PhD in Economics


A challenging four-year degree designed for selected students with a strong commitment to economics and a proven ability for inquisitive and independent work. The program aims at training a selected group of outstanding scholars for a career as economists in academic institutions or in research departments of corporations, public organizations, financial institutions and the government.

The considerable diversification of research areas covered by the members of the Department of Economics, DSE, and their international reputation provide an outstanding environment for PhD studies. Students can find competent tutorship and tight guidance for their doctoral studies by the PhD Director, the Deputy Director and members of its large Faculty, that is composed by researchers who are at the cutting edge of world research in their fields.

The Graduate Students are encouraged to pursue a personalized curriculum by choosing courses within a wide list of options.

The Faculty and the Placement Director actively assist PhD candidates for participation to the academic and non-academic job market.

The PhD program trains you to undertake innovative research in economics. Research work is at a level that can lead to publication in top level scholarly journals in economics and related fields.

The long tradition of the program (started in 1983), its international connections, the emphasis on relevant applications of economics, and the focus on advancing the students’ knowledge of up-to-date theories and methodologies are increasingly appreciated both by academic and institutional employers. The program is part of the network European Doctorate in Law and Economics, EDLE, with a dedicated curriculum on law and economics, and has two curriculum that students choose between: curriculum in “Economics” with a minimum of 6 scholarships and curriculum in “Law and Economics” with 1 scholarship.

Our graduates develop highly successful careers in academics, international institutions, and research centers. Recent graduates work in European Universities, such as Paris School of Economics, London Businness School, University of York, Valencia, Paris Pantheonne Sorbonne, Vienna, Oslo, Cologne, European University Institute, Bocconi, Swiss Finance Institute, and in Universities outside Europe, such as Harvard Businness School, Manila and Bangkok, among others. The graduates interested in policy have accepted positions in institutions such as the IZA Bonn, OECD in Paris, FAO in Rome, European Commision DG Economic and Financial Affairs, Antitrust Authorities as well as in Central Banks, like the Bank of Italy, the Banque de France, and the ECB.

The four-year program consists of courses and the research dissertation (all in English).

Courses: students have to take 180 hours of courses and reading Groups in each of the first two years and are encouraged to pursue a personalized curriculum, by choosing within a wide list of options. Courses involve both basic general courses (like microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics), structured topic courses with exams, that provide a structured presentation of field of research, and advanced topic courses offered by researchers who are at the cutting edge of world research in their fields. The PhD program also offers a set of methodological courses that provide fundamental research tools.

Thesis: students choose a field of research and a supervisor during the first year. A first presentation of a valuable research project is due at the end of the first year and is presented in front of the Faculty. The second year is dedicated to both courses in advanced topics and methods and thesis work. The third and the fourth year is fully dedicated to the work on the thesis. During the last year most of our students spend a visiting period in another university. The program has several partners both in Europe and in the US. Some of our students are awarded joint PhD degrees after their periods of visiting.

The Department of Economics is one of the biggest in Europe with researchers actively involved in a wide range of fields. The research areas span theoretical and empirical research, going from Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Industrial Organization, International Economics, Political Economics, Financial Economics, Economic Development and Growth, Labor Economics, Public and Health Economics, Econometrics, Macroeconomic and Finance, Social and Cultural Economics, only to name some.

Faculty members have published in generalistic journals such as the American Economic Review, Econometrica, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Review of Economics Studies, the Journal of Economic Theory, the Economic Journal, among  others, as well as in the best field journals. Our students do their research in many topics and have plenty of opportunities to get feedback on their research from Faculty members and visiting international scholars.

For a handy way to meet our community, have a look at our faces by research topics.

The Department organizes weekly Research Seminars in all the main fields with international speakers and attracts distinguished international visitors who collaborate with the members of the Department. Each week there is also an Internal seminar where members of the Department and Visiting Scholar present and discuss their research. The first presentation of each month is reserved for the presentations of the PhD students. Each student is also asked to give a seminar each year during the PhD Forums where the Faculty and visiting members put pressure and give feedback.  Finally the program organizes weekly reading groups.

The PhD students have access to all the libraries of the University, to dedicated areas for study and work in the library of social sciences and a 24/7 access to rooms with web connections in the Department of Economics. Seminar rooms are available for discussions and mock presentations. The Department has computer labs with statistical and computing software available. The students that do research in experimental economics and have access to the Experimental Lab “Bless”.

Collegial, stimulating, non hierarchical and very informal. Only few selected students are admitted. This allows for strict interactions and contact between students and the Faculty members.

The program is designed to put pressure on the students to improve their research skills but keeping at the same time a cooperative atmosphere and productive interactions among students and between students and Faculty. The PhD students of each year elect a representative who is in regular contact with the program’s director, the Faculty and the administration. Students meet their supervisor regularly to discuss their research and have frequent interactions with the other Faculty members during courses, the research seminars, the internal seminars and the reading groups.

The admission process is now open and closes on  April 27th, 2017. Admission Official application must be made online. For further information have a look at the Admission page.

A Masters degree in economics, or an equivalent title, with high marks from well reputed Universities is required. Admissions are decided on the basis of individual files. In addition to the general admission requirements (cv, reference letters, transcript of titles, etc), graduate records, like the GRE test and TOEFL are highly recommended.

Non EU students can be admitted also through the Erasmus Mundus Program that finances both full time students enrolled to get the PhD title and exchange students for shorter visiting periods.

For the academic year 2017/2018 a total of nine scholarships for full time PhD students are available. Eight are financed by University of Bologna and by the Department of Economics for research in any field of Economics and one position is financed for participation to the European Doctorate in Law and Economics, EDLE.

The full time scholarship will be assigned to the best applications on a competitive basis.  Up to one self-financed PhD students positions are also available. For more details have a look at  Admission Page.

All admitted students receive additional research funds provided by the department starting from the 2nd year (around € 1.300 per year).

Further financial support takes the form of teaching assistantships with official calls from the University, and research assistantships (usually administered by professors using their research funding).

The Erasmus Mundus Programs also finances full time PhD positions.

The University of Bologna, called Alma Mater Studiorum, founded in the year A.D.1088, is the oldest University of the Western World and can count on a near-one thousand-year history of academic activity and student life and is one of the largest higher-education institutions in Europe. Its history as one of the leading academic institutions in sciences and humanities makes it a fundamental reference point within the scenario of European culture.

The history of the City of Bologna and its identity is inextricably linked to its University and its free-thinking tradition. Even Bologna’s architecture has been shaped by the presence of the students: its famous arcades (“portici”) were initially designed to extend the houses having bending rooms over the streets in order to provide an extra space for students to let. Situated in the heartland of Northern Italy, Bologna has always been a strategic crossroads of Italy. A beautiful city, with an intact historical centre comprising the peculiar medieval porticoes, towers and buildings with red and ochre-hued facades. The city retains the wonderful heritage of its Etruscan, Roman and Medieval past which makes a wonderful place to live and visit.

The city is also known for its culinary excellence, its cultural life and its quality of life and the excellent public services. Lying at the foothills of the Apennine mountains and just an hour away from the seaside, the city’s surroundings also offer excellent opportunities for day trips and outdoor activities. With its over 90,000 students (including around 5,000 international students)  and its 370,000 inhabitants, the wide range of cultural opportunities and, the thriving bar and club scene, is the Italian university cities most loved by students.