier of what economists know. In fact, a key requirement for earning a PhD is that your dissertation provides new knowledge that moves out the frontier of the profession.
  • A PhD is required if you want to do research and teaching at a university. For many top jobs in government, at consulting firms, or large companies, a PhD is required.
  • PhD vs MA? Top PhD programs are typically free because they offer their incoming class TA-ships (sometimes RA-ships) and a small stipend for 4-6 years.  (Note:  MA programs typically do not provide financial support).
  • There is no specific timeline for earning a PhD. You will earn a PhD when you complete the coursework, pass the qualifying exams and complete a dissertation.  A PhD typically takes 5-6 years to complete with 80% of programs requiring 50-60 hours of studying per week according to the AEA.  MA programs are typically either a 1 or a 2 year program.
  • Here is what the AEA has to say for PhD Economists. We also recommend checking out Cawley's guide to the job market process.