Each candidate’s program of study will be developed in consultation with the faculty chair of the Policy and Admissions Committee. The normal program is outlined below.


The Policy and Admissions Committee designates faculty members at the Business School and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as sponsors for each student upon entrance into the Business Economics program. The sponsors, in conjunction with the PhD Program Offices, will assist the student in deciding which courses to take and how to fulfill various degree requirements. It is expected that students will establish relationships with other faculty members, and it is possible that the major academic advisory role may be assumed by different faculty members in the dissertation stage of a candidate’s program. However, students are strongly advised to consult with the sponsors and with the PhD Program Offices during all stages of PhD work.


  • Two one-term courses in microeconomic theory (Econ 2010 a, b) are required.
  • Two one-term courses in macroeconomics theory (Econ 2010 c, d) are required.
  • Two one-term courses in graduate quantitative methods (Econ 2110 and 2120) or a more advanced course in econometrics are required.
  • One additional one-term graduate level economics course is required.  This course should be chosen to help prepare for advanced course work in the second year. Econ 2010d is one possibility, which is strongly encouraged to complete the macroeconomics course series. Other possible courses could be in mathematics, statistics, computer science, or psychology. The advisor’s approval of the course selected for this requirement is necessary.
  • Completion of the business history requirement. The business history requirement may be completed in several ways including the Doctoral Business History Seminar, a pre-approved individual studies course, or a pre-approved MBA course.
    • FOUR ONE-TERM COURSES to satisfy the course requirement of the Special Field Exam, which occurs at the end of the student’s second year. See Special Field Exam for additional information.
    • Economics 3000 is a required course for all third year students in which students complete a research paper under the guidance of their faculty advisor. The paper must be complete and physically present in the student’s file in the department’s graduate office before the written field examination can be taken.
    TWO MBA COURSES. All Students without an MBA degree are required to complete two case-based HBS MBA elective curriculum courses.

    Good Academic Standing

    All courses should be completed with a grade of B or better.

    FIELD Exam

    The Field Exam should represent some synthesis of an area or areas of study in business administration with appropriate complementary areas of economics.

    The Field Exam is a written exam completed at the end of second year in the form of a written exam administered through the Economics Department at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

    Teaching Requirement

    Students are required to complete a teaching engagement of one full academic term that includes at least 8 hours, or 3 class sessions, of front-of-class teaching experience and at least 16 hours of teaching preparation time.

    The research progress report

    At the end of the third year, students are required to present their research ideas to a committee comprised of at least two faculty members, including representatives from HBS and FAS.  The committee will provide feedback and decie if the student is making satisfactory progress toward the degree.  Students will receive coordinated advice from faculty regarding their progress and be given detailed recommendations for future research plans, particularly with respect to the possible job market paper and dissertation plans. 

    The Dissertation

    After passing the written 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.

    The student selects a faculty dissertation committee consisting of three members of the Harvard faculty; two of whom must be members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (one of the three must be in the Department of Economics and one of the three must be from the Business School). Under the dissertation committee’s advisorship, the student will proceed to complete the dissertation research. 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 requirement is that the analysis and evaluation of relevant data yield significant and independent conclusions.


    Normal completion time is five years.