Program overview

A PhD in Applied Economics will give you the skills to conduct research for businesses, governments, think tanks, and other research organizations, as well as to train the next generation of applied economics professionals as an academic.

The PhD program combines advanced courses in applied economics with a major research dissertation. The core of the program focuses on microeconomic theory and quantitative methods with one advanced course in macroeconomics. The student and their advisory committee determine the remainder of the student’s field courses.

Main Program Components:

  • core focus on microeconomic theory and quantitative methods
  • advanced courses in applied economics / one advanced course in macroeconomics
  • six field courses
  • two comprehensive exams / major research dissertation
  • 36 credit units (two years of classes)
  • two courses in microeconomics
  • two courses in econometrics
  • one course in macroeconomics
  • one elective course (must be approved by committee)
  • first comprehensive exam
  • choose an applied field and develop a program of study
  • six field courses based on area of specialization
  • second comprehensive exam
  • complete dissertation proposal
  • dissertation research and writing
  • dissertation defence

How to apply

Admission requirements

Doctor of Philosophy

  • A master’s degree, or equivalent, in a related field of study from a recognized college or university.
  • A cumulative weighted average of at least 70% (U of S grade system equivalent) in the last two years of study (e.g. 60 credit units) 
  • Proof of English language proficiency may be required for international applicants and for applicants whose first language is not English
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT): Submission of a GRE or GMAT score is recommended for all applicants. Applicants who have not earned a degree from a Canadian or US institution are required to submit a GRE or GMAT score.

Please visit the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to learn more and submit your application. The PhD in Applied Economics is no longer accepting applications for the fall 2018 academic year. 

Research areas

Students in the Applied Economics PhD program have a wide variety of focus research areas to choose from, each with a multidisciplinary component that spans across academic units.

Application of novel empirical methods to applied economics questions. Applications include, for example, labour markets, education, health care, international economics, efficiency and productivity measurement in agriculture, financial markets.

Maxym Chaban, Kelly Foley, Patrick Lloyd-Smith, Jeffrey Michler, Andreas Pollak, Marie Racine, Nazmi Sari, Tristan Skolrud, Peter Slade

Understanding decision-making at the level of individual consumers, firms, and organizations. Applications include, for example, risk tolerance and responses to risk; health behaviours; food consumption behaviours; technology and innovation adoption decisions by firms; computational economics, behavioural responses to policy nudges. Researchers have access to state-of-the art research facilities at the Experimental Decision Laboratory (Social Sciences Research Laboratories).

Guidon Fenig, Murray Fulton, Jill Hobbs, Patrick Lloyd-Smith, Jeffrey Michler, Haizhen Mou, James Nolan, Peter Phillips, Marie Racine, Nazmi Sari

The application of economic theory and empirical methods to environmental and resource management and policy issues. Applications include, for example, ecological economics, forestry economics, water resources, adaptation to climate change, biofuels policy, pollution, indigenous land/resource use issues, and environmental valuation.

Ken Belcher, Joel Bruneau, Richard Gray, Hayley Hesseln, Suren Kulshreshtha, Patrick Lloyd-Smith, Saeed MoshiriTristan Skolrud

Applications include the empirical research in the areas of corporate finance (including capital structure, dividend policy, financing costs, corporate governance, corporate ownership and control, corporate social responsibility, mergers & acquisitions, international corporate finance, and firm valuation), asset pricing, banking, financial derivatives and risk management, financial institutions, venture capital, agricultural finance and public finance.

James Cao, Abdullah Mamun, Min Maung, Eric Micheels, Dev Mishra, Marie Racine, Enchuan Shao, Lee Swanson, George Tannous, Craig Wilson, Fan Yang

Applications to the analysis of labour markets, health care provision and costs, income inequality, and economics of nutrition.

Guidon Fenig, Kelly Foley, Murray Fulton, Jill Hobbs, Mobinul HuqHaizhen Mou, Nazmi Sari, Enchuan Shao, Keith Willoughby

Analysis of firm behaviour and decision-making and industry structure. Applications include, for example, game theory, agricultural co-operatives, agri-food supply chains, firm strategy; managerial economics; competitiveness.

James Cao, Murray Fulton, Mehran Hojati, Roman Lukyanenko, Eric Micheels, Jeffrey Michler, James Nolan, Hamed Samarghandi, Tristan Skolrud, Peter Slade, Shan WangKeith Willoughby, Jingang Zhao

International trade, including trade theory and policy, international finance, and international macroeconomics. Applications include, for example, exchange rates, trade agreements, agricultural trade policy.

Richard Gray, William Kerr, Jeffrey Michler

Analysis of the economic welfare outcomes of policy decisions, and public policy formation. Applications include, for example, innovation and science policy; trade policy; agricultural policy; food policy; environmental policy; resource management policy; health policy; transportation policy, wetland and wildlife conservation policy.

