Department of Economics


We look at applications holistically, evaluating the full range of criteria including GRE scores, grades, personal statements, letters, fields of interest, rank within class, our past experience with students from your program, and personal attributes.  Weaknesses in one or more areas may be compensated by strengths in other areas. We seek evidence of previous academic success, mathematical proficiency,  an understanding of economics as a discipline, curiosity about intellectual and social issues, persistence and creativity in surmounting obstacles, and effective written and verbal communication. We try to build a class that is balanced and diverse in interests and experiences and can contribute importantly to our mission as a department.

That is a decision for the graduate school. Information is here.

That is set by the graduate school. Information is here.  At the present time, the Graduate School does not accept a Duolingo language degree.


While the system permits submission of more than three letters of recommendation we only require three letters and, in our experience, extra letters tend to diminish the impact of the primary letter writers. Thus we would recommend that you pick the three letter from people who know you well and have an understanding of the requirements of an economics graduate program. 

We look at applications holistically, evaluating the full range of criteria including scores, grades, personal statements, letters, fields of interest, rank within class, our past experience with students from your program, and personal attributes. We try to build a balanced, diverse and high quality class, accounting for likelihood of enrolling, that can contribute importantly to our mission as a department.

We thus do not have cutoff scores for considering your application. We also cannot assess your probability of acceptance based on any one or two criteria. We also will not try to do evaluations of more detailed information except as part of the normal application process.

However, to give you some guidance on these issues we present below graphs of the cumulative distribution of GRE scores (quantitative, verbal, and written) among applicants as well as those who are accepted for the class starting in 2020. Overall we had about 750 applications and admitted about 60. So the ratio of the point on green curve to the point on the orange curve at any score X times 60/750 represents the proportion of people below that score who were admitted in the past year.  So that means that overall we admit about 8% of applicants but, for example, for we only admitted about 4% of those with a score below 165.


Graphgraph 2 graph 3

We discourage this.  First, all decisions are made by the admissions committee. We don’t consult faculty on whether a student is a particular match for him/her. While faculty can submit letters on the side to the committee those letters are likely to be disregarded unless you have a longer-term relationship with the faculty member or he/she has specific knowledge that would not otherwise appear in your application. We also have over 750 applications so if everyone made contact with the faculty member it would create a significant burden on faculty time.

Of course, all our faculty have web pages that contain a lot of information about their projects. The optimal time for you to contact faculty would be if and when you are admitted or wait listed and have a good sense of your choice set. Also it would be most productive if it were during or after our annual “campus visit” (around April 1). During the visit, you will see some presentations by selected faculty and then we will have open office hours that you can schedule and/or drop by. You will also have a chance to visit with some graduate students.

No. We only offer an MA Degree for students in our PhD program. This MA Degree is awarded following successful completion of the first-year sequence of the PhD program.

Applicants to the program should submit the application, 3 letters of recommendation, personal statement, transcripts, and GRE General Aptitude Test scores. We do not look at the GRE subject test score. The TOEFL test is required for foreign applicants, except those who hold (or will receive) a degree from an institution where the language of instruction is English. The TSE test is not required. 

Incoming doctoral students receive six years of guaranteed financial support, including summers, a stipend, tuition remission, a health-services fee, and health and dental insurance (some are funded through external sources).  

Students in the first year receive aid in the form of a fellowship (requiring no work on their part). In years 2+, the support may take the form of a teaching assistantship, research assistantship, or fellowship as long as student remains in good standing.  All such assignments form part of the student’s professional development.


In the first year, there are no teaching or research assistant responsibilities. After the first year, students generally work as a TA or RA. There are also competitive fellowships on campus through PSTC and IBES that substitute for TA or RA work. 

Target size of the incoming class in the PhD program is 16. The admission process is highly selective: in the last years, we have received over 750 applications.

The mean time to completion is between five and six years.  The mode is six years. 


A) Exposure to economics at a high level. We look for students who have taken upper-level courses that exposed them to active areas of research in the field. Students who have written senior or MA theses, or worked as researchers or research assistants have an advantage. 

B) Adequate preparation in mathematics. Applications should have at least 2 or 3 semesters of calculus. We also look for coursework in linear algebra, real analysis, probability theory and/or statistics. 

C) A good grade record. This is not precise, as standards vary widely among schools.

D) Informative letters of recommendation. We are particularly interested in letters from scholars who understand the research environment at a top Ph.D. program, that is, scholars who themselves are actively engaged in research and publication and those who have Ph.D.s from research-oriented institutions. We look for letters that make it clear the applicant knows what doing a Ph.D. is like and which describe how the applicant has been exposed to the research process. 

E) The median GRE quantitative percentile among those admitted is 96% with 90 percent of all quantitative scores being above 89 percentile. The median GRE verbal percentile among those admitted is 94% with 90 percent of all scores being above the 76th percentile.

From a demographic perspective, 48% of our admitted students are US citizens, 44% are female, 6% are US citizens from historically underrepresented groups in the US, and 7% are first-generation college students.

Decisions regarding admission and financial aid are made by mid-March. Applicants must make enrollment decisions by mid-April. 

Our University code is 3094. The department code for economics is 1801. 

The Department of Economics does not have the applications. You can apply online or request a paper application from the Graduate School 

The GRE General Test at home version is accepted; please visit the GRE website for more information.