Application statistics & policies

Register for our virtual information session on Wednesday November 17 from 5-6:30pm US Central time!

To start applying, click Apply

We aim for an incoming class of 6-8 students. Typically, all students receive full funding including a full tuition waiver, an annual stipend, and health insurance. The stipend level depends on the type of fellowship. Our standard economics department Graduate Assistantship stipend is around $20,000. The stipend for the George W. Bush Institute Doctoral FellowshipsMoody Graduate FellowshipsUniversity Ph.D. Fellowships, and Mustang Fellowships are around $30,000. 

Please contact the Director of Doctoral Studies James Lake for any further information.

Statistics from Fall 2020 application cycle

  • 136 applications
  • 15 first round offers with full funding
  • 5 first round unfunded offers. 2 were eventually converted into fully funded offers
  • 16 first round waitlist offers. 4 were eventually converted into fully funded offers.
  • 8 students in the incoming class, all with full funding
  • 2 incoming students with George W. Bush Institute Doctoral Fellowships and 1 student with a Mustang Fellowship

Policies for Fall 2021 application cycle

Deadlines

  • January 1, 2022: Priority consideration for George W. Bush Institute Doctoral Fellowships, Moody Graduate Fellowships, University Ph.D. Fellowships, and Mustang Fellowships. Priority consideration requires submitting a pre-application packet directly to the Director of Doctoral Studies, James Lake. See below for more information. 
  • January 15, 2022: Priority consideration for regular economics department Graduate Assistantships. Students will be at a disadvantage when applying after this deadline because we aim to make admission decisions by early February.
  • May 1, 2022: Final deadline. However, we rarely accept students applying after mid-late January.

GRE and TOEFL/IELTS

  • GRE: Submission is optional. Students who do not submit GRE scores will be evaluated fairly based on the rest of their application. Nevertheless, GRE scores are helpful, especially for international students, and will be taken into account along with the rest of a student’s application.
  • English language tests: Students who do not complete their undergraduate degree in a US university are required to demonstrate their English language proficiency through one of two ways.
  1. Have an undergraduate degree from an English-language institution in the Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. Or, have a two-year full-time Masters degree from a US university.
  2. Take the TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo exam. The respective minimum score requirements are 80 for the TOEFL, 6.5 for the IELTS, and 115 for the Duolingo.

    Video essay

    The Moody Graduate School requires a video essay for some students as part of the application to graduate school at SMU. It is required for students who both:

    • Are required to submit TOEFL/IELTS/Duolingo scores (see above)
    • Have a TOEFL speaking score below 23, or an IELTS score below 6.5, or take the Duolingo exam

    Nevertheless, the strict policy of the Economics Department is that we do not use the video essay when evaluating applicants.

    Pre-application materials for priority consideration of special fellowships

    • Students who wish to receive priority consideration for George W. Bush Institute Doctoral FellowshipsMoody Graduate FellowshipsUniversity Ph.D. Fellowships, and Mustang Fellowships must submit a pre-application packet by the priority consideration deadline of January 1, 2022.
      • More details will follow soon for the materials required for the pre-application packet.
    • Students who submit their regular application through the SMU Graduate Application system (or the Apply button above) by the priority consideration deadline of January 15, 2022, will not be disadvantaged in any way from consideration for the standard economics department Graduate Assistantships. These assistantships include a full tuition waiver, an annual stipend of around $20,000, and health insurance.

    FAQs

    Do you have a part-time Ph.D. program?
    No.

    Can I start in the spring term?
    No.

    Can I apply for an application fee waiver?
    Yes. The Moody Graduate School considers these on a case-by-case basis and it depends on the likelihood of us making you an offer and you accepting it. Naturally, it also depends on extenuating financial circumstances. Please contact the Director of Doctoral Studies James Lake for further information.

    Does the department offer financial aid to PhD students?
    Yes, see the top of this page for further information.

    How many applications do you receive and how many students do you admit?
    Please see statistics at the top of this page. 

    I already have a master's degree. Will this reduce my time to the Ph.D. degree?
    No.

    Do I need a masters degree to apply?
    No. An incoming class typically has a mix of students who do and do not have a masters degree.

    Is an interview part of the admission process?
    Typically, no. We may request an interview in special circumstances.

    Do I need to find a faculty member to supervise me before I apply?
    No. All of our faculty members supervise PhD students. But, this is not decided before entering the PhD program. The first two years are coursework. Once research starts in the 3rd year, students start to work with various faculty members and choose their supervisor by the start of the 4th year.

    How many applications do you receive and how many students do you admit?
    Please see statistics at the top of this page. 

    When will you make your admission decisions and how will I know?
    We aim to make admission decisions in early February. The Director of Doctoral Studies, James Lake, will notify you by email. Official correspondence from the Moody Graduate School will follow. 

    What kind of mathematical background should I have in order to enter the Ph.D. program?
    Competitive students typically have a good undergraduate background in math classes such as calculus, linear algebra, probability and statistics, real analysis, and differential equations. 

    Does my undergraduate or prior graduate work have to be in economics in order to apply?
    No. But, competitive students typically have good undergraduate grades in intermediate microeconomics and intermediate macroeconomics. 

    Do I have to take the GRE?
    Please see the admission policies above.

    What is the minimum GRE score I should have?
    We focus on your quantitative GRE score and typically do not accept students with a quantitative GRE score below 160. Our recent incoming classes have an average quantitative GRE score of around 163-164.

    Do I need to take the TOEFL or IELTS?
    Please see the admission policies above.

    How do I submit my official test scores or may I send a copy of my GRE/TOEFL score record?
    Official scores are now submitted to us electronically by the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which sponsors both exams. Our ETS code is 6660. Official scores must be submitted for admission. 

    Do I need to complete the video essay part of the application?
    Please see the admission policies above.

    When is the comprehensive/qualifying exam?
    The exam is taken in June at the end of the first year: a micro theory exam on one day and a macro theory exam on a separate day. Students must pass both parts to remain in the program. You can re-take any part that you failed in July. Anyone that does not pass the qualifying exam can get their M.A. degree by finishing the coursework in the Fall of their second year. 

    How many of your graduate students are international students?
    About 80% of our students are international students. Our current PhD student body has international students from India, Bangladesh, China, Taiwan, Brazil, Chile and Colombia.