PhD Admissions

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.

Applying to the PhD in Economics Program

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

Applications for admission to the doctoral program are due December 1, 2022, at 8:59 PM (PST), without exception. The Department starts accepting such applications in September. We do not accept paper applications.

The online application requires the following:

1. Statement of Purpose: This is typically two pages in length, double-spaced, and about your interest in economics. 

2. GRE Scores: The Department accepts GRE scores that applicants have earned within the past five years. 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. The Department does not accept the GMAT scores. The ETS code for USC is 4852. This is the only code that should be used.

3. Transcripts: Whenever possible, applicants should upload scanned copies of official transcripts to the online application system (USC CAS). Please note that these materials must be official transcripts printed on university letterhead. Print-outs from online student portals are not acceptable. An applicant with an international education history must submit both original-language and English-language versions of transcripts.

For more information concerning the submission of academic records, visit the PhD Admissions FAQ page within the Department's website and the following pages within the Office of Graduate Admission's website: Video – Academic HistoryFAQ, and Country Requirements

 4. Three Letters of Recommendation: The Departments likes to see at least two letters from academic references. All three letters may be submitted via the online application system.

 5. English Proficiency Requirements: For detailed information regarding English proficiency requirements, please click here. 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.

Application Fee Waivers/Reimbursements

USC offers several options for graduate application fee waivers.

U.S. Applicants

Visit the Office of Graduate Admissions | Fee Waivers page for more information.

International Applicants

The University is aware that some countries are experiencing extreme circumstances caused by armed conflict, social unrest, or natural disasters. As a result, some prospective applicants from these countries may experience difficulties or delays in providing required documents such as transcripts or test scores, or with paying the application fee. The USC Department of Economics will also consider application fee waivers from citizens of "low-income and lower-middle-income countries,” as classified by the World Bank. Prospective students of the USC PhD in Economics program who anticipate such difficulties should complete the USC PhD in Economics Program: Graduate Admission Fee Waiver & Reimbursement Requests form. This request form is for international applicants only. Domestic applicants should refer to the Office of Graduate Admission for fee waivers. Requests are subject to further review. Decisions will be made at the discretion of the department.

Useful Links

  • University of Southern California | Department of Economics | Department Chair: Romain Ranciere
  • Phone: (213) 740 - 8335