Graduate Core Curriculum
The core of the graduate curriculum is an integrated set of subjects in economic theory, mathematics for economists, and econometrics.
The core subjects in economic theory consist of two subject- years equally divided between microeconomics (14.121 through 14.124) and macroeconomics (14.451 through 14.454). The material is divided into half-semester modules. The microtheory and macrotheory sequences start in the fall term of the first year and continue in the second term. Qualifying examinations on each of these half-semester subjects must be passed with a minimum grade of B in order to satisfy this part of the core requirement; a grade of B-minus is not acceptable.
Students who feel sufficiently well prepared in the subject matter of any of the theory core half-subjects may take a qualifying examination. Only a passing grade is recorded when the examination is taken in advance of the lectures. Should a student fail to pass, he or she can enroll for that particular section of theory and take the regular examination at the end of that term. Should a student pass some portion of the theory sequences by a qualifying examination, there is no further requirement for course work in that particular area. In principle, it is possible to pass all eight units of the theory core in this way and to proceed directly to more advanced or specialized work.
Mathematics for Economists
The minimal level of mathematics necessary for success in the required subjects is calculus and linear algebra. Both are required for Statistical Methods in Economics (14.381). Mastery of the core theory and macro subjects also requires this level of mathematical background, although no formal mathematical prerequisite is specified. Further work in mathematics can be taken in the Mathematics Department. The Department of Economics offers an intensive workshop (Math Camp) every summer for incoming students who would like a review of the mathematical concepts that will be used in their first year curriculum. Math Camp is not required, but students are encouraged by the department’s faculty and administration to attend.
The econometrics and statistics core requirements can be satisfied by a two-semester option of Econometrics (14.382) and either 14.384 or 14.385. Completion of these subjects will enable students to fulfill, not only the core requirement in econometrics, but also a major or minor field in econometrics.
A major part of the requirement for econometrics is the completion of an empirical research paper (14.389), which is due near the end of the Independent Activities Period in the second year. Satisfactory completion of Statistical Methods in Economics (14.381) or equivalent is a prerequisite for 14.382.
Completion of these subjects will enable students to read intelligently all empirical research. In addition, students will be prepared to conduct empirical research suitable for publication in any economics or econometrics journal. With the completion of 14.386, Topics in Econometrics, and some additional preparation in probability theory and statistics, students will also be able to work in econometric theory.
Students may offer a "research minor" in place of one of the standard minor fields. This is done by enrolling in 14.191 for a total of two semesters. This course allows students to devote approximately ten hours per week to research projects. These projects are selected by the student and carried out as a supervised research course. The goal of this course is to develop exposure to the research process during the first two years of the Ph.D. program. Students are encouraged to work with faculty in the fields in which they plan to specialize, thereby providing a transition to thesis research.
Math Camp begins on the second Monday in August.
14.121/14.122 (Micro Theory I/II)
14.451/14.452 (Macro Theory I/II)
14.381 (Probability and Statistics)
Field Course (major or minor)
14.123/14.124 (Micro Theory III/IV)
14.453/14.454 (Macro Theory III/IV)
Field Course (major or minor)
3 Field Courses
4 Field Courses
*General exams in two fields are taken at
the end of the second year.
THIRD, FOURTH, AND FIFTH YEARS