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The PhD Program

The PhD in Economics is a joint program of the Universities of Milan and Pavia. The duration of the program is three years: the first year is mainly dedicated to course work; the second and the third years to research. The PhD degree is jointly awarded by the University of Milan and the University of Pavia after completion and defense of an original thesis which must provide a significant contribution to the development of knowledge in Economics.

Every year, six positions are offered to selected candidates. All positions are fully funded by three-year scholarships. The program requires full time engagement; PhD students cannot carry out working activities, independently of remuneration, unless they are explicitly authorized by the PhD Faculty (Collegio dei docenti). See here for details.

Students must attend PhD courses and participate in all PhD activities. They must carry out their research at the University of Milan, at the University of Pavia or at a foreign institution during their period of study abroad. Further information can be found at this link.

Research Focus

The research project is the main focus of the PhD program and should serve as the basis for the PhD thesis. The project must be integrated in the research areas of the Faculty as organized in thematic clusters. Active involvement in research is promoted partly through the interaction with the supervisors and their research networks, partly through the student's active participation in seminars, workshops and conferences at the Departments of Economics of the Universities of Milan and Pavia. Students are expected to present the results of their research in Department seminars and/or in research student workshops.

Structure of the Program and Thesis Requirements

The PhD in Economics is a three-year program. In the first year students receive a rigorous training in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Econometrics. Admission to the second year is conditional on exam performance as well as on presentation of a satisfactory research project. During the second year, students attend field courses, select a thesis supervisor and start working on their dissertation under the close supervision of a Faculty member. The third year is entirely dedicated to research and completion of the thesis.

The thesis generally consists of a brief introduction and two chapters. Essays on different topics within the same field are acceptable. The two chapters must provide original contributions to the development of knowledge, i.e. new theoretical and/or empirical results in the chosen research field. The thesis chapters should be in the form of original papers publishable on international scientific journals with peer review. At least one of the two chapters should be single-authored by the PhD candidate.

First year

During the first year, students attend advanced courses in Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Econometrics. Three or four courses, of about 20 hours each, are usually offered in each area. Additionally, students are expected to prepare a thesis project. The project should identify one or more issues to be addressed, and be motivated by a short survey of the literature; the project proposal should include a statement of research objectives, and a research strategy. Students are assigned a member of the Faculty as tutor to receive guidance on the research project preparation. At the end of the first year, students present their projects to the PhD Faculty and fellow students, and submit a short written report of their research activity and results.

Admission to the second year

Admission to the second year requires students to satisfactorily complete all first-year courses by obtaining a pass grade in the first exam or in the retake and to have their research project approved by the PhD Faculty.

Second year

In the second year students attend field courses, normally offered in the first term (September-December). Meanwhile, they start working on a first research paper under the supervision of their thesis advisor. The paper, which must have the potential to satisfy the requirements of a thesis chapter, will be presented at the end of the year to the PhD Faculty and fellow students. Students also submit a short report on their research activity and results. After completing second-year courses, students can spend a period of study abroad at a foreign university or research institution.

Admission to the third year

Admission to the third year is conditional on passing all second-year courses and on writing an original research paper that is positively evaluated by the PhD Faculty. The paper can be in the form of a preliminary draft but should clearly state the research objectives, include a literature review, and provide original results.

Third year

During the third year, students have to complete their PhD thesis under the supervision of their advisor. Students are also encouraged to present their results at international conferences and workshops. The thesis is presented in an open seminar at the end of the year to the PhD Faculty and fellow students. Then, it is sent to two external referees who provide a formal written assessment. After addressing the reviewers comments, students are admitted to the final discussion of their thesis.

Thesis defense and award of the PhD in Economics

The thesis has to be publicly defended in front of a Committee of three members (two of whom must be external) who are selected by the PhD Faculty among experts in the field of the dissertation. The PhD in Economics is awarded upon approval of the thesis by the Committee.

Visiting Period Abroad

Students have the opportunity to spend a visiting period abroad to carry out their research at a foreign university or research institution. The period spent abroad follows second-year courses and is usually between six and twelve months. The visiting period is subject to the approval of the supervisor and of the Faculty and requires an invitation letter by a researcher in the hosting institution willing to supervise the student abroad. The aim of the visiting period abroad is to advance the PhD project by taking advantage of the expertise available in the hosting institution, while promoting the integration of students in an international research network.

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