Academic Information

The Ph.D. in economics is awarded to students who demonstrate professional competence through coursework, written qualifying exams, a second-year research paper and a dissertation. Students work on research of their interest in close collaboration with faculty in a collegial environment. Students complete coursework after the fifth or sixth semester of study. 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. Most students complete the program in five years.

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 ECON 581 with a grade of B or better and complete ECON 582 and ECON 583 with a GPA of 3.0 or better or by qualifying examination.
Note: ECON 581 begins in early August, prior to fall semester courses. Incoming students should plan accordingly.


Students must demonstrate competence in at least two fields of specialization in economics by completion of a two-course sequence with a GPA of 3.25 or better in each field, including grades of B or better in each field course.

Standard fields and associated course sequences include:

  • Behavioral & Experimental Economics – ECON 611, 612
  • Environmental Economics – ECON 677, 678
  • Industrial Organization – ECON 631, 632
  • International Economics – ECON 621, 622
  • Public Finance – ECON 671, 672

Alternative fields of specialization may be constructed using coursework within and from outside the department with the agreement of the graduate program director and the dissertation committee.


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

Students who do not have an M.A. 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 583 – Teaching Preparation Seminar, offered during the summer mini-term, in their second year of study. This is a required course for students on a department assistantship, and for others who wish to have sole responsibility for teaching a course.

Students are also encouraged to take BUAD 540 – Academic Writing for Doctoral Students.


While pursuing their dissertation, students must be continually enrolled in ECON 600 – Doctoral Research and Dissertation, and complete at least 24 hours of the course.


Ph.D. students work on research of their interest in collaboration with faculty in a collegial environment. Faculty support graduate students’ professional development and often publish co-authored research papers. See below for a list of recent graduate student publications and publications co-authored with faculty.

Several faculty members have joint appointments with other prominent units on campus that lead to research opportunities.

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

The Baker School of Public Policy and Public Affairs, including the Center for Energy, Transportation and Environment and the Center for National Security and Foreign Affairs, focuses on research to address major domestic and international policy issues.

The Boyd Center and the Baker School routinely fund assistantships and collaborate with economics Ph.D. students on economics as well as interdisciplinary research.

Publications of Graduate Students

Graduate students are highlighted in bold.

Meadows, B. (2023). “Undocumented and Under Threat of Deportation: Immigrant Students in the Classroom” Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming.

Zanoni, W., Acevedo, P., and Guerrero, D. A. (2023). “Do slum upgrading programs impact school attendance?” Economics of Education Review 96, 102458.

Chang, Eunisk, and Maria Padilla-Romo (2023). “When crime comes to the neighborhood: Short-term shocks to student cognition and secondary consequences.” Journal of Labor Economics 41(4), 000-000.

Chu Yin, Holladay JS, Qiu Y, Tian XL, Zhou M. (2023). “Air Pollution and Mortality Impacts of Coal Mining: Evidence from Coalmine Accidents in China.” Journal of Environmental Economics & Management 121, 102846.

Palikhi, Himadri, Georg Schaur, and Charles Sims (2023). “Environmental policy uncertainty.” Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, conditionally accepted.

Meadows, Benjamin and Charles Sims (2023). “Can we love invasive species to death?: Creating Efficient Markets for Invasive Species Harvests.” Environmental and Resource Economics 85, 443-477.

Bansah, Marcus and Mohammed Mohsin (2023). “Tackling the Shadow Economy through Inflation and Access to Credit.” The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development, forthcoming.

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.

Bansah, Marcus and Mohammed Mohsin (2021). “Welfare Implications of Trade Liberalization When Revenue Matters.” The Journal of International Trade & Economic Development 30(4), pp. 574-595.

Barbieri, Paolo, and Hieu Nguyen (2021). “When in America, do as the Americans? The evolution of health outcomes and behaviors across immigrant cohorts.” Economics & Human Biology 43, 101063.

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

Nguyen, Hieu (2020). “Free college? Assessing enrollment responses to the Tennessee Promise program.” Labour Economics 66, 101882.

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.

Nguyen, Hieu (2019). “Free tuition and college enrollment: evidence from New York’s Excelsior program.” Education Economics. 27:6, 573-587.

Nguyen, Hieu (2019). “How does alcohol access affect transitional adults’ healthy dietary behaviors?” Economics & Human Biology, 35, 82-95.

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.

Rebecca Davis and Charles Sims (2019). “Frack to the future: What enticed small firms to enter the natural gas market during the hydraulic fracturing boom?” Energy Economics 81, 960-973.

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.