The Economics Department

Requirements for Admission

How To Apply

Please use the ApplyTexas application website to apply.  Please make sure to include all materials requested in the application.  Applications are due on January 1.  We offer admissions beginning with the Fall semester only.  We cannot comment on the chances of a student being admitted outside of the formal application process.  The department also offers a distinct Master's degree, described here

Also, you may find the Graduate School information about applications useful for answering questions about the application fee, and submitting transcripts, test scores, and letters of recommendation. Special information for international applications is available, for more information go here

You will need to include the following in your application:

  1. Official transcripts
  2. GRE test scores for all applicants
  3. TOEFL or IELTS test scores for international applicants only
  4. Three letters of recommendation
  5. Statement of purpose
  6. Math preparation form

Optionally, you can also include a writing sample.

Financial Support

The Department of Economics offers financial support for Ph.D. students in several forms, including fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching assistantships.  Most financial support comes in the form of teaching assistantships.  All forms of financial support are allocated competitively.  Allocation of financial support to incoming students is determined as part of the admissions process.

What we look for in an application

We review applications holistically, so no one part of an application makes or breaks the application.  That means it is possible to overcome weaknesses in one part of an application if there are strengths in other parts of the application.  Nevertheless, as a general outline, there are certain features of an application we tend to look for (or not look for):

  1. Previous economics coursework: We do not require you to have a previous degree in economics, but we do generally expect to see that you have been successful in multiple economics courses.  You should take at least introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics, and intermediate microeconomics and macroeconomics. Further coursework in economics is viewed positively.
  2. Previous math coursework: Economics is a math-intensive field at the Ph.D. level.  We essentially require that you have taken an undergraduate multivariate calculus course, and we generally expect further coursework in courses like linear algebra, real analysis, or additional proofs-based math courses.  Beyond linear algebra and real analysis (and multivariate calculus), there are no specific "recommended" math courses.
  3. Research experience: A Ph.D. is a research degree, so showing evidence of research ability or research potential is viewed positively.  Examples include thesis/honors projects, major course projects, and research assistantships.  Students with such experience are recommended to ask for a letter of recommendation from the associated supervisor. You may also submit a writing sample.
  4. Letters of recommendation:  It is important to get letters of recommendation from individuals that can credibly comment on your ability to successfully complete a Ph.D. in economics.  Individuals that can comment on your creativity and research potential are particularly helpful.  This category of people includes professors for whom you have written a major course project, professors who have advised you on a thesis/honors project, and individuals for whom you have served as a research assistant.  It can also be helpful for letter writers to comment on your performance in a challenging economics or mathematics course.  Letters from individuals who are not familiar with the process of getting a Ph.D. are unlikely to be able to write a strong letter.
  5. Previous graduate study: We do not require any previous graduate study.  Students are often accepted directly from undergraduate studies.  However, graduate study (e.g., a master's degree in economics) is viewed positively, particularly as a way to compensate for weaknesses of an undergraduate record (e.g.,  switching late into economics, or lack of relevant courses as an undergraduate).
  6. Performance on the GRE: We generally expect to see good performance on the GRE, particularly the quantitative part.  The average quantitative GRE score for accepted applicants over the past few years is around 168 (out of 170).  However, it is possible to compensate for a low quantitative GRE score by other features of the application.  We do not accept GMAT scores.
  7. Statement of purpose: It is helpful to indicate your specific interests within economics, and something about why you have those interests. That said, it is reasonable that you are not totally sure yet what you want to specialize in.
  8. Acceptance by the Graduate School: The Graduate School of the University of Texas at Austin has its own minimum requirements for acceptance to a Ph.D. program, which you can view here. The details are provided there.  The requirements, essentially, are a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, and submission of test scores.
  9. Other: If there is something else notable about your application, let us know in your statement of purpose.

Contact Us

If you have further questions, please email phd-econ@austin.utexas.edu.