Ph.D. in Economics Overview

Colorado State University’s doctoral program in economics has a national and international reputation of excellence in the fields of environmental economics, political economy, and regional economics. Our faculty and students are pluralists who specialize in a wide range of economic thought, including neoclassical, Keynesian, institutional, Marxian, and feminist economics.

Our Ph.D. program prepares students for academic careers in the U.S. and around the world, as well as advanced assignments in government agencies and the private sector.

Program Requirements

Our faculty members are caring teachers and prolific scholars who have active research agendas, providing many opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to collaborate. Our goal is to prepare our students to be critical thinkers who understand the debates about economic methodology and policy, as well as the techniques of economic analysis.

Core Courses (30 Credits)

  • ECON 501 Quantitative Methods for Economists
  • ECON 505 History of Economic Thought
  • ECON/AREC 535 Applied Econometrics
  • ECON 604 Macroeconomic Analysis I
  • ECON/AREC 606 Microeconomic Analysis I
  • ECON/AREC 635 Econometric Theory I
  • ECON 704 Macroeconomic Analysis II
  • ECON 705 Heterodox Approaches to Economics
  • ECON 706 Microeconomic Analysis II
  • ECON/AREC 735 Econometric Theory II (2 credits)
  • ECON/AREC 736 Quantitative Analysis (1 credit)

Research (24 Credits)

  • ECON 698 Research Replication
  • ECON 793 Seminar – General
  • ECON 799 Dissertation (18 credits)

Advanced Courses

Development Economics

Development Economics

Nearly half of CSU faculty have active research agendas that contribute to development economics. Our inquiries draw on methods of promoting economic development, economic growth, and structural change, as well as improving health, education, and workplace conditions.

A cohort of our faculty and current graduate students contribute to the Poverty Action Center (PAC@REDI), an interdisciplinary enterprise that uses development economic tools to answer questions around poverty, inequality, education, and microfinance.


  • ECON 760 Theories of Economic Development
  • ECON 792E Seminar: Development
Environmental Economics
International Economics
Political Economy
Public Economics
Regional Economics

Program Timeline

Master’s Plan B

If a student does not pass the QE or decides they do not wish to continue the Ph.D. program after the completion of the second year, they may graduate CSU with a Master of Arts in economics (Plan B). The Plan B degree does not require a thesis; instead, either a scholarly paper, exam, portfolio, or similar project is required, as well as a final exam/defense. The Replication Exercise completed in ECON 698 satisfies this requirement.


Each Ph.D. candidate. must submit an acceptable dissertation, embodying publishable original research on a topic approved in advance by the student’s committee. A dissertation is the scholar’s own contribution to knowledge and reflects the ability to conduct and communicate independent research of such caliber and expertise that it adds significantly to the field of knowledge.

1. Preliminary Oral Comprehensive Examination (Preliminary Defense)

At least two semesters before the student intends to graduate, they must pass an oral comprehensive exam administered by their advisory committee. The content of this exam ordinarily includes a presentation of a prospectus on the proposed dissertation research, plus any additional material covering economic theory or the student’s fields where the committee determines that such coverage is warranted.

2. Final Oral Examination (Dissertation Defense)

The final examination is an oral dissertation defense in which the student is examined on the contents and methods of their dissertation research, as well as related areas of economics.

3. Final Submission

The dissertation format must comply with the standards specified in the Graduate School’s Thesis Manual and be approved by the department prior to binding. A hardbound copy of the dissertation must be submitted to the department chair. It is also customary that a hard-bound copy of the dissertation be presented to the student’s dissertation advisor.

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