Economics and statistics are fairly different subject areas, although both utilize various skills in mathematical analysis. Students can pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in either subject and are typically required to complete a dissertation. Learn about other similarities, as well as the unique distinctions, between the 2 degree programs.
Comparing a PhD in Economics to a PhD in Statistics
Doctor of Philosophy in Economics
PhD in Economics degree programs explore economic theory and the quantitative methods used for research in the field. These programs typically allow students to further specialize in areas such as international economics, financial economics, macroeconomics, applied microeconomics, or economic development. Some of these programs are available in part-time formats, but typically students can complete the program in 4 to 6 years and must complete a dissertation. Students may take core coursework in areas like microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, econometrics, and research methods, as well as courses within their given concentration and/or special colloquia and seminars. Graduates of PhD in Economics degree programs may pursue positions in academia or work as economic researchers for businesses or the government.
Doctor of Philosophy in Statistics
PhD in Statistics degree programs usually train students in both theoretical and applied statistics, which can then be applied to a range of fields. Some of these degree programs may be available in full- and part-time formats and/or may require hands-on practicum experiences through statistical consulting or internships. Students in these programs must complete a dissertation or doctoral thesis, can usually finish the program in 4 to 5 years, and commonly serve as teaching and/or research assistants throughout the program. Although the curriculum is typically tailored to a student's research interests, students may take core courses in areas such as mathematical statistics, probability, statistical computing, stochastic processes, and sample theory. Graduates of PhD in Statistics programs can also work in academia or as statistical researchers in the private sector or government in a variety of fields, such as financial services, medical research, or information technology.
Common Entrance Requirements
Applicants to PhD in Economics or PhD in Statistics degree programs must have at least a bachelor's degree, but some programs may require a master's degree and/or a minimum GPA around a 3.0. Students interested in the economics program generally need a background in quantitative methods and economic theory, while statistics programs may require prior coursework in subjects such as linear algebra, mathematical statistics, calculus, probability, and/or programming. Students applying to either program usually need to take the general GRE exam, but some statistics programs may recommend that students also take the GRE Subject exam. Applicants may need to include their transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume, and/or a statement of purpose with their application.
Students can earn a PhD in Economics or a PhD in Statistics in as little as 4 years, can take either program in a part-time format, and usually have to complete a dissertation. Graduates of either program can pursue careers as postsecondary educators and/or researchers, but typically focus their efforts in their given area of study.