Graduate FAQs

About the Program

What type of graduate programs does the Department of Economics offer?

The Department offers a PhD program in Economics.

Does the Department offer a separate MA program?

The Department does not offer a separate MA program. Formally, the online application allows students to select the PhD or the PhD/MA track. The PhD/MA option allows the Department to administratively award a MA in Economics after completion of the first year of the PhD program.

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

The Department does not offer online or part-time graduate programs.


What is the difference between applying to the PhD and the PhD/MA options on the online application?

The PhD/MA track allows the Department to administratively award students with an MA in Economics after successful completion of their first year in the PhD program. The only distinction between the PhD and the PhD/MA option is that students who are only admitted to the PhD program will have to complete extra paperwork and pay a small fee to be granted a MA in Economics. It is highly recommended that students apply to the PhD/MA track.

Is there an application fee waiver available?

The non-refundable graduate application fee is $120.00 for domestic applicants and $140.00 for international applicants, paid in US dollars. A limited number of fee waivers are available for qualified US citizens and permanent residents who demonstrate financial need. McNair Scholars and Project 1000 applicants are among those who are eligible. Fee waivers are not available for international applicants. Further instructions on obtaining a fee waiver can be found on the Graduate Division Admissions website.

When is the application deadline?

Please see the Economics Program Information webpage for yearly deadlines. Prospective students are strongly advised to submit their applications and all required supporting materials well in advance of the official deadline.

May I apply after the deadline?

Prospective students may not apply after the deadline unless they have advanced permission from both the Graduate Division office and the Economics Graduate Advisor. We do not accept late applications in the vast majority of instances.

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

May I apply to more than one graduate program at UC Santa Barbara?

No. Only one application may be submitted per application quarter. Simultaneous applications are not accepted.

How many students are accepted into the PhD program?

The Department aims to enroll at least 15-18 new PhD students with the start of each Fall quarter. The Department typically admits two to three times that number.

What are some of the criteria you look for in an applicant?

Successful applicants will have a strong academic record, particularly in math. We look for strong grades and an excellent quantitative GRE score. Coursework through Linear Algebra is required, but most applicants will exceed this requirement. Applicants will also be screened for required Economic theory background.

Successful applicants will also have strong, focused letters of recommendation. It helps if the letters can say something specific about the student’s research ability, and are very specific about the student’s standing. Useful comments can be, but are not limited to:

“This student is better than three students in the last five years from our department who have gone to top 20 programs, but not quite so good as the two students who have gone to top five programs”

“This is the best student I have taught in five years”

“This student would probably be the best of his cohort if attending UCSB’s PhD program”

What is the standard Grade Point Average (GPA) and GRE scores of applicants?

Data from previous years:

Year Applied Admitted Started Program GPA GRE Verbal GRE Quantitative GRE Analytical Writing
Fall 2021 409 56 16 3.82/4.0 N/A N/A N/A
Fall 2020 276 70 16 3.76 / 4.0 159 167 4
Fall 2019 252 62 18 3.71 / 4.0 159 167 4
Fall 2018 308 61 18 3.84 / 4.0 158 167 4
Fall 2017 219 46 12 3.78 / 4.0 159 167 4
Fall 2016 221 72 14 3.78 / 4.0 158 166 4
Does the Department accept GMAT scores in replacement of the GRE?

The GMAT is never accepted. The Department will only accept valid GRE scores.

How can I determine if I will do well on the GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS?

It is suggested that students take a practice test before scheduling and taking the required exams. This will allow you to determine how much you need to study and whether or not you need to take a class offered by a private company.

Can I use a letter service such as Interfolio for my Letter of Recommendation?

Yes, however, it is not recommended. A letter service cannot complete the online ranking section on the application portal. Additionally, the online application will require applicants to submit the following information for each recommender:

  • Recommender’s Name
  • Email Address
  • Recommender’s university, research institution, or place of employment

Financial Support

How do I apply for financial support?

The completed application for admission automatically serves as the application for financial support.

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, how 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.

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.

Can I pay my way into the program?

No. Prospective students can decline an offer of support while accepting an offer of admission, but offering to pay your way into the program will not affect the probability of being accepted.

International Students

Does the Department accept international students into the PhD program?

Yes! International students are regularly admitted into the program.

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

The Department does not pre-screen international or domestic applicants for admissions.

How many international students do you enroll in the PhD program?

The Department regularly admits international students to the PhD program. There is no set quota of international students that are admitted.

Does the Department accept three-year degrees from India?

Yes, three-year degrees from Indian universities and colleges are accepted as long as they are from accredited institutions.