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  • Resources for Students
  • Preparing for graduate school

Math Preparation for Graduate School


Although economics graduate programs have varying admissions requirements, graduate training in economics is highly mathematical. A 1991 report by the American Economic Association presented economics PhD students with the following list of mathematical topics:

  • high school mathematics only
  • basic calculus and linear algebra
  • applied mathematics, differential equations, linear programming, and basic probability theory
  • advanced calculus, advanced algebra and stochastic processes
  • real and complex analysis, advanced probability theory, and topology

The average student reported that the level of mathematics used in her various graduate courses was slightly above level 3.

Since that time, there has been an upward trend in the level of mathematics used in graduate courses. For example, the website website suggests that: "Two or three terms of calculus, and often linear algebra, are deemed minimum preparation; similarly a semester of mathematical statistics. First-year graduate courses draw heavily on real analysis. Background in real analysis is highly valued and indeed almost expected of a strong applicant. Real analysis is usually the first 'rigorous' mathematics course, where you have to work through all proofs and write some yourself. The course is supremely effective preparation for initial graduate courses."

Further reading on mathematical preparation

  • The Medium website has an article describing the math and other requirements to get into top economics PhD programs
  • Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw wrote a blog post on Why Aspiring Economists Need Math
  • The Economics Department at The College of William and Mary has Advice on undergraduate mathematics preparation for a PhD in economics
  • Professor Sita Slavov at George Mason University offers Tips for Applying to Ph.D. Programs in Economics

Suggested application timeline

Careers in economics.

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  • How to Prepare for a Ph.D. in Economics

First Steps

  • How to prepare for a PhD in Economics
  • The key thing you need to know is that PhD programs in economics are highly mathematical and the mathematics required by both our Economics and Management Science degrees is not enough to get you into a top PhD program. To be a competitive applicant, you will need to take some upper division mathematics classes such as how to write proofs (Math 109), linear algebra (Math 102), real analysis (Math 140A or 142AB), probability (Math 180A) and statistics (Math 181AB).  See more below.
  • Graduate schools care a lot about the difficulty and content of the classes you’ve taken. Getting a high GPA won’t necessarily get you into a good program unless they are the right classes.
  • If you want to get into a top PhD program, it is especially important to take real analysis (Math 142AB or Math 140ABC—likely Math 140A is enough) and do well in the class. Real analysis teaches you how to write and understand proofs.  These skills will be important to your success in first-year graduate courses as well as in your research career.  Since real analysis tends to be a difficult course everywhere, your grade in this course is often taken as a key signal of your ability to succeed in a PhD program by admissions committees. If possible, try to take this course when you don’t have a lot of other commitments so that you can devote a significant amount of time to this course, learn the material well and get a good grade.
  • Other upper division mathematics and statistics courses are also helpful. In particular, understanding linear algebra is important in graduate-level econometrics courses. Therefore, taking Math 18 and Math 102 (lower and upper division linear algebra courses) can give you a strong foundation in these topics.
  • It is also important to have a strong foundation in statistics and probability theory. You will learn a lot of this in the econometrics sequence (if you are interested in pursuing graduate school, you should consider taking the honors classes 120AH-BH-CH). Another class to add to your statistics foundation would be a course in probability (Math 180A).
  • In general, if you are interested in going to graduate school in Economics, you should seriously consider majoring in Joint Mathematics-Economics. This major will undoubtedly increase your workload, but it will both make you a more attractive applicant for graduate school and give you the mathematical foundation needed to succeed in graduate school. Students who took many math classes in while in high school should consider double majoring in math and economics.
  • If you have exhausted your undergraduate opportunities to take classes in math and economics, consider taking a graduate class. Taking graduate courses in economics or mathematics can send a strong signal to admissions committees. This can be slightly risky, however. Undergraduates may be at a disadvantage as graduate students tend to form study groups for first year courses. If you decide to take a graduate course, you should plan on devoting A LOT of time to the course.  Again, it is extremely important that you to do well in a graduate class.
  • Coding is an essential skill to have in graduate school. Therefore, taking courses with a data analysis and coding component (for example, Econ5/Poli5D: Introduction to Social Data Analytics, Econ 112: Macro Data Analysis and Econ 121: Applied Econometrics) can help develop your coding skills. The most popular statistical packages in economics are STATA, R, and MATLAB. If you have the time, it may also be a good idea to take an introduction to programming course from the computer science department.
  • Courses that have a research component (Econ 191A-B and Econ 199) will also be invaluable preparation for graduate school. By developing your own research topic, you can learn about each step of the research process: from topic selection, background research, data management all the way to analysis and writing. Selecting an empirical topic is especially encouraged as it will give you valuable experience cleaning and analyzing data and getting more comfortable with various data analysis software. This might also be a good indication of whether a career in research is a good fit for you personally. Finally, the Professor teaching Econ 191AB will get to know you and how you tackle problems very well and so be able to write the kind of informed letter of recommendation that graduate schools like to see.

