While some of our graduates enter the private sector, the primary focus of the PhD in Economics program is to train young scholars to become academic researchers. Entry into the doctoral program is for the fall semester only. Admission to the doctoral program is highly competitive – the Department of Economics receives hundreds of applications every year for approximately a dozen spots. The doctoral education for each admitted student is fully funded.

How to Apply

All applicants must apply via USC’s online application system, and all applicants should review and follow directions stated within the USC Office of Graduate Admission webpage.

Applications for admission to the doctoral program are due December 1, 2023, at 8:59 PM (PT), without exception. The Department starts accepting such applications in September. We do not accept paper applications.

The online application requires the following:

  • This should include an applicant’s educational history, all relevant work and research experience, awards and honors, any publications, and conference presentations.

  • Please provide a Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement about your interest in Economics. The statement should be no more than 2–3 pages, double-spaced.

  • The Department does not accept the GMAT scores. The Department accepts GRE scores that applicants have earned within the past five years. The ETS code for USC is 4852. This is the only code that should be used; no department code is required.

    We like to see applicants with at least 150 on the verbal section and 160 on the quantitative section. Most of our admitted students have received scores well beyond those minimums, so please keep that in mind.

  • While transcripts uploaded by applicants to the online application may be considered unofficial, the Department can review them and make a conditional decision based on such documents. However, USC Graduate Admission will, at some point, need to receive official transcripts as instructed here.

    An applicant with an international education history must submit both original-language and English-language versions of transcripts.

  • The Departments likes to see at least two letters from academic references. All three letters may be submitted via the online application system.

  • The Department accepts both the TOEFL and IELTS examinations. Applicants must submit an IELTS composite score of at least 7 or a TOEFL composite score of at least 100.

    For detailed information regarding English proficiency requirements, visit Office of Graduate Admission > English Proficiency.

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PhD Admissions