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 12 for acceptance in 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 Admissions. For additional information about  graduate education at U.C. Santa Cruz, please visit Division of Graduate Studies.

The materials required to complete the online application include: 

    1.   Personal History, Statement of Purpose, and Resume
    2.    Unofficial transcripts from each college-level institution attended (official transcripts will be required upon accepting)
    3.    Three letters of recommendation (submitted online)
    4.    *Required General GRE test scores (including TOEFL or IELTS for international applicants)    
    5.    Application fee ($135 for domestic students; $155 for international students)


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 for international applicants.

*The university does not accept GMAT scores in lieu of the GRE for the Ph.D. 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 scores from either Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum overall score of 83 on the TOEFL iBT or 7 on the IELTS is required for admission. 

NOTE: 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 or 8 or higher on the speaking portion of IELTS.

For details on language requirements for admission and teaching assistantships, eligibility for waivers, and the process for requesting a waiver, please refer to Graduate Admissions Language Requirements.

Departmental financial support is based on merit and is determined along with the admission decision. Students admitted to the Ph.D program are offered 5-year funding packages for the 3 quarter/9-month academic year, with University-stipulated minimum levels. Please refer to Graduate Division Financial Aid for more details.

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.

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.

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;


Looking for a M.S. degree instead?

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