Application and Admission

For admission to the Ph.D. program in Economics, applicants must have a strong background in mathematics and show either prior experience or great promise in conducting research. Candidates with coursework in advanced undergraduate or master's-level economics are preferred. The department looks especially favorably on applicants who, aside from having the necessary background, can speak cogently about their specific research interests. 

The American Economic Association provides guidelines for the type of math background that will make your application competitive. Applicants may demonstrate research aptitude through experience as research assistants, research-based job experience, or thesis-level independent research. Finalist applicants may be invited to a video conference interview.

Questions? Check our FAQs

General Application Requirements

Unofficial transcripts, GRE, TOEFL and 3 letters of recommendation are needed. 

Applications are available beginning October 1.
The deadline to apply for the Ph.D. program is December 13 for acceptance the following fall quarter.

As our classes are sequential, we admit only in the fall quarter.

All applications to the graduate programs must be submitted online.

For instructions on how to apply, visit the Division of Graduate Studies. Please visit to learn more about graduate student fees, fellowship opportunities, and graduate education at U.C. Santa Cruz.

Looking for a M.S. degree instead?

Please check out our M.S. in Applied Economics and Finance program.

A complete application consists of:

    1.    Submitted on-line application
    2.    $135.00 application fee ($155 for International applicants) (pay through the online application) 2022-23 AY
    3.    Unofficial transcripts from each college-level institution attended (official transcripts will be required upon accepting)
    4.    Three letters of recommendation (submitted online)
    5.    *Required General GRE test scores (including TOEFL or IELTS for international applicants)
    6.    Personal History and Statement of Purposes essays

You may upload a copy of your unofficial transcripts to your online application. This can either be a scanned version of your official transcript, or, if available, a downloaded PDF from your institution's online portal. See the Document Scanning Guidelines for information about scanning and uploading your unofficial transcripts to the admissions application. Once admitted, one official transcript from the Registrar of each institution listed (including university correspondence or extension divisions), or a statement of good standing, if work was not completed, is required. (Request that your transcripts be sent to you.) Each transcript should be in an envelope sealed and signed by the Registrar. To expedite the processing of your application, send your transcripts (leaving each sealed envelope intact) and other required hard-copy materials together in the same envelope to:

U.C. Santa Cruz
Graduate Application Processing
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

If you attended UC Santa Cruz as an undergraduate, you must also request and pay to have an official transcript sent to Graduate Application Processing from the Registrar's Office. Transcripts submitted to UC Santa Cruz will not be returned to the applicant, nor will copies be forwarded to any other persons or agency. To qualify for graduate study at UC Santa Cruz, you must present official evidence that you have received a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution of higher education. (However, verification of UC Santa Cruz bachelor's degrees can usually be accomplished electronically.)

Application fee waivers are available on the online application for Graduate Opportunity Program applicants and for hardship cases. The university does not waive the application fee ($140.00) for international applicants.

The university does not accept GMAT scores in lieu of the GRE for the PhD program. The GRE school code for UC Santa Cruz is 4860. We are accepting computer based GRE scores; however, in weighing these scores when we review applications, we will take into account the controversy surrounding the computer based test scores coming from selected countries. The minimum GPA requirement for UC graduate admissions is 3.0. International applicants need not convert their international GPA to the U.S. GPA scale.

Applicants from countries where English is not the primary language must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores. A minimum score of 550 (paper-based), 220 (computer-based), or 83 (iBT) is required for admission. If your TOEFL score is older than two years, you will need to re-take the exam. We will consider TOEFL waiver requests for those applicants who have completed a degree from an English-speaking university. The TSE is not required for admissions. For those choosing to take the IELTS, a minimum overall score of 7 from the IELTS test is required for admission.

NOTE: Any students who wish to be considered for Teaching Assistant opportunities and do not have English as their first language must score a 26 or higher on the Spoken Word portion of the TOEFL iBT; an overall score of 8 from the IELTS test is required for all new international students who may serve as a Teaching Assistant at any time during their graduate career.

Departmental financial support is based on merit. The university does not offer need-based financial aid to international applicants. The evaluation process depends on a review of your completed application, the strength of the overall applicant pool, and our target enrollment number. We have in the past offered full support to Ph.D. applicants in the form of TAships and fellowships. Some amount of funding may be available to M.S. applicants. We let you know if you have been given financial support at the same time we notify you of an admissions decision.

The review of applications is generally completed by March 15. Most offers of admission are prepared and mailed by March 31. Denial letters are sent thereafter. By a general agreement to which UC Santa Cruz and most graduate schools in the United States are signatories, admitted applicants have until April 15 to reply with their acceptance of fellowship offers.

For further information, please contact:

Graduate Programs Coordinator
University of California, Santa Cruz
Department of Economics
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Phone: (831) 459-2219
Fax: (831) 459-5077;


General information about Applying to a US Ph.D. Program in Economics can be found in the webinar presented by Ajay Shenoy, Associate Professor and Ph.D. Program Director, Economics UC Santa Cruz, on November 10, 2022. Click for recording.