Academic Information

The Ph.D. in economics is a four- to five- year program in which students complete coursework after the fifth or sixth semester of study. This degree is awarded to students who demonstrate professional competence through coursework, written qualifying exams, a second-year research paper and by completing the Ph.D. dissertation. Research in progress by our students and faculty is presented at workshops that meet weekly throughout the academic year.

Summer is usually devoted to research. Among the various progression requirements are qualifying examinations in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory, a second-year research paper and a dissertation. The general requirements for completion of the Ph.D. include core coursework, at least two fields of specialization, electives and dissertation credits.

Economics Ph.D. Curriculum
Core: 21 hours
Specializations: 12 hours
Economics Electives: 6 hours
Graduate Electives: 9 Hours*
Dissertation: 24 Hours
*This requirement does not apply to those students who have completed a master’s degree prior to enrollment.
Core Courses
Students are required to complete core sequences in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and quantitative methods.
Econ 581 Mathematical Methods & Economics
Econ 511 Microeconomic Theory I
Econ 513 Macroeconomic Theory I
Econ 582 Elements of Econometrics I
Econ 512 Microeconomic Theory II
Econ 514 Macroeconomic Theory II
Econ 583 Elements of Econometrics II

Students must complete Econ581 with a grade of B or better and complete Econ582 and Econ583 with a GPA of 3.0 or better or by qualifying examination. NOTE: Econ581 begins in early August, prior to fall semester courses. Incoming students should plan accordingly.


Students are required to complete at least two fields of specialization and are encouraged to take courses in other fields or through other departments in order to fulfill credit hour requirements.

Behavioral & Experimental Economics –Econ 611, 612
Environmental Economics – Econ 677, 678
Industrial Organization –Econ 631, 632
International Economics –Econ 621, 622
Public Finance –Econ6 71, 672

Successful completion of a field of specialization requires: (1) a GPA of 3.25 within the field; and (2) a minimum grade of B in each course.


Students are required to complete two additional courses at the 500 level or above with a grade of B or better.

Students who do not have an MA in economics (or similar) prior to enrollment must take nine additional credits of graduate coursework (in economics or otherwise) to bring their total coursework hours to 48.

Students are strongly encouraged to take BUAD 610 – Teaching Preparation Seminar (2 credits), offered during the summer mini-term, during their second year of study. This is a required course for students on a department assistantship, and others who wish to have sole responsibility for teaching a course.

Students are also encouraged to take MGT 593 – Academic Writing for Doctoral Students (1 credit).


While pursuing their dissertation, students must be continually enrolled in Econ600, completing also at least 24 hours of the course.


Several department faculty members have joint appointments with other prominent units on campus.

The Boyd Center for Business & Economic Research
Conducts research on national and state economic trends for the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, state agencies and public and private organizations.

The Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy
A nonpartisan public policy center with outreach, academic and research missions in the areas of Energy & Environment, Global Security, and Leadership & Governance. Both of these units routinely employ our PhD students as research assistants.

Several papers Ph.D. students have submitted research papers during the course of their program in recent years. These papers were, at a minimum, given a revise and resubmit invitation while the graduate student was enrolled in our program. Graduate students are highlighted in bold.

Bruce, Donald J. and Richard Beem (2021). “Failure to Launch: Measuring the Impact of Sales Tax Nexus Standards on Business Activity.” Journal of Public Economics 201, 104476.

Holladay, J.S. and LaPlue, L.D., III (2021). “Decomposing changes in establishment-level emissions with entry and exit.” Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d’économique, 54, 1046-1071.

Godeiro, L., Fanning Meng, and Luiz Lima (2020). “Quantile Forecasting with Mixed-Frequency Data.” International Journal of Forecasting 36(3), 1149-1162, 2020.

Donald J. Bruce, Celeste K. Carruthers, Matthew C. Harris, Matthew N. Murray, Jinseong Park (2019). “Do in-kind grants stick? The department of defense 1033 program and local government spending.” Journal of Urban Economics 112, 111-121.

