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M.I.T. Graduate Economics Program Brochure, 1961




Robert Solow served as the graduate registration officer of the Department of Economics and Social Science at M.I.T. perhaps even as late as when the graduate program brochure (transcribed below) was printed in 1961. Since Solow went down to Washington to serve as a senior staff economist on the Council of Economic Advisers in 1961, it seems likely that the brochure would have been drafted sometime before John F. Kennedy’s inauguration. This brochure is striking in many ways, e.g. its 100% informational content, presumably reflecting significant authorship/editor responsibilities of Robert Solow.

Five cherry-picked quotes from the brochure I found particularly sweet:

“The M.I.T. program does not concentrate on mathematical economics”
[It’s not what you say, it’s what they hear.]

“The department welcomes applications from qualified women”
[Apparently in the DNA of the department since World War II nearly emptied the pool of qualified male applicants.]

“The purpose of the minor program is to broaden the interests or capacities of the student in other areas than those of his major intellectual objective. While some latitude is allowed in particular cases, the spirit of this purpose is always held in view.”
[As opposed to the commandment “Thou shalt stay in thy lane”.]

“Students who are prepared for graduate work in economics are almost never deficient in humanities. Similarly, deficiencies in science are infrequent; but candidates are frequently admitted without preparation in calculus.”
[You go to war with the army you have.]

“In judging promise, special weight is naturally given to letters of recommendation from economists known to members of the department. The difficulty of evaluating records in foreign institutions and of judging foreign references constitutes a serious but no impassable barrier for foreign applicants.”
[Signal extraction problem vs. the problem of old boy networks]

Incidentally, neither “microeconomics” nor “macroeconomics” appear in the document at all. The preferred terms seen here in the brochure are “price and allocation theory” and “income analysis”.


The Graduate Program in Economics

School of Humanities and Social Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This brochure has been prepared especially for students who may enter the graduate program in economics at M.I.T. Its purpose is to answer a number of questions which have been recurrently raised about the program and to add to the information which is given in the M.I.T. catalogue.


Highlights of the M.I.T. Graduate Program in Economics

  1. The program is almost entirely for doctoral candidates. The master’s degree at M.I.T. is given in either economics and engineering or economics and science; it requires the equivalent of the M.I.T. undergraduate content in engineering or science.
  2. The M.I.T. program does not concentrate on mathematical economics. All students are required to have and use a minimum of mathematics. Students who enter without calculus may make up their deficiency in the first term with a one-semester subject (Mathematics for Economists—14.101), given in our own department. Most of the work in most fields, however, is nonmathematical.
  3. The program is limited in size. Approximately twenty-five students are admitted in any year; sixty or so students are in residence at one time. The department has more than thirty faculty members, twenty of whom have a major responsibility in the graduate program.
  4. The department welcomes applications from qualified women.
  5. All applicants are urged to take the Graduate Record Examination no later than during the January preceding the September in which they wish to enter. They should take the quantitative and verbal aptitude tests as well as the test in economics (Write to the Graduate Record Examinations, educational Testing service, 20 Nassau Street, Princeton, New Jersey, for information on these examinations. Students in western states should write to 4640 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles 27, California.)
  6. Visits to the M.I.T. Campus are helpful both to the candidate and to the departmental admissions committee. Appointments are desirable but are not generally essential, since members of the committee are likely to be available.
  7. The department would like each applicant to submit a statement (one or two pages) explaining his interest in economics. An informal questionnaire is provided for general guidance.
  8. Admission in February is granted only on an exceptional basis, because many subjects given in the spring are continuations of work given in the fall. In any event, fellowship assistance is given only as a consequence of the annual March competition, for students entering in the following September.
  9. Fellowships and scholarships in amounts up to $3250 are available for entering graduate students.
  10. Winners of outside fellowships are welcome to use them at M.I.T. It is entirely appropriate to apply for a Woodrow Wilson, G.E., A.A.U.W., National Science Foundation, or other outside fellowship at the same time that one applies to M.I.T. As a rule, M.I.T. learns of the outside award prior to making its own announcements.
  11. Liberal second-year fellowships are available both to students entering with fellowships and to those who enter without financial assistance. Awards are made on the basis of first-year performance.
  12. Teaching assistantships are ordinarily available for third-year students only, although some second-year students may do a small amount of teaching. Assistantships are not available to entering students unless they have had prior graduate study and teaching experience elsewhere.
  13. I.T. these are written in residence. Following an Institute rule, theses are prepared in residence except where the special requirements of the subject, such as field work, dictate otherwise. All theses are written in residence.
  14. For further information, write the Graduate Registration Office of the Department of Economic and Social Science, Professor Robert M. Solow.


