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University of Nebraska–Lincoln


Economics Ph.D. students


As the first school west of the Mississippi River to formally establish a Ph.D. program in economics, Nebraska has awarded doctoral degrees in economics for over 100 years. Known for its blend of advanced economic theory and applied policy analysis, in this program you will work closely alongside faculty to develop robust research skills and pursue a career in academics, business or government. You’ll also gain valuable experience and support through five economics-related research centers.

August Start
Application is Open September 1 - February 1

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Review Admission Requirements
Review Admission Process
Review the Econ Graduate Handbook

Admission Deadlines

Apply by February 1 to begin in the fall semester.

School Admission Requirements

  • Academic transcripts. Transcript instructions for both domestic and international students can be found in the “Review Admission Process” tab above.
  • Three letters of reference
  • A statement of purpose
  • GRE score
  • TOEFL score (only for international students; minimum of 550 written, 213 computer-based, 80 iBT or 6.5 IELTS).

The department does not employ a rigid formula for admission, but we expect excellent undergraduate (or graduate if applicable) records in economics, mathematics and statistics. We also expect excellent GRE scores, TOEFL scores (when applicable) and strong letters of recommendation.

The statement of purpose should outline your goals and objectives for studying economics at the graduate level.

Please note: All application materials (except transcripts and finance resource certification) must be submitted electronically. Do not send paper recommendation forms.

GRE – Graduate Record Examinations

You must register to take the GRE and have the results forwarded to the University of Nebraska (use institution code 6877) prior to admissions. At the time of application, you must submit a copy of your GRE scores through the online graduate application. Should you be accepted into the program, the official copy must be received prior to admission.

TOEFL - Test of Spoken English

International students must include a TOEFL score (use institution code 6877).
You will need a minimum score of 550 written, 213 computer-based, 80 iBT or 6.5 IELTS.

Finance Resource Certification Form

Any applicant who is recommended for admission and expects to hold an F1 (student) or J1 (exchange visitor) visa should submit the Financial Resource Certification (FRC) form.

Note to International Students

We recommend starting your application process at least one year prior to the date you would like to be admitted. You must also be aware of the additional requirements that you need to meet in order to be admitted to the College of Business. The International Student and Scholar Office provides orientation, counseling and advising, and serves as the official liaison between your sponsoring agency and the United States government. Staff members are also available to help you make contacts on campus and in the Lincoln community.

Guidelines for International Students

Admissions Process


Apply online and submit the $50 application fee.

Apply Online Now

Upload Supporting Documents

All Supporting Documents including unofficial transcripts and test scores are uploaded directly via the graduate application.

You are required to submit an unofficial transcript from each post-secondary institution you have attended during the application review process.

Submit Official Transcripts

If you are admitted, you will be required to submit an official transcript sent directly from each institution you have attended to The Office of Graduate Studies. We recommend that you complete this task before your admitted term begins. A hold will be placed on your account if they do not receive your official transcripts by October 1 for the fall term, February 1 for the spring term and July 1 for the summer term. Students will have until that day to submit official transcripts or your admission will be rescinded.

Transcripts can be sent electronically to or by mail to

University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Graduate Admissions
1100 Seaton Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0619

International Student Transcript Submission

If you are an international student, please refer to the Nebraska Office of Graduate Studies for transcript and document information.

International Transcript Information

Additional information on Application Requirements can be found at Graduate Studies website.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 90 hours of graduate coursework is required. The program is composed of coursework, comprehensive exams, a third year research paper and a dissertation.

Foundational Courses

  • ECON 815: Analytic Methods

Core Courses

You’ll demonstrate mastery of theory by passing the qualifying examination in advanced economic theory and mastery of econometrics by earning at least a B in each course.

  • ECON 912A and 912B: Microeconomics I and II
  • ECON 911A and 911B: Macroeconomics I and II
  • ECON 917, 918 and 919: Econometrics I, II and III

Fields of Concentration

You’ll tailor your course of study by completing at least six hours of coursework in a field of concentration from the list below. A second field can be chosen for an additional six credit hours.

  • Economic Education
  • Econometrics and Empirical Methods
  • International Trade and Development
  • Labor Economics
  • Public and Urban Economics

You can also include electives within economics or cognate areas. Overall, you’ll complete a minimum of 48 credit hours of coursework and between 12 to 55 credit hours of dissertation work meant to demonstrate your ability to conduct research.

Learn More: Graduate Handbook

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Before entering the program, you must have intermediate level training in both macroeconomics and microeconomics, as well as a strong mathematical background.

Your mathematical background should include at least two semesters of calculus, a course in linear (matrix) algebra and a course in mathematical statistics. Differential equations and math analysis are also recommended.

All course deficiencies must be removed prior to the first semester of enrollment.

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In addition to university funding opportunities, the Department of Economics awards three to four assistantships to new students each year. The assistantships include a competitive stipend, tuition remission, health benefits and teaching and research opportunities.


All applicants are considered for assistantships. No separate application for financial aid is required. Typically, our incoming Ph.D. students selected for assistantships have GRE verbal scores above the 70th percentile, quantitative scores above the 80th percentile and a writing score of at least 4. These scores should be viewed as guidelines and are neither necessary nor sufficient for an offer of financial aid. We evaluate the entire application.

Assistantship decisions for the fall semester are typically made in February and March. Recipients are notified near April 1. Duties during your first year will likely include assisting professors with their instructional duties or working closely with a professor as a research assistant.

Additional Funding

In addition to assistantships, we traditionally give two competitive awards to our Ph.D. students. The McConnell Dissertation Fellowship provides full support for two semesters to a student who is in residence and in the completion year of the dissertation. The Bingham Teaching Fellowships are one-year supplemental stipends and are given in recognition of outstanding teaching abilities and performance.

