Admission to our Programs

The Department of Economics accepts applications for both our M.A. and Ph.D. programs via the Graduate Schools Application portal. Applications are accepted at any time; however, the department does not generally consider students for Spring admission and funding decisions are made in the March prior to the start of the applicant's first semester. 

Expectations of Applicants

The expectations for students is the same for those seeking admission to either the M.A. or Ph.D. program because the department does not hold separate classes for the programs. Ideal applicants will have met the following minimum requirements.

  • Two semesters of Calculus (differentiation and integration)
  • One semester of Calculus based Probability and Statistics (Business Statistics courses are not sufficient)
  • Economics course work up through Intermediate level courses in Microeconomic and Macroeconomic Theory
  • GRE Test
    • Quantitative: 155
    • Verbal: 145
    • Analytical Writing: 3.5
  • For non-English speakers, one of the following:
    • TOEFL: 80
    • IELTS: 6.5

Students are also required to submit strong reference letters from individuals with the ability to reliably evaluate the student's ability to perform well at the graduate level. Finally, students should submit a personal statement outlining their interest in Economics and highlight any other factors the committee should be aware of when reviewing the application.

The Process

Applications that meet the requirements of the Graduate School are forwarded to the Department for review. The committee reviews the applications and notifies the student of the decision via email. No funding decisions are made until the March prior to the start of the Fall semester for which the student applied. Questions may be directed to the Graduate Director or Graduate Secretary.


The M.A. Program

The Master of Arts degree in Economics is designed for students seeking a practical program of study to prepare them for technical or administrative positions in business, government, or data analysis. It is also suitable for students intending to pursue a Ph.D. in Economics. Students in the master’s degree program must earn a minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate credit with a minimum GPA of 3.00. 

Concentration in Financial Economics

Students in the M.A. program may concentration on Financial Economics. Student's transcripts will denote a concentration in Financial Economics if the students completes the specific course requirements for the concentration which includes courses in Financial Engineering, Linear Programming, Computer Programming, and Financial Derivatives in addition to the core set of courses for the M.A.

M.A. Program Information

Ph.D. Program

Students who earned the Doctorate in Economics is qualified both to teach economics at the university level and to do original research in academe, government, and the private sector. After completion of the core coursework in Theory and Econometrics, students will choose two fields from the four which the department focuses on: labor economics, public finance, financial economics, and econometrics. All doctoral students must complete a minimum of 90 semester hours of graduate credit including at least 12 hours of Dissertation Research (ECON 799) and must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00. 

Concentration in Economics and Statistics

Students interested in data analysis may apply to earn their M.S. in Probability and Statistics while also earning their Ph.D. in Economics. This joint program with the Division of Statistics at NIU allows students to use courses from each department to fulfill the requirements for both the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees.

Ph.D. Program Information