Admission Requirements

To qualify for admission, you need a strong record in courses such as intermediate microeconomics and macroeconomics, calculus, and statistics. However, an economics major is not required.

All application materials must be submitted no later than midnight on January 15. Our Admissions and Financial Aid Committee begins to review applications in early February. Admission and aid offers typically begin in late February. We do maintain a wait list which is very often active through April 15th.

Recommended mathematics preparation includes:

  • Advanced Calculus
  • Linear Algebra
  • Mathematical Statistics (taught in a Math Department) or Econometrics

Additional math courses, such as real analysis or differential equations, improve your chances of success in the program.

Applicants must provide:

  • Unofficial transcripts - official transcripts will be required if you are admitted
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • GRE general test scores
  • CV or resume

Please use the institutional code 5820 when reporting test scores; no department code is necessary.

The GRE General Test is the only acceptable exam. The GRE advanced test in economics is not required, and we cannot accept GMAT scores. Most admitted students have earned a GRE quantitative score above or near the 90th percentile.

Writing samples and research examples are not required and, if submitted, cannot be reviewed. A statement of purpose is required; please do not confuse it with a writing sample.

Applicants whose native language is not English must submit official TOEFL or IELTS scores. (Waivers are automatic for students whose applications indicate they have received, or will receive, a degree from an institution where English is the primary language of instruction.)

A master's degree is not a prerequisite for admission. Our students can earn a master's while working towards their Ph.D.; however, the Department does not offer admission to a terminal master's degree program. Students who are primarily interested in a terminal M.A. degree in economics are advised to consider other universities with more applied master's level courses. A list of U.S. institutions offering graduate degrees in economics is available here.

Please review these Frequently Asked Questions about admission on the web pages of the Graduate School.

Financial Aid

All students admitted to the program for Fall 2016 are offered a five-year aid package of $24,000 per year ($20,000 during the academic year, and $4,000 during the summer). Also included are full funding for tuition, enrollment fees, and the health insurance premium for single-person coverage through the University. This award package, comprised of fellowships and assistantships, will be renewed up to a total of five years, contingent on satisfactory academic performance, successful fulfillment of assigned duties as a teaching or research assistant, and compliance with all applicable University, School, and departmental policies, including, but not limited to, those governing student conduct, academics, and Honor.

In addition, the Graduate School administers a competitive fellowship program to support a sixth year of study for doctoral students who are poised to complete distinguished dissertations and enter the job market. In 2016-17, twenty-five such fellowships will be offered, and the Graduate School plans to increase this number significantly in the coming years.

The faculty regards training in teaching as an essential aspect of graduate education, although students will not be expected to teach during their first year of study. Duties as a funded student will include appointments as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in years two through five, and involve approximately ten hours of effort per week. Students in years four and five may be offered the opportunity to serve as instructors. 

Many of our fifth-year students are awarded Bankard Dissertation Fellowships that reduce or eliminate teaching responsibilities during that year. A limited number of teaching and research assistantships are available to students who have exhausted the five years of funding offered upon admission.

Our Department strongly supports, and adheres to, the Council of Graduate Schools' Resolution regarding the April 15 decision deadline, which says "Students are under no obligation to respond to offers of financial support prior to April 15; earlier deadlines for the acceptance of such offers violate the intent of this Resolution."

(No additional financial aid application is necessary. However, if you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and wish to apply for a student loan, see Student Financial Services.)

Once enrolled, you will have the opportunity to earn additional and alternative awards, such as research assistantships (RAs), the Bankard Pre-doctoral Dissertation Fellowships, the Graduate Teaching Award, and the Department's Snavely Awards for Outstanding Summer Papers, Outstanding Dissertation Proposals, and Outstanding Dissertations ($1,000 - $4,000 each).

Combining Economics with a Law Degree

Students interested in combining law and economics must be admitted by both the Department of Economics and the Law School. There is no formal joint program, but some students have worked on law and economics degrees simultaneously.

International Applicants

English Proficiency/Waiver Requirements

The TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) exam or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) exam is required for international students whose native language is not English. Required TOEFL scores are: 600 (paper-based test), 250 (computer-based test), 90 (internet-based test.) An IELTS score of 7.0 is also acceptable proof of English proficiency. Test scores are valid for two years from the test date.

These scores are the minimum scores that the University routinely accepts. The Department is sometimes able to obtain exceptions to this requirement from the Graduate School, though only when the shortfall is modest, and the application is in other respects extraordinary.

If a bachelor's or master's degree is being completed (or has been completed) at an institution where English is the primary language of instruction, the applicant will qualify for a TOEFL waiver (unless otherwise notified). Our Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will automatically waive this requirement for an applicant whose application indicates these circumstances. Admitted students enroll at UVA in mid-August; the qualifying degree must be completed before enrollment.

English Proficiency Courses at UVa

We have found that being skilled in the writing and speaking of English is vital to the success of our graduate students. Good English-language skills help students qualify for and succeed in teaching positions, find better jobs when graduating from the program, and "sell" their research to colleagues.

All newly admitted international students are re-tested for English proficiency when they arrive at UVA in mid-August. The CAELC (Center for American English Language and Culture) administers two tests: the University of Virginia's English Language Proficiency Exam (UVAELPE) and the SPEAK test. Based on results of these tests, the CAELC makes recommendations for further English study as needed; The Department views these recommendations as requirements. The courses are free and are designed not to overburden students with a heavy academic workload.

The SPEAK test is given to all new students whose native language is other than English. A student must have earned a minimum score of 55 on the SPEAK test in order to be a TA. Newly enrolled students will not lose their second-year TA award if they score below 55; however, they must, during their first year, successfully complete one or more ESL courses as recommended by CAELC. Students will not be eligible for TA positions until they meet their ESL requirements. Click here for more information regarding CAELC testing.

We expect all our international students to work hard at improving their English skills, whether it be through the CAELC courses or through the many other opportunities available to students.

F-1 Visa Financial Documentation

Immediately after being admitted to the University, an international student is then required, by the International Studies Office (ISO) , to provide a Form I-20/Form Ds-2019 Request packet. This information is needed to issue the student an I-20 for his or her F-1 Visa.

Please note that the ISO will only issue Form I-20 once it confirms the following:

  1. The student has proficiency in the English language;
  2. The student demonstrates that he or she has funding to cover the cost of attending UVa and
  3. All elements of the student's application for admission are present and authentic.

The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) will not issue a student visa to any student for whom the sum of financial aid received (including aid from the University) and personal/family resources listed is insufficient to support them in the United States. The exact level of support required by the INS will be specified in the information that you will receive once admitted. Financial aid awards in the Department of Economics are made with full knowledge of INS requirements. However, in some cases, the student may list a combination of: 1) the fellowship amount(s) expected from international agencies, home-country sources, etc., and 2) personal or family assets.

Health Insurance

All international students are required by the University to have health insurance coverage. First-year students and teaching assistants receive a subsidy for their health insurance, which will provide coverage from August 15 through August 14 of the following year.

Potential Mailing Delays

Please apply early; most documents can be submitted via the online application or by email to Submitting documents to the Economics Department, instead of directly to the Graduate School, will create a delay.

If you need to submit any hard copies, you may experience a mailing delay. Some international mail delays are three weeks, even with airmail. Any hard copies should be submitted to the Admission Office of our Graduate School.

For further information, visit the the web page of UVa’s International Students and Scholars Program.

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Department of Economics

University of Virginia
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Charlottesville, VA 22904-4182
434-982-2904 (Fax)