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PhD Program Admissions

The Economics Department recruits the most promising students from the United States and around the world who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in economics

We are committed to establishing an academic environment that is collegial and supports students at every stage of their careers in a climate of integrity and respect. We are also committed to the removal of barriers that inhibit access to our program by women and underrepresented minorities.

Consistent with these goals, the department reviews holistically each candidate’s application looking for evidence of cognitive and non-cognitive skills. On the cognitive side, we look for candidates with adequate analytical and mathematical foundations, as necessary requirements for research in economics. 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. On the non-cognitive side, we look for candidates who are mature, curious, creative, self-motivated, persistent, work well with others, and can offer a diversity of perspectives.

Previous study of economics is expected but candidates without prior economics background may also be admitted. 

Our entering cohorts in the last few years have averaged around 10-12 new students per year, out of more than 400 applications.  

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 are automatically considered for financial aid. The department typically makes admissions and financial aid decisions in early March.

All fee waiver requests are handled by the Dietrich School's Graduate Office. Please see their Application Fee Waiver page for more information. 

For the admission season 2023-24, applicants are required to submit all the material listed below. For this application cycle, submission of GRE scores is optional. If applicants choose to submit GRE scores, the admission committee will evaluate them as part of its holistic review of application materials.

  1. Completed application, submitted on-line through the GradCAS portal. Please see our Applying to the PhD Program page for further information. Please download and print the instructions for completing the online application before beginning the application process.
  2. $75 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. On a case-by-case basis, application fee waivers may be granted.
  3. 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.
  4. English language requirement. If an applicant’s native language is not English, they need to submit a TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or Duolingo English Test score. 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 includes 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). 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. The minimum acceptable Duolingo English Test score is 120.
  5. Three letters of recommendation, which must be submitted on-line. Letters should be written on letterhead stationery and signed by the recommender.
  6. 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?

Please see our frequently asked questions page for more information, or contact our Graduate Program Administrator.

On November 7th, Professor Luca Rigotti, Director of Graduate Studies, hosted an information session to go over the aspects of the program and answer any admissions questions. If you missed the session, you can view a recording here. 

View the 2024 Prospective PhD Visit Day slides here.