UW-Milwaukee Economics Graduate Programs


The Department of Economics offers both a Ph.D. and a M.A. program. The programs are built on a solid core of training in economic theory and econometrics, with concentrations in development economics, econometrics, industrial organization, international economics, labor economics, monetary theory and policy, and urban/regional economics. Graduate classes are small and allow individual attention.

Since its inception in 1969 more than 190 students have graduated with the Ph.D. in economics. These graduates obtained positions at universities, research institutions, consulting firms and international organizations. More than 480 students obtained the master's degree in economics. Approximately half continued to the Ph.D. degree either at UWM or at other leading graduate programs. The Department has on-going exchange relationships with two German Universities, the University of Giessen and the University of Potsdam.

The usual time to finish the M.A. program is three semesters, while the PhD program can be finished after 4 years of study. The average time to completion for the PhD is just under 5 years.


Below is a summary of the graduate program with both information on the Ph.D. and Masters degrees. The official details of the program can be found in the UWM Graduate School Bulletin. Please direct questions to our Director of Graduate Studies, Prof. Scott Adams.

Fields of Study

The following fields are offered:


Statistical methods (statistics and econometrics)

Specialized Areas of Concentration
Industrial Organization
International Economics
Labor Economics
Monetary Theory and Policy

Doctor of Philosophy in Economics

Application, Admission, and Financial Aid — An applicant must meet The Graduate School's requirements to be considered for admission to the program. Required materials for the PhD application include transcript(s), Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. International applicants should consult this page for additional requirements. Application materials, with the exception of letters of recommendation, are submitted directly to Graduate School online. Letters should be mailed to the department address.

We only admit new students to the PhD program for the Fall semester. There is no official deadline, however applications are considered by the department beginning January 15.  So, applications received by then receive the fullest consideration, particularly for financial aid awards. After the graduate school reviews the application materials for completeness, they are sent to the department of economics admissions committee for review. We consider all applicants simultaneously for admission and financial assistance (teaching assistantships and fellowships). The following are particularly important in our determination:

Coursework: Two semesters of course work in intermediate economic theory, one semester of statistics, and two semesters of calculus are considered minimum adequate preparation for the PhD. Neither an MA or BA in economics is required for admission.

Graduate record examination (GRE): The quantitative score is particularly important. We give strongest consideration to those above the 85th percentile.

Two letters of recommendation: Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with applicant's scholastic achievement and potential.  These can be included with application materials or emailed to the director of graduate studies.

Proof of English language proficiency: For students whose native language is not English, please consult the requirements for showing proficiency here.

Course of Study — The minimum degree requirement is 54 credits beyond the bachelor's degree, at least 27 of which must be earned in residence at UWM.  The core curriculum is 6 credits in microeconomic theory, 6 credits in macroeconomic theory, and 6 credits in statistical methods (statistics and econometrics), and a total of 12 credits in two areas of concentration.  The following rules apply:

  • Residence: The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements. The Ph.D. student meets the continuous portion of the residence credit requirement by completing 8-12 graduate credits in each of 2 consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions. Residence credit is not earned at the Master's level or prior to award of the Master's degree.

  • Comprehensive Preliminary Examination: The student must pass exams in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and statistical methods in the summer after the completion of the core curriculum before formal admission for candidacy for the PhD degree.  Failure to pass the exams in two tries (May and August) will result in the student being moved to the MA program.   A student passing two of the three exams will be allowed a third chance in the other exam the following May.

  • Field exams: The student must also pass one additional exam in a primary area of concentration before reaching dissertator status before the end of their third year.

  • Dissertation: The candidate must write a dissertation which demonstrates ability to formulate a research topic and pursue independent and original investigation. The candidate must, as a final step toward the degree, pass an oral examination in defense of the dissertation.

  • Time Limit: All degree requirements must be completed within ten years from the date of initial enrollment in the doctoral program.

Master of Arts in Economics

  1. Admission

    An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following departmental requirements.

    An undergraduate major in economics and one semester of calculus. Alternatively, adequate preparation at the undergraduate level equivalent to two semesters of course work in intermediate economic theory, one semester of statistics, and one semester of calculus.

    • Submission of scores on TOEFL and/or Graduate Record Examination General Test. Test of English as a Foreign Language exam required for applicants whose native language is not English. 
    • Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with applicant's scholastic achievement and potential are recommended.  These are mailed to the department address.

    An applicant lacking in course background may be admitted without specific program-defined course provided that the deficiencies amount to no more than two courses. Deficiencies in economic theory are made up through Economics 301 (Intermediate Price Theory) and 302 (Intermediate Income Theory); in statistics through Economics 210 (Economic Statistics).

  2. Course of Study

    Minimum degree requirement is 30 credits of graduate work including 3 required core courses: Economics 701, 702, 703. These are worth 4 credits.  The student must select one area of concentration offered by the department and must take at least two courses in this concentration of courses numbered 700 or above or take Economics 506 and 606 or 710.

    The student must take two courses numbered 700 or above (except Economics 990, 991 and 999), in areas other than the student's area of concentration. The student must submit a master's paper.