Applied Economics PhD Vs. Economics PhD

Jun 11, 2019

Doctoral degree programs in applied economics and economics are very similar but have some subtle differences in their focus. Learn about the similarities and differences, as well as how to apply.

One of the biggest differences between a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Applied Economics and a PhD in Economics is the scope of the degree, with applied economics programs being more specific and general economics programs being broader. These degree programs cover many of the same course topics and may have similar graduation requirements, but often vary in the depth and options of specialization areas. Explore each program to learn which may be right for you.

Comparing a PhD in Applied Economics to a PhD in Economics

PhD in Applied Economics

PhD in Applied Economics degree programs may be paired with other subjects, such as management, that provide a real-world application and generally include coursework in economic theory, economic methods, and an area of specialization. Depending on the program, students may choose from specialization areas like behavioral economics, labor economics, energy and environmental economics, health economics, policy analysis, or development and trade economics. These programs are usually full-time, may take 4 to 5 years to complete, and typically require comprehensive exams, seminars, and a dissertation. Coursework varies for these degree programs based on a student's area of specialization, but may include topics in econometrics, microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, mathematical economics, game theory, production, and consumption. Graduates of these degree programs are trained to work with real-world problems in the field of economics and may work in research or teaching positions for various public or private organizations.

PhD in Economics

Students may pursue a traditional PhD in Economics or a PhD in Business Administration with an economics concentration. These degree programs focus on economic theory, economic statistics and mathematics, and research skills and can usually be completed in 4 to 5 years. Some programs may still offer concentrations or seminars in various specialization areas, such as international economics, labor economics, health economics, or resource economics, and typically require comprehensive exams and a dissertation. Students may take courses in topics like quantitative economics, microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, econometrics, time series analysis, and research methods. Graduates with their PhD in Economics can work as consultants, educators, or researchers in the field of economics and may work for universities, the government, industrial organizations, or banking and financial organizations.

Common Entrance Requirements

Admission requirements for both a PhD in Applied Economics and a PhD in Economics degree program are typically the same or very similar. Most of these degree programs require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and may have a minimum GPA requirement around a 3.0. Most of these programs also require students to take the GRE and have prior coursework in areas like calculus, statistics, microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. Applicants can expect to fill out the appropriate application(s) and submit their transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement or essay, and/or a resume.

PhD in Applied Economics and PhD in Economics degree programs both typically take 4 to 5 years to complete, require a dissertation, and discuss the theories and mathematics of economics. However, applied economics programs usually provide more in-depth areas of specialization and are geared toward solving real-world economic problems, while economics programs are broad and research-oriented.

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