Course of Study | Profile of Accepted Applicant | Funding | Admission Requirements | GRE | Transcripts | TOEFL | Letters of Recommendation | Mathematics Preparation | Statement of Purpose | Writing Sample | Submitting Application Materials | Summer School | Housing | Advice on Applying to Graduate School |
A brief summary of our graduate program, admission requirements, cost of study, and possible financial support will be found below. More detailed information is available in our Graduate Bulletin.
Graduate Program in Economics
The Department of Economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a doctoral program and your application for admission will be reviewed as though you are applying to the Ph.D. Program. The department does not admit students who plan to only pursue a Master's degree. The department offers seven fields of study which are: Advanced Microeconomic Theory, Econometrics, Industrial Organization, International Economics, Labor Economics, Macro/Monetary Economics, and Public Economics. As part of the Public Economics Program, the Department also offers a specialization in Health Economics.
Graduate Course of Study
The goal of the Economics Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is to train economists: graduates of the program are prepared to undertake advanced research in economic theory, econometrics, and applied branches of economics, and to apply their knowledge and skills to a wide range of problems in a broad array of institutional settings. These aims are achieved through a program that combines coursework, examinations, seminars, and independent research, culminating in the completion and defense of a doctoral dissertation. During the first year of the graduate program, students must acquire a thorough knowledge of microeconomic theory, macroeconomic theory and econometrics. The nature of this material demands that entering students have considerable mathematics skills, at a minimum including complete facility with the basic tools of multivariate calculus, linear algebra and mathematical statistics.
In the spring semester of the first year students make their first foray into research by preparing a paper focused on an empirical topic. Excellence in research at this stage is rewarded with a departmental prize. The department also holds seminars for first year students featuring the seven fields offered by the department. These seminars provide an opportunity to meet the faculty and learn about research in each field. At the end of the first year of study, students take a preliminary examination in both micro and macroeconomic theory. The purpose of these examinations is to determine whether students have adequate command of the concepts and methods that should be part of the intellectual equipment of all economists. Students who fail either prelim may make a second attempt in January of the second year.
During the second year, students acquire more specialized knowledge by taking the required courses in their major field of study, and beginning course work in the minor field. Throughout the year students also work intensively on selecting an original research topic and, under the supervision of faculty in their chosen field of study, prepare a substantial paper demonstrating their ability to conduct independent research. This paper often becomes one of the chapters of the dissertation, and must be approved by the end of the summer of the second year to satisfy the qualifying process for the major field.
In the third year, students complete courses in their minor and continue to work on their dissertation. Throughout the year, students are required to actively participate in the research seminars of their chosen fields, both by presenting their own research and critically analyzing that of others. In addition, students must submit an approved dissertation proposal to the Graduate Committee. By the beginning of the fourth year, students bring their dissertation research to a stage where one or two polished research papers are ready for presentation at other universities or research institutions. With the help of the department's placement services, students then explore the job market. By the end of the fourth year, all work on the dissertation should be completed.
Profile of an Accepted Applicant
The Admissions and Aid Committee generally plans on an entering class of 30 students. To achieve this class size 120-150 students are admitted. The average GRE scores for applicants admitted to the program for fall 2006 were 73% on the Verbal and 90% on the Quantitative exam. The average Writing Analysis score was 4.6. The average GPA was 3.77.
International students are required to have sufficient funds to cover their expenses completely while attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Students must show that they have sufficient funds available to support themselves for the duration of the program (four years). The amount required for the academic year 2006-07, exclusive of travel to Madison but inclusive of tuition and living expenses, is $38,200 (Age 25 and under) $38,572 (Age 26 and over).
When applicants are recommended for admission by the department, the Graduate School makes a form accessible through OASIS. Each applicant has his/her own personalized web address. Please refer to the original e-mail message from the Grad School for your personalized web address. For applicants who apply via the online application system, you can always log back into your application and you will see a link to OASIS from there.
For the first year of the program, students can meet this requirement in a variety of ways. First, limited quantities of financial support in the form of fellowships, scholarships, project assistantships or teaching assistantships are available to first-year students on a competitive basis. Each year the department is able to offer approximately 20 to 25 fellowships and five to eight teaching assistantships or project assistantships to the pool of applicants. Second, since only a limited fraction of entering students are able to secure financial support, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply to domestic funding agencies supporting studies in the United States. Finally, candidates can supply their own sources of funding (a bank statement will be required).
To date, all students in their second, third and fourth year of study who are making satisfactory progress have financial support. Financial support includes a waiver of tuition, health benefits, and an average stipend of $5,000 per semester.
Admission Requirements - (UW-Madison Graduate School)
The admission requirements include: a bachelor's degree, plus three semesters of calculus, one semester of linear algebra, and one semester of mathematical statistics, or the completion of any course sequence providing equivalent knowledge. These requirements must be completed prior to entering the program. Applicants' mathematics preparation should include multivariate calculus, elementary probability, statistics and regression analysis. Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Applications to begin study in the spring semester are not accepted. Students who are nonnative English speakers are also required to take an English competency examination or TOEFL. A $45 non refundable application fee is required by the Graduate School. The application fee is payable by credit card (mastercard or visa), debit/atm card, personal check or money order, drawn on a U.S. bank. Please do not send cash. Make the check payable to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The Graduate School will not begin processing your application until the application fee is received.
