Admissions Process

Students are admitted to the Economics PhD program for the fall term of each year only; we do not offer a terminal master’s degree. Applications and all credentials must be submitted through the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences' online application system. The deadline to apply is January 15th.

The following items must be submitted with the application:

  • Statement of purpose
  • Transcripts
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • CV or resume
  • Standardized test scores
    • GRE General Test scores (use the institutional code 5820 when reporting GRE scores; no department code is necessary)
    • ​TOEFL or IELTS (use the institutional code B875 when reporting these scores); TOEFL/IELTS scores are required for international students whose native language is not English and who did not earn a bachelor’s degree at an institution where English is the primary language of instruction)
    • ​​GRE/TOEFL at Home will be accepted for applications during the 2020-2021 academic year.
  • An application fee of $85

The Admissions Committee begins reviewing applications in early February and offers are made on a rolling basis between late February and mid-April. Admitted students are invited to campus for an open house in March.

For more information, please visit The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences’ website, including the page of Frequently Asked Questions about admission. Technical questions related to the application system should be addressed to the Central Graduate Admissions Office, by email ( or phone (434-243-0209).

Qualifications for Admission

Applicants do not need a prior degree in economics, but they do need strong math skills, including a working knowledge of calculus and algebra (an MA degree is not required). A successful record in courses such as advanced calculus, linear algebra, intermediate microeconomics, intermediate macroeconomics, real analysis or differential equations, and either mathematical statistics (taught in a math department) or econometrics increases an applicant’s chances of admission and subsequent success in the program. Additionally, most admitted students have GRE quantitative scores near or above the 90th percentile.

International students whose native language is not English and who have not earned an undergraduate degree from a university where English was the language of instruction must also demonstrate their English proficiency on the TOEFL or IELTS tests. The minimum acceptable 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. Students who have completed, or are completing, a master's degree at such an institution may request a waiver for the TOEFL requirement. Such waivers will be considered by the Economics Graduate Admissions Committee on a case-by-case basis.

Financial Aid/Funding

Students admitted to the doctoral program will be offered a five-year aid package of $30,000 per year ($24,000 during the academic year, and $6,000 during the summer); their tuition and enrollment fees are waived, and their University health insurance premium is paid for by the Department. Consequently, no additional financial aid application is necessary, though students wishing to apply for student loans may contact Student Financial Services.)

This award package, comprised of fellowships and assistantships, will be renewed for up to 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.

Doctoral students are not expected to work during their first year, but they do serve as graduate teaching assistants, in years two through five, a commitment of ten hours per week. Students in years four and five with especially strong instructional skills may even be offered the opportunity to serve as instructors. 

Once enrolled, students have opportunities to earn additional or alternative funding, such as research assistantships as well as awards offered by the Department (for outstanding teaching, summer papers, proposals, and dissertations) and by the Graduate School. For instance, each year many of our 5th year students earn Bankard Pre-doctoral Dissertation Fellowships, which provides funding and relief from teaching assistant responsibilities for one semester. In addition, the Graduate School administers a competitive dissertation fellowship program to support a sixth year of study for doctoral students who are poised to complete distinguished dissertations and enter the job market.

International Applicants

English Proficiency 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 and who have not completed a bachelor’s degree at an institution where English is the language of instruction. (Students who have completed, or are completing, a master's degree at such an institution may request a waiver for the TOEFL requirement, and such waivers will be considered by the Economics Graduate Admissions Committee on a case-by-case basis.) The minimum acceptable TOEFL scores are: 600 (paper-based test), 250 (computer-based test), 90 (internet-based test.) An IELTS score of 7.0 would also demonstrate English proficiency. Test scores are valid for two years from the test date.

English Proficiency Courses at UVa

Strong English language skills are vital to the success of our graduate students in the program, as teaching assistants, on the job market, and in their careers. Consequently, in mid-August, the Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC) assesses the written and oral English proficiency of all new international students whose native language is not English. Based on the results of the University of Virginia's English Language Proficiency Exam (UVAELPE) and the SPEAK test, CAELC makes recommendations for further English study—if needed--in courses taught by CAELC staff. The Department and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences view these recommendations as requirements. CAELC English courses are free and are designed not to overburden students with a heavy academic workload.

Students must earn a minimum score of 55 on the SPEAK test to pass. Newly enrolled students who score below 55 must, therefore, successfully complete any required English courses before their second year so that they can serve as TA’s and retain their funding package. Click here for more information regarding CAELC testing.

F-1 Visa Financial Documentation

The International Studies Office (ISO)  requires each international student, immediately after they are admitted to the University, to submit Graduate/Professional Student Form I-20/Form DS-2019 Request Packet, to support their application for F-1 or J-1 visa status. 

Please note that the ISO will only issue Form I-20 after confirming the following:

  1. The student is proficient in the English language;
  2. The student has sufficient funding to cover the cost of attending UVa;
  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 are deemed insufficient to support them during their stay in the United States. The exact level of support required by the INS will be specified in the information students receive after they are admitted. Financial aid awards in the Department of Economics are made with full knowledge of INS requirements. However, in some cases, the student may choose to list a combination of: 1) the fellowship amount(s) expected from international agencies or home-country sources and 2) personal or family assets.

For further information, visit the International Students and Scholars Program page.

Bridge to the Doctorate  

As part of the Bridge to the Doctorate initiative of the GSAS at the University of Virginia, the Department of Economics is inviting applications for pre-doctoral fellowships. The two-year, post-baccalaureate program is designed for students from groups that are underrepresented in economics and who have not had sufficient training and research experiences to prepare them for admission to doctoral programs. Admitted students will have the opportunity to take graduate or advanced undergraduate classes and gain research experience under faculty supervision. The application deadline for the 2022 entering cohort is March 1, 2022. No application fee or standardized test scores are required. For further information and to apply, please visit the link:

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