Economics PhD program

The Department of Economics offers a full-time on-campus PhD program, the Doctor of Philosophy, designed to train students for careers in academic and non-academic research institutions, as well as in the private sector.


About our program

The coursework component of our program provides students with a strong foundation in economic theory, quantitative research methods, and applied fields like development economics, political economy, labour economics, energy economics, and trade. The program includes a thesis proposal defence (called confirmation of candidature) and a doctoral dissertation.

The Department of Economics admits a small number of students into the PhD program each year, allowing us to offer a very high standard of individual attention.

The department ranks amongst the top 10 economics departments in Australia, and amongst the top 5 in economic theory, according to ERA rankings.

Find out more about our PhD program, the Doctor of Philosophy


Learning outcomes

Our PhD students are expected to master advanced economic theory (both Micro and Macro) and quantitative research methods (including advanced Econometrics techniques) that enable them to produce original contributions to the discipline, so as to enjoy professionally rewarding careers in economics. 

These include:

  • tenure-track positions at high-quality PhD-granting universities 
  • research positions in top non-academic research institutions
  • employment in the private sector.

Students are expected to learn the principles of scientific integrity and clarity by responsibly using economic data, mathematical proofs and giving appropriate respect to informational sources.

Economics students will get the opportunity to serve as teaching assistants or teaching fellows in the department's undergraduate and honours programs, in order to help them develop and apply best practice teaching methods and experience in classroom teaching and examination duties.


PhD program requirements

Deakin University operates on a trimester system (i.e., three teaching terms each year).

To satisfy requirements for the PhD, students will need to complete: 

  • two trimesters of coursework
  • confirmation of candidature (defence of thesis proposal)
  • a doctoral dissertation.

Coursework

The coursework component of our program consists of completing six units across the first two trimesters of candidature.

MAE901 - Advanced Econometrics

This unit uses a wide variety of econometric tools based on statistics and mathematics to analyse economic and financial concepts. It provides the techniques required to quantify the strength and form of relationships among variables of interest, and the strategies needed in order to use these techniques effectively. 

More specifically, the unit covers the theory of classical linear regression model, and other estimation methods including IV, GMM and maximum likelihood. The second half of the unit will focus on special topics in micro-econometric modelling and time series analysis.

The unit is of an advanced level, and is both theoretical and applied in nature. Assessment consists of both theoretical derivations of econometric theory and empirical analysis of real data examples. 

By the end of their studies, students will understand how to use a range of econometric models for the analysis of cross sectional and time series data, and will have the ability to conduct independent investigations to research questions in economics and finance.

MAE903 - Advanced Economic Theory

The purpose of this unit is to develop foundation knowledge in the area of Macroeconomics. The unit provides an introduction to neoclassical macroeconomics in a closed economy. 

Students will acquire the knowledge of the neoclassical model, simulate it in Matlab, Dynare, and Excel, and use it as a tool to understand the aggregate behaviour of the economy. 

First, we will understand the properties of the Neoclassical model. Next, we will use the model to generate time series of aggregate variables and see how such time series compare to the data. Further, we will study the effects of different policies and we will ask what optimal policies look like.

MAE905 - Macroeconomic Theory and Policy

This unit aims for a rigorous introduction and training of students to frontline research topics in the realm of Microeconomics. 

This training will be essential for students to be able to help choose a thesis area. Additionally, the unit will provide students with the skills and information to write theoretical models and solve those systematically using existing concepts and techniques. 

We will study individual decision making with and without uncertainty, general equilibrium, collective decision-making, and game theory. 

Topics will include:

  • consumer choice
  • demand theory
  • production
  • choice under uncertainty
  • general equilibrium
  • social choice
  • games of complete information. 

We will present economic applications of these tools and concepts and introduce students to a number of key articles in the related literature.

MAE906 - Econometrics II

This unit is a continuation of MAE 901 – Advanced Econometrics and covers selected advanced topics most relevant for applied economics research. 

