Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently-Asked Questions

We would appreciate your reading the following list of questions and answers before contacting us with any queries.


1. I am trying to decide whether or not to apply to Columbia. Would you be able to give me a idea of the minimum standards for admission?
2. If I e-mail my resume, can you tell me about my chances for admission?
3. I would like to seek a master's degree but not a Ph.D. May I apply to your program?
4. How do I apply?
5. Does the department review applications on a rolling basis?
6. What is the deadline for applying?
7. How many students do you have in the program?
8. Do you accept international students?
9. Do you offer a part-time Ph.D. program?
10. Can I undertake non-degree study at Columbia?
11. What are the departmental policies regarding dual-degree programs?
12. How many applications do you receive each year and how many applicants do you admit?
13. Can the application fee ever be waived?
14. Should I report my GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores to the Graduate School directly?
15. What is the latest date that the GRE and TOEFL/IELTS can be taken without risking the score not meeting the deadline?
16. May I substitute some other exam such as the GMAT or LSAT for the verbal, quantitative, and analytic sections of the GRE?
17. Do I have to take the economics section of the GRE?
18. What is the language requirement for international students?
19. May I substitute some other similar test?
20. English is not my native language, but I have already attended a college or graduate program in the U.S. Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS exam?
21. Does Columbia require that letters of recommendation be written on a form the university provides?
22. Can letters of recommendation be submitted electronically?
23. How do I check if my application is complete?
24. Suppose that I apply and am not admitted. May I ask you to reconsider me next year? Do I have to repay the application fee?
25. Suppose that I apply and am admitted but I want to delay my admission one year. May I receive a deferred admission? If I received financial aid, may this be deferred?


1. I am trying to decide whether or not to apply to Columbia. Would you be able to give me a idea of the minimum standards for admission?


Most successful applicants to our program have analytic GRE scores above the 90th percentile. Students are advised they should have completed undergraduate linear algebra, probability and statistics, advanced calculus and real analysis to be prepared for classes in the Economics PhD program. Superb reference letters or excellent performance as an undergraduate are considered in the admission process as well. Foreign students must also meet the minimum required TOEFL/IELTS (see below).
 

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2. If I e-mail my resume, can you tell me about my chances for admission?


We are unable to review your resume to determine the likelihood of admission. To be considered for admission, you must complete the full application. Please do not email your resume to the department, as it will not be reviewed.
 

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3. I would like to seek a master's degree but not a Ph.D. May I apply to your program?


A list of M.A. programs offered at Columbia can be found on the GSAS website. In addition to the currently established Ph.D. program, the department intends to launch a stand alone Master's program in Economics, beginning Fall 2015.  For information, follow this link.


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4. How do I apply?


Please read the GSAS Applications Policy and Procedures section of the Columbia website. It answers all of your questions on the applications procedures, and the forms and documentation you must submit.


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5. Does the department review applications on a rolling basis?


No. Applicants are considered for admission to the fall term only. The application period begins in mid October of each year and ends December 15th, the deadline to submit the application and supporting materials.
 

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6. What is the deadline for applying?
 

Applications and supporting materials must be postmarked December 15th if mailed to meet the application deadline for all applicants. Applications may also be submitted electronically. Late applications will not be considered.


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7. How many students do you have in the program?


Approximately 110.
 

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8. Do you accept international students?
 

Economics is a highly international discipline. Full consideration is given to all applicants, and many of our students come from outside of the United States.


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9. Do you offer a part-time Ph.D. program?
 

There is no part-time study available to Ph.D. applicants to the Department of Economics.


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10. Can I undertake non-degree study at Columbia?
 

No. Please consult the School of Continuing Education for other options.


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11. What are the departmental policies regarding dual-degree programs?


We are working with Columbia Law School to establish a joint PhD/J.D. dual-degree program, but students wishing to pursue those degrees must be accepted to both programs independently from each other.
 

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12. How many applications do you receive each year and how many applicants do you admit?


The program receives approximately 1000 applications each year. Each year, the department admits about 20 to 25 applicants.
 

