Frequently Asked Questions
Please consult the following GSAS pages for additional information:
In this FAQ:
When will the application be available?
Can I schedule a meeting with a faculty member or an administrator to discuss the program?
Due to the high number of applicants and inquiries the department receives, individual meetings with faculty or administrators are not possible. Questions not answered on the department website should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If I have questions about the admissions process, should I contact the Economics department?
If I submit a CV, can the Economics department evaluate my chance of being admitted?
We are unable to review your CV to determine the likelihood of admission. To be considered for admission, you must complete the full application. Please do not email your CV to the department, as it will not be reviewed.
What should I do to prepare myself for the PhD program in Economics?
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.
Can I find out what the average GPA or GRE score is for admitted students?
The department does not release information about applicants or admitted students, including GPA and GRE scores. As the department receives hundreds of applications, admitted students are generally very qualified. Anyone interested in the program is encouraged to apply.
When should I plan to take the GRE and/or TOEFL/IELTS exams in order to meet the deadline?
All tests should be taken at least six weeks before the application deadline to ensure timely receipt by the admissions office.
Once I take the GRE exam, how do I report my scores to Columbia?
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. For more information see the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Admissions Supporting Material page.
I am interested in the Business Economics program, how do I apply?
When completing the online application, please select the option: I am interested in both tracks in order to be considered for the Business-Economics track. Note: your decision to apply to both tracks does not affect your chances of being admitted to the regular economics track.
Can I apply to both the Economics and Business Economics track programs?
Yes, when completing the application, please select the option: I am interested in both tracks to be considered for the Economics and Business-Economics track. Note: your decision to apply to both tracks does not affect your chances of being admitted to the regular economics track.
If admitted to the Business Economics program, can I transfer to the Economics program?
No, barring exceptional circumstances, there is no transfer from the Business Economics track to the Economics track or vice versa once admitted into the program.
Can my recommenders send their letters of recommendation directly to the Economics Department?
No, letters of recommendation must be submitted through the GSAS online application system. Letters of recommendation may not be sent via email, nor may paper letters be sent via postal mail. All letters must be uploaded by the recommenders directly to the application system.
You may submit your online application even if your letters of recommendation have not yet been submitted. Once the letters are received, your application will be updated.
Can I request an application fee waiver?
All application waiver requests must be submitted through the online application. Please see the application waiver request page for more information: https://gsas.columbia.edu/degree-programs/admissions/application-fee-waivers
How do I check on my application status?
When can I expect to be notified regarding an admissions decision?
Notices of acceptance are sent out by March 15th; candidates have until 11:59 pm EST on April 15th to accept or reject the offer of admission via the online application.
If I am not admitted, can I reapply the following year? Can I receive specific feedback about my application?
If you are reapplying for the next academic year you must submit a new application. As noted on their Admissions Supporting Material page, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences allows reapplicants to reuse letters from an application in the prior year. Since the department receives hundreds of applications, it cannot provide specific feedback to applicants.
What are the admission requirements?
I am trying to decide whether or not to apply to Columbia. Would you be able to give me an idea of the minimum standards for admission?
Most successful applicants to our Ph.D. program score above the 90th percentile on the quantitative section of the GREs. 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 Ph.D. program. Superb reference letters and/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). Official department visits, including meeting with faculty members, are arranged after students have been admitted. However, you are more than welcome to arrange a tour of the Columbia campus through the Visitor’s Center, http://www.columbia.edu/node/6060.html
Do you have a list of recommended courses that students take prior to applying to the PhD program?
Yes, recommendations include college-level coursework in probability, statistics, calculus, linear algebra, analysis and/or optimization. Some background in microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics is preferable.
Is there a minimum or maximum number of pages required for the writing sample?
There is no minimum or maximum number of pages required. The writing sample would normally be a research paper on which the applicant is an author, such as a chapter from an undergraduate or master’s thesis or other research with a recommended length of up to 30 pages.
Can I submit more than the required three letters of recommendation?
Yes, Columbia GSAS accepts up to four letters of recommendation.
I have a Master’s degree from another university, can I test out of any of the first-year PhD coursework?
Normally, first-year PhD students with advanced degrees take the standard course sequence. If they choose, students can pass out of the first year Micro, Macro and/or Econometrics course sequence by successfully completing the corresponding certifying exam.
If I take the GRE exam multiple times, how does the Department evaluate those scores?
When the GRE has been taken multiple times, the highest score achieved on each section is used in evaluating your application.
When completing your application, you will be asked to enter a complete set of scores from only one exam date, and to scan and upload a copy of the score report. However, you will also be able to scan and upload the results of any other exam date, so that all scores will be available to the admissions committee. Additionally, the official ETS score report will reflect scores from all the test dates you have elected to report to GSAS.
