What will I learn?

The PhD program in economics consists of three phases:

  • One year of core courses, followed by core examinations in microeconomics and macroeconomics.
  • Approximately one year of elective courses, followed by examinations in the student’s fields of specialization.
  • Successful completion of a dissertation.

There is no foreign-language requirement for the doctorate in economics.

Phase 1: Core Courses and Examinations

All doctoral students regularly complete a set of core courses in microeconomics (Econ 500, 501, and 508), macroeconomics (Econ 502, 503, and 509), and econometrics (Econ 580, 581, and 582). All PhD students are expected to pass core examinations in microeconomics and macroeconomics. The core courses are completed during the first year of the doctoral program and the core examinations are taken two weeks before the second year begins. Although students are not expected to have done course work beyond the core courses before taking these examinations, they are expected to review and integrate material from the first year courses in preparation for the exams.

Phase 2: Field Courses and Examinations

In addition to the core courses, each doctoral student must satisfactorily complete at least eight elective field courses in economics at the graduate level. At least one of these must be in advanced microeconomics or advanced macroeconomics, and at least three must be in applied areas.

Each doctoral student must satisfy the requirements for two fields of specialization. The field requirements can be satisfied either by passing two field examinations or by passing one field examination and receiving an average grade of at least 3.8 in the elective courses corresponding to a second field.

Phase 3: Dissertation Research

The doctoral dissertation is the final major requirement for the PhD degree. After completing the core and field requirements, the student chooses a dissertation topic and a doctoral supervisory committee is appointed. Students are encouraged to discuss potential dissertation topics with faculty members early in their graduate studies. The Department offers three ongoing workshops in the areas of macro and international economics, labor and development economics, and natural resource economics to assist students in finding and developing dissertation topics. The faculty uses these workshops to present work in progress as well.

After the supervisory committee has been appointed and a dissertation topic has been developed, the student takes the general examination. This examination is an oral defense of the formal dissertation proposal. When the dissertation is completed, the student takes the final examination, which is an oral defense of the completed dissertation.

The doctoral program may be completed in four years, although most students take longer. During the last few years, the average length of time to completion of the PhD was approximately five years.

Which department am I in?

College of Arts and Sciences

Study options

Full Time (90 credit hours)

Tuition fees
US$30,208.00 per year
Start date

Expected September 2022


University of Washington

Schmitz Hall, 1410 NE Campus Parkway,



98195, United States

Entry requirements

For students from United States

Prospective graduate students must meet the following minimum requirements: Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university in the U.S.1or its equivalent from a foreign institution; Have earned at least a 3.0 grade-point-average (on a 4 point scale) for the last 90 graded quarter credits or 60 graded semester credits. Other English Language Requirements: 580 paper-based TOEFL.

For international students

Applicants for graduate study in economics are required to have completed undergraduate training that includes at least the following courses:

  • Intermediate level micro- and macroeconomics
  • At least one year of calculus
  • Linear algebra
  • Statistics

In addition, the following courses are very strongly recommended:

  • Differential equations
  • Matrix algebra
  • Additional calculus coursework
  • Additional coursework in probability and statistics

An undergraduate major in economics is not required for admission to the graduate program provided that the above prerequisites have been met. Students who seek admission to graduate programs at the University of Washington must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 in the last 90 graded quarter hours or the last 60 graded semester hours.

English Proficiency:

The Graduate School is temporarily accepting official test scores for both the Duolingo English Test and the TOEFL ITP Plus For China to assist international students with remote testing options. This policy is currently in effect through the autumn 2021 admission cycle (i.e., students enrolling in autumn 2021).

TOEFL iBT - Minimum Required Score (ELP Required): 80; Recommended Score (ELP Satisfied): 92 or higher

TOEFL pBT - Minimum Required Score: 500

Duolingo: Minimum Required Score (ELP Required): 105; Recommended Score (ELP Satisfied): 120 or higher

IELTS: Minimum Required Score 6.5

*There may be different IELTS requirements depending on your chosen course.