The below questions are ones frequently received from students. Please click on the question to expand the answer and read more.

Where should application materials be sent?

The application and the fee should be filled out and submitted on-line hereAll required documents (see website for the list) must be scanned and submitted online. No hard copies are accepted. Please request to have your GRE, and TOEFL test scores sent to the University of Illinois. No supporting application materials should be sent via e-mail or regular mail to the Department of Economics OR Office of Admissions and Records or to our office.

Can I get a waiver of the admission fee?

Yes, if you are applicable. Check to see if you qualify for a fee waiver. Otherwise, the application fee is paid directly to the University and not to the Department. Visit the Graduate College Website for information on the current fee costs. 

The Office of Admissions and Records will not process your application or send it to the Department of Economics for admissions consideration until the application fee is received. The application fee should be submitted online via credit card at the same time the application is completed. If you cannot pay by credit card, then the fee should be paid via check drawn on a U.S. bank account. The check should include the applicant’s name. 


What is the TOEFL and can it be waived?

All students whose native language is not English are required to have the Educational Testing Service (ETS) submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) before they can be admitted to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. A graduate applicant may be exempt from this testing if, within five years of the proposed term of enrollment, he or she has completed at least two academic years of full-time study as defined by the home institution, or completed a graduate degree, in a country where English is the primary language and in a school where English is the primary language of instruction. HOWEVER, the TOEFL waiver is for application purposes only. If you are admitted into the program, you will be required to have a TOEFL score of 24 or take an ESL class in your first year and pass. We encourage applicants to take the TOEFL at the same time they take GRE test. Visit our application page for information.

How do I know if my GRE scores are high enough?

The Department of Economics PhD Program accepts the GRE General Test, which is composed of verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections. We accept the internet, computer and paper based tests. Admission decisions are made based on the contents of the entire application, but many ask if their scores are competitive with other candidates.

The GRE score is used in the admission process as one criterion among many. The quantitative portion of the GRE tests your ability to perform elementary mathematical operations correctly under time pressure. A certain ability level to do this is highly desirable, but clearly, a high GRE score does not by itself show that you have sufficient math background for a PhD in economics. In practice, most of our applicants have a quantitative score of 160 or higher.

Among those applicants who satisfy this criterion, we focus mostly on relevant courses taken, grades therein, and recommendation letters, while we don't think that the difference between, say, 163 and 167 is particularly informative for the purpose of judging an applicant's capability.

When you take the speaking test, TOEFL, and/or GRE test, you need to have your score sent directly to the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois. You should choose 1836 for the institution code and leave the department code blank. The GRE cannot be waived.

Is my Grade Point Average high enough? Have I taken enough math courses to qualify for the program?

There is no fixed GPA threshold because grading conventions differ a lot between different institutions, but what matters for admission are your grades in classes that are relevant for an economics Ph.D. program, especially your course in the core areas of microeconomic, macroeconomics, and econometrics.

For students who studied economics at a U.S. undergraduate institution, we generally like to see strong performances in intermediate micro, macro and stats, as well as in technically-challenging undergraduate field courses, such advanced econometrics or micro theory. Furthermore, we like to see strong performance in advanced math classes; in particular, we strongly recommend taking a proof-based course, such as real analysis.

Do I have to have a Master's degree to apply to the Economics Ph.D. Program?

No. Many of our students do have a Master’s degree when they apply to our program, but it is not a requirement. As long as you have a conferred bachelor’s degree or the equivalent by the start of the term for which you seek admission, you may apply to the program. We do admit students with only a bachelor’s. Students may receive their Master's degree during their Ph.D., visit our website for more information.

Can I get a research assistantship?

Most research assistantships are typically given to students in the second half of their graduate program. The individual faculty member who has research funds determines whom they would like to hire.

Is there funding in the summer?

The department generally employs a few Ph.D. students in the summer to teach, but this varies on course needs. Teaching appointments are awarded to those students who have performed exceptionally as a TA during the regular academic year. In addition, some fellowship support is available for strong students doing dissertation research to help defray summer expenses. Funding during the summer is competitive and cannot be guaranteed, but a substantial fraction of eligible students (approximately half) receive it.

If financial aid is requested do I still need to send the financial certification form?

Because our first year students are awarded a departmental fellowship/assistantship which includes a tuition and fee waiver, it is not necessary to submit the Declaration and Certification of Finances form or bank statement. The exception to this is if the applicant has any dependents. Visit the Graduate College website for more information.

Do you give Qualifying Exams?

Yes. Doctoral students take qualifying exams in Econometrics, Macroeconomics, and Microeconomics in May of their first year. Students who do not pass one or more of these exams, can take them a second time in August. A final attempt (if needed) is allowed in the following May.

I would like to learn more about the faculty in the Economics Department. Where can I find out more information about them?

The faculty profiles can be found on the Faculty Directory Page.

I am only interested in a Master’s Degree. Can I still apply?

You may apply to The Master of Science in Policy Economics (MSPE) program. If you wish to pursue only a Master’s degree without obtaining a Ph.D. , you should contact the Master’s Program directly at However, the PhD program does allow you to obtain a Masters Degree (MS) while you are pursuing your PhD degree. 

How long does it take to complete the Ph.D. Program?

This depends mostly on yourself, however, most students are able to graduate within 5 years.  

Admission Statistics for the past admissions cycles:

We typically receive over 370 applications to our program each year, averaging 370 over the last three years. 

Check list for the application to the Ph.D. program

Visit our Admissions Page to see more information about the application requirements.

What are my chances of receiving financial aid?

Visit our Fellowships, Assistantships, and Financial Support Website for information. However, all admitted students receive a fellowship and a tuition waiver. The first year comes without work obligations, however, years 2 - 5 you are required to be a teaching assistant to maintain funding.