Programs of Study

The PhD program is a FULL-TIME PROGRAM.  It is divided into a pre-candidacy stage in which the student completes general examinations in microeconomic and macroeconomic theory and two fields (for details, contact Professor Pelzman, chair of the PhD committee). Students are awarded the M.Phil. degree upon completion of the pre-candidacy stage. The candidacy stage includes participation in a dissertation seminar, completion of the written dissertation, and an oral defense. The PhD program usually takes four to five years of full-time study. Students must enroll for at least three courses (9 credit hours) per semester. Class sizes are generally small, and there is substantial opportunity for working with faculty members on an individual basis. For more information on graduate program requirements, please visit our PhD requirements page.

For questions regarding the program of study for the PhD program in Economics, please contact the PhD Pre-Candidacy Chair, Professor Joseph Pelzman.


Please see the University's required application materials for the graduate program in Economics.

Applications are accepted for fall semester admission only. Please see the Columbian College's list of requirements and deadlines for applying. Additionally, you may refer to the University's Graduate Admissions page for information regarding application deadlines and fees (note that while there is a school-wide deadline, the Department will review late Ph.D. applications space-available basis). The deadline for applications is Jan 5. PLEASE NOTE that the application for fellowships and assistantships is Jan 5 for the fall semester. All admission materials are due by this deadline, even if this is earlier than the stated deadline for your program of interest. Applications received after the deadline will be considered for these awards only if funds remain available.

All applicants should have solid training in calculus and in intermediate microeconomic and macroeconomic theory. Please note that the Economics Department requires three recommendation letters from Ph.D. candidates.

The GRE General Test is required of all applicants; no Subject Test is necessary. The GMAT may not be substituted for the GRE.

All students who are not U.S. citizens are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency by submitting an acceptable TOEFL or IELTS score.  English language test scores may not be more than two years old from the time you apply.  More information on the CCAS language proficiency requirements can be found here. The minimum scores for admission consideration are:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 6.0 with no individual score below 5.0
  • TOEFL: 550 on paper-based or 80 on Internet-based test.

All applicants for graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) must submit official scores from the TOEFL or academic IELTS. The minimum scores required to be considered for a GTA are:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 7.0 with no individual band score below 6.0.
  • TOEFL: 600 on paper-based or 100 on Internet-based.

For more information about the University's guidelines for English Language Requirements, visit the Columbian College's page on English Language Requirements for graduate students. International applicants should also refer to the University's International Admissions Guidelines.

Apply online! Please note that all application materials, including transcripts, should be submitted directly to Columbian College Graduate Admissions.

For questions about admissions requirements or the status of your application, please Contact Columbian College Graduate Admissions at askccas@GWU.EDU or call 202-994-6210. If you applied online, you may also check the status of your application through the online application program.

Financial Aid

All PhD candidates may apply for financial aid, which is awarded on the basis of merit. Most aid is in the form of teaching assistantships, which includes a stipend plus tuition. Some endowed fellowships and University fellowship aid are also available. There are opportunities for research assistantships either on campus or with the many economic research institutions adjacent to campus. For more information on available aid and application procedures, please go to the University's Graduate Admissions page. For more information on available aid and application procedures, please go to the University's Office of Student Assistantships and Fellowships.

Cost of Study

See the university's information about tuition costs and other expenses and fees, as well as opportunities for funding your graduate education.


The Foggy Bottom area of Washington, DC is a diverse neighborhood, where fashionable residences share the surroundings with the Department of State, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, the National Academy of Sciences, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Federal Trade Commission, the Urban Institute, the Office of Management and Budget, and the George Washington University. The University is within easy walking distance of the Mall and many cultural facilities. For more information on getting to and around D.C. see our D.C. Transportation page.

Living and Housing Costs

There is limited space for graduate students in University-owned apartment buildings. For more information about on-campus graduate housing check out GW Housing. The Foggy Bottom-GWU subway stop is on campus, which makes the University very accessible to the large number of students who live off campus in privately owned apartments. The University's Off-Campus Housing Resource Center helps students find adequate housing.

Student Groups

There are approximately 75 PhD candidates in economics. While a majority of students are from the United States, there are international students from many parts of the world. Approximately 40 percent of the graduate students are women. Most students plan careers with international agencies, academic institutions, the government or consulting firms located in the Washington, DC area. The department maintains an active placement service, which aids in these career aspirations. See the University's Student Services, Organizations and Groups page for more information.

Correspondence and Information

To receive an application for admission and related graduate program information, please go to the University's Graduate Admissions page. The application is also available online by following the directions on that page. You may also contact the Graduate Admissions.

PhD Advising

Unit I & Prospective Students
Unit II

Institute for International Economic Policy

The Institute for International Economic Policy (IIEP), which is located within the Elliott School of International Affairs, serves as a catalyst for high quality, multi-disciplinary, and non-partisan research on policy issues surrounding economic globalization. The Institute research program helps develop effective policy options and academic analysis in a time of growing controversies about international economic integration in many countries around the world. The institute's work also encompasses policy responses for those who face continued poverty and financial crises despite worldwide economic growth.