The Ph.D. Program in the Department of Economics at Harvard is addressed to students of high promise who wish to prepare themselves in teaching and research in academia or for responsible positions in government, research organizations, or business enterprises. Students are expected to devote themselves full-time to their programs of study.
The program prepares students for productive and stimulating careers as economists. Courses and seminars offered by the department foster an intellectually active and stimulating environment. Each week, the department sponsors more than 15 different seminars on such topics as environmental economics, economic growth and development, monetary and fiscal policy, international economics, industrial organization, law and economics, behavioral economics, labor economics, and economic history. Top scholars from both domestic and international communities are often invited speakers at the seminars.
The Economics Department has roughly 200-250 concentrators per class. One appeal of the department is that it can accommodate students with a wide range of interests: Economics is a way of thinking, and students can apply this way of thinking to nearly any aspect of the world.
The Economics Department requires all students to take courses in introductory and intermediate economic theory in order to have a strong grasp on fundamental economic principles. These key principles rely on mathematical models; thus, all concentrators are required to have a basic preparation in calculus. The Department also requires concentrators to gain the necessary statistical skills to use data from the real world to test economic theories. Putting all of these skills together, the Department’s required Sophomore Tutorial helps students apply their knowledge of economic theory, mathematics, and statistics in a course on learning how to read and understand economics research and how to carry out research of their own. The remainder of the course requirements for an undergraduate degree in economics serves to expose students to various applications of economics tools and theories. Concentrators also have the option to pursue honors in economics, either with or without a thesis.