To summarize, in order to prepare for graduate school, it is extremely important to take the right courses and do well in them. To be competitive, you will need to have a record of performing well in difficult mathematics and economics courses.  

  • Why earn a PhD in Economics?
  • Talking to a UCSD grad: ECONnected

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MPhil/PhD Mathematics

  • Graduate research
  • Department of Mathematics
  • Application code G1ZM
  • Starting 2024
  • Home full-time: Open
  • Overseas full-time: Open
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

This programme offers the chance to undertake a substantial piece of work that is worthy of publication and which makes an original contribution to the field of mathematics within our four broad disciplines – discrete mathematics and algorithms, financial mathematics and control theory, game theory, and operations research. You will begin on the MPhil, and will need to meet certain requirements to be upgraded to PhD status.

You have a plethora of topics to choose from including combinatorics, combinatorial optimisation, computational learning theory, control theory, financial mathematics, game theory, graph theory, integer programming, mechanism design, polyhedral combinatorics, probabilistic analysis, theory of computation and algorithms, and in the applications of mathematics in areas such as inspections, network optimisation, telecommunications, transportation, and economics.

Over the course of the years, the Department organises a number of personal development workshops for PhD students, designed to provide tailored support for specific areas of interest, such as careers, impact, and final year processes. Crucially, we have close ties with other departments at LSE, such as Statistics, Finance, Economics and Management, and we are an integral part of the mathematical community of the University of London.

All research students in the Department are provided with some funding each year to encourage and support their research activities, such as conference attendance and purchasing books and technology. Additional research funds are also available, upon application.

Programme details

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for mphil/phd mathematics.

Merit in a taught master's degree (or equivalent) in a related discipline and a 2:1 degree or equivalent in mathematics. 

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet our minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission. 

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our  Information for International Students  to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

LSE values diversity and strives to promote equality at all levels. We strongly encourage applications from women, ethnic minorities, and members of other groups under-represented in higher education.

Assessing your application

Making an application.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including existing and pending qualifications) - CV - statement of academic purpose - outline research proposal - sample of written work - references

In addition to the general guidelines on application documents available  here , you can find specific guidelines for some of the application documents required as part of your application for the MPhil/PhD Mathematics programme below.  

Academic Achievement Provide detailed transcripts, with individual marks for all courses on your undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes you have completed, and any available/provisional marks obtained in your current degree programme.

CV - Provide details of your education history. - Provide details of any employment history or other professional experience, including internships or volunteering activities. - Mention any relevant prior research experience, such as thesis work, research projects.    - If relevant, mention any career breaks or career changes, for example due to caring responsibilities.

Statement of Academic Purpose (1 page) - Explain your motivation for doing a PhD. - Explain your current career goals and aspirations and clarify how the PhD programme might help you realise them.  