S.M. in Economics and Engineering or Economics and Science

The department offers a Master of Science degree only in the combined fields of economics and engineering or economics and science. This degree is available primarily to students whose undergraduate work was in either engineering or science. Its purpose is to enable scientists and engineers, and in particular graduates of the undergraduate Courses in Economics and Engineering or Science (Course XIV) at M.I.T., to carry their economics training to the graduate level in order to equip them more fully for work in industry or government.


Ph.D. Degree

Ph.D. degrees are awarded in economics (including industrial relations) and in political science. In addition, candidates occasionally work for a doctorate in two or more fields—for example, economics and mathematics, economics and operations research, or economics and regional planning. These candidates are examined by special committees, on which members of the Department of Economics and Social Science serve jointly with members of the other departments concerned. Most of the graduate work in the department is directed towards the doctor’s degree. This pamphlet deals exclusively with the Ph.D. in economics; a separate bulletin describing graduate work in political science is available on request.

There are four departmental requirements for the Ph.D. degree: the passing of a general examination in a number of approved fields within the area of economics and social science; the satisfactory completion of a “minor” program in another department; demonstration of ability to read two foreign languages of significance in economics; and preparation and defense of a dissertation.


Major Program and General Examinations

Work taken in the Department of Economics and Social Science for the doctorate in economics is divided—broadly speaking—into two separate options: economics and industrial relations. But there is considerable overlap between the two.

All students in both options are examined five fields. Among the fields presently available are the following: economic theory, advanced economic theory, monetary and fiscal economics, industrial organization, economic development, international economics, economics of innovation, labor economics and labor relations, personnel administration, human relations in industry, statistical theory and method, and economic history. Each student selects one field as having primary importance for this professional career; ordinarily this is the field in which he writes his dissertation, though exceptions may be made. The remaining four fields are designated secondary fields. One of the five fields must be economic theory.

Students are also required to have at least a minimum knowledge of statistics and economic history. This minimum is presently interpreted to mean one semester of work in each at the graduate level. Candidates who present statistics or economic history as a primary or secondary field normally take two or three semester subjects in the field and automatically satisfy the requirements in that area.

Students may qualify in one of the secondary fields through course work only, provided that they receive a mark of B or better in two subjects. Students are examined in writing in the remaining four fields during an eight-day period (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Monday). The theory examination is four hours long (divided roughly between microeconomics and macroeconomics), while the other three are ach three hours long.

Following these written examinations, the student takes a two-hour oral examination which covers theory, his primary field, and one secondary field.


Foreign Languages

Doctoral candidates must show reading knowledge of two foreign languages; the standard set is the ability to read works of scientific interest at a relatively slow pace. Acceptable languages are German, French, Russian, or any other language which has a literature in economics or which will advance the educational program planned by the individual student. Students are examined by the Department of Modern Languages.

Students whose language preparation has been limited may take subjects which prepare specifically for the language examinations. Students with no previous training in a language frequently are able to attain the necessary minimum proficiency during a single semester of fairly intensive study. Others, who have already had some introduction to a language, often pass the requirement at some time before the end of the semester.


Minor Program

Every candidate for the doctor’s degree at M.I.T. must complete a program in a minor field in another department of the Institute. This program consists of a minimum of 24 units, which ordinarily implies three one-semester subjects. The choice of the minor field is made by the student, with the approval of the Department of Economics and Social Science. The content of the program within the other department is a matter for that department’s determination. Satisfactory completion of a minor is ordinarily contingent upon an average rating of 3.5 (in effect, a minimum of two B’s and a C). The normal standard is that the minor work shall be beyond the level required of M.I.T. undergraduates. Students who have done advanced undergraduate work in some field other than economics may often use it to meet part of the minor requirement.

