Degree Programs

Business Economics

A joint degree offered by the Department of Economics in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Harvard Business School, the PhD in business economics combines economic analysis with the practical aspects of business. This degree is primarily intended to prepare students for careers in research and teaching in business administration and related fields of economics. The general management approach of the Harvard Business School is an important ingredient in the program.

The program can be distinguished from the Harvard PhD in economics by its greater emphasis on business fields and its focus on the use of economic analysis and statistical methods in dealing effectively with management problems in these applied business fields.

Admission

Successful candidates have strong records of academic performance in rigorous programs and exemplary GRE General Test or GMAT scores, especially in the quantitative area. They are not required to hold a degree in economics, though prior coursework is strongly recommended. Furthermore, they generally have an effective working knowledge of college-level calculus and linear algebra.

Adequate command of spoken and written English is required for admission. Non-native English speakers must take the TOEFL, unless they have obtained the equivalent of a US Bachelor degree from an institution at which English is the language of instruction. The committee prefers scores of at least 100 on the Internet based test (IBT) of the TOEFL.

Further information about the program is available on the Harvard Business School Website. Online applications are available on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Website. Questions regarding the program should be directed to:

Harvard Business School
Doctoral Programs Office
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(617) 495-6101

Financial Aid

All incoming students receive a merit-based award, regardless of need. This includes a fellowship for tuition and health fees, as well as a stipend for living expenses ($39,600 in 2014–2015).

Program

During the first year, students take courses in graduate economic theory (i.e., microeconomics, general equilibrium, and macroeconomics) to prepare for the written General Examination. All courses should be completed with a grade of B or better. Most students take an advanced course in statistics and a basic graduate course in econometrics. This is the same first-year program that would be undertaken by a candidate for the PhD in economics.

To complete the PhD in business economics, students must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Courses in economic theory
  • Courses in quantitative methods
  • Business Education for Scholars and Teaching (BEST)
  • Business history
  • Teaching
  • Written General Examination in economic theory
  • Field Examination
  • Field Research
  • Research Progress Report
  • Dissertation

The Field Examination is a written exam designed to test an area or areas of study in business economics and related fields in economics.  

The Business Economics Policy and Admissions Committee (PAC), in coordination with the Economics Graduate Instruction Committee (GIC) will communicate a list of fields to students at the start of each academic year so that students planning to take field exams that year may choose courses to satisfy their field’s requirements. Students must take two approved courses for credit in order to satisfy the requirements for testing in a field. As such, a minimum of four courses needs to be taken for credit. To maintain a minimum breadth of knowledge, a student who wishes to take an exam outside of the offered list needs approval from the Chairs of the Business Economics Program. 

The Field Research requirement is designed to provide students with the opportunity to engage in a field experience that will expose them to organizations and markets dealing with real-world challenges and help them advance their own research agenda. Students are able to choose a field site, with the approval of faculty advisors and the Doctoral Programs Office, to conduct an intensive 5-7 field visit for research exposure and development.

Selected PhD Dissertation Titles

  • "Skill, Job Design, and the Labor Market under Uncertainty"
  • "Essays in Industrial Organization and Finance"
  • "Essays in International Trade and Development"
  • "Essays in Financial Economics"
  • "Essays in Development and Health"
  • "Essays on Matching in Labor Economics 1) An Integrated Model of Occupation Choice, Spouse Choice, and Family Labor Supply 2) Spouse Choice and Female Labor Supply: Evidence from Lawyers 3) Evaluating Econometric Models of Peer Effects with Experimental Data"
  • "Essays on Applied Microeconomics 1) Competing Ad Auctions 2) Consumer Search Pattern in Internet Advertising 3) Value Access in Venture Capital"
  • "Essays in Corporate and Consumer Finance 1) Get in Line: Chapter 11 Restructuring in Crowded Bankruptcy Courts 2) The Ownership and Trading of Debt Claims in Chapter 11 Restructurings 3) Can Gambling Increase Savings? Empirical Evidence on Prize-linked Savings Accounts"
  • "Essays on the Economics of Risk and Financial Markets"
  • "Essays on the Industrial Organization of Health Care"
  • "Social Forces and Public Good Provision"
  • "Matching Models of Markets"
  • "Essays in Microeconomic Theory"
  • "The Industrial Organization of Health Insurance Markets"
  • "Effects of the Organization of Financial Markets"
  • "Capital Market Imperfections and Corporate Finance"
  • "Essays on Networks and Markets 1) Community Structure and Market Outcomes: Towards a Theory of Repeated Games in Networks, 2) Effective Word-of-Mouth: Reputation Networks and Market Structure, 3) Social Networks and Unraveling in Labor Markets"
  • "Malnutrition, Infectious Disease, and Economic Development"
  • "Individuals and Corporate Decisions"

Faculty

Business Economics faculty members come from both the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Harvard Business School. They include, but are not limited to:

David S. Scharfstein, Co-Chair, Edmund Cogswell Converse Professor of Finance and Banking. Entrepreneurship and venture capital; corporate resource allocation; and financing and management of biotechnology.

