The University of Colorado Boulder (UCB) ranks in the top 50 graduate economics programs in the U.S. Graduate students in our program 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. View our Departmental Diversity Statement.

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


We understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive to all and that student experiences in the wake of this have not been equitable. In response to these events, we recognize that some applicants will have concerns about the impacts these events could have on admissions. The graduate programs at the University of Colorado Boulder are dedicated to recruiting and supporting diverse, talented students, employing holistic application review processes and supporting students when they arrive on campus. 

We want to be clear that we understand 

  • students have been facing and will face unprecedented challenges during this time. 
  • testing centers have suspended operations, or moved to remote testing.
  • many students and institutions have chosen to adopt the Pass/Fail (or Credit/No Credit) option due to these events.
  • due to this disruption students may not have performed to their usual abilities during times of remote study or challenging classroom adjustments. 
  • some research projects will have been interrupted or will be incomplete as a result of university and facility closures. 
  • many students will be unable to take on internships and summer research programs or other professional development initiatives.
  • there are myriad other challenging circumstances that have arisen in individuals’ experiences.

We will take all this into consideration as we review applications holistically, understanding that our goal continues to be a graduate student cohort of future leaders, full of diverse life experiences and perspectives that will add new dimensions to our existing graduate community. If you have any questions about your specific circumstances, please contact the our department at econ@colorado.edu or the graduate school at cugrad@colorado.edu

Application Prerequisites:

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.

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.

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.

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.


Graduate Information

International Student Application Deadline: December 1st of the year preceding the year of admission. 

Domestic Student Application Deadline: January 15th of the year of admission.


Minimum Required

Average for those 
(Round 1)

Average for those Offered
Full Funding
(Round 1)

Undergraduate GPA




Quantitative GRE

80 percentile

90 percentile

90 percentile

Verbal GRE

63 percentile

88 percentile

87 percentile


75 Overall

23 Speaking

109 Overall

25 Speaking

109 Overall

25 Speaking

Duolingo English Test*





6 Overall

7 Speaking

7.5 Overall

7.5 Speaking

7.5 Overall

7.5 Speaking

*All International applicants must submit TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores unless English is the native language in your country. In addition to the TOEFL or Duolingo requirement, the department will schedule a mandatory 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.


After accepting 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.

Historically, most students have been funded in years 1-5, sometimes into year 6. In recent years, most incoming first-year students have been offered full funding (full tuition, stipend, health insurance subsidy) in the form of teaching assistantships. Most continuing students who apply for teaching (or other) funded appointments receive offers. This continues to be true going into Fall of 2020. The COVID 19 pandemic has affected what was a very healthy funding picture but we will continue to spread funding as much as possible across students in the program.

Students who carry a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.330 and meet performance expectations are guaranteed full funding through year 5 as long as funds are available. Most of our appointments include full funding as a Teaching Assistant and, in future years, as a course instructor. Full funding includes full tuition remission (9-18 credits), a stipend, and a generous health insurance subsidy.

An appointment as a Teaching Assistant (TA) your first year includes 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 FAFSAs are submitted, the better.

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


International Student Application Deadline: December 1st of the year preceding the year of admission. 

Domestic Student Application Deadline: January 15th of the year of admission.

Click here for step-by-step instructions on the application process. Click 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 FAQs
    International applicant transcripts (in "requirement questions" section) and other FAQs
  • 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
  • Statement on diversity, equity, access and inclusion (optional)

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.


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 click on the button below and fill out the form.

Economics Request for Information