The doctoral degree in Economics at UNM is an applied economics degree, with specializations in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, Public Economics, and International Development and Sustainability. The first year primarily focuses on coursework, culminating with qualifying examinations after a summer of preparation. During the second and third years, students continue to take coursework but increasingly transition to independent research, including successfully completing a research requirement paper. The last two years are spent focusing on the dissertation and potentially teaching a course. Much of the final year is spent preparing for and going on the job market.
Successfully completing a doctoral degree involves not only meeting the course and qualifying examination requirements, but also learning how to generate novel research questions, obtain and analyze data, and disseminate the results; engage with the broader economics community through attending and presenting at seminars and conferences; and communicate economics ideas to students, academics, and the general population.
The PhD degree requires a minimum of 48 credit hours of course work at the graduate level (with no more than six hours of approved 300 and 400-level courses) is required for the doctoral degree. Courses taken under a Credit/No Credit option do not count towards the required 48 hours of course work. The 48 credit hours are parsed across required core curriculum, a major area of study and a minor area of study. All doctoral students must pass a written comprehensive theory exam and a written econometrics exam. They must also complete a research requirement in their major area of study prior to the start of their dissertation research. Also, a minimum of 18 hours of dissertation credit (ECON 699) is required. A student may not enroll for dissertation hours until they successfully complete of their research requirement and advance to candidacy.
The core curriculum requirements are completed during the first three semesters of the program and include three (3) hours of math tools, nine (9) hours of theory, and nine (9) hours of applied econometrics. The nine hours of theory are required prior to taking the doctoral comprehensive exam, as required by the university. The nine hours of applied econometrics results in a tested field.
Fields of Specialization
The department offers Ph.D. fields in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics; Public Economics; and International Development and Sustainability. Along with completing the core curriculum, students are required to have a major field of study in which they have successfully completed a minimum of three courses (nine credit hours of study) at the 500-level. Students must also take a minimum of two additional courses (six credit hours of study) at the 500-level in a separate area to complete a minor field.
Students are also required to take two “elective courses” which are graduate economics courses not counting toward the major or minor that augment and round out a student’s education. These courses may be from the courses below, or may be any other 500-level courses offered by the department that are appropriate for a student's course of study. This should be discussed with the student’s advisor and the Graduate Director. While independent study courses are available (ECON 551 and ECON 552), they are not normally accepted as meeting field course requirements or total course credit requirements for the degree. Similarly, courses taken outside of the Department of Economics are considered complementary to the program and cannot be used to substitute for required coursework.
Courses available in each field are listed in the Economics Graduate Student Handbook which can be accessed here.
A coursework timeline is available here.
Students are required to successfully pass the doctoral comprehensive exam and the econometrics exam. To be eligible to take the comprehensive exam students must have completed all relevant coursework (ECON 501, 506, 513) with an overall GPA of at least 3.00, no incompletes, and no grades below a B- in any course. The comprehensive exam is offered in August. Students who are eligible to retake the exam do so in October. Students who fail to pass at the PhD level are only eligible to retake the exam if they earned a minimum number of points on their first attempt. Further details on the comprehensive exam and transitioning to a terminal Master’s degree are described in detail in the Graduate Handbook.
To be eligible to take the Econometrics exam, students must have passed the doctoral comprehensive exam at the PhD level and successfully completed all relevant coursework (ECON 508, ECON 509, ECON 51) with an overall GPA of at least 3.00, no incompletes, and no grades lower than a B-. The econometrics examination is scheduled two times each year in August and in January. The econometrics exam is limited to two attempts. Students who do not successfully complete the exam on their second attempt can petition the graduate committee for a third attempt. If they do not successfully complete the exam on the petitioned attempt and within one year of their first attempt, they will be dis-enrolled from the program.
During the second year of the program, students must form a Committee on Studies (COS) that directs and mentors the student through the process of writing a research paper from generating the initial research question through publication. The paper should be completed by the end of the third year with the research requirement met once the paper has received reviews from a peer-reviewed economics or economics-related journal. Once the coursework is completed, the examinations have been passed, and the research requirement has been met, students can proceed to candidacy.
Dissertation hours are taken after the student advances to candidacy. The student begins the dissertation process by arranging for a qualified faculty member to serve as their dissertation chair. This faculty member and the candidate then jointly select the remainder of the committee. Dissertation Committee members chosen by the student are typically those whose areas of interest and expertise parallel the research interests of the student. The dissertation prospectus formalizes the dissertation topic and work and should be presented in the semester following completion of the research requirement. The doctoral oral examination is the last formal step before the degree is awarded. The focus of the final oral examination is the dissertation and its relationship to the candidate’s major field. The defense should be scheduled once the student and their dissertation chair and committee have agreed that the manuscript is in its final form.
Most students receive at least some funding through the department in the form of graduate assistantships. Students provide research and teaching support to faculty members, while simultaneously learning about research and teaching through this process. Priority for graduate assistantships is based primarily on performance in courses and on examinations, normal progress in the program, seminar attendance, and faculty performance reviews.
The department has a limited number of teaching positions available to graduate students each semester. Students complete OILS 583 Graduate Teaching I either prior to or concurrent to teaching. Priority for teaching positions is based primarily on responses to the graduate student survey, normal progress in the program, and faculty performance reviews.
Students typically go on the job market during their fifth year in the program. The economics job market is highly organized with most jobs posted through the American Economic Association’s Jobs for Economists (https://www.aeaweb.org/joe/). Initial interviews occur in early January with fly-outs beginning immediately thereafter. The primary job market concludes around the end of February, with the secondary market or “job market scramble” in March. In order to successfully compete on the job market, students should have a polished draft of their job market paper completed by August of their fifth year, and ideally one finished chapter and one early-stage chapter by the time they start applying for jobs. Many post-doctoral positions are posted as early as August with almost all calls for applications closing by December. See below for additional resources.
Additional information on the topics above as well as facilities available, mandatory University-level training and professional development is available in the Graduate Handbook. A timeline of activities completed each year is available here.
Forms and Resources
Department resources can be found here.
Graduate Studies resources can be found here.