Preparing for a PhD in Economics

The minimum requirements of the Economics undergraduate major are not designed to be training for doctoral economics programs. Students who plan to continue their education should take more quantitative courses than the minimum required for the major. Preparation should start early in your undergraduate education. In addition to the information below, we recommend visiting the Career Center and the Career Library for additional graduate school planning resources.

Students who plan on going on to graduate school should participate in research as an undergraduate, and plan on writing an honors thesis during their senior year. NOTE: For students who completed P/NP courses in 2020-2021, we recommend reviewing this statement from the Council of Deans which reaffirms UC Berkeley's Graduate Division committment to a holistic review.

Course recommendations

  • Math 1A-1B
  • Math 53 and Math 54 (multivariable calculus and linear algebra)
  • Economics 101A-B, the quantitative theory sequence
  • Economics 141, the more quantitative econometrics course
  • Additional math and statistics courses (linear algebra, real analysis, probability, etc.)
  • Additional economics courses that emphasize theory and quantitative methods, such as Economics 103, 104, and 142.

Upper-division math and statistics courses for those who are adequately prepared (in order of importance)

  • Math 110, Linear Algebra
  • Math 104, Introduction to Analysis
  • Stat 134, Concepts of Probability
  • Stat 150, Stochastic Processes
  • Math 105, Second Course of Analysis
  • Math 170, Mathematical Methods of Optimization
  • Stat 102/Stat 135, Linear modeling Theory and Applications
  • Stat 151A, Statistical Inference
  • Math 185, Introduction to Complex Analysis

Graduate math and statistics courses for those who are adequately prepared (in order of importance)

  • Math 202A/202B, Introduction to Topology
  • Stat 200A/200B,Introduciton to Probability and Statistics at an Advanced Level; graduate version of 101/102 sequence, not much more difficult, but harder than 134/135
  • Stat 205A/205B,Probability Theory; graduate probability, much higher level than 200A/200B

Please note: This is just a recommendation; not all courses are required. Admissions requirements vary by university and by program. Students interested in pursuing graduate school should begin gathering information from prospective programs as early as possible.


Post-Baccalaureate Research Opportunities

Pursuing research after completing an undegraduate degree is a great option for students who would like to gain more experience prior to graduate school. Post-baccalaureate research opportunities can be found through the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and PREDOC: Pathways to Research and Doctoral Careers. For research opportunities outside of the NBER, click here and follow @econ_ra on Twitter.


Graduate School Preparation Additional Resources (Considerations for prospective graduate students in Economics) (Alphabetical list of U.S Graduate Programs in Economics) (Conferences, events and fellowships through the American Economic Association) (American Economic Association Summer Training Program, AEASP)