Outline Research Proposal (1-2 pages) Many applicants will have little or no prior experience of research and therefore we do not expect a fully developed research proposal. The following is a recommendation of what to address, in a concise manner, in the research proposal. - Explain which overall research area you are interested in and explain why.  - Provide an example of one or two research papers that you have read or open problems you have heard about (in your proposed research area) and explain why you found them interesting. - Clarify who you see as potential supervisors and explain why.  - Explain how your training and skills are suitable for conducting research in your area of interest. For example, provide specific examples of related courses you have taken, and any research, internship, or work experiences that are relevant to your research area of interest. - If applicable, describe how any dissertation work from your BSc or MSc is relevant to your planned PhD research (be aware that this research will most likely be different).

Sample of Written Work (at least 5 pages) Submit something that showcases your mathematical writing. This could for example be a thesis, a project report, or some detailed exercise solutions. We like to see a writing sample that contains both mathematical details and plain text in which you discuss/interpret/explain the mathematical results. You can submit more than one writing sample if you only have short pieces of written work.

References You will need to nominate two referees. Academic referees are preferred, i.e., people who have taught you at university level.

If you can find a referee who can specifically comment on your research potential and your academic background in your chosen research area, that would be helpful. If you have any previous research experience, you could ask supervisors/project partners for a reference letter. An academic reference from your current degree programme where you already took exams are usually most helpful. If you have not taken any exams in your current programme yet, you can also ask for reference letters from previous degrees.

The referees will be asked to provide a reference letter and answer a selection of multiple-choice questions in which they will need to provide an assessment of your academic performance/potential etc. and research potential. --------------

Completed applications are sent to the Department after they are processed by the Graduate Admissions Office. In the Department, the numbers and quality of competing applications and the availability of an appropriate supervisor are considered. If your application is shortlisted for consideration, an interview will be arranged with the appropriate members of staff by telephone or video conferencing software. Once all interviews have been conducted, the Department will decide on who to accept and who to offer funding. If your application is received before the deadline, we aim to notify you about the outcome by the end of Winter Term.

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency. You do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE, but we recommend that you do see our  English language requirements  for further information.

When to apply

The application deadline for this programme is 23 May 2024 . However, to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must have submitted your application and all supporting documents by the funding deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details.

Fees and funding

Every research student is charged a fee in line with the fee structure for their programme. The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2024/25 for MPhil/PhD Mathematics

Home students: £4,829 for the first year (provisional) Overseas students: £22,632 for the first year

The fee is likely to rise over subsequent years of the programme. The School charges home research students in line with the level of fee that the Research Councils recommend. The fees for overseas students are likely to rise in line with the assumed percentage increase in pay costs (ie, 4 per cent per annum).

The Table of Fees shows the latest tuition amounts for all programmes offered by the School.

The amount of tuition fees you will need to pay, and any financial support you are eligible for, will depend on whether you are classified as a home or overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Further information about fee status classification.

Scholarships, studentships and other funding

The School recognises that the  cost of living in London  may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide generous scholarships each year to home and overseas students.

This programme is eligible for  LSE PhD Studentships and  Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funding . Selection for the PhD Studentships and ESRC funding is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline.

Funding deadline for LSE PhD Studentships: 15 January 2024

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas.  Find out more about financial support.

In addition, students on this programme are eligible for the Department of Mathematics' PhD Prize for Outstanding Academic Performance , which is an annual award for the best PhD performance from a student completing in the previous academic year.

External funding 

There may be other funding opportunities available through other organisations or governments and we recommend you investigate these options as well. 

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

Information for international students

LSE is an international community, with over 140 nationalities represented amongst its student body. We celebrate this diversity through everything we do.  

If you are applying to LSE from outside of the UK then take a look at our Information for International students . 

1) Take a note of the UK qualifications we require for your programme of interest (found in the ‘Entry requirements’ section of this page). 

2) Go to the International Students section of our website. 

3) Select your country. 

4) Select ‘Graduate entry requirements’ and scroll until you arrive at the information about your local/national qualification. Compare the stated UK entry requirements listed on this page with the local/national entry requirement listed on your country specific page.