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Challenge Yourself With Hands-On Research Projects

At Nebraska Business, you can develop robust research skills and participate in meaningful economic research through one of five economics-related centers: the Bureau of Business Research, Central Plains Research Data Center, National Center for Research in Economic Education, Nebraska Council on Economic Education and Lincoln Center for Economic Education.

Explore Centers and Institutes

Why Nebraska?

Home to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, the city of Lincoln consistently ranks among the highest U.S. cities for livability thanks to a low cost of living, great schools and friendly, community-minded residents. Set amidst a big sky and open landscape, the city is simple to navigate with a nationally noted low crime rate, a wide range of housing choices and a reliable public transit system. As one of the fastest growing metro areas in the Midwest, Lincoln boasts a growing technology sector, more parkland per capita than all but a few U.S. cities, an extensive bike trail network and numerous options for recreational and personal interest activities. It’s easy to feel at home here.

College Points of Pride About Lincoln Local Events Life in Lincoln

Ph.D. Placements

The Department of Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is committed to placing our PhD students into academic and non-academic careers. Our recent PhD students have accepted jobs as tenure-track professors, economists at research-focused non-academic institutions, and economists in the private sector. PhD students receive support in job placement from their thesis advisors and their placement is enhanced by our low student-to-faculty ratio.

View Recent Placements
Economist - U.S. Census Bureau
Economist - National Rice Company
Principal Data Analyst - Capital One
Assistant Professor of Economics - Northern State University
Assistant Professor of Economics - University of Northern Colorado
Assistant Professor of Economics - Northwest Missouri State University

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I apply to the doctoral program directly from my undergraduate degree?

Yes. Well qualified students with a 4 year undergraduate degree are encouraged to apply directly to the Ph.D. program.

For criteria used by our graduate school to evaluate international degrees, see more information on the UNL Graduate Studies website.

Do you admit international students?

Yes. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran’s status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.

What are the math/economics prerequisites for the program?

Ph.D. students are expected to have adequate backgrounds in economics and mathematics. We require economics through at least intermediate micro and macro economics. We require a full calculus background. In addition, a course in linear (matrix) algebra, mathematical statistics and differential equations is highly recommended.

Is there a minimum GRE score requirement?

The department does not employ a rigid formula for admission. There is no minimum score requirement for the GRE, although we do expect applicants to perform well. The GRE cannot be waived.

Is the GRE Economics Subject test required?

No. We do not require the Economics subject test.

Is there a minimum GPA requirement?

No. The department does not employ a rigid GPA requirement for admission, although we do expect applicants to have performed well in relevant coursework.

I've taken the GRE, how long will my scores be accepted?

Educational Testing Service (ETS) will report scores for up to 5 years. Because that's as long as we are able to receive official score reports, your GRE scores are accepted for five years.

Is there a minimum TOEFL or IELTS score requirement?

The minimum TOEFL score required is 550 (paper version), 213 (computer-based test) or 80 (iBT test) or 6.5 on the IELTS. There are no sub-score requirements. The institution code for the TOEFL is 6877.

I've taken the TOEFL exam, how long will my scores be accepted?

The official UNL policy on TOEFL scores is that the exam date must be within two calendar years of the term of enrollment.

What is the cost of the program?
What funding options are available?

The department awards three to four assistantships to new students each year. These appointments are either teaching or research assistantships and carry stipends that are competitive with those offered by other graduate institutions. Assistantships provide a full tuition waiver, stipend for up to four years and medical insurance.

We cannot waive tuition for those students not on assistantship. A limited number of fellowships allow domestic out-of-state students to obtain reduced tuition rates.

What percentage of new students receive departmental funding?

Typically 70–80 percent of our new, first-year Ph.D. students receive assistantship funding. Plus we typically fund all continuing students making good progress up through the 4th year of the program.

How do you apply for an assistantship?

All applicants are considered for assistantships. No separate application for financial aid is required.

Can the application fee be waived under special circumstances?

The application fee cannot be waived.

How many assistantships do you offer?

We are typically able to offer funding to three or four incoming students each year, but the number varies.

Do you offer research assistantships, teaching assistantships or both?

We offer only teaching assistantships through the Economics Department and research assistantships through the Bureau of Business Research. Teaching assistants will be required to work, typically assisting professors in the first year and then teaching classes in subsequent years. Research assistants will work on research contracts generated by the BBR.

What is the average GRE of those selected for assistantships?

Typically, our incoming Ph.D. students selected for assistantships have verbal scores above the 70th percentile, quantitative scores above the 80th percentile, and a writing score of at least 4. These scores should not be interpreted sufficient for financial aid. Again, we evaluate the entire application.

Do your assistantships cover all costs?

Our assistantships provide a full tuition waiver (for up to 12 credit hours of coursework each fall and spring semester) and pay a competitive stipend. The assistantship award stipend is more than sufficient to cover on-campus living expenses. In addition, the Department often has funding for summer research or teaching. All students are responsible for paying some fees, however. All students are responsible for paying some fees, however, for current estimates of fees see

Do you provide health insurance coverage?

Yes, students holding eligible assistantships are provided basic individual student health insurance coverage at minimal cost to the student. The student health insurance plan covers accidents and illnesses to a maximum of $50,000 per policy year. Visit the StudentBlue Health Insurance page for more information.


Balistreri, Edward
Duane Acklie Chair and Professor of Economics
HLH 525 P
P.O. Box 880489
Lincoln, NE 68588-0489