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FAQ About the Application Process

Below is a list of answers to many of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) that we receive.  If you have further questions about our program after perusing these questions, please email our graduate office at ecgrdsec@msu.edu.

Do you have a master’s program?
The Economics Department does not offer a stand-alone master’s degree in Economics.

Can GMAT scores be substituted for the GRE?
No. All applications must contain a valid GRE score.

My native language is not English. What is the minimum TOEFL score required for admission?
The minimum internet-based TOEFL score is 80 overall, with no subscores below 19 for reading, listening, and speaking, and no writing subscore below 22.

Can the TOEFL requirement be waived?
Once admitted, applicants that provide an official transcript for a degree received from a United States university can request that the TOEFL requirement be waived. The college and graduate school must approve this request, and the Economics Department cannot make any guarantee the request will be approved. Please be advised, unofficial TOEFL scores will still need to be uploaded to the student portal.

Is it possible to begin the program in the Spring semester?
Unfortunately, due to the sequencing of our courses, we only admit students beginning in the fall semester.

Where should I send my letters of recommendation?
Once your online application has been submitted, you will be directed to a website to enter your recommenders’ names and email addresses. They will receive emails with links to submit their letters.

Is there a separate form to submit academic and personal statements?
The online application portal contains links to upload your academic and personal statements.

What should I write in my academic and personal statements and how long should they be?   
An academic statement explains how your academic training has prepared you to handle the rigors of a PhD program and how MSU's PhD program fits with your research interests. A personal statement explains how your life experiences have prepared you to handle the rigors of a PhD program. Please note, you should use these statements to provide an explanation for parts of your application that might otherwise appear weak and/or to highlight relevant aspects of your background that may not readily come through elsewhere. Both statements should be no more than 1-2 pages each.

The application asks for my field of interest, but I am unsure at this time. What should I do?   
Being undecided is fine-just select "Undecided." Please note that a large program such as MSU is ideal for students who are undecided because we cover many different fields.

Is there a minimum GRE score required for admission?
There is no minimum GRE score, and the admission decision is not based on GRE score alone; however, most successful applicants score above a 164 on the quantitative section.

Are any GRE subject tests required?
No GRE subject tests are required for admission.

Should I include any supplemental papers in my application?
No. We will not consider anything other than test scores, transcripts, academic and personal statements, and letters of recommendations.

Is an application fee waiver available?
The University assesses the application fee, so the department is not able to issue any fee waiver. An application will not be considered until the Admissions Office notifies the department that the fee has been paid.

Can I send someone my GRE scores, undergraduate GPA, and other details to hear a preliminary decision on my admission chances?
No. The department will not consider any applications outside of the official admission’s process. We recommend reading the characteristics of successful applications listed above to determine if you are similar to previously accepted applicants.



Michigan State University Department of Economics