Considerations for prospective graduate students in economics
Students from a wide variety of backgrounds earn graduate degrees in economics. This includes economics and non-economics majors, those with and without prior graduate training, and those with and without prior economics employment experience.
To decide which program is the best fit, potential students should examine their own qualifications (including their GRE scores, their GPA, and their mathematical preparation) as well as the methodological approach, fields of specialization, predominant ideology, size of program, program culture (cooperative, competitive, etc.), typical time-to-degree, required examinations, financial aid, emphasis on mathematics, job prospects, and location of the programs to which they apply.
For those who wish to pursue academic careers, the availability of training in teaching methods during graduate school may also be a consideration.
Some applicants find it useful to contact students at their target programs to find out about current students' perceptions and experiences. Keep in mind that faculty tend to be fairly mobile throughout their careers, so it may be risky to choose a program out of a desire to work with one specific faculty member.
Further reading for students considering graduate study in economics
- Professor Sita Slavov has a webpage of tips for applying to PhD Programs in economics
- Professor Susan Athey at Stanford has a webpage of Advice for Applying to Grad School in Economics
- Becoming an Economist from the Occidental College Department of Economics
- Chris Ferguson at UW-Stout has a practical Handbook for preparing for grad school in economics
- Ceyhun Elgin and Mario Solis-Garcia, former Ph.D. students at the University of Minnesota have written So, you want to go to grad school in Economics? A practical guide of the first years (for outsiders) from insiders
- The summer 2014 CSWEP newsletter includes a guide for Getting Into and Finishing a PhD Program
- The Committee on the Status of Women in the Economics Profession (CSWEP) has a list of its newsletter articles for specific audiences, including those focused on undergraduate and graduate students
- Professor William D. Craighead has a webpage with advice for students interesting in pursuing graduate studies in economics
- Professor Greg Mankiw at Harvard University has a blog with advice for grad students on various topics
- Professor David Colander’s “The Making of an Economist Redux” reports the findings of surveys and interviews with graduate students at top-ranking economics graduate programs
- Professors Wendy Stock and John Siegfried published a paper that reports on 15 Years of Research on Graduate Education in Economics: What Have We Learned? (.pdf)
- Professor Marie desJardins has a paper on, “How to Succeed in Graduate School: A Guide for Students and Advisors”
- Professor Dick Startz offers “A Guide for UCSB Undergraduates Considering a PhD in Economics”