Programme structure and courses

In addition to progressing with your research, you are expected to take the listed training and transferable skills courses. You may take courses in addition to those listed and should discuss this with your supervisor. At the end of your second year (full-time), you will need to satisfy certain requirements, and if you meet these, will be retroactively upgraded to PhD status.

Training courses – Compulsory (not examined) Courses designed for research in Mathematics need to be chosen in consultation with your lead supervisor. Discrete Mathematics and Algorithms, Operations Research and Game Theory students will attend four courses organised by the London Taught Course Centre .

There are separate arrangements for students in Financial Mathematics, where courses are provided by the London Graduate School in Mathematical Finance . You also have the option of attending or auditing LSE Taught Masters modules, where appropriate.

Transferable skills courses – Compulsory (not examined) Mathematics: Seminar on Combinatorics, Games and Optimisation Research Student Seminar – you must attend and make presentations

Second year

Transferable skills courses – Compulsory (not examined) Mathematics Seminar Research Student Seminar - you must attend and make presentations.

Transferable skills courses – Compulsory (not examined) Mathematics Seminar Research Student Seminar - you must attend and make presentations.

Fourth year

Transferable skills courses– Compulsory (not examined) Mathematics Seminar Research Student Seminar - you must attend and make presentations.

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page .  

You must note, however, that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.  

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s  Calendar , or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the  updated graduate course and programme information page.

Supervision, progression and assessment


Supervisors are selected during the application process, where we take into account the information and preferences you mention in your application. You will be assigned to:

-  One or two principal supervisor(s) with requisite knowledge in your chosen field. Most of your day-to-day supervision will be with the principal supervisor(s). If the research project or your interests shift during your time in the Department, it is possible to change principal supervisor(s). - If there is only one principal supervisor, an appropriate second supervisor will be appointed. There will always be a principal supervisor from the Mathematics Department. Where appropriate, a second or joint supervisor may be appointed from another department or institution.

Progression and assessment

You are initially registered for the MPhil, and will be able to upgrade to PhD registration during your second year, dependent on satisfactory progress. Progress is assessed regularly by your supervisors, in consultation with the Doctoral Programme Director, on the basis of the extent to which the agreed research goals have been achieved. Any upgrade is dependent on the successful completion of a Major Review, the date of which is determined by the Doctoral Programme Director in consultation with the lead supervisor.

By the end of your first year you will be required to present a more detailed project proposal. The proposal, which should illustrate your command of the theoretical and empirical literature related to your topic, will be a clear statement of the theoretical and methodological approach you will take. It will include a draft outline and work plan, which should identify any periods of fieldwork necessary to your research. This should demonstrate the coherence and feasibility of the proposed research and thesis.

Study facilities

Students are provided with their own workspace and Windows PC within the Department of Mathematics’ PhD study room.  This area was recently renovated, and has been modernised to become a professional, purposeful, and relaxed work environment. Students are thus offered a supportive environment within a community of scholars and are well-placed to pursue a career building on their research accomplishments. 

In addition to the space provided in Columbia House, a dedicated Postgraduate Common Room is available to students in 32 Lincoln's Inn Fields.  Students will also find the  PhD Academy  useful, a dedicated space and services hub for doctoral candidates.

Students will have access to the comprehensive facilities of the  LSE Library  and to the libraries of other colleges of the University of London. They will also benefit from the IT and other facilities available at the School.

Student support and resources

We’re here to help and support you throughout your time at LSE, whether you need help with your academic studies, support with your welfare and wellbeing or simply to develop on a personal and professional level.

Whatever your query, big or small, there are a range of people you can speak to who will be happy to help.  

Department librarians   – they will be able to help you navigate the library and maximise its resources during your studies. 

Accommodation service  – they can offer advice on living in halls and offer guidance on private accommodation related queries.

Class teachers and seminar leaders  – they will be able to assist with queries relating to specific courses. 

