Office: Landau Economics Building, 579 Jane Stanford Way
Mail Code: 94305-6072
Phone: (650) 725-3266
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Courses offered by the Department of Economics are listed under the subject code ECON on the Stanford Bulletin's ExploreCourses website.

The department's purpose is to acquaint students with the economic aspects of modern society, to familiarize them with techniques for the analysis of contemporary economic problems, and to develop in them an ability to exercise judgment in evaluating public policy. There is training for the general student as well as for those who plan careers as economists in civil service, private enterprise, teaching, or research.

The department's curriculum is an integral part of Stanford's programs in International Relations, Public Policy, and Urban Studies.

The faculty interests and research cover a wide spectrum of topics in most fields of economics, including behavioral economics, comparative institutional analysis, econometrics, economic development, economic history, experimental economics, industrial organization, international trade, labor, macro- and microeconomic theory, mathematical economics, environmental economics, and public finance.

Mission of the Undergraduate Program in Economics

The mission of the undergraduate program in Economics is to acquaint students with the economic aspects of modern society, to familiarize them with techniques for the analysis of contemporary economic problems, and to develop in them an ability to exercise judgment in evaluating public policy. The program introduces students to macro-and microeconomic theory, teaches them to think and write clearly about economic problems and policy issues and to apply the basic tools of economic analysis. The undergraduate major provides an excellent background for those who plan careers in government and private enterprise as well as those pursuing graduate degrees in professional schools or in the field of economics.

Learning Outcomes (Undergraduate)

The department expects undergraduate majors in the program to be able to demonstrate the following learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are used in evaluating students and the department's undergraduate program. Students are expected to demonstrate:

  1. understanding of core knowledge within Economics.

  2. ability to analyze a problem and draw correct inferences using qualitative and/or quantitative analysis.

  3. ability to write clearly and persuasively and communicate ideas clearly.

  4. ability to evaluate theory and critique research within the discipline.

Graduate Programs in Economics

The primary objective of the graduate program is to educate students as research economists. In the process, students also acquire the background and skills necessary for careers as university teachers and as practitioners of economics. The curriculum includes a comprehensive treatment of modern theory and empirical techniques. Currently, 20 to 25 students are admitted each year.

Graduate programs in economics are designed to ensure that students receive a thorough grounding in the methodology of theoretical and empirical economics, while at the same time providing specialized training in a wide variety of subfields and a broad understanding of associated institutional structures. Toward these ends, the program is arranged so that the student has little choice in the curriculum at the outset but considerable latitude later on.

Students admitted to graduate standing in the department are expected to have a strong background in college-level economics, mathematics, and statistics. Preparation ordinarily consists of a college major in economics, a year-long calculus sequence that includes multivariate analysis, a course in linear algebra, and a rigorous course in probability and statistics. 

Learning Outcomes (Graduate)

The purpose of the master's program is to further develop knowledge and skills in Economics and to prepare students for a professional career or doctoral studies. This is achieved through completion of courses, in the primary field as well as related areas, and experience with independent work and specialization.

The Ph.D. is conferred upon candidates who have demonstrated substantial scholarship and the ability to conduct independent research and analysis in Economics. Through completion of advanced course work and rigorous skills training, the doctoral program prepares students to make original contributions to the knowledge of Economics and to interpret and present the results of such research. 

Fellowships and Assistantships

The department awards a number of fellowships for graduate study. All students whose records justify continuation in the program may be assured support for the second through fifth years in the form of employment as a teaching or research assistant. All first year and a few second or third year students are typically awarded full fellowships, including a stipend and tuition. Second year students who are not on fellowship receive support in their entire second year (and surrounding summers) through a second year RAship. Third and fourth year students typically arrange for RA support directly with a faculty adviser or request TA support through the department. These half-time (20 hours per week) appointments provide a living wage and tuition allowance. Entering students are not eligible for research or teaching assistantships. Students in their final job market year are encouraged to apply for SIEPR dissertation research fellowships.


