Common Admission Questions
Below is a list of questions commonly asked by prospective graduate students. Please review these carefully before contacting anyone in the Graduate School or the Economics Department.
How can I apply to your Ph.D. program?
Please refer to the Graduate Admissions page for required material. The department does not require anything over and above what the Graduate School requires for admission. During the online application process, applicants to the Economics Ph.D. program will be asked to supply a list of the most advanced courses taken in Math and Economics as well as the textbooks associated with those courses.
Do I need to submit a writing sample?
Beginning in the 2022-23 application cycle, the department will now require a writing sample. It can be a self-standing paper or an excerpt of a larger paper, senior thesis, etc. The maximum number of pages that may be submitted is 25.
Can the department mail me an application?
No, the department does not have paper applications. The application process happens through the Graduate School’s Admissions Office. The online application can be found here.
Do I need to submit a GRE score?
Yes, all applicants to the Economics Ph.D program are required to submit a current GRE score. If your scores are more than five years old, you must retake the test. When registering for the test, you must request that your scores be sent to Princeton University, Office of Graduate Admissions (institution code 2672, no department code is required).
Allow several weeks for test scores to reach the University. To ensure timely receipt of GRE scores, applicants are urged to take the paper exam in October or the computer-based test no later than early December. An application is considered incomplete without these scores. For more information contact Educational Testing Services at (609) 771-7670, (866) 473-4373, or on the web.
What are the department’s English language testing requirements?
Starting in the fall 2024 admission cycle, we have revised the requirements around the Policy on English Language Proficiency and English Language testing. We also are now accepting Duolingo English Language Test (DET), in addition to TOEFL or IELTS, to fulfill the English language test requirement.
As part of the revised policy, the following applicants are not required to submit English language test scores:
- Applicants whose primary language is English. Primary language is defined as the language that someone communicates in most frequently and in most situations when speaking, reading, and writing.
- Applicants whose undergraduate instruction is entirely in English as certified by the institution and for whom the degree will be awarded prior to anticipated enrollment at Princeton.
- Applicants whose graduate study was on a full-time basis for at least one year where instruction is entirely in English as certified by the institution.
All other applicants must submit valid TOEFL, IELTS, or DET scores.
Find more information about English language testing requirements on this page.
When is the application deadline?
The final application deadline for all applicants is December 15. This deadline applies to the receipt of applications and all supporting material. Earlier applications are encouraged.
Can I apply for financial aid?
You do not need to apply for financial aid. All students who are offered admission to the Ph.D. program are offered tuition support from the Graduate School, as well as a yearly stipend for living expenses for all five years of regular enrollment.
Do I need to have a Master’s Degree to apply?
It is not necessary to have an advanced degree to apply to our program. Many students come to the program directly from an undergraduate institution.
The B.A. program in my home country is only 3 years. Is that acceptable?
The admissions committee will accept a B.A. degree regardless of the program length.
My B.A. is not in economics. Can I still apply?
It is not necessary to have received your undergraduate degree in economics. The department admits students from other disciplines. However, a knowledge of economics and a strong math background are desired.
Can I transfer credits from another graduate program?
No, there are no allowable credit transfers from another program to the Economics Ph.D. program. All admitted students, regardless of an advanced degree, will begin the program as a first year student subject to the first year core courses. An admitted student can, however, opt to take an exemption exam before the beginning of the term for any of the first year core courses.
Do I need work experience to apply?
Work experience is not required. Many of our students come directly from an undergraduate program and do not have work experience.
Can I visit the department and speak with someone on the admissions committee?
No one on the admissions committee will meet with an applicant before they are offered admission. The faculty on the committee will remain anonymous. If you visit the campus or the Department of Economics, you can schedule an appointment with the Graduate Program Administrator for further information about the program or the admissions process. You can reach the Graduate Program Administrator, Laura Hedden, at 609-258-4006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
When will I know if I have been admitted?
The Graduate School’s official admission notification happens in March. Many times admitted applicants will receive a congratulatory email from the department a few days before the Graduate School’s official deadline.
Can I defer admission if accepted?
Generally, the Economics Department does not allow deferrals. Princeton allows very few deferrals each year, which must be approved by the department and the Graduate School. If your deferral is not approved you may request that your application be reactivated for consideration the following year. This does not guarantee that you will be readmitted.
I’m a graduate student at another institution. Can I study at Princeton as a visitor?
A small number of special students not enrolled as regular degree candidates apply and are admitted to study as nondegree visitors. See the visiting students page to learn more.
I’m interested in the Political Economy Program. Do I apply to the Economics Department or the Politics Department?
In order to participate in the Program In Political Economy, a student must apply to one of three departments: Economics, Politics, or the School of Public Policy and International Affairs. Students will be subject to all other requirements of the home department, so an applicant should choose to apply to the department that most suits their interest. Students join the Program at the start of their third year after passing required coursework and a field exam in Political Economy.
I’m thinking about applying in the future. Can you recommend courses for me to take now to prepare for my application?
The department cannot make specific recommendations. When reviewing an application, the internal admissions committee of the Economics Department does not base a decision on any one factor. The whole application is taken into account. It is not necessary to have graduate-level courses on the transcript, but the committee will look at the degree of difficulty of the courses you have taken as well as the grades for your courses. A strong math background is required, as is working knowledge of multivariate calculus and matrix algebra. The committee looks for strong letters of recommendation from your professors who can attest to the type of student you are and can speak to your potential in the graduate program.
My application for admission was denied and I plan to apply again. What will I need to submit? Can you review my past application and make suggestions?
When an application is denied admission, the Graduate School retains the file for one year. Applicants who applied the previous year may reapply the following year for admission. Reactivated applicants should complete the admission application. In addition, they must submit official transcripts of any academic work accomplished since the date of the last application, new letters of recommendation from three letter writers (the same people, or new ones), and a revised personal statement. All materials, including the application fee, are due by the application deadline.
If an application is denied, it is not possible for the department to go back and review applications to justify the denial or offer advice on fortifying a future application.
Do you offer a Master’s program?
The graduate program in the Department of Economics is a 5 year Ph.D. program only. We do not offer a separate M.A. program. Ph.D. students in our program can apply for their Incidental Master’s Degree after completing the general exam requirement or passing the required second year courses with the required average. Princeton’s Bendheim Center for Finance does offer a Master in Finance.