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This page addresses some common questions about applications, admission, and funding. Please contact us if you have additional questions.  In order to review every application carefully and fairly, the Graduate School and the Department follow the announced application procedures very consistently.  The Department endorses the University’s commitment to equal educational and employment opportunities as expressed in the University’s non-discrimination policy.

Admission Criteria
The Admissions Committee reviews the entire file including:

  • Preparation and performance in previous academic work,
    particularly in economics, statistics, and mathematics
  • GRE scores
  • TOEFL or IETLS scores (for international applicants)
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Professional experience

The Committee seeks to identify students who can master the quantitative material emphasized in the first-year courses and who can do independent research for the Ph.D. dissertation.  We do not have a minimum GRE score or GPA for admission.  Nor do we set a cut-off score above which we guarantee admission.  A student’s entire academic background and potential for achievement are both considered.   Keeping in mind that we do not have formal GRE cut-off scores, some information about the typical scores may still be informative.  Recently, the average Quantitative GRE score was 167 (93rd percentile): half of our incoming students had a perfect score (170).   In general, the Quantitative GRE score must be 163 or above in order for an application to be competitive, but applicants with considerable strengths in other areas may be admitted and funded.  Many of our recent incoming students have also taken many, or a significant number of, mathematics and/or statistics courses (e.g. real analysis, linear algebra, differential equations, mathematical statistics).  Applicants with such course work and successful grades are generally ranked higher in our admissions process.  We also try to maintain a diverse student group.  Recent classes include students from the United States, Romania, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, India, Korea, China, and Taiwan.


Application Instructions and Deadlines
The Graduate School Admissions website includes a link to the online application system, application instructions, and deadlines. The Graduate School has worked to make the application process as straightforward as possible and has provided very detailed explanations and instructions for the online form. You will find it very helpful to read the instructions carefully before or while completing your application. A few additional instructions and clarifications are listed below.

If you are an active member of the U.S. Armed Forces and think that you have missed a deadline, please contact us. The Graduate School will work with you to accommodate your schedule whenever possible.

Statement of purpose

The Economics Department provides a form for the statement of purpose. Please download the form, prepare your statement on the form, and then upload it to the application web site (Word or PDF). You may use the Statement of Purpose to explain why you are interested in attending graduate school and how your academic program and any career experiences have prepared you for a research oriented degree. We do not expect students to have selected a specific field within economics before entering graduate school, but you might describe some of the fields that you find interesting and are considering. You may also include other pertinent information that would help us understand your interests, your academic background, and your overall preparedness for graduate study.

Previous education and transcript(s)

The online application asks you to list all post-secondary institutions attended and to upload a transcript for each. For the application, you may use unofficial transcripts obtained online from the institution(s). If you do attend UNC, an official copy of each transcript will be required.

Most students obtain electronic copies of their transcripts from their schools’ online systems and then upload the files to the UNC application website. Before uploading the file, please check its legibility when viewed on a computer screen and when printed. If your school does not provide an online transcript, you may scan a hardcopy but be sure to check the legibility. All transcripts must be complete (not selected courses), include grades, be issued in the original language, and be accompanied by certified English translations if applicable.

If you are enrolled at an educational institution while applying for the Graduate Program, we would prefer that you submit a transcript after your Fall grades are available as long as they are available by the application deadline.

Test scores

You will be asked to enter the scores on your application and to have the testing services report the scores to UNC. The Graduate School requires that all admission and funding decisions be based on the officially reported scores.

U.S. citizens, permanent U.S. residents, and international students in one of the exempt categories described on the Graduate School website need submit only the standard GRE scores. International students who do not satisfy one of the exemptions must also submit scores from either the TOEFL or IETLS.

Resume or curriculum vita (CV)

Your resume should list (a) all post-secondary institutions attended along with the dates of attendance and any degrees received and (b) your relevant work experiences/internships by date. The Graduate School encourages you to provide information about your volunteer and research experiences, awards, and other activities pertinent to graduate study.

Supplemental documents

Please download the Mathematics/Economics Course Form (Word or PDF) and enter your mathematics, economics, statistics, and other relevant courses. You may fill out the form electronically or fill it out by hand and then scan to create an electronic file. If you scan the form, be sure to check its legibility before uploading.

International student data form and financial certificate worksheet (international applicants only)

As an international student applicant, you will be required by United States federal regulations to certify that you have sufficient funds to pay for your expenses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the entire length of your studies. Prior to admission decisions and offers, you may include information in your application regarding your plans for support (sponsored, self funded, or seeking support) but are not required to provide an official bank statement or letter of support.

