The Economics Department

Requirements for Admission

Here's a quick summary of what we look for in prospective graduate students:

1. Full or conditional acceptance by the Graduate School

The Graduate School requires: (i) a bachelor's degree or equivalent from an approved institution, (ii) satisfactory average grades on all prior upper-division courses and graduate work (generally B or better); (iii) the submission of official test scores of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE): the verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections of the general test are required. The Department is not permitted to admit applicants who fail to meet these criteria. Information on the GRE is available from the GRE Website.

2. Satisfactory grades on prior upper-division and graduate coursework

We look for a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or better (in a 4-point system) for upper-division undergraduate coursework and previous graduate coursework. Applicants with a GPA slightly below 3.5 will still be considered if they have other compensating strengths or if mitigating circumstances are explained in their letters of recommendation.

3. Satisfactory scores on the GRE

All applicants are required to submit official GRE scores.  We cannot accept GMAT scores instead. The average GRE scores of students most recently admitted were 590 verbal and 790 quantitative. Please be aware that although high GRE scores enhance an application, the GRE is not our main selection criterion and does not substitute for a strong academic record.  Conversely, GRE scores that are considerably lower than our average will weaken your application.

4. Strong letters of recommendation

Three Letters of Recommendation are required of all applicants, even those who are not seeking financial aid. We prefer academic references over those from current or former employers. Although the Department will accept hard copies of recommendation letters we strongly encourage you to use the electronic submission process set up by the Graduate and International Admissions Center. Detailed directions on how to use this system can be found on their website.  If for some reason you or your recommenders choose not to use the online method, we will accept any professionally written letter submitted to us in sealed envelopes. We will accept more than three letters if you want to submit them.

5. Previous economics courses

You should have at least twelve semester hours of upper-division courses in economics, including three semester hours each of microeconomic and macroeconomic theory at the intermediate or higher level.

6. Previous math courses

You'll need a firm grounding in differential and integral calculus (with an emphasis on proofs), matrix algebra, and probability theory. You should also have some exposure to advanced calculus, real analysis, and topology. Strong mathematical preparation is absolutely essential for success in our graduate program. Many of our admitted applicants have degrees in math and engineering, and many who have degrees in Economics have minored in math.  Applicants with otherwise excellent academic records but whose math backgrounds are deficient will be at a distinct disadvantage.

7. Statement of Purpose

Your statement should explain why you want to study economics at the graduate level. The statement is particularly important if there is something unusual about your background and preparation that you would like us to know about you.

8. Satisfactory TOEFL and IELTS scores

In addition to the above criteria, international students must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and score at least 550 on the paper-and-pencil version or 213 on the computer-assisted exam. The minimum acceptable total score for the new iBT exam is 79.  The minimum acceptable score on the IELTS is an overall band of 6.5

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the requirements absolutely rigid?

No, the admissions committee tries to consider the entire application packet as a whole and does not make decisions based on only one factor. We sometimes admit students who don't quite meet one requirement but are strong in other respects. We also consider whether the applicant is a good "fit" for our program. To reiterate, however, students with little or no math preparation are not likely to be admitted

Can you tell me whether I'm likely to be admitted before I apply?

No, we can only evaluate complete applications. Please do not email us your GPA and GRE scores and ask if you're likely to be admitted.

Can you tell me whether I'm likely to get financial aid before I apply?

No, we only make financial aid decisions after evaluating all completed applications.

Do I need to submit three letters of reference even if I am not applying for financial aid?


Do you admit non-degree-seeking students?

No, sorry.

Who do I contact if I still have questions?

Vivian Goldman-Leffler, the department's Graduate Coordinator. Her email address is