Disability and Wellbeing Service  – they are experts in long-term health conditions, sensory impairments, mental health and specific learning difficulties. They offer confidential and free services such as  student counselling,  a  peer support scheme  and arranging  exam adjustments.  They run groups and workshops.  

IT help  – support is available 24 hours a day to assist with all your technology queries.   

LSE Faith Centre  – this is home to LSE's diverse religious activities and transformational interfaith leadership programmes, as well as a space for worship, prayer and quiet reflection. It includes Islamic prayer rooms and a main space for worship. It is also a space for wellbeing classes on campus and is open to all students and staff from all faiths and none.   

Language Centre  – the Centre specialises in offering language courses targeted to the needs of students and practitioners in the social sciences. We offer pre-course English for Academic Purposes programmes; English language support during your studies; modern language courses in nine languages; proofreading, translation and document authentication; and language learning community activities.

LSE Careers  ­ – with the help of LSE Careers, you can make the most of the opportunities that London has to offer. Whatever your career plans, LSE Careers will work with you, connecting you to opportunities and experiences from internships and volunteering to networking events and employer and alumni insights. 

LSE Library   –   founded in 1896, the British Library of Political and Economic Science is the major international library of the social sciences. It stays open late, has lots of excellent resources and is a great place to study. As an LSE student, you’ll have access to a number of other academic libraries in Greater London and nationwide. 

LSE LIFE  – this is where you should go to develop skills you’ll use as a student and beyond. The centre runs talks and workshops on skills you’ll find useful in the classroom; offers one-to-one sessions with study advisers who can help you with reading, making notes, writing, research and exam revision; and provides drop-in sessions for academic and personal support. (See ‘Teaching and assessment’). 

LSE Students’ Union (LSESU)  – they offer academic, personal and financial advice and funding.  

PhD Academy   – this is available for PhD students, wherever they are, to take part in interdisciplinary events and other professional development activities and access all the services related to their registration. 

Sardinia House Dental Practice   – this   offers discounted private dental services to LSE students.  

St Philips Medical Centre  – based in Pethwick-Lawrence House, the Centre provides NHS Primary Care services to registered patients.

Student Services Centre  – our staff here can answer general queries and can point you in the direction of other LSE services.  

Student advisers   – we have a  Deputy Head of Student Services (Advice and Policy)  and an  Adviser to Women Students  who can help with academic and pastoral matters.

Student life

As a student at LSE you’ll be based at our central London campus. Find out what our campus and London have to offer you on academic, social and career perspective. 

Student societies and activities

Your time at LSE is not just about studying, there are plenty of ways to get involved in  extracurricular activities . From joining one of over 200 societies, or starting your own society, to volunteering for a local charity, or attending a public lecture by a world-leading figure, there is a lot to choose from. 

The campus 

LSE is based on one  campus  in the centre of London. Despite the busy feel of the surrounding area, many of the streets around campus are pedestrianised, meaning the campus feels like a real community. 

Life in London 

London is an exciting, vibrant and colourful city. It's also an academic city, with more than 400,000 university students. Whatever your interests or appetite you will find something to suit your palate and pocket in this truly international capital. Make the most of career opportunities and social activities, theatre, museums, music and more. 

Want to find out more? Read why we think  London is a fantastic student city , find out about  key sights, places and experiences for new Londoners . Don't fear, London doesn't have to be super expensive: hear about  London on a budget . 

Student stories

To read all our Alumni Stories,  see our webpage here .

Quick Careers Facts for the Department of Mathematics

Median salary of our PG students 15 months after graduating: £39,500

  • Financial and Professional Services              
  • Information, Digital Technology and Data            
  • Accounting and Auditing              
  • Real Estate, Environment and Energy 
  • Advertising, Marketing, PR, Media, Entertainment, Publishing and Journalism

Top 5 sectors our students work in:

The data was collected as part of the Graduate Outcomes survey, which is administered by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA). Graduates from 2020-21 were the fourth group to be asked to respond to Graduate Outcomes. Median salaries are calculated for respondents who are paid in UK pounds sterling and who were working in full-time employment.

