Students in Business Economics take courses in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, probability and statistics, econometrics, business history, the Business Education for Scholars and Teachers (BEST) Series, and other doctoral level courses.

A written general exam in microeconomic theory is required a the end of the first year.


Student are required to complete a teaching assignment for one full academic term.

Field Examination

The Field Exam is a written examination jointly administered through the Economics department at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) in conjunction with the Business Economics program.  The purpose is to test an area or areas of study in business economics and related fields in economics.

The Business Economics Policy and Admissions Committee (PAC), in coordination with the Economics Department Graduate Instruction Committee will communicate a list of fields to students at the start of each academic year so that students planning to take field exams that year may choose courses to satisfy their field's requirements. For example, International Macroeconomics is an approved course for both the international and the macroeconomics fields; however, one course cannot count toward two fields. Students must take two approved courses for credit in order to satisfy the requirements for testing in a field. As such, a minimum of four courses needs to be taken for credit. To maintain a minimum breadth of knowledge, a student who wishes to take an exam outside of the offered list needs approval from the Chairs of the Business Economics Program.

The Field Exam is a written exam administered at the end of the second year, before the close of the spring term.


After passing the Field Exam, students are expected to enroll in a working seminar or participate in an informal lunchtime seminar group. Students in their third year or beyond must present in the working seminar (or informal lunchtime seminar) at least once per year. Normal completion time for the degree is five years.


Students are required to complete a teaching engagement of one full academic term that includes at least 8 hours of front-of-class teaching experience and at least 16 hours of teaching preparation time.

RESEARCH Progress report

At the end of their third year, students are required to present their research ideas to a committee comprising of at least two faculty members, including representatives from HBS as well as FAS. The committee will provide feedback and decide if the student is making satisfactory progress toward the degree. Students will receive coordinated advice from faculty regarding the students’ progress and be given detailed recommendations for future research plans, particularly with respect to possible job market paper and dissertation plans.  If both faculty committee members are present for a student’s seminar presentation (e.g., the PhD Finance Lunch), this could fulfill the Research Progress Report requirement in terms of demonstrating a student’s research development, so long as the student schedules a meeting with each faculty committee member for coordinated feedback post-presentation.

Research & Dissertation

The dissertation should demonstrate the candidate's ability to perform original research that develops in a scholarly way a significant contribution to the knowledge and understanding in the chosen special field. The original work will include the presentation, analysis, and evaluation of unique data yielding significant, relevant, and independent research conclusions.

See Program Requirements for detailed curriculum information.