Political Economy

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Designated Emphasis (DE) in Political Economy gives PhD students at UC Berkeley the opportunity to strengthen their training in interdisciplinary political economy, to join a vibrant intellectual community that cuts across academic units on campus, and to earn an extra credential along with their doctoral degree. This program has multiple benefits for faculty and graduate students as well as for the campus community more broadly, positioning Berkeley at the cutting edge of the study of interdisciplinary political economy, both nationally and internationally.

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PhD students in any department may apply. All applications must be reviewed and approved by the Executive Committee of the Graduate Group. In order to gain such approval, students must have taken one core course (or be enrolled in one) before applying to the Designated Emphasis. Students should take care to make their applications before their qualifying exams.

Doctoral students must commit to fulfilling the DE requirements and present a tentative plan for doing so (with proposed courses, dates for those courses, and a target date for the Qualifying Examination).

Designated Emphasis Requirements


Students in the DE must take three courses from the list below, or two courses from the list plus a third course with substantial political economy content that has been approved by the Designated Emphasis's head graduate advisor. At least two of the three courses must be taken outside of the student’s home department. And the three courses must be from at least two different departments.

Core Course List

POL SCI 209AComparative Political Economy4
POL SCI 226AInternational Political Economy4
POL SCI 279Selected Topics in American Government4
SOCIOL 273CAdvanced Seminars in Research Methods: Comparative and Historical Research3
SOCIOL 280QAdvanced Study in Substantive Sociological Fields: Economy and Society3
SOCIOL 290Seminar3
HISTORY 280DAdvanced Studies: Sources/General Literature of the Several Fields: United States (When topic is Economic History)4
ECON 210AIntroduction to Economic History3
ECON 215APolitical Economics3
ECON 215BPolitical Economics3
ECON 260AComparative Economics3
GEOG 215Seminar in Comparative and International Development4
ESPM 217Political Economy of Climate Change3
LAW 217Course Not Available (When taught by Prof. Grewal and subject is Political Economy related)
PHDBA 279PAPolitical Economy: Frameworks3
PHDBA 279PCPolitical Economy: Empirics3
PHDBA 279PDThe Economic Institutions of Capitalism in Historical Perspective3

DE students are encouraged to embrace the spirit of the program, and not only to satisfy the minimum formal requirements. In particular, they are encouraged to take at least two courses that stretch them beyond the most prevalent approaches to political economy in their home disciplines.

DE students will also be required to participate in DE workshops to be held about once a month during the fall and spring semesters. They will also be encouraged to participate in the Berkeley Economy and Society Initiative (BESI) Programs.

Since the Economics Department and the Haas School political economy programs overlap, students in one of these units may only count one course in the other unit as an “outside” course. Thus, an Economics student could count one Haas course as an outside course, but would have to take at least one course outside of both Economics and Haas.

The History Department offers a variety of seminars with the number 280, so only those that focus on political economy will count for this program. In case of doubt, check with the DE's graduate student affairs officer.

Examination and Dissertation Requirements

Students must be admitted to the DE before the qualifying examination. The qualifying examination must include examination of knowledge within the DE.

Students must have at least one DE faculty member on their Qualifying Exam and Dissertation Committees. They should choose that member(s) from the Designated Emphasis affiliated faculty roster. Students may also request approval from the graduate adviser for another faculty member, who has substantial expertise in political economy, and whose own work is relevant to that of the student.

The dissertation topic must incorporate study within the Designated Emphasis.

Designated Emphasis Conferral Process

The Designated Emphasis will be awarded solely in conjunction with the doctoral degree and will be signified on the student’s transcript.

Contact Information

Political Economy

101 Stephens Hall

Phone: 510-642-4466


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Chair and Head Graduate Advisor

Steven Vogel


Associate Director, Political Economy

Alan Karras


Graduate Student Affairs Officer

Dreux Montgomery


Director of Administration

Rachel Crow


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