PhD in Economics | LSU Department of Economics

PhD - Economics


Contact Us

Bulent Unel
Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Economics
2329 Business Education Complex
Telephone: 225-578-5211


PhD Economics (STEM Designated Degree)

Welcome to the web page for the PhD program in economics at LSU, a STEM designated degree. Our department is committed to excellence in teaching and research. Our faculty are frequent recipients of teaching awards, regular contributors to prestigious professional journals, and editors of professional journals.

Our goal is to provide graduate students with analytic skills and a breadth of economic understanding that prepares them for careers in academics, government, or business. To this end, we encourage our students to begin their research as soon as possible. Once our students finish their coursework, they immediately start research with their advisors. Many of them publish papers before they complete the PhD program, which helps them perform better in the job market. We have an impressive job placement record, and more information can be found on our recent PhD placements page.
In addition to having a strong PhD program in economics, LSU has one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. It is conveniently located on the banks of Mississippi River, close to downtown and many of the city's other attractions. New Orleans, one of the top tourist destinations in the world, is just about an hour drive from the campus. Louisiana, known as the Sportsman's Paradise, has a perfect climate for outdoor activities year-round. The weather is pleasant from October to May. Many outdoor festivals, concerts, and events are held throughout the year and often involve cooking, eating, and socializing in the temperate weather.

STEM Designation

Our PhD program is designated as a STEM program (CIP Code: 45.0603: Econometrics and Quantitative Economics). International students in STEM degree programs can apply for a 24-month STEM extension of their F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT).

view phd brochure

Faculty Spotlight

Headshot of Fang Yang

Fang Yang

How much did surging college costs reduce college enrollment in the U.S.? How do individuals’ consumption choices change when they face uninsurable risk? These are some of the questions that Professor Fang Yang has addressed in her research. She is a macroeconomist who has worked extensively on heterogeneity and inequality as well as macroeconomic policies that affect them. Yang’s work has been published at the leading economic journals and featured in media outlets such as Bloomberg and Slate.


headshot of Naci Mocan

Naci Mocan

If you think economics is a dry discipline focused on the stock market, inflation, and unemployment, then you aren’t familiar with Professor Naci Mocan. He uses economics to understand human behavior. His research shows that every decision, including where to go to college and how much alcohol to consume, can be linked to economics. Mocan has been extensively published in the leading economic journals. His work on crime and health care make him a favorite expert of media outlets such as National Public Radio, Wall Street Journal, and The Economist.


Other areas of faculty research include applied econometrics, economic growth and development, economics of education, econometric theory, international trade, monetary and fiscal policies, labor economics, and regional economics. Visit our faculty directory for more information.

Admission Policies

Applicants for graduate studies in economics must meet the requirements for admission to the LSU Graduate School and be accepted by the Department of Economics. Detailed information can be found in the prospective students section on the LSU Graduate School's website. Please note that meeting the LSU Graduate School requirements and those specific to the Department of Economics does not guarantee admission.

The economics department has the following requirements. Applications must be made by February 1. Note that this date supersedes the January 1 priority date for financial assistance listed on the LSU Graduate School website.

  • GPA should be at least 3.0 (A=4.0)
  • GRE: Those who are accepted usually have a minimum GRE score of 300, and at least a score of 160 on the quantitative section.
  • TOEFL/IELTS/PTE: A minimum TOEFL score of 80 (internet-based exam) or 213 (computer- based exam); or a minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS; or a minimum score of 59 on the PTE is required for international students.
  • References: Three letters of recommendation should be submitted. At least two letters should be from your professors.
  • Statement of Purpose: Two-page summary of your purpose for applying to the PhD program.

It would be preferable for students interested in pursuing the PhD degree to take calculus, statistics, and intermediate macroeconomics and microeconomics before entering the PhD program

Financial Assistance

All PhD students, both domestic and international, including entering graduate students, are eligible to apply for assistantships. A full-time graduate assistant receives a competitive stipend and is also provided a full tuition waiver but must pay university fees. Students holding assistantships are expected to assist the faculty in their research and teaching for a maximum of 20 hours per week. Teaching graduate assistantships, which involve teaching an entire section, are available to those advanced graduate students who have successfully passed the PhD qualifying exam. Summer stipends for teaching or research have been available in the past and will be available in the future, but their number varies annually. 

