PhD Economics admissions FAQs

Information about the application and admission process for the MRes/PhD Economics (hereby referred to as PhD Economics)

The information below is due to be amended for 2020 entry.  Please check back periodically for updates.

Applications are processed centrally through the Graduate Admissions Office.

There is a strict application deadline for the PhD Economics 2019 entry. 

All applicants are advised to read the Economics Department 2019 prospectus page

For entry in 2019

Please read the instructions for the Research Statement carefully as these have changed from previous years.

When is the application deadline for the PhD Economics? 

For direct entry to the PhD Economics programme there is an application deadline of 12 December 2018. Complete applications must be received by the LSE Graduate Admissions Office by 23.59hrs (UK time) on 12 December 2018. We will not be able to accept any materials that arrive after the deadline; only complete applications supplied with all required supporting information by 12 December 2018 will be considered.

When will I get a decision on my PhD Economics application? 

Admissions decisions will be made by a committee in the Economics Department. Applicants will be informed of the decision by early March 2019. If your application is successful, we expect you to let us know by 15 April 2019 whether you are planning to enrol.

How should I apply? 

Applications must be submitted via LSE’s Online Application System and are processed through the LSE’s central Graduate Admissions Office. All applicants are advised to read the Economics Department 2019 prospectus page (for entry in 2019).

What are the entry requirements? 

Entry requirements for the PhD Economics are stated on the departmental prospectus page. See also the LSE Minimum Entry Requirements including information for international students.

For details about the programme itself, see the Economics Department Research Programmes  and the prospectus pages. See also details of the PhD Economics coursework requirements.

What should my application include?

Your application should include:

  • An application form
  • Application fee
  • Statement of academic purpose
  • CV
  • Transcripts
  • Two academic references
  • GRE scores
  • Research statement (see guidance on the Research statement below)
  • A separate list of all the courses you are currently taking and/or will be taking (if you are currently undertaking a degree programme)
  • English language test scores (if applicable - see English language requirements)

For a full explanation of what you need to supply, please see Graduate Admissions advice on How to Apply and guide to Supporting Documents.

How can I get help with the application process?

Questions about the mechanics of the application process should be submitted to LSE’s central Graduate Admissions Office. See how you can Contact the Graduate Admissions Office.

A full range of Graduate Admissions guidance and information is available via their Admissions Enquiries page.

For any other queries, please contact the Graduate Admissions Office. To email Graduate Admissions, please first try to find the answer to your question by running a search on the online enquiries system  where you will see the option to directly “send a written enquiry” to the Graduate Admissions Office .

Do I need to submit a written sample? 

No, applicants to the PhD Economics are not required to submit a sample of their written work. We will, however, require a research statement.

Do I need to submit a Statement of academic purpose as well as a Research statement? 

Yes, the Statement of academic purpose is a school-wide requirement as it helps our academic selectors understand your personal motivation for undertaking the programme and gives you the opportunity to explain your academic strengths, relevant interests and tell us what you can bring to the programme. This Statement can be brief (ideally not exceeding 1000 words). 

What should my Research statement contain? 

Your Research statement should be submitted in place of the Outline research proposal, along with your application form and other required supporting documents, via the LSE online application system.

Please answer the following questions clearly and concisely. Max 200 words per question.

  1. Why do you want to do research in economics?
  2. Can you explain how your studies and experience make you suitable to do research in economics?
  3. Which aspect of the PhD do you think you will like the most? Which will you dislike the most? Why?
  4. Tell us about your favourite paper in economics. What do you like about it? How would you improve it?
  5. Write a comment for a general audience on ONE of the following topics
    (i) Is inequality good for growth?  
    (ii) Do immigrants take the jobs of native workers?  
    (iii) Is CEO compensation excessive?
    (iv) Is universal minimum income a good idea?
    (v) Overall, has central banks' move to inflation targeting been a success?
    (vi) Is culture an important determinant of differences in income per capita across countries?
    (vii) Markets function well as information is aggregated efficiently through prices.
    (viii) Elections are effective at disciplining politicians who do not have the public interest as their main goal.

How can I demonstrate research potential?

If you have served as research assistant for an economist please ask that person to write a letter focussing on your research skills and describe your experience – reference point 2 (above) of the research statement.

If not, please list any evidence you think would be valuable. Examples include but are not restricted to: experience working autonomously under stress without any guidance, demonstration of creativity in any form, experience of writing original research.

Can I contact faculty in advance, with a request to be my PhD supervisor? 