Emeriti: (Professors) Takeshi Amemiya, Timothy F. Bresnahan, Paul A. David, Walter Falcon, Avner Greif, Victor R. Fuchs, Peter J. Hammond, Donald Harris, Anne O. Krueger, Mordecai Kurz, Lawrence J. Lau, Roger G. Noll, John H. Pencavel, Thomas Sargent, John B. Shoven, David A. Starrett, Gavin Wright

Interim Chair: Matthew Jackson

Vice Chair: Monika Piazzesi

Director of Graduate Studies:  Luigi Pistaferri

Director of Undergraduate Studies:  Frank Wolak

Professors: Ran Abramitzky, Kyle Bagwell, B. Douglas Bernheim, Nicholas Bloom, Michael Boskin, Mark Duggan,  Pascaline Dupas, Liran Einav, Matthew Gentzkow, Lawrence Goulder, Robert E. Hall, Han Hong, Caroline Hoxby, Guido Imbens, Matthew Jackson, Patrick Kehoe, Pete Klenow, Jonathan Levin, Thomas E. MaCurdy, Neale Mahoney, Paul R. Milgrom, Muriel Niederle, Monika Piazzesi, Luigi Pistaferri, Joseph Romano, Alvin Roth, K. Martin Schneider, Ilya Segal, John B. Taylor, Alessandra Voena, Heidi L. Williams, Frank Wolak 

Associate Professors: Arun Chandrasekhar, Melanie Morten

Assistant Professors: Adrien Auclert, Luigi Bocola, Ignacio Cuesta, Daniel Fetter, Bradley Larsen, Petra Persson, Isaac Sorkin 

Lecturers: Marcelo Clerici-Arias, Ward Hanson, Alissa Kleinnijenhuis, Gregory La Blanc, Chris Makler, Scott McKeon, Cristian Santesteban, Mark Tendall, Ramin Toloui, Britni Wilcher

Postdocs: Ravi Jagadeesan, David Klinowski, Colin Sullivan

Affiliated Faculty: Elena Pastorino

Courtesy Professors: Susan Athey, Jay Bhattacharya, Erik Brynjolfsson, Jeremy Bulow, Steve Callander, Darrell Duffie, Marcel Fafchamps, James D. Fearon, Stephen H. Haber, Charles Kolstad, David M. Kreps, Edward Lazear, Grant Miller, Rosamond L. Naylor, Peter C. Reiss, Gregory Rosston, Kenneth Singleton, Andrzej Skrzypacz 

Courtesy Associate Professors:  Rebecca Diamond, Jacob Goldin, Saumitra Jha, Maya Rossin-Slater

Courtesy Assistant Professor: Jann Spiess

Visiting Professor: Robert L. Slonim

Visiting Assistant Professors: Mira Frick, Ryota Iijima


Master of Arts in Economics

University requirements for the master's degree are described in the Graduate Degrees section of this bulletin.

The Economics department does not offer a terminal M.A. degree. An M.A degree may only be pursued in combination with a doctoral degree from Economics or another department at the University.  Students must be currently enrolled in a Ph.D. program at Stanford before adding the Economics M.A. degree. Economics students may, but need not, elect to add this degree in addition to their current Ph.D. degree after they have been enrolled at Stanford for at least one quarter. 

Adding the M.A. Degree

While a formal application to the M.A program is not required, current Ph.D. students (including those in the Economics Ph.D. program) must:

  1. Submit a Graduate Authorization Petition via Axess in order to add the M.A. as an additional degree.
    Students must have completed the Stanford requirements for a B.A. in Economics or approximately equivalent training. Since students are required to take some of the same courses as Ph.D. candidates, similar preparation in mathematics and statistics generally is expected before the petition to add the M.A. will be approved.  

  2. Complete the Master's Program Proposal form and submit it to the Economics Student Services Manager.

  3. Apply to graduate (in Axess, before the quarterly deadline) in the quarter you wish to confer the degree.  The degree is not conferred automatically.

Joint Degree Programs in Economics with the School of Law

J.D./M.A. and J.D./PH.D.

The Department of Economics and the School of Law offer a joint program leading to either a J.D. degree combined with an M.A. degree in Economics, or to a J.D. degree combined with a Ph.D. in Economics.