Carruthers, Celeste K. and Jilleah G. Welch (2019). “Not Whether, but Where? Pell Grants and College Choices” Journal of Public Economics 172, 1-19.

Lang M., McManus C. and Schaur G., (2019). “The Effects of Import Competition on Worker Health in the Local Economy.” Health Economics 28, 1, 44-56.

Holladay, J. Scott, Mohammed Mohsin and Shreekar Pradhan (2019). “Environmental Policy Instrument Choice and International Trade.” Environmental & Resource Economics 74, 4, 1585–1617.

Holladay, J. Scott, Mohammed Mohsin and Shreekar Pradhan (2018). “Emissions Leakage, Environmental Policy and Trade Frictions.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 88, 95-113.

Butler, Julianna M. and Christian A. Vossler (2018). “What is an unregulated and potentially misleading label worth? The case of “natural”-labeled groceries.” Environmental and Resource Economics 70, 2, 545-564.

McKee, Michael, Caleb Siladke and Christian A. Vossler (2018). “Behavioral dynamics of tax compliance under an information services initiative.” International Tax and Public Finance 25, 3, 722-756.

Lima, Luiz and Fanning Meng (2017). “Out-of-sample return predictability: a quantile combination approach.” Journal of Applied Econometrics, 32, 4, 877-895.

Harris, Matthew C., Jinseong Park, Donald J. Bruce, and Matthew N. Murray (2017). “Peacekeeping Force: Effects of Providing Tactical Equipment to Local Law Enforcement.” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 9, 3, 291-313.

Kim, Bongkyun, Celeste K. Carruthers, and Matthew C. Harris (2017). “Maternal Stress and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 140, 354-373.

Scott M. Gilpatric and Cristina Reiser (2017). “Why Zero Tolerance of Misconduct is Undesirable in Contests.” Economic Inquiry 55, 1145-1160.

McManus, C. and Schaur, G., (2016). “The Effect of Import Competition on Worker Health.” Journal of International Economics 102, 160-172.

Bruce, Donald J. and Beth Glenn (2016). “Does the Tax System Measure and Encourage the Right Kind of Entrepreneurial Activity? An Updated Look at the Time Series Data.” Tax Law Review 69, 389- 418.

Gilpatric, Scott M., Christian A. Vossler and Lirong Liu (2015). “Using Competition to Stimulate Regulatory Compliance: A Tournament-based Dynamic Targeting Mechanism.” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 119, 182-196.

McManus, T. Clay and Justin M. Rao. (2015). “Signaling smarts? Revealed preferences for self and social perceptions of intelligence.” Journal of Economics Behavior & Organization 110, 106-118.

Welch, Jilleah G. (2014). “HOPE for Community College Students: The Impact of Merit Aid on Persistence, Graduation, and Earnings.” Economics of Education Review 43, 1-20.

Greene, David L., Sangsoo Park and Changzheng Liu (2014). “Public Policy and the Transition to Electric Drive Vehicles in the U.S.: The Role of the Zero Emission Vehicles Mandates.” Energy Strategy Reviews 5, 66-77.

Greene, David L., Sangsoo Park and Changzheng Liu (2014). “Analyzing the transition to electric drive vehicles in the U.S.” Futures 58, 34-52.

Dayton M. Lambert, Christopher D. Clark, Nicholas Busko, et al. (2014). “A study of cattle producer preferences for best management practices in an East Tennessee watershed.” Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 69(1), 567-579.

Melanie Cozad and Jacob LaRiviere (2013). “Fuel Price Increases and the Timing of Household Driving Decisions.” Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 65(2), 195-207.

Christian Vossler and Sharon Watson (2013). “Understanding the consequences of consequentiality: Testing the validity of stated preferences in the field.” Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 86, 137-147.

Melanie Cozad and Bruno Wichmann (2013). “Efficiency of Health Care Delivery Systems: Effects of Health Insurance Coverage.” Applied Economics 45, 4082-4094.

Natalia Gritsko, Valentina Kozlova, William Neilson and Bruno Wichmann (2013).“The CEO Arms Race.” Southern Economic Journal 79, 586-599.