fbpx Degree Requirements | Harvard Kennedy School

When applying to the PhD Program in Political Economy and Government (PEG), you must specify the academic track—economics or political science—you will focus on while in the program. You are required to stay on the declared track while working toward your doctorate and must meet the core requirements below.

Economics Track

For the economics track, you will need to complete:

  • Microeconomic theory (Econ 2010a, Econ 2010b)
  • Macroeconomic theory (Econ 2010c, Econ 2010d)
  • Econometrics
  • Four courses in government, including two in a major political science field
  • Two courses in a major economics field
  • Two research workshops (2000 level)

Political Science Track

For the political science track, you must complete:

  • Microeconomic theory (Econ 2020a, Econ 2020b)
  • Macroeconomic theory (Econ 2010c)
  • Econometrics
  • Two courses in formal theory or political economy
  • Two courses in a major political science field
  • Two courses in a major economics field
  • A field seminar course in government
  • Two course research workshops (3000 level)

Oral General Examination

Regardless of whether you are on the economics or political science tracks, you will be tested on whether you have sufficiently mastered your field to be considered an expert. The oral general examination is held by the beginning of your third year and examines:

  • An approved economics field
  • An approved political science field
  • Your general analytical and research abilities based on your research papers

If you are on the economics track, the first section is a written exam administered and graded by faculty members at Harvard’s Department of Economics. If on the political science track, you can choose either to take the written exam in economics or incorporate it in your oral examination.

The second and third sections are bundled into one 60-minute oral exam; each section is about 30 minutes. If you are on the political science track and decide to incorporate the first section in your oral examination, you will be tested on economics for an additional 30 minutes. Your oral exam will last a total of 90 minutes.

You will need to complete your required coursework as well as your research paper ahead of the oral exam. If you are taking the written exam, you will need to complete it by the end of your second year.

Apart from the oral exam, you will also need to prepare your dissertation prospectus to present by the beginning of your fourth year.


Students typically finish researching and writing their dissertation within two years after they submit their written prospectus at the beginning of their fourth year.

Once you defend your dissertation successfully in a forum open to the public, you will be awarded your doctoral degree by the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

See a complete list of dissertations written by PEG candidates from 1973 to the present in the Political Economy and Government Dissertations Archive.