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The PhD Programme in Economics in Umeå

The main fields of research at the department of Economics are Environmental and Resource Economics, Public Economics, Labor Economics and Econometrics.

Objective

The objective of the PhD programme in economics at Umeå is to train economists who can be employed either as professional economists in the public or private sector, or as academics  and  researchers in higher education and other research institutions.

The doctoral programme is completed over four years.

Organisation

The PhD programme is divided into two distinct components: the first component focuses on extending your training in economics, while the second component is dedicated to your own research and the writing of your thesis work. Although distinct, you complete both components simultaneously. While you work on your thesis you are supervised by a team of qualified researchers.

To join the PhD programme, a new PhD student is expected to have completed some under-graduate and graduate training in economics (or in a discipline that provides a comparable level of education). The PhD studies extend the training in economics in depth and breadth. More precisely PhD candidates are expected to complete 105 credits of course-work, and 135 credits of thesis work, over the four years of the programme (5 weeks of work corresponds to 7.5 credits).

In many cases the candidates get the opportunity to be involved in teaching or other academic duties, leading to an extension beyond the four years

Phd students are members of the Department of Economics from the first day they join the programme. A PhD candidate is provided with desk space, IT and all the necessary support for the completion of their doctorate. In return, we expect PhD students, like all academic members of the department, to attend and contribute to all internal and external research seminars and other department activities.

Individual Study Plan (ISP)

PhD (and licentiate) students follow a formal training programme which is agreed with their supervisors and revised annually (the ISP). The ISP is a formal document which is kept by the department for the duration of the student’s doctoral studies. The ISP must be agreed by all parties and the PhD programme coordinator oversees its completion annually. The ISP provides a statement of objectives for the coming year, and details the forms of training and support that will be needed for the student to reach these objectives. After the first year of the PhD, the ISP allows students and their supervisory team to compare their views about the annual progress of the student and amend it as the work progresses.

Taught part of the doctoral programme

One part of the education programme focuses on courses around the "core" of economics (microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics, mathematical techniques), which you must complete over the four years of the programme (60 credits out of 240). The material of this "core" is usually taught by research active academics in Umeå University, and delivered in the form of stand-alone, independent modules.

The second part of the doctoral programme, provides specific training in the research specialism that a PhD candidate has chosen. Thus, the candidate is expected to study in more depth one or more specific topics with the objective of supporting the thesis work. For example, if the focus of the PhD is in public economics, the further study of specialist material may be useful such as optimal taxation, behavioral public economics or empirical methods in public economics. Obviously, the focus does not have to be public economics, but the same principle does apply in other contexts:  the expectation is that the candidate studies in more depth one, or more, advanced topic with the objective of supporting the thesis work. The exact form that this will take and its timing will depend on the candidate’s own progress and will be the subject of discussions with the supervisors. These modules can be organized and taught in Umeå or elsewhere (some of our students regularly attend summer school or other graduate training in Scandinavia or elsewhere in Europe).

The third component of the taught part of the doctoral programme gives the candidate the freedom to choose among a wider range of postgraduate courses offered by the faculty, the university or other institutions in Sweden or abroad. PhD candidates often choose courses which provide training for the use of a particular software, methodology or tool, or courses which that contribute to the qualification as a teaching in a higher education institution… More recently many PhD candidates have been trained in the difficult skills necessary to write successful research applications.

Thesis

The thesis itself can be organized in two alternative ways: it can be written as a monograph (i.e. in a book form), or as a sequence of academic papers (independent pieces of academic research work). In both cases, the research must be of a sufficient standard to be publishable in refereed journals of good standing. In terms of content, we expect that the thesis contains the equivalent to about four distinct academic papers (co-authored, or single-authored).

In some cases, PhD candidates spend more time and effort on one of these four pieces of work: their Job Market Paper. This is a sensible strategy to follow if the objective is to be hired on the international job market for economists, where a ‘show case’ piece is often expected by institutions looking for recruits. In a more conventional thesis, the four papers will be of comparable size.

Regular Academic Presentations and Pre-seminars

Every time a stand-alone paper or a chapter is approaching completion, the student is invited to present his/her work to the Economic Department internal seminar series, where she/he will receive feedback from the wider department.

After this seminar presentation, the main supervisor organises a “pre-seminar”. During the pre-seminar, two (usually) members of staff of the department, not involved in the student’s supervision, are tasked with reading the student’s paper and providing in-depth commentary and feedback, over a 45 to 60 minutes session. If the subject matter requires it, there are readers from outside the university invited to comment on the student’s paper. The objective with the pre-seminar is to confront the student to the level of commentary that he/she can expect from referees if the paper had been sent to a journal for publication. Furthermore, it provides some measure of oversight from the wider department into the progress of the student during her/his studies. Completed papers are then added to the working paper series of the department.

PhD coordination and support

Students are invited to discuss the state of their work with the PhD programme coordinator every six months during a short discussion (30 minutes). This provide further opportunity for the department to act and provide support, if and when the candidate requires it.

Professional opportunities

In the recent past, PhD candidates who have defended their thesis in Umeå university have easily found high level employment as professional economists, researchers, or academics in Sweden, or abroad. We see this as a sign that the training we provide is recognized nationally and internationally for its high quality.

Recent PhD courses

• Mathematics 2

• Econometrics 2

• Macroeconomics 2

Admissions

Doctoral students are recruited on an open and competitive basis once a doctoral position is created by the department. For each position, a search committee is set up (3 to 4 persons in general). If the financing for a given position is funded through a research project, the principal investigator is part of the committee.

In general, we advertise the position through academic advertising services, as well as with the university job service. We invite candidates to submit their personal details, CV, a letter of motivation and a broad research plan. We require students to have completed at least one year of a Masters’ programme in economics (or equivalent). Positions are usually advertised for at least one month.

Short-listed candidates are invited for an interview (in person or remotely), by the search committee. The committee then draws a list of acceptable candidates and an order of preference. The candidates are contacted in turn according to this order of preference. We offer the position to the highest ranked candidate and, if she/he refuses, we approach the next person on the list. If we cannot attract any candidate among the list of acceptable ones, we often seek to re-advertise the position.

The General Study Plan

In the General Study Plan for Doctoral Studies in Economics you can read more about eligibility criteria, program outline and so forth.

General Study Plan for Doctoral Studies in Economics (in Swedish)

 

USBE accepts new doctoral students into the PhD program after advertisement of available positions. Therefore, we do not have any regular admission dates.

Open positions at USBE