Development Economics

The Doctorate Program in the field of Development Economics aims to train professionals and researchers of excellence, qualifying them to develop research on different topics related to economic development. A central characteristic of this Program is its proposal to offer a comprehensive approach to economic development, seen as a long-term phenomenon in which institutions play a decisive role in both the possibilities offered and the restrictions imposed on economic growth. The Program encourages the economic and historical approach to classic themes of economic development such as growth, technological change, public and private financing patterns, income distribution, inequality (individual, social, and regional), public policies, and natural and environmental resources.

To enable students to research from this different perspective, the Program provides rigorous training in economic theory, quantitative methods, and history of economics and economic ideas. The program’s course use a wide and varied range of methodological and theoretical approaches, reflecting the comprehensive nature of studies on economic development.

Student Profile

The Doctorate Program in Development Economics at FEA-USP aims to attract students with interest in economic development and a differentiated education combining formal economic theory, historical analysis, and quantitative methods. Examples that fit this profile are students with research themes in economic development from a historical perspective and/or using appropriate quantitative methods. Or students interested in topics of economic history and history of economic ideas that value the contribution that economic theory and/or quantitative methods can make to their research.

The Doctorate in Development Economics may also interest students from related fields (such as, for example, social sciences, law, history, and statistics) who want to develop research using economic theory and history. The postgraduate coordination, in consultation with the supervisors, may request selected students from other areas who need to complement their education to take basic education courses in economics.


The courses of the Doctorate Program in Development Economics at FEA-USP is structured in two basic axes: one of economic development theory and quantitative methods and another of history of economics and economic ideas. The required courses for each axis are briefly described below.

A) Axis of economic development theory and quantitative methods:

  • Theories of Economic Development: this course presents the main contributions of development pioneers (such as Schumpeter, Lewis, Prebisch, Nurkse, Myrdal, Rosenstein-Rodan, and Hirschman). Recent literature that treats economic development as a microeconomic problem is also discussed, covering themes related to various forms of market failure.
  • Macroeconomics of Economic Development: this course focuses on theories of economic growth, from Solow to endogenous growth models (neoclassical and non-neoclassical), with a part at the end dedicated to empirical studies. Also, models formalizing ideas from classic authors of economic development, presented in the previous course, are studied.
  • Econometrics: to acquire the basic tools that allow them to monitor academic production and carry out empirical research in the area of economic development, students must take one of the courses in the sequence of econometrics in postgraduate courses offered regularly by the Department of Economics.

B) Axis of history of economics and economic thought:

  • Brazilian Economy: the course analyzes the evolution of Brazilian economic history from the mid-19th century to the beginning of the 21st century, considering international historical experiences and the different interpretations of Brazilian economic development.
  • History of Economic Ideas: this course offers students an overview of the recent evolution of economic science in the 20th century, especially in the period after the 1930s, emphasizing the analytical understanding of economic theories and related debates. Particularly important are the historical and institutional contexts of economic science that help to understand the later origins and developments of modern literature on economic development.
  • Besides these five required courses, students must take at least two elective courses, choosing them both from those regularly offered in the Postgraduate Program in Economics at FEA-USP and those offered in other USP units that are related to the student’s area of research.

The chaining of the courses throughout the program, remembering that the classes of the Doctorate in Development Economics always start in the second semester of each year, is as follows:


Semester                                        Courses                                                                                                                                                          



Theories of Economic Development I

Theories of Economic Development II

Brazilian Economy I

Brazilian Economy II

History of Economic Ideas I

History of Economic Ideas II 


Macroeconomics of Development I

Macroeconomics of Development II

Two courses in the

Econometrics sequence

(this semester or the next,

as the student chooses)

Elective 1


Two courses in the Econometrics sequence

(this semester  or the next, as the student chooses)    

Elective 2 


A characteristic of the Doctorate Program in Development Economics at FEA-USP is the possibility for students to take advantage of potential synergies with the Economic Theory Area, having, for example, a diverse range of courses that complement their training and can contribute to the preparation of their doctorate thesis.

Academic publications authored by the student can be used to count credits (four credits per work) as long as they are developed throughout the program. The program’s coordinating committee will judge the academic merit of the publication. The student can also request a credit count referring to a teaching internship carried out within the Higher Education Improvement Program (PAE).

The chart below shows the necessary credits and the maximum deadlines for the qualification and deposit of the thesis:

                                           Credits in Courses               Thesis/Dissertation

Doctorate                                       68                                       120

Doctorate Direct                            92                                        120

                                            Qualification              Deposit of 


Doctorate                              11 months                              48 months

Doctorate Direct                   23 months                              60 months


Obs.: each course is equivalent to four credits

Dedication and Academic Activities

The Doctorate Program in Development Economics requires from the student not only commitment and dedication in the courses, but also active participation in research groups and the various academic events promoted by the Department of Economics — seminars, conferences, and minicourses. The set of academic activities, comprising courses and complementary activities, requires intense student engagement and dedication to the Program.

A central aspect evaluated in the selection process is the students’ ability and willingness to dedicate themselves primarily to the academic activities of the Doctorate Program. In this sense, students with scholarships or with full release from their jobs are better able to meet the high study and dedication requirements of the Program.

Furthermore, to complement their education and expand their academic horizons, admitted students are strongly encouraged to submit a project to obtain a “sandwich” scholarship abroad (from six months to one year), taking advantage of the extensive international contacts of the faculty of the Department of Economics.

Professional Placement of Former Students

Students graduating from the doctorate program in development economics have placed themselves in prominent positions in the Brazilian academia and outside of it, as listed in the attached document.