Universities Offering PhD in Economics Programs: How to Choose

Dec 09, 2019

Prospective doctoral candidates in economics might consider their own academic accomplishments when choosing which Ph.D. programs to apply to. They also can compare program rankings and explore available fellowships and assistantships.

A Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Economics program is a research-oriented graduate program that can come with many different specializations, including microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics. Students can pursue these degrees through the economics departments of many 4-year universities.

Top 10 Economics Schools

These schools offer Ph.D. degrees in Economics with varying specializations, and may also offer assistantships.

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition 2018-2019*
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit $46,384
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit $51,520
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 4-year, private not-for-profit $49,450
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit $57,759
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit $50,703
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, public $11,442 in-state, $26,544 out-of-state
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 4-year, private not-for-profit $54,120
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, private not-for-profit $42,100
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 4-year, private not-for-profit $34,882
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private not-for-profit $46,216

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics

University Selection Criteria

When selecting a Ph.D. in economics program, keep in mind the following considerations:

  • Students might consider their own qualifications when applying to a doctoral program in economics, such as their previous academic performance in economics and mathematics, as well as their score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).
  • Prospective doctoral students also might decide what branch of economics they wish to concentrate on, and then research a potential university's faculty to find professors with similar research interests.
  • Students might consult U.S. News & World Report, which ranks graduate programs in economics overall and by specialty, including industrial organization, international economics and public finance.
  • Assistantships may be available in either teaching or research, so students can pursue the one that's best suited to their career goals.

Ph.D. in Economics

Economics Ph.D. programs vary in length, but many last around five years. Often, the first two years are spent exploring advanced topics in economics, in addition to passing oral and written examinations. Students typically concentrate on research beginning in their third year of study.

Ph.D. Economics programs prepare students to become economists, researchers, or positions in academia. In addition to standard courses, many programs also provide assistantships in teaching or research.

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