This is neither necessary nor desirable. Applicants must submit a complete application by the published deadline. There is a formal review process whereby the Department will decide if we can offer candidates a place on the programme. The allocation of a supervisor is done after completion of Year 1 of the programme, based on each student's area of interest and availability of faculty. There is no presumption that a student will be allocated the supervisor of their own choice, or any member of faculty they may have contacted before/during the application process.

Do I need to submit a GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score? 

All applicants must have taken the GRE General Test and must include the test score with their application. For details of how to take the test, see the ETS website. The GRE has three sections: Verbal, Quantitative and Analytical. High GRE scores, especially in the Quantitative section, will further strengthen a good application. Most successful PhD Economics applicants have scores of 166/800 or more in the quantitative section. Applicants must enter their full and percentile GRE scores for all three sections. The test scores should be less than five years old on 1 October 2019.

Can I request an exemption on the GRE score requirement? 

No. The GRE score requirement is irrespective of academic background and cannot be waived for anyone applying to the PhD Economics.

What are my chances of admission? 

The admission committee reviews all applications and offers a place to those candidates with sufficient research potential.

Applicants who have questions about their eligibility for applying to research programmes at the LSE should consult the LSE Minimum Entry Requirements and the programme-specific page for the programme to which they intend to apply. Also see additional information for international students. Meeting the minimum requirements is not a guarantee of admission. In fact, most successful candidates exceed one or more of the requirements.

We regret that we cannot provide any further information or comment on an individual's chances of admission prior to receiving a complete formal application. The committee will make their decision based on all the information submitted with the application, which should be submitted online to the central Graduate Admissions Office.

Can I submit an application solely for the MRes?

No, the MRes is an integral stage of the PhD Economics programme, and may only be taken by students who are committed to completing a PhD, subject to satisfying progression requirements.

Can I progress to the PhD Economics via an MSc programme at the LSE? 

As per current programme regulations, a student who graduates at the end of the 2018/19 academic year with a Distinction in the LSE’s MSc Economics (1-year or 2-year programmes) or MSc Econometrics & Mathematical Economics, will be entitled to automatically progress into our PhD Economics starting in 2019.  

Is the PhD Economics offered on a part-time basis? 

The PhD Economics is only offered on a full-time basis.

How does this programme differ from US and European programmes? 

The program has the standard structure of top US programs with compulsory coursework in the first two years and research thereafter.  As in most US programmes, students take core courses in year one and field courses in year two.

Can I transfer from a PhD programme at another university? 

Applicants who commence/are already undertaking a PhD programme in another institution will not normally be allowed to transfer directly into a later stage of our PhD Economics. Such applicants would be expected to submit a full application to the programme like any other candidate and, if offered a place, would be required to undertake all parts of the course from the start of the programme, ie. they would be registered as MRes students and undertake both years of the taught MRes programme along with the rest of the cohort. Exemption from parts of the PhD Economics, on grounds of having studied certain topics at a previous institution, will not normally be permitted.

Is there a separate process to apply for PhD Economics funding? 

There is no separate process to apply for any funding which is administered and awarded by the LSE - as a matter of normal procedure, all applicants who are offered a place on our PhD Economics would be considered for all types of funding at our disposal and for which they are eligible, on the basis of the information submitted in their application - see Costs and financial aid (please check regularly for 2019 information updates).

As competition for places is very high and competition for funding is even more intense, we may not be able to offer funding to all PhD Economics students, hence applicants are advised to actively explore all sources of potential funding – see information in the School's Financial Support Office pages (please check regularly for 2019 information updates)

Will there be funding options available once I've started the PhD Economics?

Offer holders are encouraged to take up a place on the PhD Economics only if they have funds in place to finish their degree; please be aware that it's very unlikely there will be any funding available from the Economics Department to fund PhD Economics students after they have started their degree. While there might be limited sources of funding at later stages of the PhD, e.g. from teaching or research assistant positions, these cannot be guaranteed nor can specific amounts (if any) be estimated at this stage. 

Students are expected to take up a place on the PhD Economics only if they have funds in place to finish the degree.

Will my financial status be a factor in the selection process?

Admissions decisions are made on the basis of academic merit alone, without any reference to an applicant’s financial situation. Applicants who are able to fund themselves or succeed in securing a scholarship or sponsorship from any source will be considered for entry to the programme in exactly the same way as applicants who have no funding in place. The same procedures and standards apply to all applicants competing for entry.

Who should I contact for further information and advice? 

If you have a query about our postgraduate Economics programmes that is not addressed above, or on the departmental website, contact the Economics Department postgraduate admissions team. Please note that we are not able to reply to questions that constitute a request for an informal assessment. Applicants who have questions about their eligibility should consult the Economics Department prospectus page.

All enquiries about the application process must be addressed to the LSE’s central Graduate Admissions Office.