The Department of Economics offers graduate programs of study designed to prepare students for careers in education and for careers in administrative and research positions in government, industry and labor. The programs are built upon a solid core of training in economic theory and in quantitative analysis, with area concentrations in econometrics, economic growth and development, industrial organization, international economics, labor economics and human resources, mathematical economics, monetary theory and policy, and urban and regional economics.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus these departmental requirements to be considered for admission to the program. A master’s degree is not prerequisite for admission to the PhD program in economics.

  • An undergraduate major in economics with a grade point average (both overall and in economics) of 3.0 (4.0 scale) and one semester of calculus or adequate preparation at the undergraduate level equivalent to two semesters of coursework in intermediate economic theory, one semester of statistics, and one semester of calculus.
  • An applicant having a master’s degree in economics or graduate coursework in economic theory must have a graduate grade point average of at least 3.33 (4.0 scale).
  • Submission of scores on the Graduate Record Examination General Test and Subject Test or equivalent quantitative courses is recommended. Test of English as a Foreign Language exam is required for applicants whose native language is not English.
  • Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with applicant’s scholastic achievement and potential.
  • Reason statement. A personal statement that describes your research interests, qualifications, and career goals. 


A student who is in the master’s program must formally reapply for admission to Graduate School before continuing toward the PhD. To receive doctoral student status, a student must complete the master’s degree or obtain a waiver of this requirement from the admissions committee, the graduate study advisor, and the Department Chair. The waiver must be obtained before the student completes 27 credits in the MA program.

Credits and Courses

Minimum degree requirement is 54 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, at least 27 of which must be earned in residence at UWM. Of the total credits required, a minimum of 42 must be taken in the field of economics.

ECON 801Advanced Microeconomic Theory I3
ECON 802Advanced Macroeconomic Theory I3
ECON 803Advanced Microeconomic Theory II3
ECON 804Advanced Macroeconomic Theory II3
Select 12 credits in quantitative theory12
Select 15 credits in two areas of concentration15
Select 3 credits of research skills as detailed below3
Select one of the following:9-12
Minor Field 1
Electives 2
Total Credits51-54

Minor field: 9 to 12 credits in a single department other than Economics; courses planned with a professor in the minor department and the examination, if required, is administered by the minor department.


Electives: 9 to 12 credits in courses from any departments, including Economics, but no more than 6 credits in any one department other than Economics; courses are to be planned with the approval of the Graduate Study advisor and no examination is required.

Additional Requirements

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a major professor to advise and supervise the student’s studies as specified in Graduate School regulations. In Economics, the newly admitted PhD student is advised by the Graduate Study advisor.

Research Skill

Research skill requirements are individually assigned by the graduate study advisor. Research skill requirement is fulfilled through courses in computer science, mathematics, statistics, mathematical economics (700 level or above), or econometrics (700 level or above).


The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements. The PhD student meets the continuous portion of the residence credit requirement by completing 8 to 12 credits in each of two consecutive semesters, including summer sessions. Residence credit is not earned at the master’s level or prior to award of the master’s degree.

Doctoral Preliminary Examination

The student must pass doctoral preliminary examinations for formal admission to candidacy for the degree. The examinations are given in sections covering economic theory and the student’s two areas of concentration. Students must take the sections in economic theory first.

Students may attempt any prelim exam twice. Any student failing a prelim exam twice may appeal to the Graduate Faculty for permission to take the exam for a third time if:

  1. The student’s request is accompanied by letters of support from at least two members of the faculty and where one of the faculty is a member of the prelim committee awarding the failing grade, and
  2. The student is still able to satisfy the time limits outlined below. (Note: These conditions must be met before an appeal can be considered by the Graduate Faculty. Satisfaction of these conditions in no way obligates the Graduate Faculty to grant any appeal.)

Students may not take the field exams until they have passed both theory exams. A section is also included covering the minor if there is one; this section is administered by the department concerned.

The schedule specifying the time at which these examinations are taken is as follows:

  1. A doctoral student with an MA in Economics from UWM must attempt both theory prelims at the conclusion of 2 semesters or 12 credits (whichever happens last) and must pass both theory prelims prior to the start of the 5th semester or at the conclusion of 24 credits (whichever happens last).
  2. A doctoral student with an MA in Economics from another institution must attempt both theory prelims at the conclusion of 3 semesters or 24 credits (whichever happens last) and must pass both theory prelims prior to the beginning of the 6th semester or at the conclusion of 36 credits (whichever happens last).
  3. A doctoral student without an MA in Economics must attempt both theory prelims at the conclusion of 5 semesters or 36 credits (whichever happens last) and must pass both exams prior to the beginning of the 8th semester or at the conclusion of 48 credits (whichever happens last).


The candidate must write a dissertation which demonstrates ability to formulate a research topic and pursue independent and original investigation.

Dissertation Defense

The candidate must, as the final step toward the degree, pass an oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

Time Limit

All degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program.

Economics PhD Learning Outcomes

Students graduating from the Economics, PhD Program will be able to: 

  1. Demonstrate understanding of core economic theories and applications in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. 
  2. Exhibit expertise in a specialized field, demonstrating proficiency in methods for conducting and assessing empirical research in economics. 
  3. Exhibit proficiency in writing and defending orally an original research topic.