Economics Department corridor

Admissions FAQ

Please review these commonly asked questions carefully before reaching out to the department. Still can’t find the information you need? Send us an email at

You should complete a new online application and check the relevant box indicating that you previously applied. In order for your materials to be re-reviewed, you must provide at least one new recommendation letter as well as the standard application form, transcripts, and all required materials. The application fee is NOT waived for applicants who are re-applying.

Yes. The online application allows applicants to provide URLs for web-based supplemental documents such as a CV or resume, or full text or abstracts of a paper or publication. This link can be to a personal web page or a file-sharing account (e.g., Dropbox). Applicants should be judicious in their choice of supplemental documents. Committee members are most likely to review a CV and/or published papers. The supplemental materials section includes a larger field where you can enter more than one URL with comments or labels (the URLs will not be live links) and a smaller box that allows one URL without explanatory text that will appear as a live link when reviewed. You can use either or both boxes. Do not mail or email supplemental materials to the department office.

A bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) is required. It is not essential that the bachelor’s degree be in economics, but some preparation in undergraduate economics, especially in economic theory, is a necessity, as is a working knowledge of calculus.

Yes. You will still need to provide all the required materials.

No. Some students come to us after finishing master’s degrees in economics, some come from undergraduate economics programs, and some have degrees in another field. What we look for depends on the student’s background. Successful candidates whose prior background is primarily in economics have typically excelled in advanced undergraduate or graduate courses and taken math through at least linear algebra. Many have taken real analysis or some other advanced proof-oriented course, but it is not required. For candidates whose previous studies have not focused on economics, we look for evidence of exceptional performance in their prior field of study, strong technical skills, and some economics background. It would be unusual for us to accept a student who has not taken intermediate microeconomics.

Yes, but you are required to complete separate applications for each program. We do not share supporting materials, and a separate fee is required for each application.

No. Official department visits, including faculty meetings, are arranged after students have been admitted. However, you are more than welcome to arrange a tour of the MIT campus through the MIT Information Center.

No. We cannot make preliminary evaluations based on one or two qualifications. Our admissions committee carefully reviews entire applications (recommendations, essay, grades, test scores, previous experience, etc.) when making its decisions. The department looks for academic and research potential, focusing primarily on coursework, grades and letters of recommendation.

We do not routinely acknowledge receipt of applications or supporting documents. Once you have submitted an online application you may go back in and check the status of your application and recommendations. Decisions will be communicated via email and letter. Information about decisions will not be given over the phone.

Most notices of acceptance are sent out by mid-February, though some may be sent as late as mid-March. Candidates have until April 15 to notify the Department of their decision to accept or reject their offer of admission.

No. Due to the large volume of qualified applicants to the program and the small number of students accepted, we are unable to provide specifics about why an application was denied.

The department receives approximately 800 applications each year. Of those, about 40 students are admitted and 20-24 enroll.

A significant portion, usually about half, of admitted students are international. No, there are no special considerations or requirements for those applications.

It varies from person to person, but for most, the program is completed in five or six years, with the first two years spent on required coursework and the latter three or four devoted to field research and dissertation writing.

No, we do not accept transfer credits. However, we do offer the option of waiver exams for micro theory, macro theory, and statistics.

Deferrals are handled on an individual basis. The maximum deferral granted is two years. Funding offers cannot be deferred.

We do not offer a distance learning degree or a part-time degree program. Part-time non-degree study is considered “special student status” at MIT and is overseen by the Graduate Admissions Office. Please see the Graduate Admissions Office website for more information.