The department recruits the most promising students from the United States and around the world. Students are accepted directly for full-time PhD study. Previous study of economics can be helpful, but is not essential. What is essential is that entering students be sufficiently well prepared in mathematics. The PhD program is quantitatively oriented. The minimum mathematics requirements are two semesters of calculus and a semester of linear algebra. In practice, most students we admit have more than the minimum mathematical preparation and have taken courses in real analysis, differential / difference equations, and probability theory.
For admission to full-time graduate status, an applicant must hold a bachelor's degree from a recognized college or university or have completed an equivalent level of education that the University of Pittsburgh deems comparable to a bachelor’s degree; in some instances, a master’s degree may be required. The applicant must also have a B or better grade-point average in the total undergraduate program. An applicant with less than a B average who presents alternative evidence of superior ability may be admitted to the program.
The application deadline is January 15 of the year in which the student intends to enter the program. Admission is for the fall term only. All applicants will be considered for financial aid (fellowship awards); there is no separate application for financial aid. The department typically makes admissions and financial aid decisions in late February or early March. Applications received after January 15 or applications that are incomplete as of that date will not be considered.
Applicants are required to submit all of the following materials:
- Completed application, submitted on-line. Please see our Apply page. Please also download and print the instructions for completing the online application BEFORE beginning the application process.
- A $50 application fee, payable online with a credit card or by check or money order payable to the University of Pittsburgh. Applicants who indicate they are paying by check and do not submit the application fee will not be considered for admission.
- Transcripts from all undergraduate or graduate programs attended, showing grades earned, degree conferred, and the date when the degree was conferred. Unofficial transcripts should be uploaded with the online application; official transcripts will be required of all successful applicants at the time of matriculation to the program. Applicants who are in the process of earning a degree should submit a current transcript at the time they apply. A notarized English translation is required if transcripts are in a language other than English.
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores on the verbal, quantitative, and analytical sections of the GRE. Most successful applicants have scores above the 85th or even 90th percentile on the GRE quantitative test. These thresholds are reported for information only; they are not the only criteria for admission. You should self-report your scores on the online application for informational purposes; however, official GRE scores, which are submitted to us electronically by the Educational Testing Service, are required for admission. GRE scores are acceptable for five years after the test date. For the GRE, the Institution Code for the University of Pittsburgh is 2927; the Department Code for Economics is 1801.
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score, if an applicant’s native language is not English. Applicants who have earned or expect to earn a degree from a college or university in the United States are exempt from this requirement. Also exempt from this requirement are applicants whose native language is not English but who have completed a degree program at an institution outside of the United States where the language of instruction is English and where the official national language of the country in which the institution is located is English. To be considered for admission, applicants must have a minimum TOEFL score of 90 on the internet-based test, with at least a score of 22 in all of the four sections (speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Most successful applicants have scores above 90 on the internet-based test. These thresholds are reported for information only; as long as applicants have achieved the minimum scores, they qualify for admission to the program. Applicants should self-report their TOEFL score on the online application; however official TOEFL scores, which are submitted to us electronically by the Educational Testing Service, are required for admission. TOEFL scores are acceptable for two years after the test date. For the TOEFL, the Institution Code for the University of Pittsburgh is 2927; the Department Code for Economics is 84. The minimum acceptable IELTS score is 7.0, with at least a score of 6.5 in each of the four sections. Note that applicants must take the academic reading and writing modules, not the general training reading and writing modules.
- Three letters of recommendation, which must be submitted on-line. Letters should be written on letterhead stationery and signed by the recommender.
- A career statement of 500 words or less that addresses your intellectual and professional goals and answers the following questions: What has prompted you to pursue graduate study in economics? What are your ultimate professional goals and aspirations? Which subfield of economics has your primary interest? (optional) Please see our frequently asked questions page for more information, or contact our Graduate Program Administrator.