Ken Belcher, Murray Fulton, Richard Gray, Eric Howe, Jill Hobbs, William Kerr, James Nolan, Abdullah Mamun, Dev Mishra, Haizhen Mou, Peter Phillips, Nazmi Sari, Peter Slade, Stuart Smyth, Lee Swanson

Understanding how economies operate at the national, sub-national and local level and understanding how decision-making at the household, firm and community level influences development outcomes. Applications to regional economic development, rural development, international development, indigenous communities.

James Cao, Don Gilchrist, Eric Howe, Cristina Echevarria, Mobinal HuqAnna Klimina, Jeffrey Michler, David Natcher, James Nolan

Course listing

Not all of the below courses are required. Please refer to the Program in Detail for more information.

Micro Economic Theory - 2 courses from:

  • ECON 800 Micro Economic Theory: Studies theories of exchange, consumer demand, production and cost, and pricing.
  • ECON 873 Advanced Microeconomic Theory: A survey of advanced topics in modern macroeconomic theory. Topics include theories of growth, real business cycles, search in labour markets, nominal business cycles and macro policy.
  • AREC 842 Agricultural Market Organizations: Develops a conceptual framework in which organizations, their behaviour, their interactions with other firms and their impact on an industry can be studied, compared and analyzed. The relevant literature in organizational theory, industrial organization and contract theory is reviewed, especially as it focuses on theoretical and empirical work in the areas of co-operatives, agri-business firms and other forms of organizations.
  • ECON 850 Game Theory Strategic and Cooperative Choices: A systematic introduction to game theory and its application in economics. Provides concepts and tools for understanding current research and performing your own research in the field. Covers both non-cooperative and cooperative game theories.

Macro Economic Theory - 1 course from:

  • ECON 801 Macro Economic Theory: A survey of macro-economic theory, and includes theories of the consumption function, theories of investment, money and interest rates, monetary and fiscal policy, and general equilibrium theory.
  • ECON 874 Advanced Macroeconomic Theory: A survey of advanced topics in modern macroeconomic theory. Topics include theories of growth, real business cycles, search in labour markets, nominal business cycles and macro policy.

Econometrics 2 courses from:

  • ECON 808 Econometrics I: The fundamentals of estimation and inference in the classical regression model, with applied laboratory sessions using actual economic data. Topics covered typically include: multiple linear and non-linear regression models; least squares; maximum likelihood; instrumental variables; statistical properties of estimators; asymptotic theory; restrictions; measurement error; serial correlation; heteroskedasticity; systems of equations.
  • ECON 809 Econometrics II: Considers estimation and inference in different econometrics models. The first part deals with time-series econometrics and nonstationary data: unit root; cointegration; single-equation and system methods. The second part covers panel data and discrete choice. Additional topic is added based on instructor’s current interests. Application of these techniques in applied projects.

Please note the grouping of field courses by area is illustrative, and some courses are applicable to more than one area. The availability of field courses will change from year to year, and additional field courses may also become available.

Finance

  • FIN 801 Advanced Corporate Finance: Provides students with a fundamental understanding of the current issues of interest in research in the modern theory of corporate finance. It provides students with a theoretical background in areas such as firm theory, security issuance, capital raising, capital structure, and corporate governance. Presentation and discussion of articles from academic journals are used as tools to enhance student learning.
  • FIN 802 Advanced Investment Theory: Develops investment theory through the financial economics framework of Von-Neumann Morgenstern utility. This allows exploration of risk aversion, stochastic dominance, and portfolio optimization. MPT and CAPM are derived. Arrow-Debreu contingent claims and option pricing theory are addressed. Additional topics include risk-neutral valuation, stochastic discount factors, and the consumption CAPM.
  • FIN 803 Empirical Methods in Finance: Presents a critical look at current financial models and gives the student experience in the systematic analysis of financial data. Students are exposed to a suite of analytical tools that allow rigorous assessment of the characteristics of financial data and models.
  • FIN 805 Fixed Income Securities: This course considers the financial concepts required to invest in fixed income securities. Topics include the mathematics required to evaluate fixed income cash flows, measuring and hedging fixed income portfolio risk, the yield curve in theory and practice, repurchase agreements, interest rate forward agreements, futures contracts, swaps, and mortgage-backed securities.

Health and labour

  • ECON 823 Labour Economics: The functioning of labour markets including labour supply, labour demand, accumulation of skills, contracts, and unemployment.
  • ECON 833 Economic Evaluation Methods in Health Services Research: This course provides an array of economic evaluation methods used to assess health and healthcare programs, policies, technologies and interventions. Topics include methods of measuring health and health outcomes, as well as various economic evaluation methods (cost effectiveness, cost utility and cost benefit analyses), and their applications in health and healthcare policies.
  • ECON 834 Health Economics: Examines health economic issues and the functioning of health care markets using microeconomic theory. Topics include health insurance and demand for health, production of health, economic evaluation methods, economic explanations for the behavior of health care providers, functioning of insurance markets, cost efficiency and regulation in health care markets.