The J.D./M.A. and J.D./Ph.D. degree programs are designed for students who wish to prepare themselves for careers in areas relating to both law and economics. Students interested in either joint degree program must apply and gain entrance separately to the School of Law and the Department of Economics and, as an additional step, must secure permission from both academic units to pursue degrees in those units as part of a joint degree program. Interest in either joint degree program should be noted on the student's admission applications and may be considered by the admission committee of each program. Alternatively, an enrolled student in either the Law School or the Economics department may apply for admission to the other program and for joint degree status in both academic units after commencing study in either program.

Joint degree students may elect to begin their course of study in either the School of Law or the Department of Economics. Faculty advisers from each academic unit participate in the planning and supervising of the student's joint program. Students must be enrolled full time in the Law School for the first year of law school, and, at some point during the joint program, may be required to devote one or more quarters largely or exclusively to studies in the Economics program regardless of whether enrollment at that time is in the Law School or in the Department of Economics. At all other times, enrollment may be in the graduate school or the Law School, and students may choose courses from either program regardless of where enrolled. Students must satisfy the requirements for both the J.D. and the M.A. or Ph.D. degrees as specified in this bulletin or by the School of Law.

The Law School approves courses from the Economics Department that may count toward the J.D. degree, and the Economics department approves courses from the Law School that may count toward the M.A. or Ph.D. degree in Economics. In either case, approval may consist of a list applicable to all joint degree students or may be tailored to each individual student's program. The list may differ depending on whether the student is pursuing an M.A. or a Ph.D. in Economics.

In the case of a J.D./M.A. program, no more than 45 quarter hours of approved courses may be counted toward both degrees. In the case of a J.D./Ph.D. program, no more than 54 quarter hours of approved courses may be counted toward both degrees. In either case, no more than 36 quarter hours of courses that originate outside the Law School may count toward the Law degree. To the extent that courses under this joint degree program originate outside the Law School but count toward the Law degree, the Law School credits permitted under Section 17(1) of the Law School Regulations shall be reduced on a unit-per-unit basis, but not below zero. The maximum number of Law School credits that may be counted toward the M.A. or the Ph.D. in Economics is the greater of: (a) 5 quarter hours in the case of the M.A. and 10 quarter hours in the case of the Ph.D.; or (b) the maximum number of hours from courses outside of the department that M.A. or Ph.D. candidates in Economics are permitted to count toward the applicable degree under general departmental guidelines or in the case of a particular student's individual program.

Tuition and financial aid arrangements are normally made through the school in which the student is then enrolled.

For more information, see the Law School's Degrees and Joint Degrees website.

Joint Degree Program in Ph.D. in Economics and Master of Public Policy

The Ph.D./M.P.P. joint degree is designed for students who wish to prepare themselves for careers in areas relating to both policy and economics. Students interested in this degree first apply to the Economics Department, indicating an interest in the joint program. There is one admissions application and one fee. If the decision is made by the department to admit the applicant, the file is then forwarded to the M.P.P. program. An admission decision, based on the information in the Ph.D. application, is made promptly, and the department informs the student of the decision.

Students may also apply to the M.P.P. after having commenced study in the Economics Department at Stanford, by first receiving the consent of the Director of Graduate Studies in Economics and then applying to the Public Policy program.

Students must have a faculty adviser from the Economics Department to assist with the planning and supervising of the joint program. The adviser is usually chosen from among the department's Public Policy-affiliated faculty.

Tuition and financial aid arrangements are made through the Economics Department.

Other Programs

Other programs leading to dual degrees may be arranged. For example, the Ph.D. in Economics combines with one or two years of study in the School of Law, leading to the nonprofessional Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) degree. A dual degree program does not permit counting any courses toward both the Economics and the Law degrees. For more information, see the Law School's Degrees and Joint Degrees website.

Graduate Advising

For a statement of University policy on graduate advising, see the "Graduate Advising" section of this bulletin.

The Department of Economics is committed to providing academic advising in support of graduate student scholarly and professional development. When most effective, this advising relationship entails collaborative and sustained engagement by both the adviser and the advisee. As a best practice, advising expectations should be periodically discussed and reviewed to ensure mutual understanding. Both the adviser and the advisee are expected to maintain professionalism and integrity.

Faculty advisers guide students in key areas such as selecting courses, designing and conducting research, developing of teaching pedagogy, navigating policies and degree requirements, and exploring academic opportunities and professional pathways.

