Students take qualifying exams at the end of the third semester. These exams cover Microeconomics (Microeconomics I, Microeconomics II, Game Theory and Applications, and Economics of Contracts), Macroeconomics (Macroeconomics I, Dynamic Competitive Analysis, and Computational Methods for Economics), Econometrics (Econometrics I and Econometrics II), and Advanced Economic Analysis.

  • The exams are given in two stages, the first at the end of the fall semester, and the second during the two weeks prior to the beginning of the Spring semester.
  • Students with appropriate preparation prior to their entry to the program may take the qualifying exams prior to the 3rd semester point if they choose, but they must take the entire set of qualifiers as outlined above. For further information, visit the qualifying examinations page.

Students are also required, per the Tepper School's Ph.D. program's minor area policy, to complete 18 units (3 mini semester courses) of coursework outside of economics. This coursework may include courses in any of the business functional areas, or courses offered by the Math or Statistics departments at Carnegie Mellon approved by the Economics faculty.

During their first two years of study, students are also required to write summer papers on an original research topic that interests them. At the review after the third semester, the faculty evaluates performance on the first-year summer paper and performance on qualifying exams.

A second-year summer paper concludes the requirements for year two. At this time, students begin formulating a thesis topic and preparing for a formal thesis proposal.