Ph.D. in Economics Graduate Admissions Profile

Admission is based primarily on four factors:

  1. Mathematical ability and training as evidenced by courses taken in mathematics and related subjects, grades in those courses, and the quantitative GRE score.
  2. General academic ability as evidenced by the applicant's academic record, including both grades and the difficulty of courses taken.
  3. Training in economics as evidenced by the applicant's academic record in economics and related fields, letters of recommendation, and work experience related to economics.
  4. Evidence of motivation and aptitude for research judged primarily on the basis of the letters of recommendation, the statement of purpose, work experience in economics, and previous research projects.

In past years most applicants recommended for graduate admission were in the following profile areas:

  • Major GPA of 3.8 or higher with consideration for the degree of difficulty of the course work.
  • Upper level mathematical course work including real analysis or honors advanced calculus with grades of A- minus or better.
  • Quantitative GRE score of 165 or higher.*
  • Grades of A-minus or better in intermediate level theory courses (microeconomics, macroeconomics, econometrics) with a strong preference for honors or mathematical track versions of all three courses.
  • Advanced undergraduate or graduate-level course work in economics.
  • Proven independent research ability (e.g., honors thesis).
  • Very strong letters of recommendations from at least two faculty members who know the candidate in both classroom and out-of-class settings (e.g. independent research).
  • Statement of purpose that expresses coherent ideas about why the candidate is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in economics and describes likely areas of research interest.
  • TOEFL (if applicable) at least 90 for the Internet-based test (iBT).
  • IELTS (is accepted) most recent overall Band score must be at least 7 on a 9-point scale.

*GRE scores will not be required for the 2020-21 admissions season (for matriculation in Fall 2021).

UPDATE 12/18/2020 (a note on P/NP grades since the Covid-19/Coronavirus Pandemic):

UC Berkeley evaluates applicants for admission to its graduate and professional schools holistically, meaning that we consider an applicant’s combination of personal accomplishments, letters of recommendation, personal statements, academic record, and test scores in making our admissions decisions. Such a review will take into account the significant disruptions of COVID-19 when reviewing students’ transcripts and other admissions materials during the pandemic. Thus, we will not penalize students for the adoption of P/NP grades and reduced research experiences during this unprecedented period, whether the choices were made by institutions or by individual students. What is most important is that applicants demonstrate that they pursued a challenging curriculum that was relevant to their plan for graduate or professional school.

As we have continued to observe in admissions cycles, Berkeley graduates have a remarkable track record of success in graduate school admissions to the most competitive programs in the country. Our graduates are admired for their academic abilities and resilience, and are assessed, as always, on their overall performance. We are confident that graduate admissions committees will make generous allowances for the academic challenges produced by the COVID-19 pandemic.