PhD in Economics

The UW Ph.D. in economics offers a fully funded, cohort-based doctoral program for students seeking a small and collaborative community. In this supportive environment, you can choose your research focus, gain experience working on faculty projects both here and abroad, and develop teaching skills as the instructor of record for an undergraduate course.

The PhD in economics program is designed to equip the student for professional research in university, government, or industry positions. Applicants to the program must complete, or have previously completed, course work that satisfies the PhD prerequisite courses listed on the Graduate Admissions webpage.

About Economics at UW

The University of Wyoming has long been a place where pioneering researchers have developed and advanced the field of environmental economics.

Today, the UW Department of Economics continues its expertise and research in environmental and resource economics, while also pushing the boundaries of other fields, such as behavioral and experimental economics, development economics, energy economics, industrial organization and international trade.

In addition to offering a rigorous background in economic theory and econometrics, the UW doctorate in economics program gives you the flexibility to specialize, work across sub-disciplines, undertake interdisciplinary analyses, collaborate with faculty on existing research projects and delve into your own scholarship.

Collegial and student-centric, this program is purposeful in integrating students in the research process to prepare them for a successful research career. Students regularly publish research from their collaborations with faculty members (see list), and the record of our graduates rank among the top 1% globally (IDEAS). For instance, a recent student-faculty collaboration led to a study that appeared in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (story).

In terms of faculty research productivity and impact, UW’s Department of Economics ranks in the top 20 among U.S. economics departments in both experimental and environmental economics, and ranks in the top 35 for energy economics. (RePEc).

In terms of research by program graduates, UW’s Economics PhD program ranks among the top 1% of programs in the world. It ranked 13th in the U.S. and 66th internationally (RePEc).

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Economics PhD Degree Program Highlights

As a Ph.D. student in economics, you will be part of a program that is deeply committed to collaboration, student engagement and fostering each individual student’s growth. You will have the opportunity to teach undergraduate economics courses, collaborate with faculty on research projects and develop as a scholar in your own right.

These are some characteristics that distinguish our program:

  • Cohort-based. Become part of a small peer group of students that promotes learning together rather than competing. Students are not admitted to work with a particular professor, “lab” or project.  Instead, our individualized program enables you to pursue various interests and faculty relationships during your coursework before defining your dissertation focus, advisor and committee.
  • Flexibility. Use your electives and faculty research opportunities to customize the program to your interests and career goals.
  • Modeling-focused. This program uses economic modeling as its backbone, while also providing empirical expertise.
  • Engagement. We facilitate your engagement with the field of economics and policy by bringing scholars to campus for seminars and individual discussions; offering opportunities for conducting fieldwork in the U.S. and internationally; providing support for attending workshops and presenting at conferences; and encouraging participation in projects, meetings and workshops with the policy community.
  • Faculty expertise. Work with world-class scholars who are experts in these and other areas:
    • Environmental and natural resource economics (including energy economics and interdisciplinary bio-economics)
    • Behavioral and experimental economics
    • International trade
    • Micro, macro and sustainable development economics
  • Five-year graduate assistantships. The UW Department of Economics offers Ph.D. students stipends, tuition and fee waivers and student health insurance in exchange for 20-hours of work/week, which can involve teaching undergraduate economics, assisting on faculty research projects and other duties.
  • Wyoming Women in Economics Network (WWEN). Take part in networking events, job-search workshops and talks featuring prominent women in economics.
  • Resources. UW is home to an Experimental Economics Lab, the Stroock Forum on Wyoming Lands and People, the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy and the Journal of Strategic Behavior and the Environment. Learn more.
  • Seminar Series. The UW Department of Economics hosts four seminar series that include The Bugas Frontiers Lectures, Guest Speaker Seminars, Brown Bag Workshops and student-organized graduate student seminars, all of which contribute to the department’s rich intellectual environment.

What Can You Do With an Economics PhD Degree?

UW Ph.D. graduates in economics go on to distinguished careers as economists, researchers and academicians all over the world.

