University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Economics PhD program at UC Berkeley is designed for students interested in pursuing advanced study and conducting original research in economics. The PhD degree is awarded in recognition of the recipient's qualifications as a general economist and of the ability to make scholarly contributions in fields of specialization. New admissions to the graduate program are restricted to students pursuing the PhD degree. There is no external, terminal program for the MA degree.

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Admission to the University

Applying for Graduate Admission

Thank you for considering UC Berkeley for graduate study! UC Berkeley offers more than 120 graduate programs representing the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary scholarship. The Graduate Division hosts a complete list of graduate academic programs, departments, degrees offered, and application deadlines can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Prospective students must submit an online application to be considered for admission, in addition to any supplemental materials specific to the program for which they are applying. The online application and steps to take to apply can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Admission Requirements

The minimum graduate admission requirements are:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;

  2. A satisfactory scholastic average, usually a minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.0 (B) on a 4.0 scale; and

  3. Enough undergraduate training to do graduate work in your chosen field.

For a list of requirements to complete your graduate application, please see the Graduate Division’s Admissions Requirements page. It is also important to check with the program or department of interest, as they may have additional requirements specific to their program of study and degree. Department contact information can be found here.

Where to apply?

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.

Admission to the Program

A degree equivalent to a US bachelor’s is required for admission to the program. An undergraduate degree in economics is not required for admission to the PhD program, provided that applicants have achieved an adequate background in economics and mathematics at the undergraduate level.

  • Economics: All applicants are expected to have completed intermediate math-based economic theory courses. Further education in economics and economic theory is helpful, but not required.
  • Math: Applicants must have knowledge of multivariate calculus, basic matrix algebra, and differential equations; completion of a two-year math sequence, which emphasizes proofs and derivations. Some knowledge of statistics and elementary probability is highly desirable, as is additional coursework in algebra and real analysis.

The GRE has been optional since 2020, but may revert back to required in a future term. Please visit our website for the department-specific requirements.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Normative Time Requirements

In advancing to the PhD degree, students pass through two major stages:

1) Preparation for candidacy typically takes three years. During the first two semesters, students take courses to achieve competence in econometric methods, methods of economic history, and fundamentals of microeconomic and macroeconomic theory. During the next two years, students prepare for examination in two fields of specialization of their choosing, prepare a dissertation prospectus, and take/pass an oral examination. When these steps are completed, students will then apply to advance to candidacy.

2) Completion of a dissertation after advancing to candidacy typically takes three to four years. The dissertation must be based on original research and represent a significant contribution to the body of economic knowledge.

The entire process takes approximately six to seven years, although some students are able to complete the program in less time.

Time to Advancement


During the first two semesters of graduate study, students must take a set of eight core courses to satisfy requirements in mathematics, economic history, economic theory, and econometrics. Syllabi for current and recent economics courses, including the core courses described below, can be found on the Economics Course Home Page Registry.

Courses Required
Economic Theory
and Economic Theory
and Macroeconomics
ECON 204Mathematical Tools for Economics3
ECON 210AIntroduction to Economic History3
and Econometrics
ECON Electives (2 semesters) per specialized study list:24
This serves as preparation for 2 field exams* Field courses are subject to change every academic year. The Graduate Office shares a list of field courses every year (with students starting their second year). Courses are not made public.
ECON Elective Dept Seminars (12 units/one semester)12
ECON 208Microeconomic Theory Seminar3
ECON 211Seminar in Economic History3
ECON 217Risk Seminar3
ECON 218Seminar in Psychology and Economics3
ECON 221Seminar in Industrial Organization: Regulation and Public Enterprise3
ECON 231Seminar in Public Sector Economics3
ECON 235Financial Economics Seminar3
ECON 237Seminar in Advanced Macroeconomics and Money3
ECON 242Seminar in Econometrics3
ECON 251Seminar in Labor Economics3
ECON 271Seminar in Development Economics3
ECON 281Seminar in International Trade and Finance3
ECON 291Departmental Seminar1
Preliminary Exams—Field Examination

All graduate students must take written qualifying examinations in two fields of specialization. Students prepare for these examinations in the second year by completing graduate courses offered in their chosen fields. 

