Doctoral Program FAQs

Frequently asked questions about admission to the Economics Ph.D. program

General Program Questions

Application Questions:

For questions regarding the graduate school application system, please see the graduate school FAQs at

  • Can I make changes to my application after I hit the final submit button?

    Yes, you can reenter the graduate school electronic application to make changes.

  • How do I check my application status?

    After you submit your application, you will be sent a link to set up your MyUW account and net ID. The submission process is an overnight process, so expect your email within 24 hours. It is very important that you set up your MyUW account to check your application status. If you do not receive this link, please contact the graduate school at

  • How many applications do you receive each year?

    The Department receives more than 500 applications for the Ph.D. program each year.

  • How many admissions are going to be offered this year?

    It is not possible for us to tell you how many recommendations of admission are going to be offered this year. We have an Admissions and Aid Committee that makes all admissions and funding decisions. In January, the committee will evaluate the applications. Once the applications have been reviewed, the committee will decide on the number of students recommended for admission. In the past, the committee planned on an entering class of 25-30 students. To achieve this class size, the number of students admitted the past three years was 146, 110, and 93.

  • From all the components of my admission file, are there any elements that are more important than others? Is there anything I can do to help improve my chances?

    All aspects of your application are reviewed by one or two faculty members. Academic preparation is important; the committee likes to see good grades in hard courses (especially math courses or advanced economics courses). Reference letters are very important; ideally they should be written by people who know you well, and who know what it takes to succeed in a good PhD program.

    The Statement of Purpose (SOP) is one of the components of your application packet. Among other things, the SOP can highlight the aspect of your application which is strong and, if you feel it is important, you can explain the reason for any weakness in the application

  • When will I know if I have been admitted?

    The Economics program’s Admission and Aid Committee will inform you of its decision in March.

  • Can I consult with faculty so I can get further input as to how I could strengthen my application?

    Every year the Department receives more than 500 applications for the Ph.D. program. Admission and funding is competitive and it depends on a number of variables including all aspects of your application and the applicant pool. In January, the Admissions and Aid Committee will decide on the number of students recommended for admission. Given the volume of applications, it is not possible to respond to inquiries about the chances of admission, or to provide information about the strengths and weaknesses in individual applications.

Transcripts and Test Scores

Writing Sample and Mathematics Preparation

  • Is there a page limit on the writing sample?

    No, there is no page limit and the topic is not restricted to economics. However, the average submission runs from 2 to 7 pages.

  • Is the writing sample required?

    Yes, a writing sample is part of the required application materials.

  • Can I apply if I have not met the math requirements?

    Students entering the graduate program are required to have taken at least a three-course sequence in calculus, a course in linear algebra, and a course in mathematical statistics. You can apply if you have not met all the math requirements. However, all math prerequisites must be completed by the time you plan to start the program. The admissions committee will be able to evaluate your math ability more thoroughly if you have completed your math requirements at the time of application. Please remember that graduate work in economics demands mathematical sophistication of a higher order than the requirements of most U.S. undergraduate economics programs would suggest. The prerequisites above are a bare minimum, and additional background in mathematics and in graduate-level economics courses can ease the transition into the program.

  • How can I know whether my courses are equal to the required courses?

    The Math Requirements for Incoming Graduate Students page lists some key topics and some useful references.

Funding and Financial Documentation

  • What is the deadline for admissions and for funding?

    The application fee, math prep form, writing sample, statement of purpose, and transcripts must be received by December 5 to be considered for funding. We will start processing applications after the December 5th due date, so admissions materials need to be in, in order to guarantee consideration for funding. Letters of recommendation must be submitted by December 31. If you are interested in admissions without funding, the final admissions deadline is February 1.

  • How is funding awarded?

    Funding is awarded to applicants on a competitive basis. Please see our funding page for additional information.

  • How do I apply for funding?

    If your application is paid and necessary materials received by December 5th, you will automatically be considered for funding for the first year of study. Please see our funding page for more detailed information and the funding packets you would be automatically considered for if you apply on time.

    There are other sources of funding such as loans through the Office of Student Financial Aid, as well as sources that are external to the university (e.g. grants, fellowships). However, the application process for those financial sources is not related to the process of admission to the Department of Economics. For more information, visit the Graduate Student Funding Resources page and the Office of Fellowships & Funding Resources (OFFR). Those pages will contain basic information detailing the funding resources available at UW-Madison, as well as contact information for initiating a search for other sources of funding.

  • I am an international student. Do I need to send financial documentation with my application?

    No. If you are recommended for admission by the Economics Department, the Graduate School will ask you to submit financial documentation. Information on financial documentation can be found on the Graduate School website:

    After international applicants are recommended for admission by the department, the Graduate School will request financial documentation through the MyUW application status. It is very important that you save and refer to the original e-mail message you will receive from the Graduate School after you submit your application so you can access MyUW and respond to the request for financial documentation.

Admitted Prospective Students