Innovative Study in Markets and Policy

Offering a combination of rigorous technical training and a focus on policy-relevant research, our PhD in Economics will prepare you for careers in academics, scholarship, research, and government policy. Our students master economic theory and applied field knowledge. Then, through the dissertation-writing process, they develop the ability to formulate and empirically answer economic questions. This valuable skill set is the key to our graduates’ success.  

Our uniquely pluralistic approach to contemporary policy issues will train you in a number of diverse theoretical perspectives, both mainstream and heterodox, including post-Keynesian, institutionalist, and feminist economics.

Our department is the first in the nation to offer a program on gender analysis in economics and hosts a unique Info-Metrics Institute promoting the interdisciplinary study of information, information processing, and decision rules based on efficient use of information. Our forward-thinking program will put you on the cutting edge of research and innovation.

Tailor Your Degree to Your Career

Our students develop a solid foundation in economic thought, mathematical economics, macroeconomic and microeconomic analysis, and econometrics. Once the core is completed, you will choose one of three theory tracks: microeconomics, macroeconomics, and heterodox economics. You will study economic history and applied economics in preparation for your dissertation.

Your research opportunities are enhanced by the department’s broad array of strengths, including development economics, international economics, labor economics, monetary economics, gender economics, comparative economic systems, economic history, and econometrics. Through this research, PhD students develop lasting, collegial, and productive relationships with faculty, often co-authoring and publishing papers with their professors. 

See complete Admissions and Program Requirements.

Faculty Dedicated to Your Success

At AU, you will take classes from and work with a diverse group of esteemed economists and highly cited scholars who are engaged with practitioners and policymakers around the world. Their wide-ranging research interests, along with the variety of methodological approaches they use, create a rich environment for innovations in theory and empirical studies. By working as research assistants and teaching assistants, PhD students gain valuable experience and mentorship in an academic setting.

Make a Difference in Your Career and the World

The extraordinary array of intellectual and professional opportunities offered by the nation's capital make American University the ideal place to study economics. The department's strategic partnerships and our faculty's relationships with nearby institutions will help you make the best use of those opportunities. Consistently ranked as one of the best cities for job seekers, Washington, DC, provides an opportunity for students and graduates to obtain internships and employment with some of the world's most important economic institutions, including the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, research institutes, think tanks, NGOs, nationally recognized private companies, and the US Departments of the Treasury, Labor, and Commerce.

Your Doctorate Opens Doors to Success

Economics PhD graduates are well qualified for academic careers, but the degree also opens career paths in many government agencies and international organizations. Our students receive career mentorship and placement services that lead to careers in public policy, academia, and government, both domestically and abroad.

Many of our graduates go on to academic posts at universities such as the Saint Louis University, the University of Vermont, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and Franklin College. Domestically, graduates have served in congress and government agencies, including the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Labor. Our alumni working outside of the US have gone on to found research institutions and consult for major organizations such as CGIAR-CIP and the United Nations.

A Career in Economics: It's Much More than You Think


Much more than finance, banking, business and government, a degree in economics is useful to all individuals and can lead to many interesting career choices. These four diverse individuals offer their insights on how a background in economics can be a tool for solving very human problems.