Getting Into Graduate School
An economics major is good preparation for graduate or professional study in many fields.
Students interested in graduate school are welcome to discuss options and ideas with the undergraduate economics advisors about course selection, finding a graduate program, obtaining recommendations, and applying to graduate schools. Most graduate program applications are due in December or January for programs starting that fall, so the month before you graduate is too late! E-mail the advisors to set up an appointment or stop by our offices in the Department of Economics, 4P56 Posvar Hall. The University of Pittsburgh's Career Development Office also offers advice on graduate studies.
Economics: (MA or PhD)
Few schools offer a master's degree in Economics; the PhD is much more widely used as the credential for professional economists. A master's program is usually a one or two year program; earning a PhD in economics usually requires four to six years. Graduate study in economics is very rigorous and math intensive. The minimum preparation is Math 0220, Math 0230, and Math 0280, and Stat 1000. We strongly recommend Math 0240, Math 0413, and either Econ 1150 or Stat 1151 and Stat 1152. Further preparation might include Math 0250, Math 1360 and Stat 1221 and Stat 1223. The more math the better!
Resources for graduate degrees in economics
- University at Albany maintains a list of PhD programs in economics in the United States.
- AllBusinessSchools.com maintains a list of some of the master's degree programs in economics.
- The Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs maintains a list of public policy, government or international affairs degree programs (typically MPA, MPP, MPIA, or PhD degrees).
- The National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration maintains a list of graduate degree programs in public administration.
- Bschool.com maintains a list of diverse business degree programs.
- Businessdegreeonline.com maintains business career and education information.
How much does graduate school cost?
Tuition and fees vary, depending on whether the school is public or private and what the residency requirements are. For example, there may be a difference in tuition for students who are already residents versus non-residents of the state. The schools that you apply to will usually include tuition information in their information packets. Financial assistance for incoming graduate students can include tuition scholarships, fellowships, and teaching or research assistantships. Financial awards range from no aid to full support, with outstanding students receiving fellowships to attend graduate school. These fellowships typically include a scholarship for tuition and health insurance, plus a fellowship stipend for living expenses. Note that it is possible to enter a program without any support and then, by excelling in your classes, you can earn tuition scholarships and research or teaching assistantships for your second year and beyond. The best approach is to talk with the school(s) that you are interested in and find out what kinds of financial assistantships they offer. Find out what all of your options are.
One hidden cost of attending graduate school may be the money that you do not earn while you are working on your degree. However, many students find summer employment or paid internships with consulting firms, economic research institutes, international development agencies, or other companies. These experiences may even aid in the completion of your dissertation. In addition, if you accept a teaching assistantship during your graduate program, the teaching experience, research skills, and the relationships with faculty that you develop will often prove to be valuable throughout your career.
You might also consider applying for outside funding in the form of financial aid, grants, and fellowships. The University of Pittsburgh's financial aid office is a resource, and your graduate school program will have information. You might also check on the following resources: the Department of Education the Sloan Foundation, the Lurcy Foundation, the National Science Foundation, The National Institute of Health, The U.S. Agency for International Development, the Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Tinker Foundation. For more information on these opportunities, talk with an economics advisor: e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.