What will I learn?

The PhD in Economics programme is structured to lead you from classroom learning to research and paper writing, with many targets throughout for students to meet. Many of our students graduate with an academic publication in a top journal and our placement record is strong.

Year 1
Students spend their first year completing the following foundation courses.

  • Microeconomics I
  • Microeconomics II
  • Macroeconomics I
  • Macroeconomics II
  • Econometrics I
  • Econometrics II

At the end of Year 1, students must sit for, and pass the PhD Qualifying Examinations in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics before advancing in the programme.

Year 2
In the 2nd year, students take:

  • International Trade or International Macroeconomics Elective
  • Applied Econometrics (Empirical Research Project)
  • 8 Advanced Research Topics (ART) Courses

The Applied Econometrics course covers Applied Microeconometrics and Applied Macroeconometrics. It is graded on the basis of a submitted empirical paper.

Each ART is a six-week course. The set of ART courses that might be offered includes:

  • Macroeconomic Models with Financial Frictions
  • Modern Economic Growth
  • Industrial Organisation
  • Empirical Industrial Organisation
  • Labour Economics
  • Urban Economics
  • Nonparametric Econometrics
  • Bayesian Macroeconometrics
  • Advanced Topics in Time Series Econometrics
  • Financial Econometrics
  • Spatial Econometrics
  • Panel Data Econometrics
  • High-Frequency Econometrics
  • Political Economy
  • Public Economics
  • Decision Theory
  • Information Economics
  • Mechanism Design
  • Environmental Economics

Only a subset of the ARTs will be offered in any given year, depending on faculty availability.

Year 3
Students in their 3rd year are expected to:

  • Confirm a supervisor and committee, and pass the oral defence of PhD Dissertation Proposal
  • Complete a 3rd year paper Present at a School of Economics (SOE) Research Workshop

All students from the 3rd year onwards are expected to attend research workshops and the SOE Seminar Series.

The 3rd year paper must be an original piece of research, which would typically form the basis of at least one chapter of the student’s dissertation. While the paper may require substantial additional work and polishing before being ready for submission to a journal, the paper should be strong enough to be taken as a complete first draft or working paper.

A prize is awarded to the student with the best 3rd year paper, and this student will be nominated for the SMU Presidential Doctoral Fellowship.

Years 4 and 5

  • Oral Defence of Completed PhD Dissertation
  • Presentation at SOE Seminar Series

At different points in the programme, students may be required to attend certain ancillary programmes, including the Institutional Review Board training, the Graduate Development Programme (instructor training) and an English communication skills programme.

Students are also given financial assistance to attend and present their work at international research conferences, and we have a strong support structure for students entering the academic market, including presentation training and interview preparation. Most students enter the job market in their 5th year.

*The Graduate Research Professional Development (GRPD) programme (1 Course Unit) is compulsory.

Which department am I in?

School of Economics

Study options

Full Time (5 years)

Tuition fees
SG$36,700.00 (22,29,241) per year
Annual Non-subsidised Fees (Inclusive of 8% GST) - SG $36,700; Annual Subsidised Fees Payable (Inclusive of 8% GST) by International Students - SG $23,600; Registration Fee (One-time): SG $500

*Price shown is for indicative purposes, please check with institution

Application deadline

31 December 2023

More details

Start date

August 2024


School of Economics

Singapore Management University,

90 Stamford Road,

178903, Singapore

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Applicants must have completed at least a good Bachelor’s degree. A Master’s degree is useful but not required. Good GRE or GMAT results.

For international students

  • At least a good Bachelor's degree. A Master's degree is useful but not required.
  • Good GRE or GMAT results.

The tests must be taken within 5 years before the proposed date of admission.

  • Good TOEFL or IELTS scores.

For applicants whose medium of instruction at the Bachelor's/Master's level was not English.

The PhD in Economics programme is technically rigorous and mathematically demanding. A strong mathematical background is essential just to get through the first year's core courses. An ideal background would include multivariable calculus (typically covered over two courses of calculus at the undergraduate level), real analysis, intermediate level linear algebra, and a strong foundation in probability and statistics.


About Singapore Management University (SMU)

QS Stars Asian University Rankings awarded Singapore Management University 5-star ratings for overall excellence and employability.

  • Recognised as a world-class research institution
  • Excellent graduate outcomes and employer links
  • LKCSB MBA programme ranked 10th in Asia (FT 2022)
  • Master of IT – 93 percent recruitment within 6 months

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