Students who successfully complete the programme often embark on an academic career. 

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the  support available to students through LSE Careers .

Frequently Asked Questions

Can i or must i teach as a mphil/phd student in the department.

All mathematics MPhil/PhD students are usually expected to undertake some class teaching for the Department. You will be paid separately for this. Further details will be provided on your arrival. 

Will I receive any additional funding to support conference attendance, book purchases, etc.?

Each registered PhD student in the Department is entitled to claim up to £500 per academic year towards their research expenses relating directly to your studies, such as the purchase of books or conference attendance. All claims must be accompanied by full receipts. 

Can I apply to start in the Winter Term (January) or Spring Term (April)?

Under execptional circumstances, starting in January may be permissable.  Starting in the Spring Term is not permitted.

I am already enrolled in a PhD programme at another university and I would like to transfer to your PhD programme. How do I do that?

LSE does not accept transfer of credits. All MPhil/PhD applicants, regardless of previous academic experience, are required to complete a formal application. Previous research will be considered, but all students are initially registered as MPhil students by the School, are upgraded to PhD status according to the Department's standard policy and are required to fulfil the School's minimum registration requirements.

Can I apply to study part-time?

We will consider applications for part-time registrations in the PhD programme, subject to visa regulations. Applicants with personal circumstances such as caring responsibilities who may otherwise not pursue a PhD may consider this route. We emphasise that studying for a PhD requires a serious commitment of regular periods of time and concentration. Pursuing a PhD while holding full-time employment is discouraged.

We would need to see evidence that an applicant:

  • Would be available to participate in activities that are essential to becoming an independent researcher (e.g. attend seminars, go to conferences, follow taught courses in their first year(s), etc.)
  • Can find mutual times to work with their proposed supervisor
  • Can spend sufficient time on their PhD research

Find out more about LSE

Discover more about being an LSE student - meet us in a city near you, visit our campus or experience LSE from home. 

Experience LSE from home

Webinars, videos, student blogs and student video diaries will help you gain an insight into what it's like to study at LSE for those that aren't able to make it to our campus.  Experience LSE from home . 

Come on a guided campus tour, attend an undergraduate open day, drop into our office or go on a self-guided tour.  Find out about opportunities to visit LSE . 

LSE visits you

Student Marketing, Recruitment and Study Abroad travels throughout the UK and around the world to meet with prospective students. We visit schools, attend education fairs and also hold Destination LSE events: pre-departure events for offer holders.  Find details on LSE's upcoming visits . 

How to apply

Virtual Graduate Open Day

Register your interest

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Ph.D. Preparation

Students considering graduate studies in economics or allied fields including finance, data analytics/science, and public policy are strongly advised to complete Econ B304 Econometrics as part of their major.

Graduate training in economics requires more mathematical sophistication than undergraduate economics. Students interested in pursuing graduate studies in economics will need to study more advanced mathematics. Math courses that are particularly appropriate for Ph.D. study in economics include Math 101 and 102, Calculus with Analytical Geometry; Math 201, Multivariable Calculus, Math 203, Linear Algebra; Math 205, Theory of Probability and Applications; Math 210, Differential Equations with Applications; and Math 301 and 302, Introduction to Real Analysis.  You may want to consider a minor or double major in math.

The other “preparation” you should keep in mind concerns letters of recommendation. You will need strong recommendations to get into a competitive Ph.D. program. That will require that your undergraduate professors know you well. It’s up to you to make sure that they do. Taking multiple courses with a professor helps. Study away works against this.

Should you go straight into a Ph.D. program? Not necessarily. The opportunity cost of a Ph.D. program is high. We recommend that most students spend a couple of years working with economists, learning what Ph.D. economists do and seeing if economics research is something that drives you. That experience can help you determine whether getting a Ph.D. in economics is worth its high opportunity cost.

