PhD Admissions FAQs


Background and Program Choice

What if I have only a BA (or other undergraduate) degree? Can I still apply for the PhD program?


What are the basic math requirements/recommendations?

Three semesters of calculus; linear algebra, knowledge of mathematical statistics, and probability theory; knowledge of differential equations. Real analysis is also very helpful. Familiarity with computer programming is valuable, but not essential.

What are the most important characteristics that you look for in an applicant to the PhD program?

The entire application is reviewed and considered. All components of the application—including quality of preparation, courses taken and grades received, letters of recommendation, work experience related to economics, the personal statement, and GRE test scoresare important to the admission committee.


Application Decisions

When will I hear from BU?

Students who have completed files by January 5 will receive information about their doctoral admissions status by April 15. Applicants who complete their applications after January 5 will receive information about their admissions status at a later time.

What are the possible outcomes of my application to BU?

All admitted students are offered 5 years of fellowship support, which means we cannot accept more than a certain number of applicants. We receive far more applications than we have spots in our first-year class. Therefore, most applicants cannot be accepted. When you receive your decision letter, you will be placed in one of three admissions categories:

  • Accepted with fellowship support
  • Placed on a waiting list for later possible acceptance
  • Not accepted


Financial Aid and Related Matters

Please see PhD Expenses & Financial Aid for more information.


Contacting Faculty

Is it useful for me to contact the director of graduate admissions concerning my application?

If you want to alert the director of graduate admissions and the graduate admissions committee of some information relevant to your application, please send an email to

This material will be placed in your file, where it will be reviewed by our faculty. However, in view of the large number of applications to the graduate program (close to 800 last year), it is not possible for us to respond to each individual email.

If I have questions concerning the graduate program and its requirements, should I contact the director of the graduate program?

If you have questions concerning the structure of the PhD program, please send an email to

Is it useful for me to contact individual faculty members concerning my application or financial support during the application process?

In general, at US institutions, individual faculty do not play an important role in the admissions process, so emails to them are not encouraged. If your faculty advisor emails a member of the BU faculty concerning your application (e.g., attaching a copy of an application letter), then contact may be valuable.

In contrast to universities in Europe and elsewhere in the world, faculty at US economics departments do not directly hire research assistants at the start of the PhD program. Instead, financial aid comes from the University and the department and does not require an attachment to a specific faculty member or research group. For this reason, it’s not useful for you to contact specific faculty members to inquire about potential support.