Joint PhD in Economics and Public Policy

The PhD in Economics and Public Policy is a joint program between the Department of Economics and the The Fletcher School at Tufts University. Our students combine rigorous coursework in economics with their public policy studies and are full members of both the Department of Economics, and the Fletcher School and its vibrant and interdisciplinary public policy community. Our faculty is dedicated to training students to address critical issues centered on economic development and the environmental and climate consequences of development. The program blends training in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics with an understanding of institutional detail and political economy, giving students the tools necessary to address questions in economic development, energy and environmental policy within an interdisciplinary framework that is needed for policy effectiveness. We seek candidates with an interest in applied economics, focused on issues related to environment, development and political economy. A background in economics coursework is essential, and experience with applied research on one of the focal topics is an asset. We encourage applications from students interested in pursuing both academic and policy jobs following graduation.

Thanks to generous support from the Neubauer Family Foundation, all of our doctoral students receive five years of funding contingent on satisfactory performance. The funding covers tuition, a stipend, health insurance and research support. In some cases, graduate level coursework in economics may be accepted for credit enabling students to complete the program in a shorter period. Apart from coursework, program training includes research assistantships, teaching, mandatory seminar attendance and a second-year paper course. We aim to produce graduates who bring the most rigorous tools of economics to bear on critical public policy questions.

Program Requirements and Policies

Faculty Advisor: All incoming students are assigned a faculty advisor. The faculty advisor is there to help you settle into the program and answer questions. The advisor plays an important role in approving second year field courses. The advisor may or may not be part of your dissertation committee which is only formed in the third year.

First Year Coursework: The first year of coursework is completed in the Economics department. All students are required to take a two semester sequence in micro theory, a two semester sequence in macro theory, statistics and econometrics. In addition, students are required to enroll in a yearlong research seminar class which includes mandatory seminar attendance and written assignments.

Second Year Coursework: In the second year of the program, students declare a field among the following: development, environmental or political economy. Students are required to take two advanced courses in their chosen field. These courses must be approved by the students’ advisor. Students are also required to enroll in the yearlong second year paper course designed to give students a head start on the research process. The fourth course is an elective chosen by the student in consultation with the students advisor.

Field Exams: At the end of the second year, students are required to pass a field exam. The timing of this exam is jointly determined between the professor(s) administering the exam and the students taking the exam. It may be taken as early as June or as late as September of the students’ third academic year.

Doctoral Candidacy: Students may apply for admission to doctoral candidacy upon successful completion of the following:

  1. Coursework as described above;
  2. A major research paper in the second year;
  3. Defense of a dissertation prospectus, and;
  4. Commitment by one faculty member from Economics and one faculty member from Fletcher to serve as primary dissertation advisors.

Graduation from the program requires that students successfully defend their thesis in a public forum and before their full thesis committee. Students who do not proceed to doctoral candidacy will receive a joint terminal master's degree in Economics and Public Policy to be granted by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.