PhD Program: Details

The PhD in economics consists of a core of macro- and micro- theory and three fields of specialized study--a macroeconomics field, a microeconomics field, and the econometrics field. The courses and sequencing are as follows:

Required Courses

  • Year 1, Fall Semester (9 hours)
    • Advanced Microeconomics I (Economics 7702)
    • Advanced Macroeconomics I (Economics 7718)
    • Econometric Methods (Economics 7630)

  • Year 1, Spring Semester (9 hours)
    • Advanced Microeconomics II (Economics 7703)
    • Advanced Macroeconomics II (Economics 7719)
    • Econometric Methods II (Economics 7631) 

  • Year 2, Fall Semester (9 hours)
    • Advanced Macroeconomics Field Course*
    • Applied Microeconomics Field Course**
    • Microeconometrics (Economics 7632)  

  • Year 2, Spring Semester (9 hours) 
    • Advanced Macroeconomics Field Course*
    • Applied Microeconomics Field Course**
    • Dynamic Econometric Theory (Economics 7633)  

  • Year 3 and beyond, Fall Semester and subsequent semesters (9 hours) Pre-dissertation/Dissertation Research (9 hours)

    *Advanced Macroeconomics courses are selected from Economic Growth, Monetary Economics, International Macroeconomics, and Advanced Topics in Macroeconomics. The courses making up the advanced macro field for each entering class will be determined by student preferences and by faculty availability and preferences.

    **Advanced Microeconomics courses are selected from Industrial Organization, Health Economics, International Trade, Public Finance, Game Theory, and Labor Economics. The courses making up the applied micro field for each entering class will be determined by student preferences and by faculty availability and preferences.

PhD Qualifying Examination

Qualifying examinations covering macroeconomics and microeconomics theory are required. Students take both qualifying exams in August following their first year of coursework. The exams cover all macro- and micro- theory coursework taken and together constitute the general exam required by the LSU Graduate School. To be eligible for the qualifying exams, a student must have at least a cumulative 3.0 GPA and not more than one C grade or lower in a first-year course.

Graders make the qualifying exams as “PhD pass,” “master’s pass,” or “fail.” A student must receive a “PhD pass” on both the macro- and micro- theory exams to continue in the PhD program. If a student receives a master’s pass on one or both of the exams, the student can retake the exam(s) at the beginning of the spring semester of his or her second year. Each exam can be taken no more than twice and exams are given only twice a year. If on the first try, a student receives a fail on one or both of the exams, the student will not be allowed to retake the exam and hence will not be able to continue in the PhD program.

PhD students receiving either a PhD pass or a master’s pass on the qualifying exams are eligible to receive a Master of Science in Economics degree. For students who receive a PhD pass on both qualifying exams, the third-year paper (discussed in the next section) will constitute the final exam for the MS degree. For students who receive a master’s pass on one or both exams on both the first try and also on the retake, the retake will serve as the final exam for the MS degree.

Original Research Paper 

Students will finish all required coursework by the end of the second year. At this time they will choose a faculty advisory committee that will approve and ultimately grade an original research paper (aka the "third-year paper"). The third-year paper is between the general exam (i.e., the qualifying exams described in the previous section) and the dissertation defense (which constitutes the final exam for the PhD). The third-year paper is the final exam for the MS in Economics degree for PhD students. Students will be expected to complete and present the paper in an open department seminar by mid-February of the spring semester of their third year. Students who ultimately fail to pass this requirement will not be allowed to continue in the program.

Completion of 36 Hours

A total of 36 hours of coursework must be completed. These hours consist of the core macro- and micro- theory courses, the econometrics courses, and the macro- and micro- field courses. Coursework taken for an outside minor is in addition to the 36 hours of economics courses.


Each candidate must present a satisfactory doctoral dissertation.

Final Examination

The final examination is an oral defense of the dissertation. LSU Graduate School regulations state that the final exam cannot be held until at least one academic year has elapsed since the student was admitted to candidacy (i.e., passed the general exams).

Other Requirements of the PhD Program

Time Limit

No less than one academic year must elapse between passing the general examination and completion of all requirements for the PhD. Additionally, the student must complete all PhD requirements within seven calendar years of being classified as a student in the doctoral program. If the seven-year period is exceeded, the student must retake the general exam (i.e. retake both the macro- and micro- qualifying exams). This can be allowed only under the discretion of the Economics Graduate Committee.

Fields and Course Descriptions

Courses available for graduate students are in the General Catalog and Graduate Catalog.

Minor in Economics

A minor in economics requires the following 12 hours of coursework:

  • ECON 7701 (Introduction to Advanced Microeconomics)
  • ECON 7717 (Introduction to Advanced Macroeconomics)
  • ECON 7000 level elective
  • ECON 4000 level or above elective other than 4710 and 4720. 

A minimum of a 3.0 average across these four courses is required. If the student fails to maintain a 3.0 average across these four, he or she has two options: 1. pass the MS comprehensive examination in economics; 2. take ECON 4000-level courses other than 4710 and 4720 or take Econ 7000-level courses until the average in 4000-level or above economics coursework is at least 3.0.

Graduate Certificate in Econometrics

The Department of Economics offers a Graduate Certificate in Econometrics. Information can be found on the Graduate Certificate in Econometrics web page.

Apply PhD Economics Now!

Related Links