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Ph.D. Courses & Requirements


The minimum recommended preparation includes intermediate-level micro-economics and macroeconomics, one year of calculus, and an introductory course in statistics.  Students admitted with deficiencies are expected to pass satisfactorily (a grade of B or better) the deficient courses during their first semester.

In addition, most students will be required to complete the following, which are prerequisites for the core courses:

  • ECON 590 Economic Statistics and Econometrics (3)
  • ECON 591 Mathematical Methods for economics (3)
  • ECON 660 Microeconomic Analysis I (3)
  • ECON 661 Macroeconomic Analysis I (3)

Core Requirements

Core requirements for a Ph.D. in economics:

  • ECON 690 Econometrics I (3)
  • ECON 690A Econometrics Laboratory (1)
  • ECON 760 Microeconomic Analysis II (3)
  • ECON 761 Macroeconomic Analysis II (3)

In addition, student must earn at least 6 hours of credit in ECON 798, Current Research Colloquium (1).  At least two of these hours must be taken after the student has successfully completed the Ph.D. Candidacy Exams.

Field Courses

In addition to the core courses, each student must take three courses in each of two applied fields and must earn at least a B in each field course.  The fields which are a primary focus of the department are Labor Economics, Public Finance, and Financial Economics.  Other fields may be considered, depending on student demand and faculty availability.  All field courses must be approved by the department’s Director of Graduate Studies.

Courses for Graduate Credit

At NIU only courses which are numbered 500-599, 600-699, and 700-799, carry credit toward the Ph.D. degree.  Not more than 24 semester hours subsequent to the baccalaureate degree shall be in graduate courses numbered 500-599.  Although most of the work will be in economics, at the discretion of the department, some course work may be taken in related fields.

A description of all courses offered, as well as university regulations specifying the requirements for maintaining good standing in the program, and the requirements for graduation are contained in the NIU Graduate Catalog.

Research-Tool Requirement

The Department of economics research-tool requirement is fulfilled by successfully completing the following courses, which are required in the program: ECON 590, ECON 591, and ECON690, or their equivalents.

Admission to Candidacy

All students are required to take written and oral candidacy examinations in microeconomic theory and in macroeconomic theory.  These exams are offered in the week before the start of each spring and fall semesters.  Students are expected to take these exams at the first opportunity after they have completed the required microeconomic theory (ECON 660 and ECON 760) and macroeconomic theory (ECON 661 and ECON 761) courses.

A student who fails either of these examinations may, with the permission of the examining committee, repeat it after the lapse of at least one semester.  A student who fails either of these examinations a second time will be dismissed from the doctoral program.  However, in extenuating circumstances a student may submit a written appeal to the Department requesting that an examination be set aside.  If the appeal is approved, the student may re-take that written examination.  Appeals must be submitted within one month of notification of the results.

Ph.D. Research Seminar and Paper Requirements

After successfully completing the candidacy examinations and two field courses, a Ph.D. student is required to enroll in the Ph.D. Research Seminar (ECON 796) to write a research paper in one of his or her fields of study. The paper generally serves as a basis for the student’s dissertation. Upon receiving a satisfactory evaluation, the student will be admitted to candidacy.

The Ph.D. research paper will be presented in the weekly research seminar (Econ 798) within one year after completing course work for the applied fields. The presentation must be approved in advance by the student’s research advisor. The student must enroll in ECON 796 every semester until he or she has completed the PhD Research Paper and the presentation in ECON 798.


Jeremy Groves 
Director of Graduate Studies 
Zulauf Hall 510
Phone: 815-753-5747

Debra Woolbright
Graduate Secretary 
Zulauf Hall 515
Phone: 815-753-1032