The Department of Economics considers a wide range of factors to evaluate each applicant: previous educational record, letters of recommendation, a writing sample, previous research experience, the applicant’s scores on the GRE and on the TOEFL or IELTS, the compatibility of the applicant’s research interests with the program strengths in the department, and any special factors that the applicant may bring to the Department’s attention. The Department evaluates each applicant on the basis of all material available; no arbitrary cut-offs in terms of a student’s grade point average or test scores are used.
The goal of the Ph.D. program is to train students for careers of research and teaching in economics, broadly defined. A primary concern in admissions is the likelihood that a student will be able to complete the Ph.D. program with distinction and embark on a successful research career. The Department looks for evidence that the applicant will be able to master the quantitative analytical methods of modern economics and will be able to do high-quality independent research. A recommendation letter is most effective when the recommender can explicitly compare the applicant’s preparation and research potential with others who have been successful in top economics Ph.D. programs. In the Statement of Academic Purpose, Writing Sample, and the choice of people to write recommendation letters, applicants should try to provide information and evidence about their academic objectives and aptitude for research in economics.