Submit your application online. In order to be considered for department financial support, applications and all other required materials are due December 15. The deadline for applications of students not requesting financial aid is February 1. Applications received after February 1st will not be processed by the Department. All mailed letters of recommendation should be sent to the Department of Economics. You should also provide the Department of Economics with a "Statement of Purpose". The Statement of Purpose (or reasons for graduate study) may also be submitted online. If you submit your Statement of Purpose online along with your application, you do not need to send a separate copy to the department.
Decisions regarding financial support are announced in late February, and admissions decisions are announced in mid-March.
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Scores
An applicant MUST submit Graduate Record Examination scores. Since no consideration can be given to an application until the GRE scores are received by the department, you should sign up for the earliest possible date. Computer-Based TestingScore reports are mailed to you and up to 4 institutions, if you designate them on the day of the test, approximately 10 to 15 days after you test. Paper-Based TestingScore reports are mailed to you and up to 4 designated institutions, if you designate them prior to the test administration, approximately 4 to 6 weeks after your test date. If you have not already taken the Graduate Record Exam and plan to take the Paper-Based test, you should plan to take it in October so that the results are received by the department in time for full consideration for August admission. Indicate in the space provided on the application form the date on which you took or plan to take the GRE exam.
Two official transcripts or academic records must be submitted to the Department of Economics for each undergraduate and graduate institution you have attended. International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature.
If your school does not issue transcripts as such, it will be necessary for you to submit all of the following:
- Official translated records from colleges, and universities attended showing all courses taken and grades assigned each year.
- Official certification of degrees, with date granted (in the language used by the institution awarding them)
- Certified rank in class and total number of graduates
- Official transcripts of all work taken in the United States, including special English language training sessions.
Applicants Whose Native Language Is Not English
Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB). An admitted applicant whose TOEFL (paper-based) test score is below 580; TOEFL computer-based test (CBT) score below 237; or MELAB below 82 must take an English assessment test upon arrival. You must then register for any recommended English as a Second Language (ESL) course(s) in the first semester you are enrolled.
Applicants are exempt if: their official language of instruction at the undergraduate level is English; they have completed two full-time semesters of work in a US college/university or American college/university; or if they have degrees from an accredited US college/university or American college/university. Generally, US citizenship does not exclude applicants from being required to take the TOEFL or MELAB; prior higher educational experience is the determining factor.
Letters of Recommendation
All applicants must submit three letters of recommendation from people qualified to write about their potential for graduate work. The letters can be submitted on-line or use the recommendation forms from the application website. Recommenders may attach letters the the form. It is the applicant's responsibility to see that the letters are sent.
The Graduate Program in Economics requires that all entering students have completed at least three semesters of calculus (including multivariate calculus), one semester of linear algebra and, one semester of mathematical statistics, prior to beginning graduate study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Because of the great variety of titles assigned by different schools to their mathematics courses, we ask you to complete a mathematics preparation sheet.
Statement of Purpose
Submit a Statement of Purpose online along with your application. If you prefer not to submit the Statement of Purpose online, then submit a typewritten, single spaced Statement of Purpose along with your other application materials. You should carefully read the instructions so that you include all required information.
All applicants should submit a writing sample. The writing sample can be a research paper or an article demonstrating your ability to do research and present your research in a written form.
When you have completed your application, please submit material as indicated below or on the checklist.
Send to the Economics Department:
- Application for Admission - apply online
- Two copies of official transcripts from all institutions attended
- Statement of Purpose
- three letters of recommendation from people familiar with your academic work and who have knowledge of your special skills and talents (online)
- math preparation sheet
- GRE test scores
- writing sample
Graduate Admissions and Aid Committee
Department of Economics
University of Wisconsin - Madison
7239 Social Science Building
1180 Observatory Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1393
Submit to the Graduate School
$45 non refundable application fee. Payable by credit card (mastercard or visa), debit/atm card, personal check or money order, drawn on a U.S. bank. Please do not send cash.
Send checks or money orders to:
Office of Graduate Admissions
228 Bascom Hall, 500 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1380
Please do not send transcripts, reasons for graduate study, letters of recommendations or any other departmental documentation to the Graduate School. These materials will not be forwarded to your department/program.
International applicants: Please do not send financial documents until requested by the Graduate School. This information will be requested upon a positive admission recommendation from the department/program.
A strong background in mathematics is a definite competitive advantage in graduate school. During the summer session, the Mathematics Department generally offers the following opportunities to improve your skills in this area: Math 340 - "Elementary Matrix and Linear Algebra"; Math 431 - "Introduction to the Theory of Probability"; and Math 521 - "Advanced Calculus".
If you would like to improve your English skills, the Program in English as a Second Language generally offers English 110 - "Intensive English as a Second Language" and English 118 - "English as a Second Language: English Composition" during the summer session. For addition information on these courses, contact the program directly.
If you are interested in University of Wisconsin-Madison student housing, we suggest that you contact the University of Wisconsin Housing Office directly before final decisions on admission are made, so that you are assured of full consideration. (Preference is given to Wisconsin residents and US veterans.) For other information you should contact the Campus Assistance Center.
Advice on Applying to Graduate Study in Economics
For more information the the general process of applying for graduate study in Economics, you may find the following website useful.
Considering Graduate Study in Economics?
Comments or questions about the Graduate Program should be directed to Graduate Program in Economics
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File last updated:
November 22, 2006