May I substitute some other exam such as the GMAT or LSAT for the GRE?
You must take the GRE. There can be no substitutions or exceptions.
Is there a minimum score required for the TOEFL/IELTS?
The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences requires a minimum score of 600 on the paper-based test, 100 on the internet-based test, or a 7.5 for the IELTS.
Under what circumstances would the Graduate School waive the language proficiency requirement?
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.
Program and Curriculum
What are the program requirements for the PhD in Economics?
What are the program requirements for the PhD in Business Economics?
Typically, how long does it take to complete the program?
In recent years, most of our PhD students have completed the program in 6 years.
Can PhD students in the Economics program take courses in other departments at Columbia?
Yes, in lieu of one of the fields designated by the Department, students may petition the DGS to take an individually-designed field. An individually-designed field consists of 3 courses, not all of which need to be offered by the Department. For more information, please see link here.
Can PhD students in the Economics program take courses at other universities while at Columbia?
Is Columbia’s PhD in Economics program a STEM program?
Does the Economics Department require first-year PhD students to take Certifying exams?
First-year PhD students may have to take end-of-year certifying examinations in microeconomics, macroeconomics, and econometrics. These examinations are taken in the summer after the first year. They are graded pass or fail. If students receive a grade of B+ or better in both of the one-semester courses that make up the first-year sequence in microeconomics, macroeconomics, or econometrics, they are exempted from the requirement to take the certification exam in that field.
Does the Economics Department require second-year PhD students to take Field Exams?
In addition to courses, second-year students may have to pass a field exam in each field they have selected. (Each student must select two fields). Field exams are given in the summer after the second year. If students receive a grade of B+ or better in all of the courses taken to satisfy the requirements of a second-year field, they are exempted from the requirement to take the field exam in that field.
Are PhD students required to work as Teaching Fellows?
Yes, as part of their pedagogical training, all PhD students must work as Teaching Fellows for at least 2 semesters in order to obtain their degree. As part of the Columbia multi-year funding package, students generally work in years 2-4 as Teaching Fellows or Research Fellows unless they obtain funding from an external source.
What type of research opportunities are available to PhD students?
Research opportunities are available in the Economics Department, in the greater Columbia community and outside the University. Students begin research as early as in the summer after their first year. The Program for Economic Research (PER) supports many PhD student research initiatives. For more information, see link here. Depending on their areas of interest, PhD students collaborate with Economics faculty and/or faculty in other schools such as the Business School, School of International and Public Affairs and Mailman School of Public Health, among others. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences supports student research as well. For more information, see link.
Where do PhD students present their research?
PhD students have several venues to present research both in and out of the department. Starting in their second year, students present in at least one colloquium during the year. For more information about colloquia, please see the event schedule here. Starting in their third year, students present research in a colloquium once per semester. Additionally, students present research in workshops, lunches and breakfast meetings. Outside the department, students present their research in a variety of venues including the Business School, The Institute for Social and Economic Research Policy, and conferences around the world.
Where can I find information about the academic calendar?
Once PhD students graduate, where do they get jobs?
Is there an Economics Department PhD student club?
Yes, the Association for Graduate Economics Students (AGES) hosts regular events and workshops.
How can I find out about events happening on campus?
The Economics Department maintains an electronic announcement page and posts updates on the Economics PhD bulletin board in the International Affairs Building. PER distributes updates regarding speaker events, lectures and workshops. Campus-wide events for the graduate community are listed here.
How can I find out about events happening in the community?
Is there a guarantee that on-campus housing will be available until I complete my PhD degree?
For students in good academic standing who make adequate progress toward their degree, guaranteed on-campus housing is available for 5 years with a possible 2-year extension. For more information, see here.
Are on-campus housing units furnished?
Yes, for more information about accommodations reserved for PhD students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences program, please see link. (Select the school specific tab and choose Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.)
Does Columbia assist students who would prefer to rent off-campus apartments?
How can I find out more information about what is covered by Columbia’s health benefits for PhD students?
What are the fitness options at Columbia?
What sort of safety measures are in place to protect the Columbia community?
New York has a lower than average crime rate and ranks consistently among the safest large cities in the country. For more information, see the following link. Within New York City, Morningside Heights is consistently named one of the safest precincts. Furthermore, the Department of Public Safety ensures the security of Columbia’s campus and its students.
- Prospective Students
- Current Students
- Job Market Candidates
- Honors and Prizes
- Ph.D. Student Directory
- Bridge to the Ph.D. Program