Frequently Asked Questions


What graduate programs does the Department of Economics offer?
The UCSB Department of Economics offers a Ph.D. in economics. Formally, one may apply for either the Ph.D. or the Ph.D./MA track. A doctoral student may only earn an M.A. in Economics upon successful completion of the first year of the Ph.D. program. The only distinction between the Ph.D. and the Ph.D./MA track is that if you are admitted to the Ph.D. only track you will have to complete extra paperwork and pay a small fee to be granted an M.A. So apply to the Ph.D./MA track.

What is the difference in applying to the PHD and the PHD/MA options in the online application?

There are two options only for historical reasons. We recommend you apply for the Ph.D./MA option. See above.

Does the department offer a separate M.A. program?

Does the department offer online or part-time graduate programs?

I am an prospective international applicant. Can I know my chances of getting admission if I provide you with my educational background, grades and test scores?

We do not pre-screen international or domestic applicants for admissions. We won't give you information on your chance of being admitted or not. You will need to make the determination based on the information we put on our graduate program Ph.D. web page, to determine if you think you should apply.

Do you accept International students into your Ph.D. program?
Yes! We regularly admit international students into the Ph.D. and Ph.D./M.A. programs.

What is the difference in applying to the PHD and the PHD/MA options in the online application?
Applicants who apply to the PHD only, if admitted, will be admitted for only that degree objective. Applicants who apply for the combination PHD/MA have the option of being awarded an MA degree in Economics at the end of their first year in the PHD program, based on the coursework and qualifying exams of that first Ph.D. program year.

How much is the application fee and are application fee waiver available?
The non-refundable graduate application fee is $105.00 for domestic applicants, and $125.00 for international applicants, paid in US dollars. A limited number of fee waivers are available for qualified US citizens and permanent residents only who demonstrate financial need. McNair Scholars and Project 1000 applicants are among those eligible. Fee waivers are not available to international applicants. Further instructions about fee waivers are available on the Graduate Division Admissions website.

What is the application deadline?
See our Economics Program Information web page for the yearly deadlines. You are strongly advised to submit your online application and all required supporting materials well in advance of the official deadline.

May I apply after the deadline?
No, do not apply after the deadline unless you have advance permission and instructions from the both the Graduate Division and the departmental Graduate Advisor in the Department of Economics. 99.999% of the time we do not accept late applications.

If you do not receive advance permission to apply after the deadline, do not apply. Your application fee will not be refunded, and your application will not be reviewed.

May I apply to more than one program at UCSB?
No, only one application may be submitted per application quarter. Simultaneous applications are not accepted.

How many student do you plan to enroll in the Ph.D. program in Economics?
Our goal each year is to have between 15-18 new Ph.D. students start in the Fall quarter. We admit normally 2 1/2 to 3 times that number.

What are some of the criteria  you look for in an applicant?
One of the first things we look for is a strong academic record, particularly in math. We look for strong grades and an excellent quantitative GRE score. Students need math at least through linear algebra, but most have more than that. We also screen for the required economic theory background.

The second thing that matters is strong, focused letters of recommendation. It helps if the letters can say something specific about the student’s research ability, and effective letters are very specific about the student’s standing. Useful comments can be, but are not limited to; “This student is better than 3 students in the last five years from our department who have gone to top 20 programs, but not quite so good as the 2 students who have gone to top five programs.” Or, “This is the best student I have taught in five years.” Or, “This student would probably be the best of his cohort if attending UCSB’s PhD program.” That sort of thing.

How many international students do you enroll in the Economics Ph.D. program? Do you enroll students from mainland China?
We regularly admit international students to the Ph.D. program. We do not have a set number (a quota) that we admit each year. Yes we regularly admit students from China.

What if I have support from an external fellowship?
You must declare any such fellowship. If the fellowship is less than what would come from UCSB support, UCSB will make up the difference. Please give clear details (source, amount per year, what’s covered, who many years are covered) in your personal statement as to any support that you have or might reasonably expect to receive. If you receive an unexpected fellowship, please contact us immediately.

What if I wish to pay my own way?
The general answer is no. That is, you can decline an offer of support while accepting an offer of admission, but offering to pay your own way will not affect the probability of being accepted. (If you are wealthy enough to own your airplane, we might reconsider.)

Does external support affect my admission chances?
Mostly no, but it might matter in some circumstances. We make up a list of students we would like to admit, without reference to financial need. The list includes more students than we have funds to support. If you are on the list and have external support, there is a chance it will convert “we would like to admit you” to “you are admitted.”

Similarly, if you are a legal resident of California (or meet certain UC residency exemptions) you have a slight edge on being admitted as residents cost the department (a little) less than non-residents.

Do you accept three year degrees from India? Yes, we accept three degrees from universities and colleges in India as long as they are from accredited institutions.

What is the standard GPA, GRE and TOEFL scores of applicants?

Average GPA, GRE and TOEFL scores are listed online at the Ph.D. program website.  Specific information is found in "Admission" information section of the individual websites"

Do you you accept GMAT score instead of GRE score?
No, we do not (never) accept the GMAT, we only accept valid GRE general exam scores.

How can I determine if I will do well on the GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS?
We suggest that you take a practice test before scheduling and taking the required exams. This will allow you to determine how much you need to study before the exam and whether or not you need more time to study and prepare or possibly take a class offered by a private company, such as:
www.testpreppractice.netsuch or

Can I use a letter service such as Interfolio for my Letters of Recommendation?
Yes, however we do not recommend it since a letter service cannot complete the specific online rankings for each student that is normally completed by the letter writer themselves.. The online application section for the letters of recommendation requires you to type in the following for each person that is writing you a reference letter:

1) Recommenders Name
2) Email Address
3) Name of recommenders home university, institution or place of employment.
4) Completion of the waiver section