Information for Prospective PhD Students wishing to study with Prof. Charles Kolstad


As of 2023,I became an emeritus faculty member at Stanford.  Additionally, I have physically returned to Santa Barbara, California and resumed my position as Distinguished Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), the third-oldest campus of the University of California (along with UC Berkeley and UCLA).  Emeritus faculty have many of the same duties and privileges as non-emeritus faculty, except we do not regularly teach.  I welcome PhD students who wish to study with me at Stanford, though for practical reasons a secondary member of a PhD committee is more appropriate than a primary research advisor.  At UCSB, I am available to serve as a research supervisor or committee member.

My research interests are broadly in environmental, energy and natural resource economics, with a particular emphasis on climate change.  For students to work with me, I request that students be seriously interested in developing their skills as environmental economists while at Stanford (or UCSB). 

Typically, Ph.D. students with an interest in working with me train to be economists, with a research focus in environmental economics, natural resource economics or energy economics. There is also a role for knowledge and training outside of economics to help you ask better and more relevant economics research questions.

Stanford and UCSB are extraordinarily rich in faculty and research programs and full of opportunities for graduate students related to environmental, energy and natural resource economics and policy.  In addition to teaching departments, there are a number of research institutes on campus that involve students, visitors and faculty in research.

But it is degree-granting departments and program in which PhD students matriculate.  So your first step would be to choose a program to which you would apply.  PhD programs at Stanford that are appropriate for students interested in working with me or similar faculty  include the Department of Economics, the Emmet Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (E-IPER), the Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the Department of Management Science and Engineering (MS&E). You should also check the newly established Doerr School of Sustainability, which is constantly adding new programs.  You do not need to contact me prior to applying; simply indicate your interest in working with me on your application.  At UCSB, the most logical departments for a PhD focusing on environmental economics are the Economics Department and the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.  Keep in mind that although there are similarities among all of these programs, there are important differences in objectives and requirements. 

Whichever department or program you choose, you should plan on enrolling in a rigorous set of coursework in economics during your first two years in a PhD program. This means successfully taking the first year PhD sequences in microeconomics and econometrics offered by the Department of Economics. In addition, students should take the PhD classes in environmental and resource economics, also offered by the Economics Department.  This is a minimum set and other coursework would depend on student interest and needs. Strong preparation in math prior to matriculation is essential (preferably through real analysis).  Undergraduate training in economics is less important, though applicants should demonstrate an understanding of what constitutes economics as an academic discipline.

Questions?  Send me an email.