Students in economics have met the minor requirement in such fields as mathematics, industrial management, history, international relations, other social sciences, literature, city planning, chemistry, and electrical engineering. Subjects taken in the minor program must not duplicate work which may be offered for one of the five fields in economics. A minor program in history may include only one term of economic history, since two terms would qualify the student to offer it as a field in economics. Similarly, students minoring in industrial management may not concentrate in such areas as personnel administration. The purpose of the minor program is to broaden the interests or capacities of the student in other areas than those of his major intellectual objective. While some latitude is allowed in particular cases, the spirit of this purpose is always held in view.


Courses at Harvard

Students regularly enrolled at M.I.T. are permitted to take a limited number of subjects at Harvard University—about two miles distant in Cambridge—on an exchange basis, without paying extra tuition. Such subjects may be taken as a part of the minor program. Fields for the major program other than those described above may sometimes be offered on the basis of work at Harvard.


Residence Requirements

The minimum residence requirement for the Ph.D. degree, including thesis, is the equivalent of one and one-half full-time academic years. No specific number of subjects is required for the general examinations. In general, however, it is recommended that students have at least the equivalent of three semesters of work at the graduate level for the primary field; four semesters in economic theory; and two semesters in each of the other fields. Work on the graduate level at other institutions is considered in meeting these broad approximations of the requisite preparation. Since there are no formal course requirements, there is no occasion to have graduate credits from other schools transferred.

A full-time student is expect to take the equivalent of five subjects each semester for credit; this may include one “reading subject,” in which the student will broaden his reading in his regular subjects. A half-time student is permitted to take approximately three subjects, and a third-time student two subjects. Auditing of additional subjects is permitted as an overload.


Dissertation and Special Examination

The Institute requires that all dissertations be prepared in residence, during which period tuition must be paid. Field work may be necessary to gather material; but the analysis of this material must take place at the Institute, under supervision of the instructor in charge of the dissertation. In some cases the writing of the final, polished version of the thesis may be completed elsewhere.

As in other institutions, the dissertation is expected to make a contribution to knowledge in the subject. Shortly after each candidate has submitted his thesis, he is examined on its subject. This examination is oral, conducted by a committee generally consisting of three faculty members, and usually is one hour in length.


Total Program of Course Work

The typical student comes to the Institute directly from college with no previous graduate study, having a deficiency in one subject and the ability to pass the reading examination in one language. He can usually prepare for the general examinations in four semesters (two academic years) taking five subjects in each, divided as follows:


In the Department of Economics Economic theory—four subjects
One primary field—three subjects
Three secondary fields—six subjects
Statistics—one subject
In other departments Deficiency—one subject
Language—one subject
Minor—three subjects
Total: Twenty subjects
[sic, total of the above is nineteen]

This program is only illustrative, of course, and a wide number of variations are to be expected. Additional work may be required because of additional deficiencies or lack of language preparation. The number of subjects may be reduced by absence of deficiencies, by better preparation in languages, by postponing one or more requirements (such as a part of the minor) until after the general examinations, or by incorporating economic history and/or statistics as primary or secondary fields.


Time Required for the Ph.D. Degree

A student entering the program with only a bachelor’s degree may expect to receive the Ph.D. degree in three years under optimum conditions. This will entail taking the general examination in May of the second year and completing a satisfactory dissertation in two semesters of full-time work thereafter. Normally, however, somewhat more time is needed, either in summer work or in some part of a fourth year. Students may need this additional time for more extensive preparation before the general examination, for the thesis, or (in the ordinary case) because teaching duties prevent full-time progress as a student. Many students who plan to enter the teaching profession take advantage of the opportunity to teach part-time at M.I.T. Teaching assistantships are available for students who have passed their general examinations, and occasionally for second-year students.

General examinations are given in the department at the beginning of each semester—in September and February—an again in May. Defense of the dissertation is arranged individually at any time.

Students enrolling in the Ph.D. program with a master’s degree from another institution, based on one or more years of residence at that institution, are urged to take their general examinations earlier than May of their second year at M.I.T. It is not usual, however, for a student to be able to transfer between institutions without some loss of time.


Summer School

The department does not offer any subjects at the graduate level during the summer session. However, students may enroll during the summer for thesis credits, for which tuition must be paid. Scholarships are only rarely available for payment of summer school tuition.



