Apply for a PhD

Our graduate admissions process is highly selective. However, in keeping with our international character, we recognize that students from different backgrounds demonstrate high potential in a variety of ways.

Any well-qualified individual with a baccalaureate degree from a recognized college or university (or with equivalent education) may apply for admission to graduate Economics programs.

Follow this link to see data on acceptance rates, demographics of our PhD students, and career outcomes.

Students applying for entry into the PhD program are normally expected to have passed some advanced undergraduate or graduate courses or seminars in economic theory, and to have had extensive training in mathematics, statistics, and econometrics, as well as a working knowledge of computer programming.

A score above the 90th percentile on the GRE-Quantitative section provides strong evidence of PhD-level ability; this indicator is neither necessary nor sufficient for admission, however, as the candidate’s full dossier is taken into account.

GRE Requirement

For the Fall 2023 admission cycle the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required.  

Applicants must take the GRE General Test at least one month before the application deadline. The GRE Subject Tests are not required. The GRE is a major component in the admission decision. We do not accept the GMAT. Although GRE scores are valid for five years, we prefer to receive scores no older than two years old, if possible. Please note, however, that we do not reject or in any way penalize an applicant for submitting GRE scores up to five years old. The ETS Institution Code for the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences is 3087. You do not need to specify a Department Code when requesting test scores be sent to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

English Proficiency Language Requirement

Proof of English proficiency is required of all international applicants by submitting official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) by the application deadline. This requirement is waived only if you have received, or expect to receive, an undergraduate or graduate degree from a college or university in any of the following countries prior to enrollment at Boston University: the United States of America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland. This waiver does not include undergraduate or graduate degrees earned from an institution in a country listed above while enrolled in a “dual degree” program with an institution in another country. Studying in the medium of English in a country other than the ones previously listed, or studying as an exchange student in an English-speaking country without completing a degree program, is not sufficient to waive the English proficiency requirement.

Applicants are urged to take the test at the earliest possible date, and at least 1 month before the application deadline; international applicants should sit for the TOEFL at least 2 months before the application date. Retaking the exam after further language training is acceptable, and later results will be substituted for earlier ones in the admissions dossier. TOEFL scores over 2 years old will not be accepted.


Please note that we will not review or evaluate incomplete applications, and we will not review or evaluate applications for candidates who did not pay the application fee. Applications must include all components. No component will be waived for any applicant. Such applications will be withdrawn and no admission decision will be made. We do not do pre-evaluations by email. Additionally, we do not accept late applications. There are no exceptions to these policies.

Materials to Submit

Please do not send any materials directly to the Economics Department.

All application inquiries should be directed to the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences at or 617-353-2696. A complete GRS Application Checklist can be found here.


To be considered for the Economics doctoral program, all applications must be complete and received by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences by December 15.  Application supporting credentials will be considered until December 31, 2022.

Questions? Visit our PhD Admissions FAQs and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences FAQs

Please be in touch if you have any questions or concerns.