PhD Field Requirements

Foundation Classes

Foundation classes in economic theory, mathematics, and quantitative methods are normally taken in the student’s master’s program and satisfy prerequisites for the theory and quantitative methods outlined above. When missing from the student’s preparation, foundation classes are taken as remedial and do not count towards core requirements.

Residence Requirement

The residence requirement for the doctoral degree is three years (six semesters) beyond the baccalaureate degree. At least two of these years must be spent in residence at Washington State. A minimum of two regular semesters must be continuous. Full-time enrollment for three summer sessions may be substituted for two academic-year semesters.

Transfer Credit

Credit earned in other recognized graduate schools may be applied (subject to School and Graduate School approval) toward the doctoral degree, if appropriate to the student’s program, and representing work of acceptable quality (grades of 3.0 or higher). Transfer credit does not substitute for residence requirements. The amount of transfer credit allowed on a doctoral degree is subject to School recommendations and approval by the Graduate School.

Seminar Requirement

All doctoral students are encouraged to present a seminar based on their research (dissertation). The purpose of these seminars is to improve communication of research activities among interested members (students and faculty) of the School. The timing of the seminar is at the discretion of the student and his/her committee but is normally done in conjunction with the student’s preliminary or final examination.

Teaching Experience

Although no formal teaching experience is required for advanced economics degrees, the School encourages PhD students to obtain teaching experience. Teaching experience can be obtained formally as a graduate teaching assistant and/or informally through mentoring relationships with faculty. All PhD students should seek opportunities to make classroom presentations.

Written Core and Preliminary Examinations

Students seeking the PhD must take comprehensive written examinations following the completion of applicable core courses or their equivalents. All students are required to take these exams. After the written examinations have been passed, the student continues with coursework that leads to a written research proposal and takes a comprehensive oral preliminary examination administered by the Graduate School. For further explanation of the written and preliminary examinations, see the section entitled “Examinations.”


Each student seeking a PhD must prepare a dissertation. It must be an original, scholarly work representing a significant contribution to knowledge in economics. A final examination consisting of an oral defense of the dissertation must be taken when the dissertation has been completed. This examination is required by the Graduate School and represents the capstone of the student’s program. (Recent Work Examples)

Final Examination

Doctoral candidates must pass a final oral examination which is primarily a defense of the dissertation, but which may also cover the general field of knowledge pertinent to the degree.