Fields Available in the Economics Department
  • Advanced Economic Theory
  • Development Economics
  • Econometrics
  • Economic History
  • Financial Economics
  • Industrial Organization
  • International Economics
  • Labor Economics
  • Macroeconomics
  • Political Economics
  • Psychology and Economics
  • Public Finance

Alternative fields offered by another department or designed by the student may be substituted for one of the fields listed above if approved by the graduate committee. Alternative fields may include Economic Demography, Education and Economics, Health Economics, Law and Economics, Resource Economics, Urban and Regional Economics, or City and Regional Planning.


Students must complete at least one semester of any department seminars prior to taking their oral examination. This is typically done in the third year of study.

Dissertation Prospectus and Oral Examination (QUALIFYING EXAMINATION)

Students are encouraged to begin discussing possible dissertation topics with appropriate faculty members at an early stage. After completing the written field examinations, students choose a faculty member to serve as an advisor on developing a dissertation topic involving significant and original research, and to supervise the writing of a prospectus. The prospectus describes the research to be conducted, the techniques to be used, and initial findings. Students who cannot find an adviser on their own will be matched with a preliminary adviser at the beginning of the third year of study.

Qualifying Examination

When the prospectus is approved by the faculty adviser, the qualifying examination is scheduled. The examining committee consists of four faculty members who conduct an oral examination based on the student's areas of specialization and on the dissertation prospectus. A primary function of the oral examination is to aid the student in developing a dissertation and to determine whether the student is sufficiently prepared to complete original research successfully.

Time in Candidacy


Upon successful completion of the oral examination and selection of a dissertation committee, the student is advanced to candidacy. Following advancement to candidacy, students pursue research necessary for the completion of their dissertation.

Fourth Year Paper

In the fourth year students will work with their advisor to write a complete draft of a research paper. The topic can be on what was done for the orals examination, or something new. Students may be excused from this requirement under exceptional circumstances (e.g., lengthy field work), but they would need to submit a letter to the Graduate Chair from the student's advisor requesting an exception. 


Students are encouraged to select dissertation topics that can be completed in one to two years. 

Upon completion of the dissertation and its acceptance by the dissertation committee, the student is awarded the PhD degree.

Graduate Program Outcomes

Professional Placement

Students who have received, or will soon receive, the PhD in Economics are assisted by the department in finding suitable career positions. The department learns of available openings for qualified economists through an exchange of information with universities, colleges, government agencies, and research institutes.

The department staff coordinates and facilitates placement activities, and a faculty member oversees and advises placement. Serious effort is made to help students find positions in which their capacities will be both used and rewarded. The department has been highly successful in placing students, which is a reflection on the quality of its students and their training, and the importance the department places on this activity.

Past placement outcomes can be found on the department's website.



Contact Information

Department of Economics

530 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-0822

Fax: 510-642-6615

Visit Department Website

Department Chair

Andres Rodriguez-Clare

609 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-643-1654

Graduate Chair

Yuriy Gorodnichenko

619 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-6649

Undergraduate Chair

Demian Pouzo

663 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-6709

Director of Student Services

Michelle Fong

551 Evans Hall

Assistant Director, Course Management

Isabel Burle

545 Evans Hall

Curriculum & Enrollment Coordinator

Blair Van Tassel

543 Evans Hall

Assistant Director, Graduate Student Services

Janene Vernard

541 Evans Hall

Phone: 510-642-6172

Assistant Director, Undergrad Student Services

Carlos Garcia

533 Evans Hall

Economics Undergraduate Advisor

Trinh Nguyen

535 Evans

Economics Undergraduate Advisor

Ashley Vera

539 Evans

Economics Undergraduate Advisor

Dinko Lakic

539 Evans Hall

Economics Undergraduate Advisor

Mildred Flores

539 Evans Hall

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