These are some examples:

  • Yasha Feferholtz, Ph.D. ’16, is a senior economist at the EcoHealth Alliance.
  • Zafar Dad Khan, Ph.D. ’06, is a professor of economics and finance at The University of Virginia’s College at Wise.
  • Paul Kivi, Ph.D. ’11, is an assistant professor of economics at the University of Minnesota at Morris.
  • Katherine Lee, Ph.D. ’16, is an assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology at the University of Idaho.
  • John August List, Ph.D. ’96, is the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and is co-author of the book, The Why Axis.
  • Sakib Mahmud, Ph.D. ’11, is an associate professor of sustainable management and economics at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

See where other Ph.D. alumni have built careers.

Examples of Graduate Economics Degree Program Courses

As an economics Ph.D. degree student at the University of Wyoming, you will take required courses in:

  • Microeconomic Analysis
  • Mathematical Economics
  • Macroeconomic Analysis
  • Econometrics
  • Environmental and Resource Economics
  • Research Methods

During the first year, a foundation in economic theory and the basic quantitative and mathematical tools necessary for professional research is given. Students take a Micro Theory sequence (ECON 5020 and ECON 5120) and an Econometrics sequence (ECON 5350 and ECON 5360), as well as courses in Mathematical Economics (ECON 5330) and Economic Dynamics (ECON 5130).

To progress to the second year, students must earn a B+ grade or higher in all of these courses. If they fail to do so in a Micro Theory course (including Mathematical Economics and Economic Dynamics), they must pass a Micro Theory comprehensive exam instead. Similarly, if they fail to earn a B+ grade or higher in an Econometrics course, they must pass an Econometrics comprehensive exam. Both exams are given during the summer following the first year.

After the first year, all PhD students take a core sequence of one Macroeconomics (ECON 5010) course, two courses in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics, and Research Methods. Additionally, they choose four electives from a menu that varies from semester to semester and is put together with student input. The electives reflect our faculty’s research in areas additional to Environmental and Resource Economics, such as Development Economics, Energy Economics, Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Industrial Organization, and International Trade. For a complete list of the program’s courses, click here. One of the electives may (but need not) be taken outside of the department, for example in Statistics, Mathematics, the Haub School of ENR, or the Energy Management MBA Program at the 5000 level.

The PhD program’s qualifying examination takes the form of a research paper requirement. Students must complete a paper by the end of the summer following their second year, and present that paper to their committee. If the paper and presentation are judged adequate, the student is awarded a Master’s degree in Economics and continues in the PhD program. Otherwise, the student is given one chance to revise and resubmit their paper, by December of their third year. If the revision is still judged inadequate, the student fails out of the PhD program, but may (depending on the quality of the revision) still be awarded a Master’s degree.

During the third year of the PhD program, the student is expected to complete course work and prepare a dissertation proposal. The dissertation committee gives an oral examination based on this proposal, which constitutes the preliminary exam for degree candidacy. We expect students to have received committee approval of their dissertation proposal before entering their fourth year.

During the third year and beyond, the majority of time is devoted to dissertation research. The student must complete a minimum of 30 research credits. The student's Graduate Assistantship entails teaching assistantships, teaching one undergraduate course as the instructor of record, and assisting faculty research projects. Following successful completion of the dissertation, students present an oral defense to their committee. A favorable report from the committee completes the requirements for the doctor of philosophy degree.

For more information please email our department at


Sample Program - PhD in Economics

Year 1

PhD sample program, first year
Fall Semester Spring Semester
ECON 5020 Microeconomic Analysis I ECON 5120 Microeconomic Analysis II
ECON 5330 Mathematical Economics ECON 5130 Dynamics
ECON 5350 Econometrics I ECON 5360 Econometrics II


Year 2

PhD sample program, second year
Fall Semester Spring Semester Summer
ECON 5400 Environmental and Resource Economics I ECON 5410 Environmental and Resource Economics II 2nd-Year Paper
ECON 5010 Macroeconomic Analysis I ECON 5310 Research Methods
Grad Elective Grad Elective


Year 3

PhD sample program, third year
Fall Semester Spring Semester
Grad Elective Dissertation Research (9 credits)
Grad Elective Dissertation Proposal Defense
Dissertation Research (3 credits)  


Years 4 and 5

PhD sample program, years four and five
Fall Semester Spring Semester
Dissertation Research (9 credits) Dissertation Research (9 credits)
  Dissertation Defense
Contact Us

Department of Economics

College of Business Department 3985

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-3124

Fax: 307-766-4028


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