Program Fields and Curriculum

The course of study in the first year includes:

  • microeconomics (two semesters)
  • econometrics (two semesters)
  • macroeconomics (one semester)
  • applied econometric methods for policy analysis (one semester)

In their second and third years, students will complete field courses in economics and in partner schools. We have crafted interdisciplinary fields of study so that students can draw from the expertise of faculty in Economics as well as our partner schools. The fields of concentration are:

Public economics and public policy

The public economics and public policy field will combine the study of government policy with the study of the economics of the firm. Topics may include taxation and expenditures, financial economics, trade and migration, market failures and environmental economics, and welfare economics. The field will draw upon faculty expertise in the Economics Department and in the Freeman School of Business. Students research can also benefit from the programs and resources of the Murphy Institute of Political Economy.

Students who pursue this field might:

  • analyze the effects of government tax and spending policies on the distribution of income and the efficiency of resource use, and then apply the knowledge to the practical policy reform of public finance systems around the world
  • learn the models necessary to understand economic and environmental linkages, and then use econometric tools to evaluate real world environmental and natural resource policies
  • explore the causes and consequences of international trade and globalization
  • develop a strong understanding of the modern firm by focusing on its organization, governance, and strategic behavior, and then apply the knowledge to the financial decisions of firms and to firm performance

Coursework for this field may consist of classes such as public finance I (which includes the economics of taxation), public finance II (which includes public expenditures and special topics), public policy and the firm (which includes topics in corporate governance). Electives may include environmental economics and policy, political economy, trade, empirical corporate finance, or empirical financial markets.

Students who focus on Public Economics and Public Policy research will be gaining a unique, interdisciplinary foundation for the integration of specialized knowledge related to firm behavior and government policy. All components have a strong international focus. Graduates will have a broad range of job prospects, including academic institutions, international organizations, local governments, and national governments.

Development, inequality, and poverty

The development, inequality, and poverty field will focus on market and non-market determinants of inequality and poverty and on successful policies to address these issues. This field builds on the Economics Department's strengths and expertise in development economics and on the economics of taxes and spending. The field also leverages expertise of partners in the Stone Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Inter American Policy and Research, the Department of Political Science, and the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. Students will learn how to conduct both comparative and country-specific poverty and inequality analyses and will acquire important institutional knowledge about the contexts of these issues.

Students who pursue this field might:

  • examine the causes and the consequences of inequality and poverty
  • learn the theoretical perspectives and quantitative tools used to assess poverty and inequality programs
  • build up institutional knowledge about geographic, cultural, social, economic, and political characteristics of studied countries
  • develop an understanding of how the relationship between markets, institutions, and politics affects the effectiveness of poverty reduction programs

The economics of inequality and poverty have taken center stage in the field of Development Economics as an increasing number of scholars, academic publications, and research centers have become devoted to this subject. There has been a sharp increase in the collection of poverty and inequality data. Many countries now implement controlled experiments to test the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs. There are new dedicated journals to the subject: e.g., the Journal of Economic Inequality and Poverty and Public Policy. Yet, few economics Ph.D. programs require (or even encourage) their students to acquire context-specific expertise about the geographical, political, cultural, and social characteristics of the countries that are the subject of empirical analysis. As such, academic institutions, international organizations, and national governments throughout the world have a high demand for students who have both quantitative skills and institutional knowledge about the causes of poverty and inequality.

Coursework for this field may consist of classes such as: (i) a standard development economics course; (ii) a specialized field course on the economics of inequality and poverty; and (iii) an elective that further relates to the student's dissertation topic, such as economics of education, health economics, labor economics (including migration), and public finance. Electives may include courses and an independent study with of one of our cross-campus partners. There is potential for collaborative initiatives with partner academic and non-academic institutions in and outside the United States. The program provides graduate students pursuing dissertation research with connections to selected centers/institutes abroad including Colegio de Mexico, Mexico City; GRADE, Lima, Peru; and Universidad Nacional de La Plata and Universidad Torcuato di Tella, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The combination of rigorous quantitative skills with practical, context-specific knowledge from cross-campus and external partners is what distinguishes our program from others. We believe this combination of skills to be extremely desirable in the job market, especially by international organizations (such as the UN system, the World Bank and regional development banks), specialized research institutions, academics, NGOs, think-tanks, and government agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Health, education, and human capital

The health, education, and human capital field will focus on the complex relationship between health, human capital, and health policy. field will focus on the complex relationship between health, human capital, and public policy. This field will draw from the Economics Department's strengths in health, education, labor, and economic history, as well as from theSchool of Public Health and Tropical Medicine's expertise in health institutions and health policy. Students will gain the skills necessary to conduct empirical research that explores the mechanisms and policies that affect both health outcomes and human-capital outcomes.

Students who pursue this field might:

  • learn the empirical tools used to evaluate health programs and policies
  • learn the theoretical and empirical tools necessary to evaluate the economic history of health and labor programs and institutions
  • develop an understanding of human-capital theory as it relates to education
  • build up institutional knowledge about U.S. and global health systems
  • conduct research at the forefront of health economics, labor economics, and education economics

Coursework for this field may consist of classes such as the theory and empirical methods of health and human-capital research, topical research in health economics with a focus on health policy, the labor economics of human capital, and the economics of education. Elective classes may include courses offered by the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. There is potential for collaboration with leading institutions like the Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives.

Unique interdisciplinary training should help distinguish our graduates from those in more traditional programs and will increase their chances of securing prominent job placements. Students who focus on health, education, and human capital research will be gaining tools to enter academia, government, and the private or non-profit sectors. In addition, by forging formal relationships with faculty in both Economics and cross-campus partners, our graduates will learn about a broader range of the job opportunities for economists with expertise in health, labor, and education.

206 Tilton Hall, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 tel 504-865-5321 fax 504-865-5869