To be admitted into the program, a student must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. To be admitted without deficiencies, he must have taken one year of college mathematics, including at least one semester of calculus; one year of college science; and a minimum of three years of college work in the humanities and social sciences. While an undergraduate degree in economics is not indispensable, students are expected to have done a considerable amount of undergraduate work in this field. Students who are prepared for graduate work in economics are almost never deficient in humanities. Similarly, deficiencies in science are infrequent; but candidates are frequently admitted without preparation in calculus.


Special Students

Special students, taking from one to five subjects, may be admitted to the Institute and to the department from time to time under special circumstances. Admission of special students automatically lapses each semester; application for re-admission, in the case of students wishing to continue course work, must have the approval of the instructor concerned and the department.



Students who, upon admission, are deficient in mathematics may make up this deficiency by taking a special one-semester subject offered by the Department of Economics—Mathematics for economists (14.101.) Since calculus is required for some of the work in economic theory and statistics, students entering with a deficiency in this area are required to make it up as soon as possible. Though this is not specifically recommended, some students may be able to make up a deficiency in calculus by studying at a summer school prior to fall enrollment at the Institute.


Fellowships, Scholarships, and Financial Assistance

Fellowships and scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis only. First-year awards are made on April 1 for the academic year beginning in the following September. Second-year and subsequent departmental awards are made in June. No academic assistance is available for students applying after April 1, or (until the following September) for those entering in February.

Fellowships cover the tuition fee of $1500 and some cash payment toward living expenses. A fellowship of $3200 will thus include $1500 tuition and $1700 cash. The cash award is paid in two equal installments, at the beginning of each semester.

The total of fellowship assistance varies from year to year. There are several name fellowships: the Goodyear, varying from $3000 to $3500; the United States Steel, at about $3100 for each of two years (awarded every other year); the RAND Corporation Fellowship in Mathematical Economics, varying from $3000 to $3500; the Hicks, for students of industrial relations, ranging from $2000 to $3000; and the Center for International Studies Fellowship in Economic Development, ranging from $3000 to $3500; In addition to these, the Institute awards Whitney Fellowships ($3000 in 1961), open only to first-year graduate students coming from outside M.I.T., upon recommendation of the department; and the department has limited funds with which it makes scholarship and fellowship awards varying from $1500 to $3000.

In offering scholarships and fellowships, the department takes into account a variety of factors; academic achievement, career promise, and need. In judging promise, special weight is naturally given to letters of recommendation from economists known to members of the department. The difficulty of evaluating records in foreign institutions and of judging foreign references constitutes a serious but no impassable barrier for foreign applicants.

In general, outside fellowships are financially better than all but a few of the department’s awards. Applicants are therefore urged to seek Woodrow Wilson, Danforth, National Science Foundation, and similar fellowships for use at M.I.T., if they think they stand a good chance of success in the national competition.

Students who perform effectively in their first year are assured of financial support needed to finish the degree. Part of this takes the form of fellowships, in amounts somewhat lower than first-year awards; the rest consists of teaching and research assistantships and instructorships. The half-time teaching assistantship covers the half-time tuition fee of $1000 and pays $180 a month for nine months—a total of $2620. The half-time instructorship, which is reserved for students who have demonstrated effective teaching as an assistant, pays the same tuition and $235 monthly–$3115 for the academic year. The few research assistants appointed each year receive a higher rate of pay than teaching assistants but pay their own tuition. They have the advantage, however, of working on a subject related to their thesis. The department is occasionally able to obtain assistantships for applicants in other parts of the Institute, such as the School of Industrial Management or the Operations Research Group.

Third-year students are also encouraged to compete for outside assistance in supporting their thesis research, such as the Ford Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Awards, the Social Science Research Council Fellowships, and Fulbright Awards.