Graduate students are active contributors to the advising relationship, proactively seeking academic and professional guidance and taking responsibility for informing themselves of policies and degree requirements for their graduate program.  Outlined below are a list of specific responsibilities of the various advising relationships, year by year:

First Year

First-year students are assigned to an adviser in groups of four or five students, so that there are only a handful of first-year advisers.  First-year advisers meet with students early in Autumn Quarter and offer to help with any questions as the year progresses. Including the DGS, Ph.D. administrator, student mentors, study groups, core course instructors, and the first-year seminar series, students have a variety of information sources. The adviser is simply another person to whom the students can turn to for basic and broad advice about the program.

Second-Year RAship

The second-year RA-ship is an opportunity for students to gain experience with research. Students are centrally matched with a second year mentor. The RA-ship is subsidized by the department and averages 15 hours/week (rather than the 20 for standard RAships in later years) for the entire second year (and surrounding summers). Students are advised to ensure that it is as educational as possible. Some students have fellowships and thus do not need RA support, but should still seek advisers and should be given the same attention to ensure that their research is progressing.  

Second-Year Paper

The second-year paper is due by August 31 of the second summer, and students have to arrange with a faculty member to oversee that paper by the end of the Spring Quarter of the second year.   

An adviser on a second-year paper should make sure that the student is progressing on the paper during the Summer by setting a timeline and meeting with them at key points. It is essential that this be finished on time so that students can move on to new projects or to further develop it during the third year. Students are encouraged to talk to multiple faculty, but the person who signs their paper should take responsibility. The student also has a responsibility to be seeking advice and communicating regularly with their adviser, both about progress and unexpected setbacks, both of which are inevitable in research. Note that second-year papers can be co-authored with other students and/or faculty.  

Third-Year Advising

The third-year seminar helps shepherd students through the transition to dissertation research; however, it is not a substitute for an adviser but rather a complement. Students should clear their slides for their third-year presentations with their advisers before the presentations.  

The adviser and student are both responsible for ensuring that they meet regularly and have set a clear a timeline and goals for their research.  

At the end of the third year, students meet with the DGS and present a form signed by someone agreeing to advise their dissertation research, and they should have plans for a dissertation and a dissertation reading committee. If a faculty member is advising a student during the third year and does not plan to continue that relationship, the faculty member is responsible for letting the student know early enough so that s/he can find a new adviser going forward. Occasionally, students who are getting substantial advice from more than one person may wish to designate co-primary advisers. This involves a serious commitment in terms of time and attention from all of the primary advisers, and should involve more than window-dressing.

Fourth Year and Beyond

Advisers and students should be meeting regularly and have a clear plan and timeline for completion of a dissertation research and going on the market.  The adviser’s role includes providing guidance concerning designing, implementing, conducting, writing, presenting, submitting (where, how, etc.), and revising their research. The adviser should meet regularly with the student and inform the DGS if a student is languishing or falling behind in their research.  

Advisers should be very clear with students about how their research is progressing and what they need to do to improve. Students are responsible for being broadly engaged, keeping their adviser regularly informed of their progress, and seeking advice from several faculty, attending and participating in conferences, regularly attending seminars, talking with other students, and more generally being regularly involved in research-related activities. 

Faculty who are on a student’s dissertation committee must discuss the student’s job market prospects with him or her well in advance of the job market. It is essential to calibrate students’ expectations appropriately. If the student aspires to jobs for which a committee member feels s/he cannot write supportive letters, that faculty must make that fact absolutely clear to the student well in advance. The faculty member must also confer with other committee members to determine whether they are in agreement concerning the student’s progress, job market plans, and likely prospects. A dissertation committee member whose assessment of a student is out of line with the rest of the committee has an obligation to make their views known to the committee well before the student enters to job market, and should be willing to withdraw from the committee if it is in the student’s best interest. Committee members should therefore compare their assessments, at the latest, by the start of  the Autumn Quarter during which the student enters the job market. 

Students need to become self-sufficient; most of these aspects of conducting and disseminating research are not learned via courses or readings, but by doing coupled with timely advice. It is the most important, and rewarding, part of the Ph.D. program.