Industrial organization, strategy and firm behaviour

  • ECON 850 Game Theory, Strategic and Cooperative Choices: A systematic introduction to game theory and its application in economics. Provides concepts and tools for understanding current research and performing your own research in the field. Covers both non-cooperative and cooperative game theories.
  • ECON 870 Behavioural Economics: Details the economics of behaviour and the importance of behavioural assumptions for the analytical predictions of economic theory, with special emphasis of the theory of the firm, household economics, experimental economics, rational choice analyses and public policy.
  • AREC 825 Research Issues in Agribusiness Management: Lectures/discussions will emphasize the development and illustration of concepts, issues, and research questions in agribusiness, both past and present. The course readings will provide a general framework for class lecture/discussions. Through assignments and in-class discussions, students will broaden their understanding of practical and research issues within the context of agribusiness management.
  • AREC 840 Economics of Agri-Food Marketing: Economic analysis of agriculture and food marketing systems. Topics include transactions costs and the role of institutions, spot markets, contracts and vertical integration, market power, price discovery, quality signalling and information asymmetry in agri-food markets. The relevant theoretical literature and empirical applications in these areas are reviewed.
  • AREC 842 Agricultural Market Organizations: Develops a conceptual framework in which organizations, their behaviour, their interactions with other firms and their impact on an industry can be studied, compared and analyzed. The relevant literature in organizational theory, industrial organization and contract theory is reviewed, especially as it focuses on theoretical and empirical work in the areas of co-operatives, agri-business firms and other forms of organizations. Examination of these types of firms is undertaken to better understand their behaviour and to develop concepts that can be put to use in analyzing other types of organizations.
  • JSGS 865 Decision Making in Organizations: Examines the manner in which decisions are made in organizations, with a particular focus on policy decisions. The course uses a wide variety of behavioral theories to look at phenomena such as policy traps, framing, unwarranted optimism, and group think.

International

  • AREC 855 International Agricultural Trade Policy: The economic analysis of agricultural trade policy. Topics include introduction to international trade theory, an introduction to trade policy, methods of protection by importers and methods of protection by exporters.
  • ECON 811 International Trade Theory: Studies recent developments in the pure theory of trade. Topics include current explanations of patterns of trade and factor movements, the formation of regional free trade areas, commercial policies and international cartels.
  • ECON 812 International Monetary Economics: The nature of adjustment in open economics, under various international monetary systems, to real and monetary disturbances. The systems investigated will include fixed exchange rates, both with and without sterilization, flexible exchange rates and managed floating.

Policy

  • ECON 830 Public Finance: A study of modern theoretical constructs and some of their applications. Topics include cost-benefit analysis, fiscal policy, the public debt, analysis of taxes and intergovernmental fiscal relations.
  • AREC 832 Rural Development: The study of theories of rural development in advanced-market economies, a review of empirical studies of selected North American rural economies and a survey of national and subnational North American development policies. A particular emphasis will be placed on empirical analysis of economic development issues.
  • AREC 845 Transportation Economics and Regulatory Policy: Economic analysis of the Canadian transportation sector, with particular emphasis on the movement of agricultural commodities. Specific topics include an overview of basic operations research methods including linear programming and efficiency measurement, analysis of industrial organization and regulation in the transportation sector using contestability theory and the new empirical industrial organization (NEIO), an introduction to the economics of networks, and an examination of the link between transportation and economic development.
  • AREC 851 Agricultural Policy: Focuses on an economic analysis of agricultural policies in Canada. In addition, general economic policy will be discussed in terms of how it impacts on trade, investments, economic growth and efficiency.
  • AREC 855 International Agricultural Trade Policy: The economic analysis of agricultural trade policy. Topics include introduction to international trade theory, an introduction to trade policy, methods of protection by importers and methods of protection by exporters.
  • JSGS 862 Political Economy: Focuses on the politics of aggregating individual decisions into collective action, revealing the difficulty of formulating and implementing public policy broadly construed. The course readings emphasize formal approaches to this subject, while the assignments and discussion emphasize their application to real problems.

Other

  • AREC 820 Applied Microeconomic Theory: A study of the application of economic theory to production economics and consumer demand systems. The course links static micro economic theory to the behavior of economic systems. This course includes a survey on the choice of functional form, the application of duality in demand theory and the use of Bayesian econometrics to impose inequality restrictions in system estimation. The course also examines several aspects of technological change and dynamic problems involving risk and uncertainty.
  • ECON 804 Research in Econometrics: A research project serves as the primary tool to learn econometric techniques, but is augmented by a consideration of the theoretical aspects of econometrics.
  • ECON 805 Mathematical Analysis in Economics: A study of the mathematical formulation and investigation of economic relationships. Topics include the theory of consumer demand, theory of the individual firm, input-output analysis, models of aggregate economic activity and economic growth.

Tuition and funding

In addition to potential funding available through the University of Saskatchewan, two inaugural competitive scholarships of $25,000/year will be available to eligible students. All applicants will be automatically considered for these scholarships.

Please visit the College of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for information on tuition rates.

Contact us

Applied Economics Ph.D. Program
Rm 2D14 - 51 Campus Drive
University of Saskatchewan
Saskatoon, SK S7N 5A8

Please direct all program inquiries to:
Melissa Zink, Graduate Administrator
applied.economics@usask.ca