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13. Can the application fee ever be waived?


In general, no, but see here for exceptions.


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14. Should I report my GRE and TOEFL/IELTS scores to the Graduate School directly?
 

Educational Testing Service (ETS), who manage the GRE and TOEFL tests, and IELTS are required to report their official test scores directly to the University. We recommend that you also include a photocopy of your score report, if it is available, at the time you complete your application. Please be reminded however, these scores are not considered official unless they are reported directly to the University by ETS or IELTS.


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15. What is the latest date that the GRE and TOEFL/IELTS can be taken without risking the score not meeting the deadline?
 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to register early for the GRE and TOEFL/IELTS as incomplete applications can cause a delay in giving full consideration to your application. The web sites of these testing organizations show test dates and approximate score report mailing dates. The applicant should plan to have the results of their tests available no later than the December 15th application deadline.


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16. May I substitute some other exam such as the GMAT or LSAT for the verbal, quantitative, and analytic sections of the GRE?
 

You must take those three parts of the GRE. There can be no substitutions or exceptions.
 

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17. Do I have to take the economics section of the GRE?


No.


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18. What is the language requirement for international students?


Applicants from countries where the native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) administered by the Educational Testing Service, or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) examination unless they attended an English-speaking institution in an English-speaking country for all years of their undergraduate degree. If you are in any doubt as to whether your undergraduate degree exempts you from the TOEFL/IELTS, it is always advisable to take the test and sunbmit the results with your supporting materials. If you do have to take the test, you must score a minimum of 600 on the paper-based TOEFL exam, 250 on the computer-based TOEFL eaxm, or a minimum overall band score of 7.0 on the IELTS (with a minimum score in each of the four sections - reading, writing, listening, and speaking - of 6.5). The test must have been taken in the past two years.


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19. May I substitute some other similar test?


No exam may be substituted for the TOEFL/IELTS.
 

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20. English is not my native language, but I have already attended a college in America or another English-speaking country. Do I have to take the TOEFL/IELTS exam?


You are only exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS is you attended an English-speaking undergraduate institution in an English-speaking country for at least two years. If you attended an institution in an English-speaking country for a graduate degree, but your undergraduate degree is from a non-English-speaking country or institution, the Department of Economics requires that you take the TOEFL/IELTS. This is a stricter requirement than that of the Graduate School and reflects the fact that successful graduate study in economics depends crucially on your ability to understand, read, write and speak English. Further information is available on the GSAS website.


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21. Does Columbia require that letters of recommendation be written on a form?
 

The letter of recommendation form can be downloaded from the GSAS website. The applicant should request that a recommendation letter be composed on the school's letterhead and placed in the school's envelope with the recommender's written signature across the seal. Letters submitted by mail should be sent to the Admissions Office, 107 Low Memorial Library, 535 West 116th Street, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027 USA.  Please do not send them to the Economics Department. 


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22. May I submit letters of recommendation electronically?


Letters of evaluation may be submitted online. Before starting your online application, check with the professors from whom you are requesting evaluations to see if they would like to use Columbia's secure online system. The process is simple for them to use, and allows the applicant to track the status of the evaluation using the ApplyYourself system. You may submit your online application even if the letters of evaluation have not yet been submitted by your recommender. When the letters are submitted, they will be attached to the rest of your documents.


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23. How may I check on my application status?


Applicants may now check the status of their application online anytime here.  You will be asked to provide your applicant ID and birth date to gain access to the site. Please wait a minimum of three weeks from the time you mail your supporting documents to the program office before checking the status of your application on this website.


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24. Suppose that I apply and am not admitted. May I ask you to reconsider me next year?


If you are reapplying for the next academic year you must submit all new application forms, including the application fee. We do not use materials from a prior application.
 

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25. Suppose that I apply and am admitted but I want to delay my admission one year. May I receive a deferred admission? If I received financial aid, may this be deferred?
 

No, you may not be admitted or defer financial aid for future years. You must reapply.


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