A student can typically take more than three (or even four) (!) year-long sequences of theory courses while at Northwestern, a scope and depth of learning unmatched by any other PhD program.
This has two advantages. First, the more topics to which one is exposed, the more ideas one is likely to come up with on which to build a PhD thesis. Second, by studying a broad range of topics as a PhD student unencumbered by faculty-level teaching and administrative tasks, one avoids the common predicament faced by many narrowly-trained junior faculty, who struggle to acquire expertise in a new field a few years after the completion of their PhD.
The theory faculty also conducts reading groups throughout the calendar year, with smaller sets of students, on topics that depend on their own and the students’ preferences.
In recent years the Economics department has offered seven to eight advanced quarter courses in theory. For example, in 2010-11 it will offer:
Foundations in Decision and Game Theory (Eddie Dekel and Marciano Siniscalchi)
Information Economics (Asher Wolinsky)
Mechanism Design-1 (Ron Siegel)
Mechanism Design-2 & Coordination under Incomplete Information (Alessandro Pavan)
Topics in Game Theory and Information (Wojciech Olszewski)
Behavioral Economics (Jeffrey Ely)
Optimal Control for Economics (Bruno Strulovici)
For the period 2009-2010 the MEDS and Strategy Departments offered the following:
Decision Theory (Kyoungwon Seo)
Repeated Games and Reputation (Mehmet Ekmekci)
Dynamic Models (Alp Atakan)
Mechanism Design from a linear programming perspective (Rakesh Vohra)
Formal Political Theory (Bard Harstad)
Social Choice and Voting (Antoine Loeper)
Topics in Game Theory (Alvaro Sandroni)
Economics of Organizations (Jin Li)
In addition, as noted, there are courses in algorithmic game theory and mechanism design offered by the EECS group, and courses of interest are also offered by the Finance Department.
To view more doctoral classes offered in economics, visit the Economics Department and the Kellogg School of Management.