The unit is applied in nature but strongly grounded in econometric theory. Students will learn programming in the statistical software package, STATA. 

Topics will include:

  • panel data
  • causal analysis with experimental and observational data
  • matching methods
  • regression discontinuity
  • Monte Carlo simulations. 

The unit is designed to develop and enhance students’ empirical skills necessary for applied research. It consists of empirical analyses of econometric models using both real and simulated data. 

Students will also be required to replicate the estimation results in articles published in leading economics journals.

MAE907 - Macroeconomic Theory II

This unit covers a variety of topics in macroeconomics such as monetary economics, liquidity and aggregate activity, business cycles and volatility, economic growth, income inequality, public pensions, optimal taxation and unemployment.

The topics studied all share two hallmarks of modern macroeconomic theory:

  • choice over time and
  • uncertainty

The unit relies heavily on the recursive approach and the basic methods of stochastic processes.

MAE908 - Microeconomic Theory II

This unit covers a variety of topics in advanced microeconomic theory for T2 PhD students who have a relatively advanced knowledge of foundational microeconomic concepts and techniques, including games of complete information. 

The unit starts with a brief recap on strategic games of complete and perfect information and then introduces various structural elements of games with incomplete information. 

It introduces students to several equilibrium notions and robustness concepts. Further, students are introduced to axiomatic and non-cooperative bargaining theory and finally to various solutions and concepts of cooperative game theory. 

The unit will apply each structure and concept to various applications like auctions, tournaments, spatial competition, jury theories, strategic information transmission and allocation of resources across team members.


Financial aid for PhD students

Scholarships are awarded each year on a competitive basis to the strongest applicants to the doctoral program. These scholarships provide both a stipend and fee waivers. Students who proceed to the second year of candidature may also have the opportunity to work as teaching assistants or research assistants.

Find out more about our scholarships

Current PhD students

Our PhD students are working on a range of topics from swing voters' behaviour in Bangladesh to a framework for managing fiscal risks in Indonesia.

Find out more about our students' PhD topics

Confirmation of candidature (defence of thesis proposal)

All students are required to:

  • pass written examinations in the six coursework units
  • confirm their supervisory team during the third trimester of their first year of candidature
  • successfully defend their thesis proposal by their first year of candidature
  • attend weekly research seminars held within the Department of Economics

Dissertation

The second and third years of candidature are devoted to the formulation, development, and completion of the doctoral thesis, which will include the student’s job-market paper.

Students who have passed their confirmation of candidature are also expected to present their research to the Department of Economics on an annual basis. We expect students to submit their job-market paper to a top-ranked general interest or field journal by the first trimester of their third year of candidature.

The thesis is written under the supervision of a committee of at least two faculty members: a Principal Supervisor and one or more Associate Supervisors. The thesis is approved after it has been successfully examined by two or more external academics. 

As in any PhD program, the ultimate time to completion can vary. However, students should expect to complete the degree within 3 to 3.5 years of full-time study.

Admissions

To be considered for entry into our program, applicants are expected to demonstrate a strong background in economics, mathematics and statistics at either honours or masters levels. 

We also welcome applications from other rigorous fields, like physics, engineering, or computer science. 

The requirements for entry into the program are outlined on the Faculty of Business and Law’s PhD page.

Applicants who believe they meet these entry requirements should complete an EOI form and submit it to the faculty

If you have any questions about the application procedure or the Department of Economics’ doctoral program, please contact the Economics PhD Director.

Please note that the Economics PhD program only accepts students in Trimester 1 (March) of each year. As such, your EOI with all supporting documents must be submitted no later than 30 September. 

You'll be able to find further information about the EOI submission dates on the faculty’s PhD page. Successful students must report to the Department of Economics by 20 February.

Additional requirements

The Research Integrity Training Program

PhD students can face ethical issues that arise over the course of their professional practice and writing their scientific discoveries. It is of utmost importance therefore to be aware of what responsible research and scholarship entails. 

To this end, all students must complete a Research Integrity Training Unit prior to their confirmation of candidature.