The doctoral program in economics at Rice University trains students to conduct first-rate research. All major areas of economics are covered, with particular strengths in theoretical, applied, and empirical microeconomics as well as econometrics. Our curriculum stresses the grounding of any model in theory ensuring that, even in applied work, theoretical assumptions are clearly specified in place of an "intuitive" plausibility. This approach promotes an open discussion of their appropriateness and their implications for results. Graduates of our program go on to obtain positions at universities, research institutions, government agencies, and private firms around the world.
The PhD program is designed to first provide students with a rigorous training in economic theory and econometrics. Students then apply this knowledge to produce original research in a variety of applied, theoretical, and empirical settings. The department encourages independent work by emphasizing early exposure to the frontier of research through seminars and lectures, formal and informal workshops, and student papers. Seminars and workshops involving select faculty and graduate students meet on a regular basis to expose students to a variety of specialized literatures and cutting-edge ideas and methods.
In 2014, the department launched the Rice Initiative for the Study of Economics (RISE), which has increased the prominence of Rice University as a leading center of economics research. Since then, the department has hired ten new faculty members. The department is now a leading center for structural empirical microeconomics, an approach to economic analysis that combines economic theory and econometrics to address substantive economic issues. The department has also recently partnered with the Jones School of Business to offer a Major Concentration in Finance that recognizes the complementarities and shared research interests.
The retooled program adds intensive specialized coursework to the standard core requirements in order to prepare students to conduct innovative original research. The program provides a thorough training in economic theory and econometrics in its first two years to provide a solid foundation for the independent research and further specialization that occupies the student's time thereafter. In particular, the first year emphasizes coursework in financial economics as well as in computational economics which provides students with an understanding of the numerical methods used in modern empirical microeconomic research.