Frequently Asked Questions

What are the suggested GRE and TOEFL requirements for the PhD Economics Program?

The minimum suggested GRE score for the Quantitative section is 164 or higher. The Admissions Committee is a little more lenient regarding Verbal scores from international applicants.  We are looking for scores of 154 or higher.

The Admissions Committee is looking for a score of 24 in the speak section of the TOEFL test. We will nonetheless consider the speak test scores of 20 or above, and an overall total score of 100 or above.


Can I submit multiple sets of GRE or TOEFL scores?

An applicant is only required to submit one set of test scores, but if you have taken them more than one time, you may submit a second set of scores as long as they are not expired. The Admissions Committee will give consideration to the highest test scores submitted.


Can I receive a TOEFL waiver?

International students must submit a TOEFL score unless they have or will receive an undergraduate degree from a college/university in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or Ireland or they have completed, at the time of application, four semesters of graduate study at an institution in the above mentioned countries.

Pennsylvania State law, all graduate students must be certified in English before teaching undergraduate students. If you are accepted and choose to enroll in our program, you will either be required to attend the Summer English Language Program or you can take a test through our English Language Program Office (at your expense) before the summer program to become certified in English. A 27 on the speak score of the TOEFL exam will certify you in English.


Does Penn Econ accept IELTS test scores in place of TOEFL?  How should I submit IELTS scores?

Yes, we accept the IELTS test scores in place of TOEFL and a score of 7.0 and above is acceptable. However, you cannot upload them with your application. Results should be forwarded directly by the testing agency to my office.

Gina Conway

University of Pennsylvania

Ronald O. Perelman Center for Political Science and Economics

133 South 36th Street, Suite 150

Philadelphia, PA 19104-6297


Is it possible for me to obtain a waiver of the application fee?

We regret that we cannot waive the application fee for international applicants. U.S. citizens and permanent residents may request a waiver in cases of documented financial hardship. To request a waiver, please email the Graduate Division at with an explanation of your situation prior to submitting your application. S/he may ask for additional documentation.


Does the Department of Economics Doctoral program allow students to transfer into the program?

We do not allow students to transfer into the program. All students must start with the first year PhD courses.  All students who have successfully passed the first year PhD courses can request to transfer up to 8 credits if they have previously matriculated in a graduate program.


What other materials do I need to submit with my application?

A complete application consists of:

  • Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts uploaded to CollegeNet
  • Official test scores (GRE / TOEFL / IELTS)
  • Application Fee ($90)
  • Writing Sample is optional


Can I have more than 3 letters of recommendation?

The admissions committee requires 3 letters of recommendation, but you may submit a fourth letter if you wish.


Should I contact an Economic Faculty member before I apply?

No. There is no need to contact the faculty during the application process. 


Do you accept recommendation letter submission through Interfolio?

No, we are not able to accept Interfolio documents. Letters should be uploaded directly into your application by your recommenders. If your recommender is experiencing any issues they may email their letter directly to our Graduate Coordinator, Gina Conway (


Are there requirements for the Statement of Purpose (aka Personal Statement)?

The Admissions Committee does not instruct applicants on what to write in their Personal Statement. We suggest that you discuss your academic and career objectives. Be as specific as you can about your program of study and your reasons for wishing to study at the University of Pennsylvania. (Should be approximately 500 words)


Can I apply for a Ph.D. in Economics offered by the School of Arts and Sciences in the Department of Economics and another PhD program in the Wharton school?

Yes, you may apply to both programs at the same time. Follow this link to apply on-line: CollegeNet for the School of Arts and Sciences of the Department of Economics Ph.D. program at the University of Pennsylvania. You may look up the Wharton Doctoral programs website for application to the Wharton School.