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

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)

We accept the following English proficiency tests and minimum scores:

  • TOEFL:  100 Overall Score (25 recommended in each section). Internet-based Test (iBT) only. We do not accept “MyBest Scores.”
  • IELTS 7.0 Overall Band Score
  • CAMBRIDGE ENGLISH QUALIFICATIONS: 185 Overall Score on B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency exams
  • DUOLINGO 130 Overall Score

For more information, please click here.

The Graduate School does not waive the English proficiency requirement in advance.  The requirement will be waived at the time of the application review if you meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • You are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • You are a citizen of one of the following countries: Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Botswana, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Dominica, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Kiribati, Lesotho, Liberia, Micronesia, Montserrat, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Uganda, United Kingdom, Zimbabwe.
  • You are a citizen of Cameroon or Canada and your post-secondary degree is from a university in which English is the language of instruction.
  • You have studied in the United States (or one of the before-mentioned countries) at an accredited college or university for at least two years.
  • You have received, or expect to receive, an undergraduate or graduate degree from an institution where the official language of instruction is English. If your transcript does not clearly state that the language of instruction is English, then please upload supporting documentation on institutional letterhead along with your transcript.

This waiver does not apply to students who have earned or are earning undergraduate or graduate degrees from an institution in a country listed above while enrolled in a “dual degree” program with an institution in another country. Studying as an exchange student in an English-speaking country is not sufficient to waive the English proficiency requirement.

Applicants are urged to take the English Proficiency test at the earliest possible date.

For more information regarding the English Proficiency tests, please click here.


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 application 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 submitted and received by the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences by December 15.  Letters of recommendation and official GRE scores may follow after this deadline, and will be considered until December 31.

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.