Ph.D in Economics

Ph.D. students do course work for the first two or so years before moving to the thesis. If you don't go on to the thesis, you can usually get a master's degree as a consolation prize. A thesis takes a long time, and five years is a quick time to complete the Ph.D.

If you want to pursue a Ph.D. degree and are well prepared coming out of UC Davis, then apply for admission to a Ph.D. program and not a master's degree program. Admission to the better Ph.D. programs comes with four years of funding sufficient to cover tuition and living expenses, in return for working 20 hours a week as a teaching assistant (TA) or resident advisor (RA).

Economics Ph.D. programs are oriented to people seeking careers in academia or the government. The American Economic Association website is a good reference for Ph.D. study in economics.

Graduate programs in economics are very mathematical by comparison to undergraduate programs, and lack of mathematical ability is a key indicator of failure. The economics section of the GRE is much less important. Consequently, another admission criterion is what math classes you have taken.

A minimum preparation is:
Stat 13, Math 21A-21D (or 16A-16C with very high grades), Math 67 and Econ 140
To be fully prepared for a top-ten program, you also should take:
Statistics: Stat 131A-B or 130A-B. Mathematics: Math 25 and then Math 125A-B.
Ability to demonstrate research ability through Econ 194H can be very beneficial.