The Faculty in Economics and Industrial Relations

Morris A. Adelman, Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Harvard 1948
Industrial organization, government regulation

Albert K. Ando, Assistant Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Carnegie Institute of Technology 1959
Statistics and econometrics, economic fluctuations

Francis M. Bator, Associate Professor of Economics
Ph.D. M.I.T. 1956
Price and allocation theory, income analysis, economic growth

Robert L. Bishop, Professor of Economics, in charge of the department
Ph.D. Harvard 1949
Price and distribution theory, industrial organization, history of economic thought

E. Cary Brown, Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Harvard 1948
Public finance, income analysis, fiscal economics

Evsey D. Domar, Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Harvard 1947
Income analysis, economic growth, Soviet economics, fiscal economics

Robert Evans, Jr., Assistant Professor of Industrial Relations
Ph.D. Chicago 1959
Labor economics, industrial relations

Franklin M. Fisher, Assistant Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Harvard 1960
Econometrics, price and allocation theory

Harold A. Freeman, Professor of Statistics
S.B. M.I.T. 1931
Statistical theory, experimental design probability methods

Ralph E. Freeman, Professor of Economics, Emeritus; Lecturer
A.M. McMaster 1914, B. Litt. Oxford 1919
Monetary economics

Everett E. Hagen, Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Wisconsin 1941
Economic development, income analysis

Ralph C. James, Jr., Assistant Professor of Insutrial Relations
Ph.D. Cornell 1957
Labor economics, industrial relations

Charles P. Kindleberger, Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Columbia 1937
International economics, monetary theory and policy

Edwin Kuh, Associate Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Harvard 1955
Econometrics, income analysis

Max F. Millikan, Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Yale 1941
Economic development, income analysis

Charles A. Myers, Professor of Industrial Relations
Ph.D. Chicago 1939
Labor economics, industrial relations

Paul Pigors, Professor of Industrial Relations
Ph.D. Harvard 1927
Personnel administration, industrial relations

Paul N. Rosenstein-Rodan, Professor of Economics
Dr.Rer.Pol. Vienna 1925
Economic development

Walt W. Rostow, Professor of Economic History
Ph.D. Yale 1940
Economic history, economic growth

Paul A. Samuelson, Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Harvard 1941
Price and allocation theory, income analysis, monetary theory and policy

Abraham J. Siegel, Associate Professor of Industrial Relations
M.A. Columbia 1949
Labor economics, industrial relations

Robert M. Solow, Professor of Economics
Ph.D. Harvard 1951
Price and allocation theory, income analysis, econometrics


Graduate Subjects

Price and allocation theory

14.121, 122 Economic Analysis
14.123 Advanced Economic Theory
14.132 Schools of Economic Thought
14.151 Mathematical Approach to Economics


Income analysis

14.451 Theory of Income and Employment
14.452 Economic Growth and Fluctuations


Economic history and economic development

14.161,162 Economic History
14.171 Theory of Economic Growth
14.172 Research Seminar in Economic Development
14.182 Capitalism, Socialism, and Growth


Economics of industry

14.271 Problems in Industrial Economics
14.272 Government Regulation of Industry


Statistics and econometrics

14.371,372 Statistical Theory
14.374 Design and Analysis of Scientific Experiments
14.381 Statistical Method
14.382 Economic Statistics
14.391 Research Seminar in Economics
15.032 Sampling of Human Populations1


Monetary and fiscal economics

14.461,462 Monetary Economics
14.471 Fiscal Economics
14.472 Seminar in Fiscal and Monetary Policy


International economics

14.581,582 International Economics
14.584 Seminar in International Economic Theory


Industrial relations

14.671 Problems in Labor Economics
14.672 Public Policy on Labor Relations
14.674 The Labor Movement: Theories and Histories
14.681,14.682 Seminar in Personnel Administration
14.691,692 Research Seminar in Industrial Relations
14.693 Collective Bargaining and Union-Management Cooperation
14.694 Seminar in Union-Management Cooperation

1School of Industrial Management


[Production Credits]

Editorial service by the M.I.T. Office of Publications. Design by Brigitte Hanf. Typesetting by the Lew A. Cummings Company, Inc., Manchester, New Hampshire, and The Composing Room, Inc., New York. Production by the Lew A. Cummings Company, Inc. January, 1961.


Source: MIT Archives, Department of Economics Records, Box 2, Folder “Department Brochures”.

Image Source: MIT beaver mascot, Tim,  from Technology Review in 1914.

Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier

One thought on “M.I.T. Graduate Economics Program Brochure, 1961

  1. On p. 138 of the 1959/60 M.I.T. Annual Catalogue “microeconomics” and “macroeconomics” are in fact mentioned in the description of the the graduate program in industrial economics, so one shouldn’t overemphasize the avoidance of the terms in the graduate brochure for economics (proper)

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