Graduate Program Overview

The Department of Economics at the University of Colorado Boulder (UCB) is recognized as one of the top econ departments in the US Graduate students will find they are participating in a program with an excellent job placement record that trains them well for careers in teaching, research, and government or private sector employment.

The Department strives to maintain a diverse graduate student population. International students, women and minorities are encouraged to apply. Students in the program build supportive, lasting relationships with fellow students and faculty.

In addition to academics, the University of Colorado Boulder is considered to have one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. With mountains at your doorstep, recreational opportunities such as skiing, hiking, biking and fishing abound in a relatively mild, often sunny, four-season climate.

PhD Program
Our PhD program focuses on a solid core curriculum in economic theory and econometrics. Beyond this, we offer a number of specialized fields of study: econometrics, economic development, economic history, industrial organization, international trade and finance, labor and human resources, natural resources and environmental economics and public economics.

MA Program
We do not currently offer a stand-alone MA degree program, although students enrolled in our PhD program will earn their MA degree as they progress toward their doctorate. If you are interested in a masters-only program, you may want to contact the University of Colorado Denver.

In addition to holding a bachelor's degree from a college or university of recognized standing, prerequisite coursework for admission includes intermediate microeconomic and macroeconomic theory coursework, 6 college-level hours of calculus and 3 college-level hours of statistics. Minimum requirements and averages for GPA, GRE and TOEFL are listed in the chart below.

Keep in mind that prerequisites listed above and the numbers listed below are only part of the admissions picture. Our committee will look at your application package as a whole before making admissions and funding decisions. NOTE: Applicants demonstrating strength in mathematics are more likely to be admitted. Highly useful math coursework includes calculus (through calc III), linear algebra, intro to real analysis, differential equations, statistics with calculus (mathematical statistics), and probability theory.

Students are not expected to have a master's degree when they enter the program. They will earn their MA degree in the course of completing their doctorate. We do look at GPAs for graduate level work but do not use this as a standard measure since this is not a requirement for admission.

After successfully completing one semester in the program, a maximum of 12 credit hours of graduate level economics coursework may be transferred into the program–with permission–if the hours being transferred did not count toward a degree in another program. Students derive the greatest benefit (and a greater likelihood of success passing preliminary exams) if all core coursework is completed at UCB.


Minimum Required

Average for those
Accepted Fall 2015

Average for those Offered
Full Funding
Fall 2015

Undergraduate GPA    




Verbal GRE    

63 percentile

88 percentile

87 percentile

Quantitative GRE    

80 percentile

92 percentile

94 percentile


75 Overall

23 Speaking

113 Overall

27 Speaking

111 Overall

27 Speaking

*All International applicants must submit TOEFL scores unless English is the native language in your country. NO EXCEPTIONS– even if you attended college in an English-speaking country. This is because we need international students to be ready to teach from the first year they join the program. A TOEFL speaking section score of at least 23 is expected for admission. A score of at least 24 is required for immediate funding. In addition to the TOEFL requirement, the department will schedule an English assessment for you after you arrive. If it is determined that you require training in English, the department will help you set this up and help secure a scholarship to cover the cost.

For international students, applications are due December 1st of the year preceding the year of admission. For domestic students, applications are due January 15th of the year of admission.

When you apply for admission, you will automatically be considered for funding in the form of a teaching assistantship. In addition, you may be offered a generous fellowship to help with the cost of relocation expense.

Most students are funded in years 1-5, sometimes into year 6. In the Fall of 2015, for instance, all incoming first-year students were offered full funding (full tuition, stipend, health insurance subsidy) in the form of teaching assistantships. All continuing students who applied for teaching (or other) appointments received offers. Our current funding picture is very healthy and looks to remain so. In fact, our financial position will allow us to continue to increase our funding opportunities in 2016.

Students who carry a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.50 are guaranteed full funding in years 2-5. All students who successfully complete coursework and exams as described under the PhD Degree Requirements section, and carry a competitive grade point average, have a good chance of being funded through the fifth year. Most of our appointments include full funding. Partial funding includes partial tuition remission (5-6 credits), a stipend, and the same generous health insurance subsidy as for a full appointment.

An appointment as a Teaching Assistant (TA) your first year would include assisting an instructor with an undergraduate economics course. Duties include teaching recitation sections, consulting with students and assisting the course instructor with class preparation and grading. Once a student has earned their masters' degree (typically after the 2nd year in the program) they qualify to be an instructor, teaching their own course. Graduate instructors receive a much larger stipend, full tuition remission and a generous health insurance subsidy.

In addition to teaching assistantships and, in later years, instructorships, the department also offers research assistantships, graduate fellowships, financial awards and other funding opportunities, including graduate work-study. To qualify for work-study, students must complete a FAFSA no later than June 30th for the following academic year. The earlier applications are submitted, the better.

Students are informed by the department and graduate school as other funding sources become available.

Go here for step-by-step instructions on the application process:
Go here to begin your application:

A completed application consists of:

  • Application form
  • Application fee
  • Statement of Purpose (serves as your personal statement/writing sample)
  • Application supplement: "Coursework Completed" form (provided in your online application)
  • Transcripts (instructions for transcripts and uploading)
    Domestic applicant transcripts and other FAQ
    International applicant transcripts (in "requirement questions" section) and other FAQ
  • Officially transmitted (ETS to UCB) verbal and quantitative GRE scores
  • Officially transmitted (ETS to UCB) TOEFL scores (for all international students where English is not the native language in your country)
  • Three letters of recommendation

All parts of your application must be submitted online with your application except GRE and TOEFL scores (and paper transcripts, if applicable). Do not submit or mail any additional materials as they will not be reviewed and will delay processing of your file.

GRE and TOEFL scores should be transmitted directly from ETS to UCB. Our institution code is 4841. There is no need to submit a department code as all scores are sent to our admissions department for entry into a data system accessible by the department.

Transcript Submission


Instructions for uploading
Transcript FAQ

For standard international mail or mail within the US,
including USPS Priority and Express:
Graduate Admissions
University of Colorado Boulder
3100 Marine St Suite A122
553 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0553 USA

For overnight or express mail
(DHL, FEDEX, UPS) send to:

Graduate Admissions
University of Colorado Boulder
3100 Marine Street–553 UCB
Bldg RL3 Suite A122
Boulder, CO 80303-1058 USA
(303) 492-6301

Instructions for uploading
Transcript FAQ
(in "requirement questions" section)

For standard international mail or mail within the US,
including USPS Priority and Express:

Office of Admissions/International
University of Colorado Boulder
3100 Marine St Suite A122
65 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309-0065 USA

For overnight or express mail
(DHL, FEDEX, UPS) send to:

Office of Admissions/International
University of Colorado Boulder
3100 Marine Street–65 UCB
Bldg RL3 Suite A122
Boulder, CO 80303-1058 USA

Admissions and funding decisions are typically made by March for all applications received by the appropriate deadlines. Applicants are notified about decisions via email as soon as possible after they are made.

For further information, please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, Patricia Holcomb, at