Where should you apply? Admission to top Ph.D. programs in economics is extremely competitive and you should plan to apply to several back-up programs.  There are several online rankings available that can give you a rough idea of the reputations of various departments. Most departments are stronger in some fields than others, so you should talk with a professor in the field you are interested in to get specific suggestions on where to apply.

For other valuable advice on preparing for graduate study in economics, see:

  • The American Economics Association
  • Professor Mark Foley, Davidson College

Letters of Recommendation

Are you a current or former economics student who wants to ask for a letter of recommendation? If so, you should discuss your plans with your faculty recommender.  If he/she agrees to write a recommendation letter for you, print out and complete the attached request form before submitting it to your recommender.  

Request for Letter of Recommendation [PDF]

Recommenders should be given a minimum of two weeks advance notice.

economics phd math

Department of Economics

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Dawn Lord , Administrative Assistant [email protected]

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CPD (Mathematical Economics)

Did you graduate without learning the mathematics skills needed for economics research? You can catch up by taking Advanced Mathematical Economics, and you may take additional courses from the School of Mathematics. You can take up to six courses, over one or two semesters.

MAchu Pichu

Why is mathematics so important?

University-level mathematics is a prerequisite for many Masters and PhD programmes. See for example, the American Economics Association’s web page about Math Preparation for Graduate School .

Mathematics is used in economics research in a few ways:

  • Economics is full of stories. For example, Akerlof’s market for lemons paper involves a story about a vicious circle: if the market price is too low, the best sellers will quit, which drives the price down further, and even more sellers quit, and so on. These stories need to be checked for logical fallacies such as circular reasoning. Mathematics is all about devising rigorous reasoning in the form of mathematical proofs.
  • A major part of economic activity is preparing for the future. Since the future never ends, realistic models of macroeconomics require an infinite number of time periods, and hence an infinite number of choices (how much to study, how many houses to build, and so on, for all of eternity). Navigating these infinities require some clear mathematical reasoning.

Who can apply?

This programme is open to any student who has:

  • completed an undergraduate degree at any university, and
  • has taken at least two economics courses.

The programme is primarily designed for students who have completed an undergraduate or masters degree in economics, and would ultimately like to do a PhD in economics.

What courses can I study?

There is one compulsory course:

  • Advanced Mathematical Economics (ECNM11072, semester 1). See the course website for details.

In addition, students can take between zero and five courses in the School of Mathematics. The most common courses are:

  • Introduction to Linear Algebra (MATH08057, semester 1).
  • Calculus and its Applications (MATH08058, semester 2).
  • Accelerated Linear Algebra and Calculus (MATH08062, semester 1), which covers the same material as the above two courses, but at twice the pace.
  • Proofs and Problem Solving (MATH08059, semester 2).
  • Accelerated Proofs and Problem Solving (MATH08071, semester 1), which covers similar material to Proofs and Problem Solving, but in semester 1.

Many postgraduate programmes list these topics as prerequisites. The “accelerated” options allow students to complete their studies in semester 1.

When does the programme run?

This year, the programme starts on 19 th September 2022 . It can be taken over one or two semesters.

How should I prepare?

Students should be fluent with high school calculus. Students can follow the preparation guide . In addition, we recommend that students take the GRE test , because many postgraduate programmes in Europe and the United States require it.

How much does it cost?

The fees are based on how many credits of courses you take, and are calculated as a proportion of the usual postgraduate tuition fees . For example, in 2023-24, UK students pay £13,000 for a one-year degree consisting of 180 credits. Therefore, a CPD (Mathematical Economics) student paying the UK fee rate taking three 20 credit courses would pay 60/180×13,000=£4333 .

What will I get in the end?

You will receive an official transcript with your grades. We also write recommendation letters that explain your achievements to postgraduate admissions committees.

How can I apply?

Please send an email expressing interest to [email protected]  before Monday 11th September 2023 .


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