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Application Information

The MSU Department of Economics offers a challenging and rewarding academic program, distinguished-yet accessible faculty, and a friendly, supportive environment for study.

Online Applications

To apply, you must use the online link below and submit all required materials by December 15.

Please read the following information completely before you apply. The key information is listed below, and the most common questions we receive are answered in the FAQ section.

Key Information

We only accept electronic applications submitted through

The application deadline is December 15.

Only complete applications are reviewed, which must include the following components:

  • A completed electronic application form
  • GRE scores (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing components). Scores must be reported by ETS using the following codes: Department 1801 and Institution 1465
  • Language scores for international students (TOEFL scores are strongly preferred). Scores must be reported by ETS using the following codes: Department 84 and Institution 1465
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • A statement of purpose (SOP) that explains (1) how your academic training and your life experiences have prepared you to handle the rigors of a Ph.D. program and (2) how MSU's Ph.D. program fits with your research interests.
  • Uploaded unofficial transcripts
  • Mailed hard copy official transcripts sealed in their original envelope to 

Office of Admissions

Michigan State University

Hannah Administration Building

426 Auditorium Road, Room 250

East Lansing, MI 48824-2604

It is the applicant’s responsibility to log onto the online system to verify that the application is complete.

Effective Spring 2015, Michigan State University requires all incoming ADMITTED students pursuing degrees or who have earned degrees from universities in China to submit a verification report (English version) through the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) for their final bachelor degree transcripts (大学成绩单) and bachelor degree (本科学位证书).


Frequently Asked Questions

We cannot assess candidates without looking at the whole application. However, we can offer some general guidance. Our typical successful applicant has demonstrated excellence in mathematics by excelling in 7 or more undergraduate courses in mathematics (perhaps 3-4 semesters of calculus, 1-2 semesters of matrix algebra, 1-2 semesters of statistics, and 1-2 semesters of real analysis) and scores above 164 on the quantitative portion of the GRE. In addition, our typical successful applicant will possess strong English language ability (demonstrated on the GRE, TOEFL, and the application itself), solid research experience, and a strong overall academic record (demonstrated by overall GPA).

Unfortunately, due to the sequencing of our courses, we only admit students beginning in the fall semester.

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.

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.

The statement of purpose should include a discussion of 1) how your academic training has prepared you to handle the rigors of a PhD program and how MSU's Ph.D. program fits with your research interests and 2) how your life experiences have prepared you to handle the rigors of a Ph.D. program. Please note, you should use this statement 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. The statement should be no more than 2-4 double-spaced pages.

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.

You are welcome to include supplemental papers or a writing sample in your application, though this is optional and only test scores, transcripts, academic and personal statements, and letters of recommendations are guaranteed consideration as part of the admissions process.

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.

The Economics Department does not offer a stand-alone master’s degree in Economics.
No. All applications must contain a valid GRE score.
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.

No GRE subject tests are 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.

MSU has two procedures for acquiring waivers for the TOEFL or similar English language competency exams. Automatic waivers are provided for students with certain degrees from institutions in the US or other English speaking countries. Please see for information on qualifying for automatic waivers. Students who do not qualify for an automatic waiver but wish to request a non-automatic waiver must still submit unofficial scores and request a waiver from the Economics Department. Granting of the waiver is not guaranteed and if the department sends it forward, the ultimate decision rests with the college and university. All other international applicants must submit official scores for their application to be processed.

The online application portal contains links to upload your statement of purpose.