How Do I Get a PhD in Behavioral Economics?

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  • Written By: Jessica F. Black
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2019
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To receive a PhD in behavioral economics, you will first need to work on an undergraduate and graduate degree before being accepted into a doctoral program. Behavioral economics is a subcategory of economics, and many universities do not offer a degree specifically in this area. There are, however, other programs that are directly related to this profession that may be considered as options in undergraduate work. Regardless of your major, your undergraduate coursework should be heavily based on the principles of economics if you plan to eventually receive a PhD in behavioral economics.

During your undergraduate years, it can be helpful to work with a department head or adviser to ensure that you take the necessary courses to advance to a master's program in an economic field. Undergraduate coursework may include principles of economics, microeconomics, experimental economics, and behavioral economics, if offered at your university. These programs generally take at least four years to complete and during this time you should begin researching your options for graduate degree programs.


Completion of a master's degree in an economic field will help you gain admittance to a doctoral program and ultimately receive a PhD in behavioral economics. Behavioral economics is a relatively rare degree topic, so you may want to consider a general degree in economics with a strong background of behavioral based courses to prepare. Some classes that you may want to consider taking include growth and development, economic forecasting, managerial economics, and collective decisions. Courses may vary depending on the university but you will want to look for those that are interrelated with your intended PhD focus. A master's degree program generally takes two years, and you will usually need to excel in your coursework to be accepted into a doctoral program.

You will need to successfully complete numerous doctoral level courses in economics to obtain a PhD in behavioral economics. Although not all of your coursework will be based on the behavioral aspects of economics, you may want to supplement your schedule with courses that will provide you with a strong background in this sub-field. Some courses that will help you receive a PhD in behavioral economics including behavioral decision making, financial behavior, and foundations of behavioral economics.


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