PhD Economics admissions FAQs

LSE has a well-established infrastructure for admitting and funding PhD students in the Department of Economics. We have a Chair and committee for both PhD Admissions and PhD Recruitment. In addition we have a dedicated professional staff at School and Department level dealing with funding and admissions. Applications are processed centrally through the Graduate Admissions Office.

There is a strict application deadline for the PhD Economics 2024 entry. All applicants are advised to read the MRes/PhD Economics 2024 prospectus page.


Admissions FAQs (2024 entry)

Below you will find various FAQS categorised by application, post application, funding and programme queries.

Application queries

1. When is the application deadline for the PhD Economics? 

For direct entry to the PhD Economics programme there is an application deadline of 14 December 2023. Complete applications must be received by the LSE Graduate Admissions Office by 23.59hrs (UK time) on 14 December 2023. We will not be able to accept any materials that arrive after the deadline; only complete applications supplied with all required supporting information by 14 December 2023 will be considered.

2. How should I apply?

Applications must be submitted via LSE’s Online Application System and are processed through LSE’s central Graduate Admissions Office. All applicants are advised to read the Department of Economics 2024 prospectus page (for entry in 2024).

3. When should I apply?

The deadline to submit an application is 23.59hrs (UK time) 14 December 2023. Candidates are encouraged to apply early rather than wait until very close to the deadline to avoid unforeseen circumstances (eg. technical issues) preventing timely submission. Applicants who are considering re-taking the GRE test to improve their scores should do so in time to submit their new scores by the application deadline.  The Department cannot accept new GRE scores after the application deadline. 

4. 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 Department of Economics Research Programmes and the prospectus pages. See also details of the PhD Economics coursework requirements.

5. 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.

6. 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 Graduate Knowledge Base page. If you do not find the answer to your question there, please follow the “I Need Help” link which allows you to contact the Graduate Admissions Office by email or Live Chat.  

7. 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.

8. 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). 

9. 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.

10. 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.

11. Should my application include a diversity statement?

LSE is committed to building a diverse, equitable and truly inclusive university, a vision the Department of Economics fully supports. We believe strongly in expanding the diversity of our graduate student body and invite you to share your experiences, values, perspectives, and/or activities that shape you as a PhD candidate and align with these commitments as part of your statement of academic purpose.

Should a candidate submit a diversity statement as part of their statement of academic purpose the information provided will help the selection committee to contextualise the application; however, it will not play a part in assessing a candidate’s suitability for the MREs/PhD Economics programme. 

12. 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.

13. 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 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 2024.

14. Can I request an exemption on the GRE score requirement? 

GRE is a compulsory requirement, irrespective of the MRes/PhD Economics applicant’s academic background. Normally, no GRE waiver is possible.  However, applicants faced with exceptional and unavoidable circumstances may submit a waiver request by email, with relevant supporting information, to the Department’s admissions team.  The Selection Committee will consider such requests on a case-by-case basis and the GRE waiver cannot be guaranteed. NB. Please note that booking a late GRE test date will normally not be considered sufficient grounds for a waiver.

15. 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.

16. 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, i.e. 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.

17. 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 Department of Economics postgraduate admissions teamPlease 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 Department of Economics prospectus page.

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


Post application queries

18. Do you hold an Open Day?

As part of our recruitment process successful offer holders are invited to attend an Open Day where they will be able to meet and network with faculty and current MRes/PhD Economics students.

Applicants are, of course, very welcome to visit LSE on their own and attend a guided or self-guided tour – see more details about a visit to LSE

LSE also has many public events which are often open to all, although some do require a ticket.  There are also LSE Virtual Open Day events - for more information and to register your interest please visit the LSE Webpage.

19. What happens to my application after I click submit?

  1. Receipt of application by the School’s central Graduate Admissions Office 

    During this phase, the Graduate Admissions team conducts checks to ensure you have included all of the required documents with your application. Please note, the Department will not receive your application until you have supplied all of the required documents, which must be submitted by the application deadline. 

  2. Receipt and consideration of documents by the Department

    Once the deadline passes and the Department receives all complete applications the Selection Committee begins its review of all applications, until they arrive at a final shortlist of candidates. This process usually takes around 4 weeks at the end of which the Committee holds its final meeting to decide on who to make an offer to.

    NB: The Department of Economics does not hold interviews as part of its selection process. 

  3. Consideration for funding

    After the Selection Committee meeting, all applicants who are offered a place on the PhD Economics programme are reviewed by the Funding committee for consideration of all funding at our disposal. The Department cannot guarantee that all of those offered places to study will also be offered funding. 

  4. Offer and post-offer

    From early March onward, formal offers will be sent out by the LSE Graduate Admissions Office after carrying out its standard checks. The Department will also contact candidates to whom we wish to offer a place on the PhD Economics. At that stage, each candidate will be advised if they have been awarded funding, waitlisted for funding or have not been allocated funding at all. 

  5. Unsuccessful applications

    Candidates who are unsuccessful will be informed of the final decision by the Graduate Admissions Office. We typically expect this decision to be communicated to you around the beginning of March. 

20. When will I get my decision on my PhD Economics?

Admissions decisions will be made by a committee in the Department of Economics. Applicants will be informed of the decision by early March 2024. If your application is successful, we expect you to let us know by 15 April 2024 whether you are planning to enrol.

21. 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 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.

Funding queries

22. 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 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 

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 2024 information updates)

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

Offer holders are expected to only take up a place on the PhD Economics 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 Department of Economics 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. 

24. 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.

Programme queries

25. What can you tell me about the structure of the programme?

See the prospectus page for the PhD Economics programme – section “Programme structure and courses”. The PhD Economics programme is grounded in two years of coursework through the MRes component followed by three to four years of research through the PhD.

Also see the LSE Academic Calendar for all Research Students at LSE, where clicking on “Programme Regulations” and “Research Course Guides” will give you detailed insight into the topics covered in each programme of study. 

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

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

27. How does the programme differ from the US and European programmes?

The programme has the standard structure of top US programmes 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.

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

There will no longer be automatic and direct progression from any LSE programme into our MRes/PhD Economics from the 2024/5 academic cycle.  Students registered in the LSE Department of Economics during the 2023/4 academic year, who wish to be considered for 2024 entry to the MRes/PhD Economics would need to submit the standard full application package by the deadline for 2024 entry (14 December 2023).  All applicants - including LSE students - will be given equal consideration, as part of the MRes/PhD Economics' standard process for admission as well as funding.