Luis M. Viceira, Co-Chair, George E. Bates Professor. Investments and asset prices.

Philippe Aghion, Robert C. Waggoner Professor of Economics. Economic theory, development, industrial organization, economic growth, contract theory.

Bharat Anand, Henry R. Byers Professor of Business Administration. Applied and empirical industrial organization and corporate strategy.

Nava Ashraf, Associate Professor,MBA Class of 1966 Faculty Research Fellow. Decision making, economic development, and field experiments.

Malcolm Baker, Robert G. Kirby Professor of Business Administration Unit Head, Finance. Interaction between corporate financing decisions and market efficiency.

Carliss Y. Baldwin, William L. White Professor of Business Administration. Finance and organizational economics.

John Y. Campbell, Morton L. and Carole S. Olshan Professor of Economics. Stock prices, term structure of interest rates, and aggregate consumption in relation to economic fluctuations.

Lauren Cohen, Associate Professor of Business Administration. Empirical asset pricing, behavioral finance, and portfolio choice.

C. Fritz Foley, André R. Jakurski Professor of Business Administration. International corporate finance.

Drew Fudenberg, Frederic E. Abbe Professor of Economics. Game theory and microeconomic theory.

Stuart Gilson, Steven R. Fenster Professor of Business Administration. Valuation, corporate finance, and corporate restructuring.

Paul A. Gompers, Eugene Holman Professor of Business Administration Chair, MBA Elective Curriculum. Private equity funds, private firms, and long-run performance evaluation for newly public companies.

Jerry R. Green, John Leverett Professor in the University; David A. Wells Professor of Political Economy. Microeconomic theory

Brian J. Hall, Albert H. Gordon Professor of Business Administration Unit Head, Negotiation, Organizations & Markets. Compensation and incentive strategy, corporate governance, corporate finance, and organizational economics.

Samuel Hanson, Assistant Professor of Business Administration. Corporate finance, behavioral finance, and asset pricing

Oliver S. Hart, Andrew E. Furer Professor of Economics. Theory of the firm and contract theory.

Paul M. Healy, James R. Williston Professor of Business Administration, Senior Associate Dean for Research. Corporate financial reporting and analysis and corporate finance.

Richard Hornbeck, Dunwalke Associate Professor of American History. Economic history and development.

Victoria Ivashina, Associate Professor of Business Administration. Applied corporate finance, credit markets.

Dale W. Jorgenson, Samuel W. Morris University Professor. Econometrics.

Robert S. Kaplan, Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Emeritus. Link between cost and performance measurement systems with strategy implementation and operational excellence.

Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor of Business Administration. Corporate strategy of diversified business.

Josh Lerner, Jacob H. Schiff Professor of Investment Banking, Unit Head, Entrepreneurial Management. Venture capital, private equity, and intellectual property.

Nathan Nunn, Professor of Economics. International trade, economic development, economic history.

Felix Oberholzer-Gee, Andreas Andresen Professor of Business Administration. Senior Associate Dean for International Development. Strategy.

Ariel Pakes, Thomas Professor of Economics. Industrial organization and econometrics.

Krishna G. Palepu, Ross Graham Walker Professor of Business Administration. Strategy, valuation, and disclosure.

Jan Rivkin, Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Business Administration. Interactions across functional and product boundaries within a firm.

Julio J. Rotemberg, William Ziegler Professor of Business Administration. Sources of economic fluctuations, emphasizing effects of monetary policy, fiscal policy, and oil price changes.

Richard S. Ruback, Willard Prescott Smith Professor of Corporate Finance. Applied corporate finance.

Andrei Shleifer, Professor of Economics. Applied theory, corporate finance, and economic transition.

Jeremy C. Stein, Moise Y. Safra Professor of Economics. Corporate finance, behavioral finance, money and banking.

Adi Sunderam, Assistant Professor of Business Administration. Corporate finance, asset pricing, and financial intermediation.

Dennis Yao, Lawrence E. Fouraker Professor of Business Administration. Incentive and information problems affecting firms.