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Admissions, Top programs - PhD in Economics

What is a PhD in Economics?

A Ph.D., or Doctorate, in Economics is a graduate-level degree for students interested in careers in Economics such as analysts or economists for the government, multinational corporations, higher education, and business organizations. Often students who earn this degree choose to work as teachers, teaching economics at the university level as the demand for industry professionals is low. Students who pursue this high-level degree are often interested in mathematics, comfortable exploring theories, and possessors of strong research skills.

Top Schools: The top-ranked school for a PhD in Economics is Harvard University, followed closely by other reputable universities.
  1. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
  3. Stanford University, Stanford, CA
  4. University of California-Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
  5. Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
  6. Yale University, New Haven, CT
  7. Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  8. University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  9. Cornell University, NY
  10. University of Chicago, IL

Admissions Procedures and Requirements:

Students seeking admissions into graduate programs in Economics had better be prepared for a grueling admissions process. Most schools require all transcripts from well-respected undergraduate programs, letter of recommendation from former professors, and a Statement of Purpose. Additionally, students scores in high-level mathematics classes are especially scrutinized to judge suitability for a rigorous graduate program. Finally, GRE scores are of utmost importance to receive admission into nearly any reputable graduate program in Economics. Most of the high ranking scores accept students with an average GRE score in the 700s or above, with most falling in the upper 700's. For example, Harvard's average GRE score among admitted students is 770-780 and Stanford and Princeton typically admit students with 790 and above. For lower ranked programs aim for a score of 700 or above as most do not admit students on average scoring below 700 (although a few do), and 750 is an average admittance score across the board.

International Students are expected to meet the same admissions requirements as United States students in addition to scoring satisfactorily on the TOEFL.

Acceptance rates for Doctoral programs in Economics are low because the competition is stiff. Often schools only maintain a small economics program, so only a few students will be admitted. The top school in the nation, Harvard, only admits on average 5% of the students that apply each year. Further explanation for this low admission rate is the simple fact that many students apply to challenging economics programs without the proper skills. One of the most important factors admissions boards are looking for are exceeding scores in high-level mathematics courses, which not all prospective candidates possess.


The good news about this challenging career choice is that the market is growing and demand for skilled economists is increasing each year. Students who earn a Ph.D. in Economics may have a challenge finding a job, but there are jobs out there to be had, not just in the U.S.A. but around the world as these skills have become in high demand in the ever-changing economies of today's world. Students will find that specializing in a particular field will increase their chance of being hired after graduation. While the competition will always be fierce, there is also a growing need for people with economics degrees to pursue a career in teaching at the secondary or higher education level. Many high schools are requiring students to study economics, so the number of Secondary School Economics Teaching positions is growing.

The pay for a typical career in economics ranges widely depending on your position. Economists can earn anywhere between $39,000 and $120,000, but the average salary typically ranges between $60,000 and 90,000 dollars. People who go into careers in the private industry, often as economists for business or multinational corporations will find that their pay prospects increase dramatically as they take management or consulting positions in growing industries.

Degree in Economics