College of Business Administration

Our Ph.D. program is notable for its blend of advanced economic theory and applied policy analysis, provided in the context of a small graduate program with emphasis on quality teaching that assures close association with fellow students and professors. At Nebraska, economists are trained in applied economic analysis in graduate programs that begin with solid technical training in economic theory and quantitative methods and progress to applications of those tools in selected fields. Graduates are employed in college and university teaching positions as well as in research and consulting for business and government.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln was the first school west of the Mississippi River to formally establish a graduate school and doctoral degrees in economics have been awarded at the University of Nebraska for over 100 years.

A core program consisting of courses in microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory, and econometrics is required of all candidates. In addition to the core program, all candidates study two major fields of specialization (see below). The degree requires not less than 48 hours of course work, successfully completing a qualifying exam in economic theory and comprehensive exams in two fields of specialization, and writing a doctoral dissertation on an original topic.

General Requirements

Economics Ph.D. Students
  • Economics 815, Analytic Methods (Mathematical Economics), (1-3 credits)
  • Statistics 880 or 882 (3 credits)

The core courses are provided to assure that students receive solid training in economic theory and econometrics. Students demonstrate mastery of theory by passing the Qualifying Examination in Advanced Economic Theory and mastery of econometrics by earning at least a B in each course.

  • Economics 912A and 912B, Microeconomics I and II (6 credits)
  • Economics 911A and 911B, Macroeconomics I and II (6 credits)
  • Economics 917, 918 and 819, Econometrics I, II and III (9 credits)

A major field of concentration in economics is required. The field requires a minimum of six hours of course work at the Ph. D. level and a research paper in the form of journal article accepted by the student's committee.

An optional second field may be taken. The requirement is six hours of course work at the Ph.D. level.

  • Field I (≥ 6 credits)
  • Field II (≥ 6 credits)

Students may include electives within economics or cognate areas.


Students must demonstrate ability to conduct research by writing an original dissertation and defending that dissertation in an oral examination. At least 12 hours and up to 42 credit hours may be used for this purpose.

  • Total Course Work (≥ 48 credits)
  • Dissertation Work (≥ 12 credits, maximum ≤ 55)
  • Grand Total (≥ 90 credits)
Fields of Concentration
  • Econometrics
  • Economic Education
  • Feminist Economics
  • International Trade and Development
  • Labor Economics
  • Public and Urban Economics

Members of the economics faculty have published a wide variety of books and have made important contributions to national and international journals in economics. Excellence in teaching is also a trademark of the department. Numerous awards for distinguished teaching have been received at the University and national levels by the faculty. The department offers a variety of fields of specialization but is sufficiently small to allow for substantial individual and informal contact between graduate students and their professors. After successful completion of the first year qualifying examination, each student is assigned to work with a faculty member on research.


The department does not employ a rigid formula for admission, but we expect excellent undergraduate (or graduate if applicable) records in economics, mathematics and statistics. We expect excellent GRE scores, TOEFL scores (when applicable) and strong letters of recommendation. At the minimum, Ph.D. students are expected to have intermediate level training in economics (both macroeconomics and microeconomics) in their backgrounds. In addition, Ph.D. students are expected to have strong mathematical backgrounds including at least two semesters of calculus, a course in linear (matrix) algebra, and a course in mathematical statistics. Differential equations and Math Analysis are also recommended Any course deficiencies must be removed prior to the first semester of enrollment.

Application Procedures

Office of Graduate Studies Requirements
  • Apply online at the Office of Graduate Studies and submit the application fee.
  • The next day you will receive instructions for the UNL GAMES application system. Please note: All application materials (except transcripts and finance resource certification) must be submitted electronically. Do not send paper recommendation forms.
Letters of Reference

Three letters of reference are required and should be submitted through GAMES (Graduate Admission Management and Evaluation System)

Statement of Purpose

Please submit a Statement of Purpose outlining goals and objectives for studying economics at the graduate level.

  • Statement of Purpose must be sumitted through GAMES
Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

You should register to take the GRE (standard test) and have the results forwarded to UNL (use institution code 6877). You should also submit your scores through GAMES.

International students should also include a TOEFL score (minimum score of 550 written, 213 computer based or 80 iBT (use institution code 6877)) or 6.5 IELTS. Guidelines for international students can be found at International applicants will be required to submit evidence of spoken English ability to be considered for teaching assistantships.

Application for Admission Deadlines

Semester U.S. Students International Students
Fall June 30 March 1
Spring October 31 October 1

Applications are evaluated as received. Applications received after the deadline may be considered; however, a timely decision is not guaranteed. Spring Admissions are considered only under unusual circumstances and funding is typically not available. Because coursework begins in the fall semester, beginning the program in the spring semester is problematic.

Financial Aid and Assistantships

Current information on tuition and costs is available here. The department awards three to four assistantships to new students each year. These appointments are either teaching or research assistantships and carry financial packages that are highly competitive with those offered by other graduate institutions. Assistantships provide a full tuition waiver, stipend for up to four years and medical insurance. These assistantships may be supplemented with Othmer, Chancellor’s and Ogle Fellowships.

All applicants are considered for assistantships. No separate application for financial aid is required. Preference in financial assistance awards is given to Ph.D. applicants, but M.A. applicants are considered as well.

Assistantship decisions for the fall semester are typically made in February and March. Recipients are notified on or about April 1. Duties of first-year recipients of assistantships will likely include assisting professors with their instructional duties.

In addition to assistantships, the department traditionally gives two competitive awards to Ph.D. students. The McConnell Dissertation Fellowship provides full support for two semesters to a student who is in residence and in the completion year of the dissertation. The Bingham Teaching Fellowships are one-year supplemental stipends and are given in recognition of outstanding teaching abilities and performance.

Contact Information

Do not contact individual faculty members or the chair of the department. After reviewing the website and our FAQ page, direct all questions to our director of economics graduate programs, Professor Matthew J. Cushing listed below.


Cushing, Matthew J
Professor of Economics


CBA 352
P.O. Box 880489
Lincoln, NE 68588-0489
Mailing Address
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Department of Economics
P.O. Box 880489
Lincoln, NE 68588-0489
Shipping Address
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Department of Economics
CBA 340
1240 R Street
Lincoln, NE 68588-0489