If an international applicant is offered admission, including applicants interested in receiving teaching or research assistantships or other awards, each person must complete and upload the official International Student Data Form and Financial Certification Instructions/Worksheet. The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) will send you information and instructions for completing and uploading these forms in order to document that you meet necessary financial requirements. ISSS will then send you the appropriate documents to use in obtaining or updating your visa once it has been determined that you have met the necessary financial requirements.

If you are requesting F-1 or J-1 immigration status, complete steps one through six of the Financial Certification Instructions/Worksheet (pages 2 & 3), sign the form, and upload it, along with your required support materials, within your application. Please do not mail in forms or supporting documents.

A current ESTIMATE of minimum expenses for one academic year (September through May) is indicated on the certificate. Please note, however, that annual North Carolina State mandated tuition increases often occur just prior to registration.

Information for new international students is available on the ISSS website. Please do not contact ISSS regarding the verification of your documents, as answering numerous inquiries takes away from immigration document processing and may cause delays in receiving student visa eligibility documents.

Faculty interest page

The online application is not individualized by department, and some of the information including the faculty interest page is not relevant for economics. Many students entering a PhD program in economics have not yet decided upon a major field, and they are not expected to have done so. Students need an opportunity to take courses, attend workshops, and talk with faculty before deciding upon a major field and a dissertation advisor. Also, faculty cannot commit to working with a student until they become familiar with the student’s interests and research plans. We anticipate that applicants to the economics program will leave this web form blank, and we do not plan to process the form.

Financial Aid
All applicants are considered for financial aid with the most common first-year assignments being departmental teaching and research assistantships, which are funded by the Graduate School or the Department of Economics.

There are typically 16 to 20 students in the entering class, most of whom have financial aid from the Graduate School, the Department, or other sponsors.  Both U.S. and international students are eligible for support from the Graduate School and the Department.  U.S. citizens and permanent residents may also contact the University’s Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid about federal loan and grant programs.

Mathematics Background
The minimum mathematics requirement is multivariate calculus and linear algebra. Most of our students have had additional mathematics. We have admitted and funded some students who take multivariate calculus and linear algebra during the spring semester when their applications are under review, but completing the courses earlier strengthens the application. Courses in advanced calculus and real analysis are not required but are very useful.  Having done well in these courses provides a valuable signal of a student’s mathematical aptitude and seriousness about graduate study.

Notification of Financial Aid
We usually send the first-round of financial aid offers by March 20 and the deadline for responding to financial aid offers is April 15.  If the response rate to the first-round offers is low, then we may make additional offers.  We will not know about the possibility of second-round offers until we hear from the first-round students, some of whom do not notify us until shortly before the April 15 deadline.

You may want to read the Council of Graduate Schools resolution regarding deadlines for financial aid offers to incoming graduate students.  In brief, the resolution states that applicants should not be expected to reply to financial aid offers prior to April 15.  Most U.S. Graduate Schools have endorsed the resolution.  A very few departments now send financial aid letters with earlier deadlines but requests for extensions until April 15 are generally granted.   Students who have not received financial aid offers by early April become understandably concerned.  Those who hold multiple offers can help their fellow applicants by declining any offers that they have decided against prior to the April 15 deadline.

Notification of Admission to the University
Although we do not send financial aid offers until mid to late March, we usually begin making recommendations for admission to the University several weeks earlier.  Thus, some students may receive letters of admission from the Graduate School in February or early March before receiving financial aid letters from the department.

We do not accept transfer credits, and most students take the standard first year courses. Students who have taken Ph.D. level courses from other institutions may be ready to take advanced courses during the first year and proceed to the dissertation stage more quickly.

Spring Semester Admissions
Ph.D. students are admitted only for the Fall Semester since all first year courses are two semester sequences starting in the Fall Semester.

Chapel Hill is a great place to live. We have the atmosphere of a fairly small university community with the cultural amenities (and employment opportunities) of the Research Triangle. The corners of the Triangle are UNC, Duke University, and North Carolina State University and the middle area is the Research Triangle Park, home to IBM, GlaxoSmithKline, and dozens of high-tech businesses.  Duke University is about 10 miles from here, and many of our workshops are run jointly with Duke.  Students may take courses that we do not offer at Duke or North Carolina State University.

Visiting UNC
We welcome applicants who visit Chapel Hill.  Please let us know in advance and we will set-up appointments with faculty and students who share your interests.  Contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Brian Mcmanus, via email at

Graduate Program Home Page Last edited 12/12/2019